Are you his spare?

For a few weeks a gal pal was exchanging flirty emails multiple times a day with a an online match. He then suggested they have dinner and she countered that she was more comfortable with lunch. They continued their multiple-per-day email flirting a few more weeks, but he never again brought up getting together.

She was flummoxed. What was going on?

Two explanations came to me:

  1. He enjoyed flirting, but not actually meeting women. This happens more than one would think. Some people just want pen pals, which is perfectly fine as long as they are upfront about it. Leading someone on when you have no intention of meeting isn’t right. But he had suggested dinner, so we didn’t think he was just a serial flirter.
  2. He was trolling for a “spare” woman. Not necessarily a woman on the side if he was married or in a relationship. But more likely he was seeing someone already, but not seriously. So he was still hunting, seeing if there was someone “better” out there. He wasn’t unhappy with his current woman, but not so enthralled that he was sure she was “the one.” My friend was intriguing enough to flirt with, but not yet enticing enough to press to meet her. (If he did meet her he’d see how fabulous she is!) He was ensuring his pipeline was full in case his current woman dumped him or he lost interest in her.

How do you know if you are his spare? Mostly it will be in the lack of action he takes to meet with you, not only the first time but in subsequent communications. In “Are you getting prime time from your man?” I outline ways you can tell if you aren’t a top priority for a guy. While one would think most of these signs are obvious, the haze of infatuation affects us all so we miss signals that are otherwise apparent.

What should you do if you suspect he is stringing you along as his spare — or potential backup?

  • Limit the time you are willing to put into communicating before meeting. Many DG readers agree that you should strive to meet after 2 weeks or less of email exchanges. After that, no matter how much he says he likes you, if there is no effort to meet, even if long distance, there is not a lot of interest. Too many women have shared they’ve had extensive email exchanges which turned to naught when they met. You don’t want to waste your time, unless you just want a pen pal.
  • Ask him point blank if he is seeing other women. If he stammers and stutters, “Yes, but no one serious,” then you need to decide if you want to meet — or continue to see — him. If you are multi-dating yourself, then maybe it’s not a problem for you. But if you believe in dating only one man at a time, you need to tell him your criteria, and if you are interested in meeting him in the future when he’s unencumbered, tell him to let you know when he is available.

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2 responses to “Are you his spare?”

  1. Bookyone Avatar

    Hi DG,

    More excellent advice to be stockpiled for the day when I jump back into the dating scene with both feet. In the meantime, I have three regular penpals who keep me busy writing and sharing stories and a fourth from another site on the horizon, so I’m definitely keeping busy. 🙂

    Best wishes from bookyone 🙂

    PS – I decided not to meet with the online penpal after all. There were too many holes in his stories and when I punctured a few of them, he disappeared into the ether. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t get attached before this happened, lesson learned for next time…

  2. Robin Avatar

    Wow, this one hit home in big ways. This has happened to me repeatedly in my quest to find a new man in my life – or even just one to date! I’m 42 and I’m really beginning to wonder if there really are any decent, honest, legally available men out there. In the past 6 months, I’ve been caught in this trap twice. One of them turned out to be married and lied about his age. I knew it was suspicious when he kept coming up with excuses why he couldn’t meet me in the evening or even talk that much on the phone. He always insisted in meeting for lunch. I never have lunch breaks and work too far away to meet anyone for just an hour. The second comes and goes. I think he’s really divorced like he says, but I think I fall into that spare category that he only needs when he’s in-between other women he’s dating. We’ve met and gone out a few times and each of those times have been fantastic, but he seems to fade away and disappear for a while each time afterwards. He did it again just this past week. I’m not so sure now that I’ll have any more contact with him or even want to… It’s a very lonely world though. All the men in this age group are having bad midlife crises and seem to only want younger women or women who at least fit the Barbie doll ideal. Needless to say, I don’t fit in either of those criteria. Thanks for all the great stories you tell.