“Let’s Just See Where This Goes”.
If you’ve been on the dating market long enough, you’ve heard this or its equivalents: “We’ll Just Take It As It Comes” or “Let’s Take It A Day At A Time” perhaps a dozen times. All these phrases are essentially meaningless.
A female acquaintance spoke about a man she had been dating for several months. They shared what she perceived to be a special chemistry, and he did seem like the person she wanted to have long term goals with. However, every time she tried to “talk about us”, the discussion took a detour and ended with him saying “let’s just see where this goes”. Over a period of several weeks he seemed to withdraw emotionally, and eventually ghosted her. This wasn’t the first time that this has happened to her, and it hurt more each time.
Whenever you hear it, this phrase is a red flag – warning of an absence of intent or a lack of commitment. If it is someone you have a romantic interest in, it is an indicator of one of the following:
- He doesn’t know what he is looking for, and is not sure he wants a relationship with you
- He is not ready to commit to you because he feels that someone better will come along
- He is not attracted to you but lacks the courage to tell you (and he will ghost you eventually)
- He is setting up to use you and will part ways with little guilt when he’s done because “we agreed to take things as they come”.
Now when this line comes up, the other party optimistically interprets it with a positive outlook, when it rarely ever is. In discussing this with clients, I haven’t found even a single instance where a connection characterized by this line directly evolved into anything meaningful.
So what do you do?
Get clarity. Ask questions.
“We’ve known each other for XXX months now, I know it may be early in some ways, but where do you see this going?
Though you will most likely get a rambling answer, this question will get his thinking wheels rolling, and if you listen carefully, you’ll see whether he is inclined to commit to you at all.
“We’ve known each other for XXX months, I really like you, and I think we have something good here – where do you think this is going?”
There are risks to this question, because if the other person is a narcissist or a psychopath, you are probably setting yourself up to be used. However, in almost all other cases, you’ll probably discuss this, and will conclude that you’re going to be “great friends”.
Now I’m not claiming that everyone who uses this phrase is is trying to string you along or decieve you, but if you’re emotionally invested in someone, it is important that you have clarity on the road ahead. Emotional investment deepens with time, and when your feelings are not reciprocated, the result is often sadness, self-doubt, guilt, and even more pain.
No matter what the issue, be understanding and compassionate – the other person may be struggling with their own issues – trauma from a previous heartbreak; bewilderment in professional or spiritual life; perhaps even wondering if they truly “deserve” you. The key is to communicate and work towards answers. The more information you have, the easier it will be for you to decide if this person has a place in your life – and if yes, what that place might be.
Incidentally, the lady mentioned above blamed herself for being ghosted. She was angry with herself for being “too pushy” and “scaring him away”. What she didn’t realise is that she had glossed over two acts of cruelty this man had inflicted on her. The first, was to insult her emotions by avoiding discussion on a subject that she felt strongly about – a matter that inextricably involved him. The second, was to ghost her.
To people who find themselves in this man’s position, the courage to have difficult conversations is a critical life skill. Breakups hurt. It hurts someone to be told that they don’t excite you, arouse you, or attract you the way they hoped; but delaying this conversation will not make it go away. Your having that difficult discussion may cause pain, but the more you delay it, the more pain and damage you will cause.