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Mind Games/He's flirting, but has a girlfriend..?


Dear Brian,
This guy has been an acquaintance of mine for four years. We've been friends on Facebook all that time, but never contacted each other privately in any way. We started a project together about two weeks ago (with two more people). The initial meeting was, concurrently, the first chance we've ever had to know each other better.
That same evening, he contacted me. Next day, he contacted me again. Little by little, we started talking somewhat intimately (no sexting, though) about ourselves and all kinds of stuff. We were clearly attracted to each other. After a few days, I accidentally found out that he had a girlfriend when a mutual friend (who has no idea of us flirting) brought it up in casual conversation. I decided to curb my enthusiasm, but our communication continued, mostly initiated by him (he's currently out of town and will be back next week, but we started talking while he was still at home). He did bring up his girlfriend once, on an unrelated note (I asked him a trick-question so at least he was honest), but never mentioned her again.
I'd consider him a player if it weren't for his attitude towards me - he seems genuinely interested, was very clear about liking me in a more-than-friendly way, and asks me questions that would normally be considered as preliminary dating (am I single, what's my dream date, what I like and dislike, my opinion on things). He's also very beloved among his friends, no bad reputation or something like that.
You could say that I'm pretty confused and have no idea what will happen when we see each other again next week. Is he an experienced player, or what? What am I to him?

Thank you in advance :)

Hey Myrtle!

Great question!  While it's important to be wary of other's actions and understand their disposition, especially if you're considering getting involved with them in some way, I think you're a victim of the "fundamental attribution error" here.  Don't worry, it's really not that complicated!

What is the "fundamental attribution error"?  Well, there is a psychological theory called the "attribution theory", and it deals with how we explain why people do what they do, or why things happen.  It's a necessary process for helping us understand our world.  The problem is it comes with a lot of biases, one of them is the fundamental attribution error.  What this error states is that we tend to attribute situational causes to ourselves and dispositional causes to others.  In other words, when we do something bad or suspicious, we say "but you need to understand my SITUATION!".  However, when it's other people - your acquaintance, for example - we tend to say "I wonder if he IS A PLAYER!"  We assume it's because of who they are, not their situation, that they do what they do.

So basically what I'm saying is, judging from what you've said - he seems like a nice guy, has a good reputation - I don't think he's a player.  Remember, there are a plethora of relationship situations: maybe he's not sure if she's the one any more, maybe they've broken up and you haven't heard about it, maybe he's been thinking of breaking up for awhile, maybe he's more attracted to you for some reason.  Be careful, but give him the benefit of the doubt.

Hope it works out!

Mind Games

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Besides having an immensely powerful sense of intuition, I am also currently studying (and having been privately studying for years) psychology, and grew up with around psychology and psychologists. I've read considerably in regards to biology, evolutionary biology, genetics, behavior therapy, conditioning and personality. There is almost no human pattern that does not make sense to me (but I'll admit, the opposite sex is a tricky subject!). If someone's behavior makes absolutely no sense to you, I'll be able to help you figure it out, and even give you suggestions on how to deal with it.


As mentioned above, currently studying psychology, a psychology-influenced upbringing, plus countless hours of giving people advice on the behavior of others.

Currently studying Psychology at the California Coastal College.

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