Dating A Player?

Don’t let your new guy’s reputation ruin your chances at romance—just follow these simple steps to find out the real deal.

By Caroline Stanley

hen Ryan Parker, a 28-year-old stylist from Los Angeles, started dating his current boyfriend, it felt like Hollywood-style romance was in the works. But after a few weeks, Ryan started to get the distinct feeling that his Mr. Right might have been a player in his former dating life. “We’d be grabbing drinks at a bar or shopping for groceries, and guys who he’d been with would bombard us—and it was never the same people,” he explains. “My breaking point came one day when we were trying to watch a DVD, and his cell phone rang four different times… and it was always a name I didn’t recognize on the caller ID. I really want things to work for us, but I hate being paranoid. I feel like he dated everyone in town before he got to me!”

So how do you deal if, like Ryan, you get the vibe that your current
Maybe you need to take him at his word…
guy might have been (or could still be!) a total Don Juan? Here, a guide for how to avoid getting played that will allow you to keep dating your former player—if he’s worth it!

1. Find out the facts
Sure, maybe your date keeps a stable of available flings. But he may just be flirty, well-connected socially, or perhaps he used to be a player but is over that phase. So before you freak out, ask. “My definition of a player is someone who’s not really honest in his dating interactions or about his romantic intentions, not just someone with a lot of names already on his dance card,” says Brian Rzepczynski, MSW, of the

If he answers you that he’s not a player, and does so without getting defensive, take him at his word. And once you have your answer, take things slowly to make sure his behavior backs up what he told you. If he’s only looking for a good time, he won’t stick around long enough for you to analyze, anyway. “A player tends to be manipulative and self-centered, so once he’s gotten what he wants, he disappears,” says Rzepczynski.

2. Let him explain
OK, so maybe your guy isn’t some evil “player,” but what if you’re dating someone with a pretty lively past? A building block to a lasting relationship is saying when you’re uncomfortable instead of letting it build unnecessary resentment. “If he’s willing to hear you out—and you’re committed to hearing him in return, that’s a really good start,” says Steven Bereznai, author of Gay and Single... Forever? 10 Things Every Gay Guy Looking for Love (and Not Finding It) Needs to Know.

He recommends saying something like, “I know we all have a sexual history, but sometimes yours makes me uncomfortable because you’re known for playing the field. I really
Heed the warning signs that a current guy is sleeping around.
like you, and I need you to know that I’m looking for something monogamous. How does that make you feel?” “The last bit is very important because this shows you’re not accusing him of anything, you’re just giving him a chance to talk about where he’s at,” says Bereznai. After the chat, let him know you’re glad you could be honest about the topic and that you feel more relaxed.

3. Accept his answer
If your guy says he’s not a player anymore, the hardest part for you might be letting it go. If you keep harping on it even after he’s assured you he’s moved on, it’s a hint that your own insecurities, not your date’s imagined antics, are keeping you from intimacy.

But what if your guy’s response reveals that he’s on a totally different wavelength than you and still in a hook-up mindset? Sure, it stinks, but it’s better to know before you get more invested in the man. “There are always emotional risks involved in getting to know someone new, and it’s better to go through that potential minefield sooner rather than later,” says Bereznai. “You’re way better off single than dating a dud.” And even though things didn’t work out with this one, you’ve set the precedent for having tough conversations. That’ll make it easier to do with future guys—and, when the right one comes along, that openness will only strengthen your bond.

4. Pay attention to his actions
Sad but true: There will always be people who struggle to stay faithful, even after they’ve professed their one-man nature. Flirting is one thing, but if you’re worried your reformed player may have relapsed, Bereznai offers up these warning signs that a current guy is sleeping around: He doesn’t want to send off signs that he’s unavailable to other potential paramours, so he won’t be physically affectionate with you or call you his boyfriend in public; your single friends keep spotting him at various gay hook-up spots; or you’re sitting at home alone and worried on a Saturday night while he’s out partying with friends. “Whether he’s playing around or not, is this the kind of relationship you actually want?” asks Bereznai. “Singlehood is so much better than that!”

Caroline Stanley is an editor at She has contributed to Twist, CosmoGIRL!, Quick & Simple, and Harper’s Bazaar.
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