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A while ago I complained about a serial texter named Bradley and his inability to just man up already. The texting was unbearable, like the slow drip of an IV meant to keep any semblance of a relationship from completely dying. Soon after posting, I heard from my friend, Melissa*, who had experienced a similar saga. The exchange had me laughing hysterically, so I thought I’d share.

Melissa detailed to me the saga of a one-time possible suitor and his escapades in pseudo-pursuit. Now happily married, Melissa (and her husband) can laugh at the nonsense that happened years ago. But at the time, it proved to be quite frustrating.

And so begins the tale of Coffee Phil.

It was their senior year in college. Melissa and Phil shared a class together. One day, after she presented her (inevitably great) senior thesis to the class, he said he enjoyed her presentation, and asked if she wanted to grab coffee at the student center. (Typical college first date.) After that first coffee date, Melissa thought this was going to be the beginning of something.


Coffee DateA month or two later, Phil asked Melissa if she wanted to get coffee at a nearby Starbucks. She accepted, but since there had been no follow-through the last time, she assumed they were just friends.

More crickets.

A month or two later, Phil asked her to again meet-up for coffee at a local diner. For some reason, this meeting screamed “date” to Melissa, perhaps because he paid. Still, she couldn’t shrug the “just friends” feeling, and was still unsure where this was heading.

Those darn crickets keep chirping!

Between each coffee “date,” weeks — even months — passed. Melissa’s friends dubbed this apparent caffeine addict “Coffee Phil.” There were a couple more trips for coffee, each with weeks or months in between. At this point, Melissa had succumbed to the fact that friend zone had been officially established, and she moved on.

Coffee Phil asked Melissa out again on March 6, confirmed through Facebook message archives. (I’m a true journalist, folks. I do my research.) She didn’t respond, for whatever reason. It had been a while. She was busy. Whatever.

Then soap opera drama ensues when Coffee Phil sees Melissa… in public… dining with… (gulp)… another man! Melissa has confirmed that it was, indeed, a date. Quite possibly an actual date — you know, the kind where a man asks a woman out for a proper meal, pays for said meal, and then follows up within a normal amount of time. She had no reason to believe there was anything serious going on with Coffee Phil, because… well… he’d only ever taken her out for a few cups of coffee.

Like sands through the hourglass… so are the days of our lives.

On April 5 (one month after he had asked her to meet for coffee again via Facebook, and soon after he had witnessed her date with the imposter), Melissa received the following message from Coffee Phil, edited for brevity (believe it or not!).

From: Coffee Phil

Subject: You want to be friends?

So if history has taught me anything, it’s that if you haven’t responded by now, you don’t want to see me and you definitely are dating other guys at the same time you dated me. That’s fine. I’ve been shot down before, and it’s not like it would be the first time you’ve shot me down. It’s really not a big deal. I just wish you would have told me.

I think you can understand how this could be a little confusing for me. Usually I’m content to leave things as they are, assuming you’re not interested [ . . . ] In my defense however, not many girls would continue to have coffee with a guy especially if they didn’t want it to really go anywhere…

I don’t know you very well, and don’t know what’s going on. For some reason I don’t feel like you’re playing games with me… maybe you are. Maybe you’re just doing the nice girl thing, or maybe, and what I would like to think, is that you want to maintain some form of interest, and if that’s the case, I think it would be a good thing.

Which leads to my next and probably final offer. I don’t think you should [move] without visiting [that great ice cream place I mentioned]. [ . . . ] I’m not trying to make this a date. In fact, if you decide to go you’ll have to pay for your own ice cream. I just got hit with a bunch of loan repayments, and can’t afford to pay for two dips anytime soon. If you don’t think you would be comfortable, or you’re just too busy, don’t feel obligated to go, but do feel obligated to tell me.

Anyway, if I don’t get to talk to you before you leave town, I want wish you luck. [ . . . ] I hope we can be friends.

Okay, class, if you’re taking notes:

  1. Coffee Phil considered drinking a cup of coffee together every month or so “dating.”
  2. Coffee Phil accused Melissa of “dating other guys at the same time” she dated him.
  3. Coffee Phil is confused.
  4. Coffee Phil is making a “probably final offer” to Melissa.
  5. Coffee Phil will not pay for Melissa’s ice cream should she accept said “probably final offer.”
  6. Coffee Phil has been hit with some loan repayments, perhaps owed to pesky caffeine loan sharks.
  7. Coffee Phil warns Melissa that she should “feel obligated to tell” him whether or not she will accept said “probably final offer.”

Interesting approach. Romantic, in an I-wear-a-straitjacket-and-live-in-a-padded-room kind of way.

Melissa, though inescapably swept off her feet by the “probably final offer,” didn’t respond. In her own words, “I didn’t even know we were dating. I thought it was just coffee.”

Two days later, the following message arrived in Melissa’s Facebook inbox (which, in my mind, is about as lame as texting):

From: Coffee Phil

Subject: RE: You want to be friends?

Maybe I jumped the gun and made some assumptions that were unfair. I just got used to you responding, and I guess the only reason I didn’t call you is because we haven’t talked for so long. I also still feel like this is an unusual situation, but obviously I think it would be good to see you again. I’ll give you a call next week so we can make this friendship a reality.

Melissa and Coffee Phil never graced another coffee shop together.

Check Yes or NoThe question remains: what constitutes a dating relationship? After school is out, there are no letterman jackets or class rings exchanged. How is a guy or gal to know when the dating has begun, or when it’s okay to still date other people?

Call me old-fashioned, but I think the man needs to take the reins on this one. Lead. Pursue. Communicate. Some men may not agree. Heck, some women may not agree. But, how else was Melissa to know they were in a dating relationship? Six cups of coffee sounds more like a friendship than a relationship to me.


*Name changed to protect this very cool girl’s privacy, and to not jeopardize the legality of any restraining orders she may or may not have taken out against serial coffee daters.