There’s been some talk in the forum dating thread about the “slow burn” and how, if you’re someone who’s had relationships in the past that feel overwhelming in their specialness, it can be confusing to find yourself in a relationship that feels good but isn’t all fireworks and constant butterflies in the stomach. And there’s something to be said for those relationships that feel different than the ones that came before. The ones that came before ended eventually, right? Assuming you’re looking for one that won’t end, it’s worth exploring a different kind of relationship, one that feels unlike the ones before it.
But still, how do you know whether it feels different because it’s love or because it’s just friendship? A good way is to ask yourself how you’d feel if your relationship ended and you both started dating other people. Basically, how does the thought of losing him as your boyfriend feel? What if you could still have him in your life as a friend, but you weren’t intimate with each other and you didn’t spend as much time together? What if he told you today that it’s been great but he just doesn’t feel the spark he thinks he should feel with someone he’s building a relationship with? If none of these scenarios bother you, then it’s possible that what you feel for him is more of a friendship than anything else.
But here’s the thing: You don’t have to figure this out right away. It’s only been four months that you’ve been dating after seventeen years of being friends. It’s pretty natural that it might take a long time to feel the dynamic of your relationship shift. It’s also natural to want to speed that up. But if you’re enjoying your time together, try to resist the urge to label and define. Practice being in the moment, following your gut, and listening to your heart. Sometimes love is loud and comes on strong, and sometimes it starts as a whisper that you only hear when you ignore the other noise around you.
Ok, short answer: If he’s out of college and isn’t a school teacher and is using the phrase “spring break” to refer to a vacation that he takes in the months of March or April, then, yes, he’s probably looking to just hook up. Longer answer: If you don’t want a casual hook-up, don’t hook up with someone who is visiting for a few days from the other side of the country. Unless there have been conversations to the contrary — and there haven’t, and I agree you would sound crazy asking “what are we?” at this point — you have to assume that the intention is a casual hook-up. People don’t generally sleep with someone from the other side of the country while on “Spring Break” whom they intend to pursue a serious relationship with. Sure, these hook-ups can eventually lead to something more serious, and maybe he’s open to that, but that usually isn’t the motivation, you know?
So, what can you do? Well, be honest with him: Tell him you’re looking forward to seeing him but aren’t a casual hook-up kind of person and you wanted to make that clear before you see each other so there isn’t any weird ambiguity or awkwardness. Then the ball’s in his court. Now, on the chance that he does want to pursue “something more” with you, is that really what you want? With someone who lives in Florida? That’s really far from California. I’d do some soul-searching and make sure that your years of crushing on him aren’t fooling you into thinking that the something more you want is with him.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.