Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Why Did He Stop Calling Me? Was it Something I Said?”

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I’m 52 and my “friend” is 55. We’re both single (gay) guys. We met at a bar over a year ago and I went home with him, which is atypical for me. After that night, we have been seeing each other about three times each month for the past fourteen months. Our evenings are always arranged four to seven days in advance via text — never last minute or late at night. He cooks a nice dinner for me, we have great conversations and awesome sex, and I always spend the night. We sleep spooned all night with our arms around each other. He’s very courteous and decent towards me, but we always part after morning coffee.

At the beginning, I agreed to the “we’re just having fun” terms, even though our times together felt more like a date. Our paths have never crossed in public until recently. Last month we twice ran into each other in a bar and he was very friendly. After the first time we ran into each other, we had one typical and great night together. A few days later we were about to have a major snowstorm. Just as friendly banter, I sent him a text telling him I envy him because he always has a freezer full of great home-cooked food and my grocery store was empty. His reply was simply “storm won’t be that bad.” That’s it! I ran into him the next week and he appeared to feel awkward when he saw me. Two weeks passed, so I asked if he could talk. He granted me five minutes on the phone. I told him that he had appeared to feel awkward when he saw me, which he denied. He said he hadn’t seen me, but I’m not sure I believe him. I told him I was glad to hear that as I didn’t want any weirdness between us, and he said everything was fine between us. I haven’t heard from him since.

I suspect that he’s done with me, and I can’t understand why. I’m wondering if it was my joking text about the snowstorm (perhaps he thought I was hinting for an invitation to get snowed in together?) and that freaked him out. Or perhaps our phone call. We got together three consecutive weeks before the snowstorm, and had a great time as usual. My feelings are very hurt, and I admit that I started to like him a lot almost six months ago because he just seems like such a great guy. He’s always been fun, sweet, and decent.

I know you don’t have a crystal ball, but what are your thoughts? What would you do at this point. — Wishing For a Crystal Ball

You say that in the beginning of your relationship — and, casual or not, having three intimate, overnight dates a month for fourteen months counts as a relationship — you agreed to the “we’re just having fun” terms, but at some point, since the relationship seems to have ended, it stopped being fun for one or both of you. We can assume it stopped being fun for your friend since you haven’t heard from him in a few weeks. You want to know why and when. But, does it matter? Would it change anything? It wouldn’t change the outcome of this relationship. Would it change your behavior going forward? Would knowing that it was your text that sent him running stop you from sending a similar text to a future potential match one day? Because… that would be really sad. If you felt like you couldn’t send a friendly/flirty text for fear of scaring off someone you’ve been sleeping with for over a year, then I’d take that as a sign the guy wasn’t a good fit for you anyway.

It doesn’t matter why or when this relationship stopped being fun for your friend, but what is more relevant is why and when it stopped being fun for you. My hunch is that at some point, when your feelings became deeper than you felt was “allowed” per the terms of your agreement, the relationship ceased being fun. It became more of an internal struggle. “Am I saying the right thing?” “Does he like me as much as I like him?” “Would he be open to redefining the terms and being more serious?” Your friend may have sensed this internal struggle — and certainly sensed that your feelings were growing deeper, and, eventually, that affected the level of fun he was having. That’s your why and when. Maybe. It’s also possible he had a rotation of men he cooked dinner for and had sex with and the terms of his relationship with one of them changed, thus changing the terms for all the others.

So, what do you do now? I’d move on. You might run into him at some point, and, if you do, smile and say hi and be glad you don’t have a parting text or phone call to internally berate yourself over. What would be the point of a call or text now? To check the temperature of a dish that has most surely gone cold? Why? Just move on. And in the future, if you agree to terms in a relationship that stop working for you, redefine those terms and move on if they don’t serve you. YOU are 50% of every relationship you’re in. Your feelings matter. They matter at least half as much as the other person’s, and, if you aren’t getting what you want and you find that the two of you aren’t on the same page, you need to express yourself and move on.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

9 comments… add one
  • mylaray

    Mylaray February 24, 2016, 1:24 pm

    ” What would be the point of a call or text now? To check the temperature of a dish that has most surely gone cold?”

    I love that metaphor! Also, I think it’s kind of manipulative to reach out and text/call someone after weeks of not hearing from them to get some sort of response…which is almost never going to be a response you’ll want to hear in the first place.

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    wobster109 February 24, 2016, 1:33 pm

    Honestly there’s a lot unsaid. From the letter I can’t tell if your friend/date/partner truly wants out, or if he’s had a busy month, or something come up with a family member, or what. It sounds like that’s part of the problem, LW doesn’t know how friend/date/partner feels because he swore things were normal. If you want to continue a relationship according to the original terms, invite him to a usual overnight date. It gives him a chance to clear up if something unrelated to you came up. If he accepts or suggests a specific date, that means yes. If he says he’s busy or something similarly vague, please understand it means no. You can tell him to let you know when he has a specific date in mind.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros February 24, 2016, 2:08 pm

    I know you feel like it’s odd that he’s acting differently, but generally, casual arrangements do have an expiration date. There’s a reason that a person chooses to be casual. If they don’t want long-term commitment, then at some point they’re going to decide they don’t want to be involved anymore. This might be happening now. Or he gets the feeling that you’re more attached than you two agreed to be and he’s trying to distance himself. I don’t know how things normally are, but your texting example makes me think that part of his MO for trying to keep things casual is to do things on his terms. So, instead of being available when you contact him, he would brush you off to help keep control over how casual the relationship is.
    .
    It sounds like you might be getting more attached than this is intended to be, and in that case, it might be best to move on. Unless he has said that he wants things to be more than what they are, I’d assume he still feels that way.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph February 24, 2016, 2:10 pm

    Sounds like this guy may like to have his “dates” on the DL and doesn’t want to see you now that your public lives have crossed. This wasn’t a relationship and although you let it get built up in your head, you give no indication that the arrangement you had ever changed officially.
    It sounds like he’s not interested anymore and is trying to fade out. He probably thinks he doesn’t owe you any explanation since, after all, it was “just having fun.” I’d say stop contacting him and work to get over him the same way you would any breakup. If he does contact you again, I’d recommend bowing out. You aren’t really interested in the not-even-friends with benefits relationship you had, and it isn’t a good idea to continue seeing him casually while mentally/emotionally wanting more. If you want a real relationship, go find someone who wants the same.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom February 24, 2016, 3:22 pm

    I don’t know whether this is true but my impression is that the entire relationship has been controlled by him. He would initiate your evenings together and they would be at his place with him cooking. I’m assuming he was always the one inviting you to come over so he decided if you got together.

    There is no way to know why he quit texting and inviting you over. It doesn’t matter whether it was because of a joking text or whether you two crossed paths in public or some other reason. He quit texting. He quit initiating. He seems to be done and if he is there is nothing you can do about it. You can’t force or cajole or guilt or in any other way make someone want to be with you. Treasure the memories, be alone for a while and find a partner who wants what you want.

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  • avatar

    Ron February 24, 2016, 5:12 pm

    So many letters like this one — a sort of okay relationship EXCEPT FOR, as this one seemed to be, but the need for an emotional attachment by LW wasn’t being met by SO, and the LW knows there is a problem and things are likely finished, but LW’s reaction is always “I want a real relationship, damn it and this is the relationship I’m in and there is a comfort in that, so I need to know how to salvage this one, not be told to just move on and find a relationship which actually works for both parties”

    You didn’t say that? Well you really did. Deep down, when people ask ‘why, why did it end?’ what they seem to be thinking is if they understood why, then they could fix it and continue the relationship, which would still be as dysfunctional and not meeting their needs as it was before the break up and fix.

    Break ups are tough for both sides. If the breaker-upper isn’t cruel it’s interpreted as fixable and not final. “I think we should break up, because I’m just too busy to give you the time you deserve” is I want to break up with you without saying anything bad about you. I probably still like you, but don’t love you any more. That’s taken as ‘there’s hope to get back together when s/he is less busy’.

    He avoided you, hardly texted and then granted you 5 minutes of phone call. You talked to the guy. He said things weren’t awkward between you and that everything was still fine between you. Then you never heard from him again. That’s a very clear message: “It’s over, let’s not be messy about it.” It’s a step up from pure ghosting. He doesn’t tear you down in explaining why it’s over. It’s just over. It was a fwb and it became clear you wanted more and he didn’t and yes that has to be awkward.

    Find someone who wants what you want. You already know the why on this one. He doesn’t want a relationship and you were skating too close to that.

    Now you know why people ghost. No explanation for why it’s over will ever satisfy the person who doesn’t want it to be over. If we’ve lived and loved enough, we’ve all been there. More than once. It hurts, but dwelling on a dead relationship or dead fwb hurts more. Move on with your life. He has.

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  • mjmaim

    mjmaim February 24, 2016, 5:24 pm

    I have no advice to give, other than what was already mentioned, but I’m sorry your feelings were hurt and that you were disappointed that this arrangement didn’t turn into the relationship you thought it could become. I think we can all relate and understand how painful that can be.

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  • avatar

    suzyinthesky February 25, 2016, 8:31 am

    I loved your advice, Wendy! Spot on. I wish I’d read this years ago when I dissected the end of all my relationships like this!

    But also, the editor in me has some feedback because she is a nerd who doesn’t know how to shut up: When you say “Your feelings matter. They matter at least half as much as the other person’s” – what you really mean is “They matter at least as much as the other person’s,” right? Because I, for one, don’t want to be in any kind of relationship where my feelings only matter half as much as the other person’s!

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  • avatar

    laurahope February 25, 2016, 9:55 am

    I think he’s either in a relationship or starting to feel like yours is becoming less casual and that’s not what he wants. But it doesn’t matter. If he won’t talk to you, you have no choice but to let him go. Sorry.

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