Shortcuts: “He Says He Has Brotherly Love For Me”

It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.

I’m 29 and my boyfriend is 42. We were sweet and loving with each other until recently when he had problems of a downgraded status in his job, the government implementing new rules, his car not functioning well and a lack of sex drive, all of which caused him a lot of unhappiness. I am pretty certain he is frustrated with all these and not managing well. I’m impatient and got a little upset with his withdrawal from me and started punishing him by abandoning him and planning my own activities instead of inviting him along (as whenever I invited him for an activity, he would be too lazy to join).

Now, I feel disconnected from him. I do not understand why and how come we can be in the romantic stage without it leading to any sex. After a year now he, too, is finally telling me that he finds it weird that there isn’t any sex and that what he feels for me has become brotherly love. He says he needs a mother figure — someone who can guide and advise him. I thought he was going to break up with me. Then he said he needed a month to think and suggested we meet once a week while and that I should not stay over at his place for now. What should I do? — Tired of His Shit

Brotherly love = MOA.

I’ve been dating this guy for almost three years now and during this time we have had our ups and downs. There was a time we broke up and moved on, but we eventually got back together after a short while. During the time we were together he had a one night with his ex, who would continually provoke me. Then recently he told me he found out his ex is pregnant, so I seriously don’t know what to do although there is a chance it’s not his kid. I’ve been supporting him and I just feel sad because he betrayed my trust. There are days I feel I should just let go, but other times I feel he needs me …what should I do? — Betrayed

If the best or only reason you can come up with to stay in a rocky relationship with a guy who cheated on you is that sometimes you feel like he needs you, it’s time to move on.

I’ve been seeing this guy off and on for about five months. We recently got more serious. We see each other about once a week, chat all the time, tell each other everything, and are honest with each other. We’ve had our ups and downs and stopped talking twice. He says he loves spending time with me and is not looking for anyone else, but he won’t take the commitment further. I know he is unstable job-wise and looking to study further and only recently got over his ex. Am I asking to much? Should I just relax and go with the flow? He loves spending time with me, but says he can’t offer more at the moment. — Wants More

Dating off and on with a series of ups downs in a time period of less than six months = MOA. Ditch the guy and find someone who is looking for the same thing you are.


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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.


  1. I realize this is an advice site, and people write in with problems, but I feel like just once I would like to read something on a Friday that didn’t depress me. Uugh.

    Everyone- MOA. Date guys who have personality traits that you enjoy, who are nice to you and treat you well. Be nice to them, and appreciate them, and you’ll be a lot happier.

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      But then Fridays wouldn’t be nearly as fun! Otherwise, WBS.

      p.s. HEY YOUZ GUYZZZ, I have a copy of the deleted thread! Who wants to read what the last minute confessors confessed?!! You do? Well you can! Just pay me $100. All proceeds will go to my cheese habit.

      1. AP!!!!

      2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        for you, i’ll email you a PDF for $99. at the very end, someone confessed something really juicy and it involved you.

      3. Now I’m intrigued, even though I know you’re lying!!

      4. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        i would be happy to provide details here but you know i can’t; cardinal rule of DW! but oh man, it was so juicy. i had to take a cold shower afterward just to simmer down. wouldn’t you like to know!

      5. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Basically ___ wrote in to say ___ about you, Fabelle. Then __ and ___ agreed. Then ___ got jealous and posted a link to a piture of you and holy shit! Then ___ and ___ and ____ all said ____________________! And that’s when things got interesting. $98, that’s nothing; you can barely buy a pair of lululemon socks for that price.

      6. hahaha

      7. (also, I think I’ll keep responding until you lower the price to $0!!)

      8. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Are you kidding? This is a limited edition; the price is only going to go UP UP UP.

      9. Hate to point out the obvious AP… but in less than 2 hours your price has decreased 2% (and thanks for making the example $100 so I could do the % easier) 😉

      10. @MMcG exactly 😀

      11. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:


      12. Do you really? How many comments were there?

      13. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        The copy I have has 778 comments. And oh boy, Rachel, you should read what people said about YOU at the end…

      14. Haha, there were 773 when I went to bet, so I don’t think I missed much :p

      15. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        5 scandlous juicy comments about YOU and YOUR MOM. It was borderline mean. Wendy had to chime in to say something like she expects us to be courteous even in a deleted thread. It got pretty intense.

      16. Oh, snap.

      17. Hahahaha. I was a last-minute confessor, so I want a cut of the money.

      18. lets_be_honest says:

        Oh come on! What did you confess?

      19. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        She confessed something about YOU, lets. … Want to read it? …

      20. lets_be_honest says:

        You, Miss Additha F. Pray, are a trouble maker.

      21. I forget.

    2. lets_be_honest says:

      Ugh, I hear you bethany. You know how bgm will say religions shouldn’t exist anymore? After reading these, I feel like relationships shouldn’t.

    3. sarolabelle says:

      Dear Wendy,

      My dog keeps eating tissues. I come home and there are tissues all over the floor all torn up. Is it good for my dog to eat tissues? He eats dryer sheets too. How can I make him stop?
      –Dog eats tissues.

      Dear Dog,

      Put the tissues at the top of the closet and shut the door.

      1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        not so simple. see, maybe Dog just needs to put doggy food out, and then the dog will stop eating the tissues. wait, why do we have two dogs? i’m confused.

      2. This reminds me of the time I came home, and found my cats had enjoyed my new roll of toilet paper. It was drawn out into every single room of the house. We’ve kept the bathroom door closed ever since.

    4. But then how am I supposed to bolster my self-esteem by comparing my life favorably to the train wrecks!?!

    5. Okay – It’s Friday night and I don’t know what I want to watch tonight. I have a ton of movies in my house, but I’m stumped. I can’t buy or rent a new movie, and we don’t netflix. Besides that, I really don’t know WHAT I want to watch. Do I want a spoof like Spaceballs, or do I want something grittier and psychological (think: Fight Club or 7 Psychopaths). I watched Fight Club last night, so that’s out.

      Do I want straight action? Fantasy? Adventure?

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        Sounds like you’re in the mood to watch Clueless. 🙂

  2. LW1: So he simultaneously wants you to be his mother, while admitting he only feels “brotherly love” for you. And only wants to see you once a week, never staying the night.

    This relationship is over. Move on.

    LW2: ” There are days I feel I should just let go” <— These are the days where your common sense & self-preservation is actually kicking in. Listen to the voice that says to move on, & then do so.

    LW3: I would say to relax & go with the flow, if you really like him, BUT the "on & off" and "we've stopped talking twice" indicates that this situation is probably full of drama. Tell him you're looking for different things, & then go find someone who truly wants to be with you.

  3. Is “we’ve had our ups and downs” the new secret code for MOA?

    1. sarolabelle says:

      I can understand ups and downs for a year + relationship. But if ANYONE has an up and down on a guy they have been dating for less than 6 months, that is too much stress. What exactly is an up and down anyway? I’ve been with the same guy for 3 years and never had one.

      1. I was kind of joking, but thinking about it, it does stand out when someone feels the need to say that their relationship has had “up and downs”. It sounds kind of like a 50-50 split between good and bad times, which is not enough. I just stumbled across a message that I sent to a friend last year, where I was saying that my ex and I (at the time still together) had had some ups and downs but I still wanted to work on it blablabla, and of course we’re long broken up now.

      2. I agree. I think a lot of long term relationships can have rough periods and survive, but wouldn’t that be described as “we had a rough patch but worked through it”? I feel like up and down implies a lot more down than is healthy.

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        You’re just showing off to the LWs sarola!

    2. I feel you. When did it become acceptable for relationships to have so much drama and conflict? Yes, there are natural peaks and valleys in any LONG TERM relationship, but to stop speaking twice in 5 months, like letter 3? That’s not a peak and valley or up and down. That’s just a sign that you’re not in the right relationship.

      1. kerrycontrary says:

        Because everyone’s parents tell them “relationships take work you need to work things out instead of walking away”. Well, sometimes you need to walk away! And that statement usually applies to marriages more than run of the mill relationships. Hey everyone, it’s OK to walk away if it seems like too much work!

      2. “Relationships take work” is too often equated with “relationships require suffering” (and this is obviously related to people thinking of work as something unpleasant). I’d say if someone suffers in a relationship, they should always MOA. There are very few exceptions to that.

      3. sarolabelle says:

        The only work it has taken is to not leave the room when he farts anymore….

        Guess I’m still a newlywed.

      4. I like this a lot.

      5. Yes! This gets banged into our heads until we think the drama is proof that our relationship is real and mature. I went through this with my first serious boyfriend. I talked to him several times about wanting a relationship that didn’t involve 24/7 fighting, and he told me that’s just the way REAL relationships are and that I just wanted a puppy love that would magically stay that way forever. He was older and “wiser” and I bought it for a while.

        He told me the same thing when I broke up with him, but I did it anyway, and have now been with my current boyfriend for 4 years and we simply don’t have that kind of drama. No, it didn’t stay in the “crush” phase forever, but when that wore off, we were still two people who loved and actually liked each other and could work out our problems without trowing the metaphorical crockery.

        There was someone, I think at Captain Awkward, who said that “relationships are work” isn’t supposed to mean “chipping away at (something huge, don’t remember what) with a rusty spoon.” The “work” is more like working on a hobby you enjoy. It’s effort but it’s not torture. It’s effort you want to put in.

      6. Oh, and we get this from TV and book series as well, when writers throw unnecessary romantic drama into their characters’ lives to shake up the plot. Happy stable couples can’t necessarily sustain certain types of series; drama keeps people reading/watching. And I think we see these things when we’re young and think that’s just the way it works. But stability is a much easier way to actually live.

      7. SpaceySteph says:

        One day I’m going to write an anthology of sucky relationships. I’m going to call it “Fighting with you is not the same thing as fighting for you.”
        Featured therein will be:
        -The one who picks on you about everything so you try super hard to make him happy and forget about your own happiness
        -The one who almost slapped you, but he held back, because he’s a gentleman
        -The one who thinks Romeo and Juliet is so romantic (um, no, spoiler alert, they die at the end)
        Pre-order now!

      8. I dated several versions of (a). Subconsciously repeating a pattern from my upbringing, I’m sure. After a few installments of “KL, YOU MUST PROVE TO ME YOUR INTELLIGENCE AND TALENT AND WORTHINESS AND I SHALL CHALLENGE IT AT EVERY TURN,” I am through with that crap. It quit being “challenging” and started just being an enormous drag. If you (general you) need to quiz and debate and devil’s-advocate at me every day just to make sure I’m not a dunce, then you probably shouldn’t be dating me.

      9. How about The one who has you convinced he can’t survive without you

    3. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      The thing that bugs me more than ups and downs is the “we’ve broken up a bunch of times in the past 2 years” type stories. If you’ve broken up more than once…chances are it’s NOT the right relationship.

      All most every relationship has some natural ups and downs. But this idea that a tumultuous relationship full of dramatic breakups and reconciliations…ugh. Sometimes boring is WAY better.

  4. lets_be_honest says:

    LW1 – Maybe he’s just into incestuous relationships.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      2 – If you are considering staying with someone and one of the best reasons you can come up with to stay with him is that it might not be his child…really? Do you hear yourself?

      1. don’t you think that the fact that it might be his kid is a reason enough to leave? seriously. LW2 just sounds so desperate

    2. SpaceySteph says:

      Seriously. SO creepy. He thinks of his gf like a sister but really wants her to be like a mother? And you didn’t run for the hills? First. Mistake.

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        No, no, Steph. She’s like a BROTHER, but wants her to be more like his mom.

      2. Maybe the bf f is Norman Bates. That turned out well.

      3. SpaceySteph says:

        Maybe he meant it more like a “bro.” He wants her to be his wingman while he picks up other chicks.

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        You’re awesome.

  5. painted_lady says:

    Did I read that first one right? She’s hearing about it from the boyfriend because she isn’t acting like his mommy?

    Excuse me while I go throw up.

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      I was thinking LW should ask her grandmother to step in. Her grandmother is probably mother-age to her bf.

    2. Avatar photo kmentothat says:

      Yeah, a 42 year old man child dating someone in their 20s and expressing brotherly love and need for parental guidance does not need a mother, he needs a therapist. MOAMOAMOA.

  6. LW1: I think he already broke up with you.

    LW2: Would you really be willing to stay with a guy who cheated on you and is having a baby with his ex simply because he needed you? Do you not expect to get something out of a relationship yourself?

    LW3: “Can’t offer more” means he chooses not to offer more. And like Wendy said, after only five months, you shouldn’t be having ups and downs.

  7. Bittergaymark says:

    Yay! Always such a thrill to start the day by reading about three highly intelligent young women who each have such a good on their shoulders…

  8. Facepalms. Nothing but facepalms.

  9. tbrucemom says:

    LW1 – I think your BF needs to date someone his own age based on his comment. Some men just need someone to take care of things and he’ll probably find someone closer to his age will be willing to do it. There’s nothing wrong with him wanting that kind of relationship just as there’s nothing wrong with you not wanting it, but he’s also not sexually attracted to you any more so you need to MOA.
    LW2 – MOA. He got a girl pregnant and probably had unprotected sex when you were “on a break” and now you’ll have to deal with him having a child with another woman for the rest of his life and your feelings for him equate to “he needs me”.
    LW3 – Five months isn’t a long time to worry about not being committed to each other, but it’s also not long enough to be broken up twice. Relationships should either progress naturally or you realize after a few months this is just not the person for you. MOA.

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