Five months ago, I was introduced to this guy at a bar through a mutual friend. Two weeks later we ran into each other again. One thing led to another and we ended up at my place. I had assumed this was just a one-night-stand, but he contacted me a few days later and we began to communicate. Eventually, it grew into a regular thing. At the beginning, we discussed that it was simply a friends with benefits type arrangement. I was on the rebound from a breakup and he said there wasn’t that ‘spark’ between us. At some point in time, we stopped seeing other people, but still confirmed that we were merely having fun. However, as time has gone by, things have seemed to shift. Of course, there have been alcohol fueled confessions of feelings on both our parts at various points. We now talk on a daily basis and his behavior towards me has changed as well. He shows up with baked treats, gives me unsolicited footrubs/backrubs, and has made a joke about how we’re practically dating. He is slowly becoming one of my closest friends and yeah, I’ve developed feelings for him.
Here’s the other catch: in a month I will be traveling out of state to my hometown. It’s a business/family thing, and there’s no getting around it. Unfortunately, my job here is not a year-round position and I’ve got a summer gig lined up back home. I’ll be gone for three months. So, should I tell him how I feel before I go? Or should I just leave it unsaid and see what happens when I return? Should I just let it come to its natural end when I leave? I’ve been in an unrequited love situation before and I’m really not trying to get myself into that situation again, but things between us just feel right. I’ve thought all along that if he wanted us to be in an exclusive relationship, he would make it happen; am I right in thinking that? — More Than a FWB?
Oh my god, yes, tell him how you feel! Soberly. What are you waiting for? You two are behaving like a coupla cowards. You’ve stopped seeing other people, you act like you’re a couple, you profess feelings for each other with the help of liquid courage. Obviously, there’s more going on here than just a “FWB situation” so quit being a big baby about it and fess up already. The worst that will happen is he’ll say, “Oh, I know I ACT like I really like you, and I know I TELL you I really like you when I’ve been drinking, but the truth is, I don’t like you enough to actually commit.” And guess where that will leave you? Um, exactly where you are now, except with a little more knowledge that will help you make some decisions about the short-term future.
Like, for one thing, if he’s not interested in being more than your hook-up buddy, you can stop being exclusive with him and have a summer romance with someone else if you feel like it. And if he IS interested in something more, you’ve got a little time to figure out your plan for the summer. Will you be “allowed” to date other people, for instance? Will you be close enough to visit each other? These are all things you’ll want to figure out before you leave for three months – and let’s remember, three months is not an eternity; couples have survived much farther distances for much longer periods of time and lived to tell about it. If there’s something worth waiting for here, you’ll be fine. But first, you’ve got to figure out if the desire to be together-together is mutual. And there’s no reason YOU shouldn’t be the one to speak up first. Clearly, if he’s interested, he’s being too big of a pussy to say so. If this thing is gonna happen, someone has to get brave around here. Why not you?
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NolaGirl April 12, 2011, 9:09 am
I definitely agree with Wendy here. What do you have to lose? There is a Janis Joplin song that comes to my mind in times like these “Get it While you Can.” If it’s good, it’s good, and enjoy it while it’s good. You won’t get anywhere without taking a risk here or there.
Mainer April 12, 2011, 9:44 am
I’m inclined to say “proceed with caution.” You both like sex. D’oy. You both have drunkenly confessed “feelings” for one another, yet there was no elaboration on those feelings (which may serve to highlight the “drunken” part). Maybe he does like you like-that now and has grown feelings for you, but he hasn’t made any attempt to speak to you about it outside of your sexy time.
So here’s the thing you should be cautious about. It started as a FWB situation, which would suggest he’s rather cavalier about sex (which is fine by the way). But your plan is to tell him you want to be exclusive with him right before leaving for three months? Does he _seem_ like the type to do a LDR and able to stay faithful? (That’s a genuine question only you’ll be able to answer since I don’t know the guy, don’t read it as some snarly rhetorical question). I would just be concerned that he wouldn’t hesitate to have a few summer flings while you two were apart, regardless of what “status” you too are, based on him having no problem sleeping with someone he didn’t feel a “spark” with in the first place. I could be way off, but it’s something I think you should consider based on how well you know him.
IMO, I would keep it casual with him over the summer. If things continue well (he visits, you two stay in touch a lot), _then_ I think it would be wise to have the “talk” after the summer when you two are back in proximity with each other. Having a FWB situation turn exclusive is tricky in itself. Add in that your new “official” relationship is going to start as a LDR, and I think it adds too much complication and opens the door a little more for a potential broken heart/betrayal.
NolaGirl April 12, 2011, 11:06 am
I don’t see much of a difference between finding out what he thinks now or waiting to the end of the summer. By the same logic if he’s likely to casually sleep with someone else while they are in a LDR, what’s to keep him from casually sleeping with someone else while they’re in the same city, aside from fear of getting caught? If he isn’t interested enough in her to remain faithful for a short term LDR, he’s not going to remain faithful when you’re in the same town. If the fear is getting your heart broken, I think it’s easier to figure it out sooner rather than later.
If the fear is whether he actually likes you, I don’t see why talking about it before the summer isn’t a better idea. That way you don’t spend the whole summer thinking about this guy (potentially being hung up on him), and then come back and find out that he really wasn’t that into you at all. It’s like wasting time. Maybe I’m cynical, but I don’t think a summer in limbo will do much good. Since you’re already involved with dude, you don’t have much to lose by telling him you have developed feelings for him. Obvs, I would refrain from doing this while drunk, but other than that you have to do it at some point, so why not sooner rather than later? Especially since they’ve been together five months in limbo. Who wants another 3 months in limbo?
TheGirl April 12, 2011, 3:24 pm
Besides, summer is absolutely the WORST time to be in limbo with a guy. That’s when people want to go out and meet new people and have summer flings. Best to have it sorted out, so you don’t spend your time pining over someone when you don’t know how they feel. Rip the band-aid now and see what happens. If he wants a relationship, awesome. If he doesn’t, it’s the perfect time to look for someone new.
More than a FWB April 12, 2011, 1:46 pm
That is one of my fears, actually. I’ve never been the jealous girlfriend. Jealousy just isn’t my nature. However, you’re right, he is quite cavalier about sex and I do worry that I would spend an entire summer worrying if he’s being faithful… and I’ve never been that person and I don’t *want* to be that person.
Christy April 12, 2011, 9:49 am
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck, even if it keeps insisting that it’s just a chicken. Is that metaphor too mixed? 🙂
TheGirl April 12, 2011, 9:54 am
Nope! I think its just the right amount of stirring.
SGMcG April 12, 2011, 9:55 am
Since when does asking for exclusivity equal to the end of the fun? Choosing to be in a monogamous relationship does involve work (as does ANY relationship), but it doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun while working. Tell him how you feel LW – the worst that could be said is that he doesn’t want to put in the work. And if that’s the case, it’s a sure sign to MOA if you want more than FWB.
Feather April 12, 2011, 10:58 am
Tell him, girl, tell him. We all have our worries about the right thing to do when it comes to dating/guys, but in this case, it sounds like you both are interested. Maybe you are both scared, and sometimes it works out great when you bite the bullet and say the unspoken.
And if you find out he is not interested, you won’t have to waste anymore time wondering. Good luck!
Lexington April 12, 2011, 11:10 am
Wendy, have you ever thought about writing a list of rules for an FWB situation? I’d be really interested in what you have to say.
sarolabelle April 12, 2011, 11:20 am
I don’t think you should tell him you love him (that is too strong of a word). But letting him know that you’d like an actual relationship and you have some feelings for him would be good.
lemongrass April 12, 2011, 11:37 am
What have you got to lose? Your FWB relationship? Thats going to end anyways eventually. You have nothing to lose here and everything to gain! Go for it and have fun!
spaceboy761 April 12, 2011, 11:44 am
I like this new trend of Wendy calling people pussies.
MissDre April 12, 2011, 11:47 am
I thought the exact same thing!
spaceboy761 April 12, 2011, 11:51 am
Wendy should do a special edition of ‘Shortcuts’ where the only response to all of the presented letters is “Stop being a pussy”.
moonflowers April 13, 2011, 2:52 am
So the next Wendy-introduced acronym after “MOA” will be “SBAP”? 🙂
sarolabelle April 12, 2011, 11:55 am
maybe Miles makes her do it…
WatersEdge April 12, 2011, 1:48 pm
oh I love this comment!
spaceboy761 April 12, 2011, 2:12 pm
I see what you did there.
neuroticbeagle April 12, 2011, 5:10 pm
i don’t know about that; I think Miles would be offended that being called a pussy is an insult. Knowing four legged pussies as I do, he probably thinks that a being called a pussy should be considered a great compliment if not equivalent to being called a god/goddess.
MAC2011 April 12, 2011, 11:47 am
Go for it! If he doesn’t feel the same you have 3 months to regroup!
cat-i-z April 12, 2011, 11:55 am
Yes Tell Him! If he does not feel the same… then have a fun summer meeting new guys. 🙂
Lindsay April 12, 2011, 12:55 pm
When I first read the title, I thought, “Oh, another person who thinks their FWB is more when it’s not.” But based on the description she gave, I think that it’s worth expressing her feelings. It may be that he’s just enjoying acting like a couple (sometimes people like the feeling of that even if they aren’t with someone they want to commit to). But it may not. And because she’s sort of on a deadline, she might as well find out instead of waiting around all summer.
More than a FWB April 12, 2011, 1:40 pm
Thank you for answering my question! It’s not like the exclusivity on my part is because I feel like I owe it to him, it’s because personally, I don’t like having multiple sexual partners at the same time. I still dated other people in the beginning of all this, I just wouldn’t sleep with them.
We just had an amazing weekend together. There was lots of discussion about how there was more going on than we say there is. However, neither one of us would just come right out and say it and he mentioned how he liked that we didn’t constantly try to define what we were. So, that is sort of a mixed message, I guess.
I am going to take your advice this weekend. I will keep you posted on how it goes!
sarolabelle April 12, 2011, 2:51 pm
wishy washy stuff sucks. Tell him what you want from him and see if he is willing to give it to you. If he’s not then you still have a FWB and if he is then there could be so much more!
spaceboy761 April 12, 2011, 3:15 pm
“… he mentioned how he liked that we didn’t constantly try to define what we were.”
Oy… mixed signal is right. Basically, if you want this relationship to take the next step, you’re going to have to take it yourself. There’s a chance that he could completely balk and you’ll be left with neither a boyfriend or an FWB, but it’s a chance worth taking if you really like this guy.
phoenix217 April 12, 2011, 5:41 pm
the statement “I’ve thought all along that if he wanted us to be in an exclusive relationship, he would make it happen” is very interesting to me. So is the fact that this FWB dude said there’s no “spark” between you and yet he continued to have sex with you. I would take a slightly different route than what Wendy recommended — although it’s certainly very smart advice, probably more mature than what I’d do, but I’m only 23 and this sounds like a college-y thing what with the summer job back home part so maybe my dissent won’t sound like total nonsense?
I’ve seen tons of situations like this…I’ve BEEN in a situation like this. And the former FWB/actslikeboyfriendbutnotreally is still my boyfriend now four years later. It was nearly summer and I was confused, but rather than confessing my feelings and putting any pressure on it, I tried to subtly get a sense of whether he considered me his girlfriend. When I realized that he didn’t, I cooled things off, went home, still remained friendly and our friendship grew very strong — but I dated (re: hooked up with) other guys for a few months and acted quite literally as if he was JUST a friend. Then, when I came back in the fall and he wanted to hook up, I refused (knowing my feelings were on the line) and made it clear that we would be JUST friends (no benefits) unless we were really MORE THAN FRIENDS. Anyway, it worked wonders. Once he felt like I was slightly out of reach, and I was still happy as ever without him acting like my fake boyfriend, he realized his true feelings for me, fell in love, whole shebang, and we’ve been dating ever since that fall.
Maybe you guys are ready to transition into a real relationship right now. Maybe a frank conversation about feelings will go smashingly and he will feel the same and the summer won’t mess things up and you’ll fall madly in love. BUT…it’s possible he won’t really know quite how he feels yet and if you are *too* up front with your feelings it could just make things awkward and you could get hurt and things could be weird. I’ve seen many FWB situations end disastrously and your story sounds so familiar to those I’ve heard from my friends. I’m not saying Wendy’s advice is bad, but I’m saying proceed with caution. I got backrubs and snack foods and drunken confessions before I got commitment too, and I think it takes more than *acting like a boyfriend* to BE a boyfriend.
Roxy Sock'em April 12, 2011, 11:55 pm
From personal experience, I kind of agree with you. I was in a 3 year-long FWB arrangement, but we acted like a couple in every way. We were exclusive, were affectionate in nonsexual ways, talked every day, and everyone around us assumed we were a couple. He confessed his feelings for me and, unprepared, I didn’t reciprocate and kept things the same.
Fast forward, and I realized that I had feelings for him, too, and needed to speak up before he gave up on me altogether. So one day I just had the conversation with him and he was as unprepared as I was the first time around. This turned into a terrible couple of days of indecision and heartache and bickering and hurt feelings. While we eventually did get together, the negative emotions that were created during that period of time still sometimes surface. The rocky beginning haunts our relationship to this day.
I think it would be a good idea to let him start to really think about his feelings for you. They say “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. When you go away for the summer, he may find he misses you more than he thought he would. This could give him time to realize how much he misses your company when you’re not around and really let him appreciate what he has with you. See how he feels when you get back. Don’t just drop the bombshell on him… let this thing grow just a bit before you out-and-out confess your feelings and desires.
Just my two cents. Good luck either way!
phoenix217 April 13, 2011, 5:18 pm
SERIOUSLY? can you really give me a thumbs down for just telling my own personal experience? do you simply not like my life? that’s the way it happened — you can’t really tell me that it’s wrong. and i’m happy with my choices and with my boyfriend, and I think i made it very clear that my experience is probably not the ideal path or even suitable for this person, I was only sharing what i remember from being in a similar situation.