Updates: “Just My Name” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Just My Name” who wrote last week about the non-exclusive relationship she was engaging in with an older man who refused to introduce her as his girlfriend or lover, saying he was not interested in using any “possessive” titles that insinuate exclusivity. Today, she doesn’t have so much of an update but more explanation of her position and a request for more advice.

Thanks so much for posting my question. It’s gotten some really wonderful responses, and I really appreciate everyone’s feedback.

It has been said that women use sex to get love and men use love to get sex. I am seeing how our relationship may reflect this adage. Wendy, you are so right. I do need to be honest with myself. I do want a non-exclusive relationship and consider myself polyamorous, but when I fall in love, I desire a well-rounded relationship.

I, frankly, am quite confused about our relationship, because it feels like an gf/bf relationship that’s just open. Sure, having sex is something we want to do when we see each other, but in no way is it the main activity of our time spent together. We’re not FWB because we have sleepovers without sex, have outdoor daytime dates, cook meals together, and are emotionally invested, sharing our feelings and what’s going on in our lives. But yes, one reason it’s not a gf/bf relationship is because when we have sex there’s more fucking than making love.

This was addressed last night when I came over to his place sexily dressed up and he took it as a cue to ravish me and I had to awkwardly kill the mood to let him know I wanted some sweet connection. This happens often, when he wants to fuck and I want to make love. But when asked, he has argued he is making love and is sweet. My understanding is his capacity to be emotionally expressive and soft is limited.
But yes, I know that when a relationship does not reflect expectations, sadly it’s time to move on.

Feel free to post this response. I look forward to hearing your response #2 as well! — Just My Name


Ok, so, basically you have everything you want in this relationship except the title and the kind of sex you desire. The title, really, is just silly. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, does it really matter if you don’t call it a duck? Isn’t it still a duck? If you FEEL like boyfriend and girlfriend and neither one of you is interested in an exclusive relationship, what the hell difference does it make if you don’t call each other “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”? Your relationship is still a duck. Or something like that.

The sex issue, though, is a bigger deal, especially when you are seeing your different desires as a reflection of your different capacity to express emotion. It’s an issue when you view sex as the main or even sole expression of love and care instead of all the other things you do together — sleepovers, outdoor daytime dates, cooking meals together, sharing your feelings and what’s going on in your lives. Obviously, something is lacking for you and you keep looking for it in sex or in the way this guy introduces you to people. It sounds very much like you want confirmation that you mean something to him — you want to know he loves you in the same way you love him. And if he isn’t telling you as much and you can’t figure it out in all the non-verbal ways, I suggest you ASK him if he loves you and, if you don’t like the answer or don’t trust the answer and are tired of waiting for what you want, it’s time to MOA.


If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at [email protected] with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

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  1. I think you want more out of this “thing” than he does. You sound as though you are expecting more than he’s willing to give. Mismatched expectations do not bode well. Instead of trying to clarify your position with us (who don’t personally know you or your partner) maybe you should use this as a cue to talk to him about your expectations.

  2. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

    WJS. You want more than he is willing to give. You either settle for what he will give you or you don’t. That is wholly your decision, but it sounds like YOU aren’t willing to settle. Your call, LW, and best of luck to you!

  3. I have to disagree with Wendy that, all other things being equal, a title doesn’t matter. It’s like the age old argument of “oh it’s just a piece of paper, why do have have to be married!?”. I think if a title or a marriage certificate really doesn’t matter to you either way, you would do it to make your partner happy. Being *afraid* of a title or a marriage certificate and insisting it’s because it doesn’t really matter is incongruent in my opinion. Usually in my experience people who rail against “labels” and the “piece of paper” are actively afraid of those things and have other issues going on. And it’s totally legit to say you do want the label and to walk away if your partner can’t give that to you.

    1. Avatar photo theattack says:

      So agree with this. You summed up all of my opinions so eloquently. ha!

    2. Every time I hear the “just a piece of paper” thing I translate it in my mind as “I live in a fantasy world where nothing ever goes awfully wrong and people never need all the help they can get”. Ok, sure, it’s a piece of paper. One that, at least in my country, allows your spouse to see you if you’re in the ICU, to receive healthcare benefits from your employee, to make treatment decisions should you be impaired to the point where you can’t make them yourself. It’s a piece of paper like a green card is a piece of paper, or like an organ donor card is a piece of paper.
      And sure, you can get a lawyer to draft all sorts of papers giving you permission to do all of the above. But knowing that my partner would rather spend that kind of time and money setting it up than marry me would make me think that they care more about being “rebellious” than about me, and make me like them less.
      Of course it’s different if marriage’s legal benefits in your country are different.

  4. I honestly think you’re trying to convince yourself, LW, that you’re ok with this relationship and what this man is offering you. You’re clearly not. If you were, you wouldn’t continuously write in and word things just a little bit differently to tell us “see, I’m ok with my relationship!”
    We’re not the people who need to be ok with your relationship. You are. And I think you need to have a long talk with this man and lay it out on the table, even is you aren’t going to get the answer you like.

    1. Also, this statement ” I do want a non-exclusive relationship and consider myself polyamorous, but when I fall in love, I desire a well-rounded relationship,” screams that you want some kind of commitment.
      That’s great that you’re open to having a polyamorous relationship, but you obviously also want a commitment. This man has told you more than once he doesn’t want that.

  5. I think that what you’re describing is precisely what I’d call FWB. Think about what you do with your friends (the ones you’re not sleeping with). You hang out, you might cook or bake a meal together, you might stay over at each other’s homes, you go out and do things together (shopping, a movie, lunch, dinner, a play, etc). You talk about what’s going on in your lives, you talk about how you feel about things. That’s friendship, right there. In fact, it’s a pretty exact description of my relationship with my best (female) friend.

    You add on sex to that, and you get FWB.

    That’s exactly what you have. This man enjoys your friendship and your company, but he does not have romantic feelings for you. For him, the ‘benefits’ are just another fun activity like cooking or going to a movie.

    You want him to have romantic feelings for you, as you clearly do for him. But if he hasn’t developed them by now, he’s not going to. I’m sorry. If that’s what you want, MOA and go find someone who wants the same things you do.

    1. I agree. I think FWB is sometimes used as shorthand for people who just meet up for sex, but there’s a reason it’s *friends* with benefits. And, that’s exactly what the LW and her guy are, and from the sound of it, that’s all he wants. I also agree that the reason the LW is pushing for a label and looking for love in sex is because she wants more out of this relationship than she’s getting. I think it’s time to be honest with yourself, LW, and accept that if you want romantic love – even if it isn’t exclusive, per se – you need to let this relationship go.

      1. tbrucemom says:

        So I made very similar comment on her original post about my definition of FWB and got more thumbs down than thumbs up whereas these comments are the opposite! I thumbs up all of them just so you know! It’s a conspiracy 🙂

    2. lets_be_honest says:

      Totally agree on how this sounds like a FWB situation. Clearly its not what the LW wants though.
      Anyway, this whole ‘make love v. fucking’ thing…maybe I am lacking in the romance dept., but do people really “make love?” What is that exactly? Like, what specifically happens in bed that there’s a difference between fucking and making love? Is it just that you are with someone you love? Exactly how dumb do I sound by asking this?

      1. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I assume that it refers to a general connection? I think of it as looks exchanged, or an overall feeling of connectedness, or doing it while in love. Not that I think about this as an issue at all, but it’s what I imagine when other people say it.

      2. To me, making love satisfies an emotional connection, whereas fucking is purely physical. Sometimes, you just want the physical act, other times you don’t.

      3. I sort of see a difference in making love vs. fucking. But what I don’t see is how one can plan out one or the other. Sometimes sex is slow and sweet and intimate, and sometimes it’s quick and dirty. But it’s more just..in the moment how things play out. It kind of comes naturally.

      4. It’s not so much planning as asking, or expressing what you’re in the mood for.

      5. True. I guess I just don’t know how it would kill the mood to ask. Like you can just be like “Hey let’s slow it down”. If it’s that awkward maybe they are just out of sync.

      6. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I think there is a BIG difference, but I can’t really articulate what that difference is. I think it’s largely to do with fucking being for the physical satisfaction, and making love (hate that phrase btw) being a physical expression of an emotional connection? If that makes sense…

      7. Yes, this exactly.

        BTW I used to hate the expression too but old age has made me corny and now I find it super useful to describe a certain kind of sex.

      8. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive… I think making love can include fucking. However, sometimes fucking is just fucking, for fun, recreational, no other feelings involved. At least that’s how it feels for me. If I am in a swinging situation, I never feel that “connectedness” with my partner. Its just fucking. With my FWB – its just fucking. With my BF it can be both

      9. Yes, this! Although I would never in a million years tell someone I want to make love. Then, I would just say sex. I also hate mushy, so that why’s I would be embarrassed to say something like that. With that being said, sex is different with someone you truly care about. Even if you do just fuck.

      10. I guess I am the opposite. I absolutely hate the word fucking in this context. (Although I use it freely enough in other contexts.)

      11. I actually don’t use either – making love or fucking. I say sex. Plain and simple. But, I do understand there is a difference between different types of sex.

      12. I know, me neither..it also felt weird to type out the F word that many times… Hah!

      13. How much wood would a woodchuck fuck if a woodchuck could fuck wood?

      14. lets_be_honest says:

        Reminds me of the name game. Suzy, suzy suzy bo poozy, banana fanna fo foozy…but when you would get a name that would result in a bad word and it being hilarious.

      15. Chuck, Chuck, fo…must stop…

      16. tbrucemom says:

        I’ve been married twice (still married to the second one) so my feelings for each of them were the same in that I loved/love them. My first husband and I would do what I’d call making love. He would always say how much he loved me, lots of kissing, etc. while we were having sex, which was nice (better than the actual sex part actually). My current husband isn’t very verbally affectionate and not a big kisser, but is really good at doing IT, so I consider that fucking. He’s also surprisingly a great cuddler afterward so I get the best of both worlds. Maybe it’s just a difference in tender sex vs. rough sex actually in my mind.

  6. I don’t think I could be in a relationship that requires this much analysis. That’s about all I can say on a rainy Monday morning with no caffeine and the start of my period. Ugh.

  7. It sounds like the guy is pretty consistent about who he is and what he wants and it is you, LW, who is giving mixes messages and looking for him to interpret them the way you want them to be interpreted. My guess is 100 out of 100 men would assume you want to be boned when you come over dressed up like a sexy tart and no one would guess those fishnet stockings are code for “make sweet love to me like you mean it.”
    He likes you fine, enough to put up with your antics, so ask him already if he’s willing to become exclusive and give a full-on relationship with you a try. This, of course, flies in the face of your lip service to polyamory and open relationships, but if he’s the exception for you, then ask for what you want.

  8. Liquid Luck says:

    Even if he suddenly starts calling you his girlfriend, he isn’t going to start “making love” to you all the time. For real. Do you know how many times I’ve fucked my husband? Every single time we’ve had sex, ever, and I love him a whole lot. Your statement that “one reason it’s not a gf/bf relationship is because when we have sex there’s more fucking than making love” is not grounded in any kind of universal relationship reality, it is just what you, personally, would like. Some people just aren’t into making “sweet connections” in that particular area. If it’s really important to you, I suggest finding someone who is.
    Or you can try cooking for your not-boyfriend more. You seem to love tired, sexist cliches, and I happen to have heard that they way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I bet it will totally work!

  9. Yeah, I’m super side-eyeing LW’s distinction between “fucking” and “making love”. You wanna dub different kinds of sex with different terms, okay, you do you–but don’t attribute one kind with “serious, loving relationship” & another with “casual fling”. Unless a dude has some kind of madonna/whore complex, he won’t reserve his gentle lovemaking for you until you’re his girlfriend (while then excluding you from quick, hot, dirty “fucking” *because* you’re his girlfriend). (And I’d make this gender neutral, except what is the female version of madonna/whore complex? Adonis/John complex? I can’t even)
    But yeah, I’m also side-eyeing the discussion above because in my opinion, the lw’s distinction has no legitimacy–it’s a possible reflection of messed up views on sex and relationships? Lots of us have those, it’s cool, but you (@LW) might want to reconsider how you feel about sex within a relationship/sex outside of a relationship/sex itself?

    1. Good point! Although I could imagine that LW just prefers gentle and “emotionally expressive” sex, period. And somehow she thinks she will get that if they label their relationship as a bf/gf one. But in reality this could just as well be a sexual incompatibility, regardless of relationship labels.

      1. I agree, it’s either she just ~doesn’t~ like the way he fucks her, & imagines he’ll do it how she likes once she’s girlfriend status.. OR she ~does~ like how he fucks her, but DOESN’T like what she imagines it means when he fucks her that way (instead of “making love”?)

  10. The way your last paragraph is worded it almost seems like you dressed in a certain way and went to house in order to ‘test’ him. Like to see if he would choose a ‘sweet connection’ over ‘ravishing’. And I mean if you want a ‘sweet connection’ then you have to ask for one. And it sounds like either your definitions don’t line up or that’s not what he wants. Either way it sounds like the real issue is you want a certain level of commitment that he doesn’t want. No amount of debating what you call sex will fix that.

  11. Bittergaymark says:

    Good News: You are so, so NOT Friends With Benefits!
    Bad News: Instead You ARE Confusion With Benefits…

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