A few months ago, I started dating a really great guy. We were polar opposites, but still found a way to “click” with no effort. I was the happiest I had been in a very long time; we had a great time together, and seldom fought. Truthfully, I had never experienced a connection like this before. About three weeks ago, he told me that he couldn’t be in a relationship because he had “a lot of personal things to figure out before he could love someone”. He said he didn’t want to stop dating me, but felt it wasn’t fair to have me wait for him to figure things out. It was hard on me, because it came out of left field. However, we decided to remain friends (as we had only been together a short while), and we still talked almost every day. When we did communicate, he was usually the one reaching out first. At first, we only talked about “surface level” topics, but has since shifted back to more in-depth conversations.
Recently he has been reaching out more, and we just spent an entire day together jumping from one activity to the next (batting cages, to drinks, to dinner, to driving around admiring beautiful homes – things we used to do all the time). He made several comments about “doing this again,” and the entire day I felt like there was still something there between us. He’s also not the type of guy to play games or string me along. It didn’t seem like things were any different than when we were dating. I’m not sure if I can be misreading things. I have never stayed friends with an ex before, therefore I don’t know if he’s just being friendly, versus pursuing me.
-Are We Friends or Are We More
Dear Are We Friends,
Relationships are hard. It is much easier to have the same things that a relationship would have, but call it something else. I’m sure your friend is being truthful in saying that he doesn’t feel comfortable or ready for a relationship. But based on how you described your last date, it sounds like you may be more than friends just without the relationship label.
It is your choice if you are comfortable to be in this under-identified relationship. If you enjoy the time that you two spend together enough without having the recognition or commitment of a relationship, you should. However, given the limitation that he set on the relationship and the level of involvement that you two had over the past week, I think it is safe for you to decide that this doesn’t work for you.
If you enjoy the time that you two spend together enough without having the recognition or commitment of a relationship, you can make that choice.
If you are willing to remain in this relationship, how will you deal with other romantic interests and navigating physical attraction? When you’re in a non-relationship, you are still available to be in another relationship. Unless you two make a commitment to be exclusive, I would stay alert to the possibility of being disappointed. I think it’s fair to ask him to communicate with you if he decides to start dating someone else.
I would also encourage you to think about how you want to approach the physical aspects of the relationship. Given that you dated before and likely have some sexual chemistry together, it will be important to know what you want if/when that time approaches.
Dear Are We Friends,
While this is a confusing time trying to decipher relationship status, one thing you can be clear on is that you mean a lot to this guy. The chemistry you felt wasn’t made up, nor was the genuine time you spent together. But trying to decode the mixed signals is tough, especially after the great day you recently shared together and the cues that he wanted more of the same.
I would caution that your ex may be testing the waters elsewhere, while having the reliability and comfort of you to fall back on. This may lead to him wanting you back in his life as a girlfriend in the future but it is also very realistic that he is content having you as a friend. The time that you all spend together may not be disingenuous, but is the investment you are making in this relationship heading in the direction that you want? If he’s keeping you in the friend zone and you are envisioning this leading back to a relationship, then it may be time to address it with him.
I would caution that your ex may be testing the waters elsewhere, while having the reliability and comfort of you to fall back on.
Have you asked a friend or someone you trust what they think? Perspective can be really beneficial in a time like this. Entrusting a good friend who knows both of you may provide you with different insight into the situation. Our brains can get in a fog sometimes with love and excitement; a reality check can help reel us back in. It also might not be a bad idea to turn the table and let him experience more of the friend zone at your convenience for a while.