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I have been friends with this guy for two years. Then starting six months ago we started having a physical type of relationship. No sex yet but everything else. About a month into that and he told me he didn’t want an official relationship, just everything else. It didn’t make a lot of sense because we both said how we weren’t the kind of people to do hookups but I decided I would continue with it anyways. The next time I saw him was the night after and I was ready to just hook up but he stayed to cuddle and told me about how he doesn’t find it easy to be in relationships anymore basically because he was hurt before. That made sense to me because he was acting interested (doing things that weren’t just physical) but he was probably scared. In the following months we only got closer. He initially started off with saying that I could talk to whoever at the beginning and now he goes out of his way to tell me I’m the only one he’s involved with and asks if it is the same for me. When he comes over we cuddle more than anything else, talk about what’s happening in our lives and joke around. He’s supported me through a family issue as well. Now his gestures are really sweet. He kisses my forehead, or cheek, or hand. We talk almost every day and not only about hooking up.
Last time I asked him if he had changed his mind about what he wanted and he asked me what I wanted, he had said he still didn’t want a relationship and I didn’t say anything. I know it is mostly that he’s scared and right now it’s easy for him because what we have is pretty much a relationship that just isn’t labelled. I want him to know that I won’t hurt him but I’m scared that if I bring it up he may be even more scared because that will be changing things and will be putting him at risk if he admits he has feelings. Most of our friends know about this too. Many of mine are frustrated with him for not trying to make a relationship out of this for real. However, I understand the situation completely. I’m just wondering what you think I should do? I am interested in continuing this but sometimes I find it hard because I don’t have so much validation. I am probably as scared as he is, he just doesn’t know it.
-More Than Friends
Dear More Than Friends,
How would you define your relationship? Because it seems you’ve given this guy the reigns. If I asked him how he defined the relationship, I think he would respond back with a classic case of friends with benefits. You all know each other, confide in one another, support each other and have each other’s back. But yet you are hesitant to define the relationship. Why? He brings up the story of being hurt in the past. You continue to hide your feelings because legitimizing the relationship would make you happy, but you know if he doesn’t reciprocate you would be heartbroken. You are leaving it in this gray zone to avoid potential rejection.
Friends with benefits can work if you are on the same page. But it seems you are both much more advanced in your commitment to one another. A relationship that isn’t labelled is typically because someone isn’t ready to make a move. Is that you? Is it him?
You can keep fretting about this relationship or make the next conversation the one that defines it.
I would listen to the opinion of the people closest to you. In this case your friends. They see the time and effort that you have spent investing in this relationship and that you aren’t fulfilled with the “title” of just being friends. So what do you do now? You can keep coasting and wondering where you fall in the love spectrum, or you can have a real adult conversation with him. You talk every day right? You can keep fretting about this relationship or make the next conversation the one that defines it.
Dear More Than Friends,
Defining the relationship is a 2-way street. It’s hard to commit to being the one waiting in the middle if the other person isn’t going to meet you there. Like you said, this creates fear and worry about being hurt. However, putting yourself out there is the only way that relationships can work. The fear that comes with this is in some ways what makes relationships so rewarding and worthwhile.
You expressed in your question that you want to let him know that you are committed to not hurting him. You expressed in your question that you want to let him know that you are scared too. Now is your chance. He even recently asked you what you wanted from the relationship and you didn’t put yourself out there. I know that is scary but verbalizing your hopes for the relationship is the only way forward.
I know that is scary but verbalizing your hopes for the relationship is the only way forward.
You guys have been functioning as a relationship lately without the title and have only gotten closer over the past few months. All the evidence lines up that he is committed to you but may just need the verbal encouragement from you to pursue the relationship. This doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed success if you put yourself out there. Relationships are never guaranteed but it sounds like he is someone you care about enough to take the risk.