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Let's Just Be Friends?
February 11, 2011 11:44 AM   Subscribe

I have had a few fledgling relationships that have gone from awesome platonic friendship --> sexual tension ---> hook-up (instigated by the guy)--> awkward, painful attempt at going back to friendship (also instigated by the guy). I'm really confused and bitter and angry. Can you help me decipher what's going on and figure out if these friendships are salvageable?

Background: female, straight, mid-20s, living in Midwestern city in the US.

The following pattern/situation has happened twice in the past year, with two different guys and two different circles of friends:

1) I develop a close platonic friendship with a guy in my circle of friends. I am attracted to him, but I'm unsure if he's attracted to me, so I don't pursue him physically, but we hang out a lot, with the group and by ourselves.

2) The guy, after months and months, starts flirting hardcore and eventually kisses me.

3) We hook up (no intercourse, but lots of fooling around). Things are great! We have great chemistry! I'm excited, but I keep calm. I'm not in a rush to define the relationship.

4) After a few days or a week or two, he gets really distant and gives some lame excuse like, "You're really awesome, but I'm just not over my ex" (This same excuse has been used by both guys.)

5) Because we hang in the same group of friends, I still have to see him and be cordial, even when he starts dating/flirting with other people less than a month later. (What happened to your "ex"?) I'm torn between ignoring him completely or pretending that everything is just fine and I feel all this anger and angst and ickyness.


In the end, I just end up feeling really bitter. I don't want to lose these friendships, but at the same time, I can't help but feel angry that they led me on, used me, and then moved on. I understand that happens with random strangers, but not with your close friends.

It makes me feel really insecure because we obviously have an established emotional connection and we get along great, but it's like after we get naked, they get weird (I'm a pretty attractive person, so I don't know what that's about). I keep racking my brain to try to figure out what's wrong with me, and they won't tell me.

Obviously, the key to preventing this from happening again is "don't date your friends", I guess? Okay, I got that part. How do I move on? Last night, I saw one of the guys for the first time since he 'dumped' me (via text message, ugh!), and he was playing footsie under the table with one of our female friends (this girl is engaged to someone else, by the way...). It made me sick to my stomach!

Ordinarily, I would just cut these guys out of my life, but they are good friends and we have so many mutual friends. I want things to back to the way they were before. Is that even possible? How do I get there? Do I need to deal with this on my own, or should I try to talk to them? How do I start that conversation without being all "ooooh, let's talk about our feeeeeelings"? How do I deal with my bitterness/anger?

Am I just bean-plating the shit out of this?
posted by calcetina to Human Relations (36 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Two guys is not a pattern.

As for these particular two guys -- they're not worthy of your time or attention if they don't think you're worthy of theirs.
posted by Etrigan at 11:48 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obviously, the key to preventing this from happening again is "don't date your friends", I guess?

No, the obvious key to preventing this from happening again is "don't hook up with guys who you would like to be in a relationship with unless you've been on a date or talked about it or done anything besides one hookup"

These guys hooked up with you because it seemed like a good idea in the moment, but in the light of day, they didn't want to date you. Things will go back to normal with these guys eventually, but in the future, that's the way to do it.
posted by brainmouse at 11:50 AM on February 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is a very very very common occurrence! Not a pattern, or your fault.
posted by katypickle at 11:51 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not in a rush to define the relationship.

There is no relationship at this point. He's just some guy you hooked up with. If you want to keep looking for relationships within your friend group, go out on an official date first and figure out if they're worth the effort before hooking up.
posted by crankylex at 11:52 AM on February 11, 2011


I don't think you're bean-plating, but I think you might have the wrong attitude. You dated these guys for a little while, and it didn't work out. Things fell apart the same way they fell together. That's how dating works a lot of the time. I wouldn't think of it as them "leading you on" or "using" you; you were presumably both having a good time.

I think something that might be helpful for you is to date more intentionally- this is where dating strangers trumps dating your friends, it's easy to keep things casual up front while you get to know each other and take things further once you know you're both on the same page. You're less likely to make assumptions with a stranger than with a friend.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:55 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


In general, having NSA hookups with someone you have a crush on doesn't turn out well. I am sure there are people in the world who can negotiate that smoothly, but I have never met one of them.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:56 AM on February 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


don't date your friends

No, DO date your friends. Don't hook up with them after an evening drinking/out and think it means something. If you are into them and they kiss you, great. But don't go further if you want more than just a hook up. Make them ask you out. (Or I suppose you can ask them out, but in this scenario, if you've got feelings on the line, it's okay to step back and gage their interest by seeing if they will pursue you.)

This can feel like playing a game. It's very difficult. But hooking up is not dating.

Having said all this: back in my single days, I was miserable at playing these games myself. If you like someone, why not go for it? But when your heart is on the line, you gotta look out for yourself.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:59 AM on February 11, 2011 [14 favorites]


Not trying to thread-sit, but I guess the reason why I'm so confused is that I already had established really close years-long relationships with these guys. It's not like they were just casual friends that I had a schoolgirl crush on; we were basically best friends. We went out to dinner or the movies all the time. People assumed that we were already dating. I just foolishly assumed that the hookup was the next logical step towards a relationship. Is that not the case?
posted by calcetina at 12:03 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Guys in their 20's are still hormonal, and don't always think out what seems like a good idea in the moment. Given enough time, it will end up being one of those things that you laugh about with friends.

For guys, hookups don't necessarily lead to anything other than maybe another hookup. That road does not usually lead to a good relationship (at least, not if you want more than sex). OP doesn't say how often these hook-ups occurred, but if they occurred more than once, it's possible the guys just don't want more than that and dropped it before it became more serious for her.

In the meantime, if you have a crush on someone, move it to an identifiable dating thing before you hook up, and otherwise don't, unless you don't want anything more than FWB. There's nothing wrong with dating people you're friends with, but it will work better with dates rather than hanging out and hooking up.
posted by Hylas at 12:06 PM on February 11, 2011


A couple of things I notice right off the bat:

>> 1) I develop a close platonic friendship with a guy in my circle of friends. I am attracted to him, but I'm unsure if he's attracted to me, so I don't pursue him physically, but we hang out a lot, with the group and by ourselves.

If you are attracted to him, then it isn't platonic. A question for you: when you and your friend get flirty, why do you allow the flirting to escalate to making out? That's pretty much crossing a friend line. Sure, he could be the one to stop it too—but he's not the one in AskMe saying "this doesn't feel good, help me."

That it has happened similarly, twice, leads me to believe that you might be giving off a signal of "Hi, I know we have a lot of mutual friends and run in the same circle, but I don't want to be your buddy; I want to have sex with you."

>> I don't want to lose these friendships, but at the same time, I can't help but feel angry that they led me on, used me, and then moved on. I understand that happens with random strangers, but not with your close friends.

I'm not sure I agree that you were "led on and used", really. When two people who are supposed to be platonic friends accidentally get physical (and yes, it really does happen quite often and I'm here to testify), there should be no problem in returning pretty quickly back to just-friends.

What does the other person owe you that you feel aren't receiving? And why does he owe you it? I'm not snarking at all, just asking honestly. I think answering that question for yourself might highlight where the dissonance in expecations is occurring.

The fact that you were secretly attracted to your "friend" before he made a physical move isn't exactly his fault.

In college, my circle was tightly knit, both sexes, and spent lots of time together. There was "cross-pollination." Where it worked out well was when the two parties didn't bring any drama into the group, and where they both had realistic and laidback attitudes about what happened. Where it didn't work was when one party wanted to convert the other to a significant other, and then was upset when it didn't work out. In that case, injured party always ended up leaving the group. The resentments and weirdness (asking people to pick sides, using the group to artificially engineer contact with the other, etc) always became a death blow.

>> it's like after we get naked, they get weird

I think this has nothing to do with you physically or as a person, and everything to do with a wake-up realization of "oh, wow, I was heading down the path to sleeping with one of my close pals. What a spectacularly bad idea. I need to get back to the Friend Zone, ASAP."

>> I want things to back to the way they were before. Is that even possible? How do I get there?

It's possible. You have to "fake it till you make it," which means you need to pretend that: nothing happened... you don't feel snubbed... and you truly, platonically, support and love your buddy, even as he pursues other girls. Eventually, you will get over your feelings for him, and at the same time he will realize things don't have to be weird between you—because clearly, you are cool with what almost went down. Sweet. High-five.

And as to the future... well, you know the answer already. Look for boyfriends outside of your circle of friends. Don't make out with your friends. Don't flirt back.

(Well, I believe that the opportunity to flirt harmlessly is one of the very best parts of platonic guy-girl relationships. It's great practice for real-world dating. So, I guess I would add "flirt back, but seal off your heart and remember that it is just fun and games and means nothing.")

tl;dr: Bros before Hos, unfortunately. Once you've solidly positioned yourself as a Bro, it's hard to make the jump into a romantic relationship and have it all go well.
posted by pineapple at 12:08 PM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


People assumed that we were already dating. I just foolishly assumed that the hookup was the next logical step towards a relationship. Is that not the case?

That is not the case, especially if you are not expressly dating. If you go to dinner and movies with your friends, then dinner & movies are not the best dates.
posted by Hylas at 12:08 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just foolishly assumed that the hookup was the next logical step towards a relationship. Is that not the case?

It's never the case, to the point that the two are hardly linked at all. The only thing a hookup is guaranteed to lead to is a hookup. Do not feel foolish; many of us also learned this lesson the hard way.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:11 PM on February 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


I just foolishly assumed that the hookup was the next logical step towards a relationship. Is that not the case?

Remember that there are no mistakes, only lessons learned. Now you have learned this lesson.

Hookups are hookups. Going into them expecting them to develop into something more almost never works out, and the likelihood of them turning into relationships seems to me to be in almost inverse proportion to the length of time you have known the person prior to the hookup. (I know people who are are married to people they met in bars expecting to be one-night stands, and I have never encountered a hookup between longtime friends--let alone "best friends"--that turned into a lasting relationship.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:20 PM on February 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would suggest that you either learn to ignore your own attractions (which is what I do, usually) or pro-actively ask out the guys you're attracted to. It seems like the underlying problem is the lurking attraction that you never either set aside or address; this leaves you vulnerable to all kinds of stuff.

IME if you're shy you can take two paths to socio-romantic success - truly, deeply accept that you will never pursue things with any guy who doesn't tell you spontaneously and directly that he wants to date you (and I mean truly, deeply accept this, no pining, no wishing) or else learn to ask guys out and get turned down. As I say, I'm no good at asking so I've chosen the first course, had fewer dates and hook-ups than peers, but have also only ever dated people who were definitely into me. But being the asker is a lot of fun too, I'm given to understand.
posted by Frowner at 12:20 PM on February 11, 2011


Personally, I think if the "more-than-friends" aspect of your relationship begins with something NON-physical, it'll be easier to avoid situations where the guy was just after a meaningless hookup.

So, instead of awesome platonic friendship --> sexual tension ---> hook-up, maybe you should try for awesome platonic friendship --> sexual tension ---> "Mike, I have to tell you ... I think I'm developing feelings for you. Would you like to go on a real date sometime?" Then go on a couple dates that don't involve physical anything. If he's still around and interested, then he's probably not after just a brief FWB thing.

I'm excited, but I keep calm. I'm not in a rush to define the relationship.

And this is part of the problem too. What's the matter with defining the relationship? Defining doesn't = "forcing commitment." Defining is just finding out what both people are thinking. If you'll be hurt if there's a certain outcome, you should find out what outcome the guy has in mind right from the beginning.

Also, it sounds like you're afraid to ask for what you want because you think it'll scare the guys off. That you have to be cool with no-strings-attached hooking up in the beginning because that's the only way you'll eventually get what you seem to want, a real emotional connection. Actually it's more like the opposite of that! If someone is scared off when you want a real emotional connection, then they are NOT going to give it to you no matter how "cool" you are about the no-strings-attached hooking up.
posted by Ashley801 at 12:22 PM on February 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


I think with hook ups it's safest to go into it assuming that it won't turn into anything. If it does, that's a pleasant surprise, but if you go into a nsa hookup expecting (even just in the back of your mind) that you're going to end up in a relationship, you're setting yourself up to be disappointed. From this mindset, you have to make a couple choices:

-- When they start flirting, you have to make a choice of whether or not to try to date them. They might not go for the dating part, so you're taking a risk that they'll lose interest altogether, but this way, you're on firmer ground with what to expect. And it sounds like you're not really interested in sex without dating, so this is pretty much your answer to whether its what you want or not.

-- But, if you don't go a dating route, you have to decide if it's worth it to hook up with them even when you're making the assumption that it's only going to be a one time thing. Is it going to be fun for you? Or is it going to make you feel shitty? Is it worth it to potentially lose their friendship? If you decide that it's not worth it, then don't do it hoping that it will turn into something more. It sounds like to me that it's not worth it to you.

Also, don't feel bad about this. I've done this kind of thing with guys and felt this way, so have many (most?) of my friends.
posted by geegollygosh at 12:23 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess the reason why I'm so confused is that I already had established really close years-long relationships with these guys. It's not like they were just casual friends that I had a schoolgirl crush on; we were basically best friends. We went out to dinner or the movies all the time. People assumed that we were already dating. I just foolishly assumed that the hookup was the next logical step towards a relationship. Is that not the case?

Personally I made a conscious decision to give up on the whole "friends -> more than friends" thing because it tends to create exactly these sorts of situations. The initial part of a romantic relationship can end suddenly for a variety of reasons, and pursuing someone for that long only to have it end so quickly is going to hurt every time. You just become too invested in the idea of being in a relationship when you have a crush on someone, and a lot of times it's not really realistic to expect anything more than friendship. No matter who you are dating, you need to be okay with the fact that it might not work out and not expect someone to be into you (even if you end up hooking up).

I don't want to lose these friendships, but at the same time, I can't help but feel angry that they led me on, used me, and then moved on. I understand that happens with random strangers, but not with your close friends.

Try to put yourself in their position. Let's say you have a platonic guy friend that you are not interested in romantically, and you do not give any overt signs that you are interested in a relationship with him. After a few months, he grows on you because he is a really great guy, and you feel more like you might actually be in a relationship with him. So at some point you really start pursuing it and hookup, but after the initial high of a new relationship you realize that you really don't work in a romantic relationship and are only really compatible as friends. So you make up some excuse to end the relationship and move on with your life. A few weeks later you end up dating someone who you are more compatible with. There's not a whole lot in that sequence of events that would make you a bad person.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:30 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just one more vote for "there's nothing wrong with you, this is so so so common."

The friendships are salvageable, but you might want to give yourself a few weeks of not hanging out with them before you delve back in. And you'll probably feel less awkward about the whole thing if you are dating people outside your circle, even casually, so you're not looking to your friends for that kind of attention.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:34 PM on February 11, 2011


Wow, I am so clueless! I don't have a lot of experience in the dating world; I've only had one long-term boyfriend), so I have no idea how these things work.

Thanks everyone! This is really opening my eyes! I'm now realizing that I have a tendency to rush into things, physically, because I'm afraid of saying 'no'. Wow. That never occurred to me before. I don't know how to set physical boundaries in dating relationships or I don't feel comfortable doing so. How can I learn to do this (other than from trial and error/experience)? Maybe this is another askme question?
posted by calcetina at 12:41 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just foolishly assumed that the hookup was the next logical step towards a relationship. Is that not the case?

It's rarely the case. Look, there's a cute idea/story/trope(?) out there about boy and girl being friends, hooking up, and then realizing that they're soulmates because obviously being friends + sex is the foundation of a solid and safe lifelong relationship. You may have believed that since he's your friend, he's not going to use you for sex without thinking deeply about the consequences of losing your friendship (and the loss of your friendship is supposed to be a bad thing, which he may not care about). On the other hand,there's an equal chance that because you're friends, it's okay to go to each other for sexual comfort and benefits. The problem is that it's making you feel like crap. And I don't blame you. I would even venture to say that these guys, as nice and personable as they may be, aren't really friend material.

And beware that they may try to use one-time hook ups to get you or groom you into a default friends with benefits relationship (they may find it to their advantage to mislead you into thinking that more hookups will lead into a relationship and show up at your door at random hours in the future and you're really just a spare tire for when they're in need), which won't be much of a benefit to a woman like you who wants a real boyfriend. It's really okay to say friends with benefits isn't for you and draw the line. And it's okay to dump these dudes from your life because they made you feel used, even if technically they didn't promise you anything at any time.

So don't hook up with guy friends unless you're clear that they want a relationship with you. It's okay to want to save sex for a relationship that at least has a chance of going somewhere. Just keep your friends and romantic interests somewhat separate and you'll be fine.
posted by anniecat at 12:42 PM on February 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just foolishly assumed that the hookup was the next logical step towards a relationship. Is that not the case?

Not necessarily. I know that it can be really confusing when you've already got emotions invested in the friendship, but...a friendship plus sex is only "friends with benefits". That's what the "benefits" refers to -- "we're friends who fuck now and then, but we're not dating".

A relationship is something different -- it's a different QUALITY of emotions. It's very possible to feel very strongly emotionally devoted to someone as a friend but NOT feel the same thing you would feel towards a romantic partner. If you both feel THAT quality of emotion and then suddenly have sex, then it could lead to more. But if you're just friends and then suddenly have sex, then...you're just friends who hooked up.

And to chime in with the others -- do not feel bad about being confused by this. I spent most of my 20's being similarly confused.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:44 PM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is best handled before anything starts with the person. You mentally prepare yourself for the worst (guy suddenly cools off) and decide if you can handle being in the same social circle if that should happen. It's a pretty harsh price to pay, honestly. If you know you tend to get attached quickly and will have a rough time letting this roll off, you're probably better off being very cautious about starting things with friends. I'd chalk this up to a learning lesson, stop beating yourself up, and be optimistic about the future.

These guys obviously weren't the guys for you. They showed that with their behavior. Don't pine over them because there's nothing there for you. It's like this:

Say you aren't a fan of pickles. You don't hate them, but they aren't your favorite. Someone comes along and says, "Hey, want a pickle?" And you think about it and maybe this is the one day in a year where a pickle sounds good. So you say, "Sure, I'd like a pickle," and then the person comes back and says, "Sorry, I don't have any." Well, here you are, all set for a pickle and it has been cruelly snatched away. The fact that you were misled is far more compelling than the actual pickle, which you might have just nibbled and put aside. But that jackass promised you a pickle! It was going to be the best pickle ever!

The point is: you're focusing on a happy outcome (dating guy -> he's perfect -> great relationship that lasts forever -> why can't I have that?!!) versus the plausible reality (dating guy -> he's got issues -> you get sick of him and move on to someone else -> meh, not for me, keep looking). The fact that these guys cooled off is an opportunity to move on quickly to seeking someone right for you! This is a good thing. So if you bump into them socially you can think to yourself, "Meh, they're just a pickle."

It doesn't mean they are horrible people, or reflect on your worth as a person, it just means you need to define your wants and what you're willing to tolerate and act accordingly in the future.
posted by griselda at 12:45 PM on February 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't know how to set physical boundaries in dating relationships or I don't feel comfortable doing so. How can I learn to do this (other than from trial and error/experience)?

Trial and error IS the only way to do it, unfortunately. I made up my mind finally to NOT hook up with a guy on the first date/meeting, and it's helped.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:46 PM on February 11, 2011


This:

"Last night, I saw one of the guys for the first time since he 'dumped' me (via text message, ugh!), and he was playing footsie under the table with one of our female friends (this girl is engaged to someone else, by the way...)."

And this:

"...but they are good friends and we have so many mutual friends."


Are two statements at odds with each other (emphasis in those statements are mine.)

Good friends don't act like this to each other. Consider slowly swapping out who is on your friend roster - or - stop taking this particular group of friends so seriously.
posted by jbenben at 12:47 PM on February 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't think the problem is that you hooked up, it's that you became friends first. It sounds like you're finding guys you like, and then trying to slowly ease them into a relationship with you. Lots of people want love to knock them for a loop, the exact opposite of gradual and comfortable.

Trying to be friends first to get into a relationship is like going to a nudist beach to find someone to have sex with, thinking that people have to take their clothes off to have sex, so if they're already naked, it will be that much easier.
posted by AlsoMike at 12:50 PM on February 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


These two guys did not hold up their end of the deal. Even "NSA" sex should carry some basic standards of honesty, mutuality, and respect. They treated you badly.

What's with the lame excuses, lack of honesty, and avoidance? Even platonic friends should not treat each other that way. Don't ever lend these guys any money, let's just say. Friends? Bah. Hopefully you have way better friends elsewhere.

I am too old-fashioned to believe this hooking up thing is anything but a bad idea. Even so, I believe that it must be the gentleman's duty to establish the expectations up front as in, "I really want to be just friends with you, but I'd like to use your body for my pleasure and I'll offer you the same, but nothing more." They should ensure you understand that and agree before they unbutton anything of theirs or yours. Sounds like your two cads detected your feelings and hoped your attraction would result in a score for them, after which they could hide under the "it was only a hook up" dodge.

And maybe it's just because I'm a father of three daughters, but if seeing these guys makes you sick, trust your feelings. Hang out with guys who are more honest and respectful with women and people in general.
posted by cross_impact at 12:53 PM on February 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think that some of the best relationships can come from first being friends. As a guy I've never really been into nsa sex so I can't comment on that.
Granted my girlfriend and I prior to being a couple did kinda hookup but she prompted a question to me right after asking about our direction/future together the following morning.
Perhaps this is something you could try. I think communication is key in any form of relationship as it lays out intentions and while may be uncomfortable one doesn't need to bean plate meanings afterwards.
posted by handbanana at 12:53 PM on February 11, 2011


Just tell yourself/remind yourself and your friends that you don't/no longer hookup with people you aren't dating.
posted by anniecat at 1:04 PM on February 11, 2011


I think that for most men, at least young men, a female friend is somehow "off-limits", like a sister, and that to suddenly have her slip out of that role into potential GF/sexy creature is discombobulating. The guy likes you, doesn't want to hurt your feelings because you're friends, so he kisses/makes out/ does horizontal mambo and then feels weird.

Bros before 'hos is crude, but the sentiment of friends before lovers can cross gender lines.

So if you want to be seen as GF material, you have to sort of communicate that from the jump, rather than being a pal for years. In rom-coms, the guy suddenly discovers that he's been in love/lust with faithful pal all this time, but I'm not sure that it works in real life.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:12 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I already had established really close years-long relationships with these guys.

Okay, so you've known them a long time. How have they behaved in their other romantic relationships? Are you glossing over not-so-admirable behavior because you're attracted to them and think it will be different if they're in a relationship with you?

I learned this lesson the long and painful way, based on having a tight circle of friends that would occasionally date each other. One guy, who I fortunately only dated briefly, has subsequently developed a pattern of dating girls for months or YEARS, all the while saying "it's casual", and then seeming baffled when the girls expect more, based on the length of the relationship and his extremely couple-y behavior. At the end of each relationship he defends himself with "But I always SAID it was casual!"

Guy number two I fell hard and fast for. I knew that he had had a brief fling with another friend, and had kissed YET ANOTHER friend in the presence of her then-boyfriend. But, I thought, he's recently divorced and just made a couple of poor choices! Our relationship will be different! And, for a while, it was. We dated for a whole six months. During which time I was violently in love with him. Except for the nagging feeling that he was flirting a little too much with an engaged friend for my taste. And then he dumped me. And, within, a month, went on to date ANOTHER girl from our group of friends, who had seen all of the same stuff I'd seen, but ALSO thought, "but with me it will be different!"

The lesson I learned from all this is, people who are good relationship material are good people, period. You don't have to make excuses for their behavior. You don't have to think, oh, he's a great guy, but he's behaved kind of shittily to a couple of people.

So, have these guys really never given you a clue that they might think with their hormones first and then flake later? REALLY? Even the one who's now playing footsie with an engaged woman?

In my own case, I'm still friends (though not close friends) with both of these guys, even the one I was crazy in love with, because I got to a point where I was able to appreciate the good things about them, while never wanting to touch a romantic relationship with them again with a ten foot pole.
posted by MsMolly at 1:16 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've seen these situations turn into relationships and I've seen them not turn into relationships. I don't think there is anything wrong with it, but I also don't think you can go in with any expectations. I've been to plenty of weddings this year alone that started exactly this way, of course for every wedding there are a few dozen hookups that went nowhere, but you have to be in the game to win it and I think drunken hookups with friends have as good of odds as any for finding love.

Dating is a game where you lose 100 times in hopes of winning just once. Don't feel foolish or bitter. This is exactly how it's supposed to work. It's not you, it's just life. Move on to the next prospect and don't let the bastards get you down.
posted by whoaali at 2:01 PM on February 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm a little curious, too, you keep mentioning "hook ups", but you also say that although there is some serious making out going on, there's no intercourse (your words). But then you also say that you have trouble defining physical boundaries.

So, is it possible these guys never even saw you as a girlfriend? You never had sex, and since you don't define physical boundaries other than that, they may just feel you fool around with all your male friends?

Just asking you to clarify that a bit. Why no intercourse? Is that the line you personally draw to decide you are "in a relationship"?
posted by misha at 2:46 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Misha, that's a great question. Usually 'hooking up' almost always involves me giving them oral sex, which I instigate. I think I do this because I'm okay with saying "hey, I'm not going to sleep with you", but then I feel guilty about leaving them unsatisfied. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I was sexually assaulted by my very first boyfriend/partner and for a long time, I felt like it was my fault because I got him aroused and didn't "finish the job", so to speak.

Now, I think I use oral sex as a panic button. If things get too hot and heavy, instead of saying "let's slow down", I just try to get a guy off as fast as possible, even guys that I (allegedly) completely trust. I'd never linked these issues before together in my mind, but when I type this all out, it makes perfect sense.

And yes, intercourse is the act I use to indicate "in a relationship". As it is, I've only had intercourse with one person, my ex-bf.
posted by calcetina at 8:10 AM on February 12, 2011


Oh, hon --

I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I was sexually assaulted by my very first boyfriend/partner and for a long time, I felt like it was my fault because I got him aroused and didn't "finish the job", so to speak.

I'm wondering if this may be the root of what's going on here, in the sense that you may still need to work through some confusion about what you personally do and don't deserve in terms of relationships. I'm sure you've at least grasped that none of that was your fault and that your ex is an asshole, but perhaps spending a while thinking your way through whatever other lingering scars your ex may have left you with may help you see more clearly how to proceed with other guys, and when.

Best of luck, as well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:41 PM on February 12, 2011


Usually 'hooking up' almost always involves me giving them oral sex, which I instigate. I think I do this because I'm okay with saying "hey, I'm not going to sleep with you", but then I feel guilty about leaving them unsatisfied

Stop with the guilt. You're starting to think yourself into a position where you're going to get used and abused. Give blowjobs when you want to give blowjobs, not because you want someone to like you more. Don't give blowjobs out because you're being a nice person. Concentrate on what you want, especially if you're not in a real relationship and just hooking up with some guy friend.

You sound like such a confused person. You sound like the kind of girl who would thrive in a monogamous, serious relationship but you're confused by modern sexual expectations. What you need to focus on is getting what you want. Stop doing sexual stuff and respect what you want and your limitations. Examine your thinking and figure out what your expectations are and don't conflate them with the expectations of another person. And stop accommodating them. You want a relationship. You want a boyfriend. Don't give blowjobs to just anybody who is a friend and might be a prospective boyfriend. You're just letting yourself get used. It's time to have rules about what you'll do based on how you think you'll feel afterwards.
posted by anniecat at 9:05 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I agree that defining your own boundaries will help a lot.

I don't think it's a bad thing to date your friends under the right circumstances. Just make sure it's not ambiguous in any way. If you are wondering what's going on, it's not going well.

The best thing I finally realized in my late twenties (I may have even been over 30, sadly) was that life is nothing like a romantic comedy. Someone above mentioned there is a common story about the best friends falling in love, and that's a dangerous one. Another dangerous story is the "he was a horrible asshole and then changed when he met me" and "sparks of anger flew when we met and then they became sparks of passion." Basically, if your love life could be the plot of a harlequin romance, it's probably not the real thing.
posted by rainydayfilms at 10:32 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


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