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Jealous, Possessive FWB
December 14, 2012 9:33 AM   Subscribe

My FWB is Jekyll and Hyde, acting like a jealous boyfriend, then rationalizing it. When I try to talk to him about it he goes into denial. Help?

We've been sleeping together for about a year and a half. At first, I was hoping to have a real relationship with him, but he kept insisting that he didn't want that, in a general sense. He has not had a girlfriend in 12 years, but has had a lot of undefined partnerships, some monogamous and some not. He says he is simply not wired for long-term relationships.

I accepted this reluctantly but eventually I got used to it and now it's pretty much what I want from him. We both saw other people along the way and had many talks about how neither of us are the jealous type. I tend to be poly-ish anyway.

Along the way, we drifted into a noncommittal monogamy. We both seemed to be on the same page with our attitude: we enjoy each other's company and sex together, but we're not restricting each other from other partners. But right now, neither of us want to bother with looking for anyone else.

We have both said we love each other. We haven't really said "in" love, and we both tell other friends we love them too. For me, it's a bit of a gray area and I don't see love as only for someone you'd want to marry or whatever.

However, here's the Jekyll and Hyde part: he has insisted at times that he doesn't love me, because he "doesn't do that anymore with anyone." When he says he loves me, he just blurts it out like he can't help it. When he says he doesn't, he's in one of his rationalizing moods. He will say things like "looks like I have a girlfriend even though I don't really want one." I have never referred to myself as his GF and I don't pressure him. In fact, I need a lot more alone time than he does and I am far from clingy or demanding.

He has told me he "knows I am in love with him." I have felt that way at times, especially early on. He's known all along that he could make it official so it's not like he's resisting because of me.

Twice now, he has acted jealous despite his self-image that he doesn't have a jealous bone in his body. When I tell other people about this behavior, they say he acts like he owns me, and I feel that way too. I really hate it.

Both times were times when we didn't have plans for the evening and I had plans with a male platonic friend (different guys) instead. FWB called me and I told him I couldn't talk because I was hanging out with the other person.

The first time he sent a snarky email, to which I replied with kindness because I thought he was hurt. It seemed to smooth things over. However, he bent over backwards to assure me it "wasn't about jealousy" and to tell me he didn't care if I hung out with or slept with other guys.

Operating on that assumption, I made plans with this other fellow a couple of nights ago (again, purely platonic). FWB called late, sounding drunk, and when I told him I couldn't talk because I was hanging out with Guy Pal, he hung up on me. Shortly thereafter, he texted me to say he was never going to speak to me again.

I was very angry and didn't reply. He texted me an apology yesterday morning, and then called and left a message. Both times he was very conciliatory, and claimed to be in a bad mood that had nothing to do with me. Finally I sent him a text back saying I would talk to him after I had calmed down. I really don't want to say anything I'll regret, because we are friends, but I think that's a really shitty way to treat someone.

He set up these rules for our relationship, but when I follow them, he gets pissed off. I'm expecting him to keep giving lip service to the whole non-jealousy thing, but I really don't believe it.

I don't know what to do. I don't expect him to be honest with himself. I expect more of the same "setting me up to fail" crap. What he has told me about his relationship history makes me think I'm one in a long line of non-girlfriends he developed feelings for and then got angry at them for it.

At one time I would have simply been his GF, had he wanted that. But now I'm so sick of his crap that I'm thinking of breaking it off. Even if he were my BF he wouldn't have the right to be so jealous of my friendships.

How do I have this conversation with him when he won't even acknowledge his behavior for what it is? And if it's DTMFA time, it's a bit too LTR-ish for the Miko script, so what are some things I can say to end this gracefully?
posted by sucky_poppet to Human Relations (31 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Break it off. Say "we want different things, this isn't working for me and it doesn't seem to be working for you."
posted by elizardbits at 9:35 AM on December 14, 2012 [27 favorites]


Too bad if he won't acknowledge his behavior. That isn't required for you to say "You are treating me badly and I won't put up with this shit anymore. You want to play by these rules but then act like an asshole when I do. We're done."

He doesn't respect you and doesn't seem to respect himself either, since he can't bring himself to be honest about what he wants. Don't let him continue to make it your problem. It's not. It's his.
posted by rtha at 9:38 AM on December 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yeah, it's DTMFA time. He sounds pretty immature, and it sounds like the relationship is bringing you more drama than joy.

I think a short (short!) discussion is in order, followed by a strict no contact policy.
posted by Specklet at 9:40 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


He sounds like an enormous pain in the ass and you've just figured out exactly why he been spending the last decade+ having 'undefined partnerships.' It doesn't seem like he has a clue as to how to behave in anything resembling a relationship -- monogamous, polyamorous, FWB, whatever -- and resorts to grand dramatics when he's called out on shitty behavior. Seriously, texting you "to say he was never going to speak to [you] again" is a ridiculous thing to have to put up with. I'd concentrate less on getting out of this gracefully and more on making sure he stays excised. No discussions, no conversations, just a simple "look, this friends-with-benefits thing isn't working, and I don't want to be in a relationship, so, let's just call it off. No hard feelings."
posted by griphus at 9:46 AM on December 14, 2012 [19 favorites]


"This isn't really working anymore. I understand if you need space."

Miko's script is good for treating someone with care and respect. This dude is immature and playing games so who gives a shit what he thinks. Break it off and walk away.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:48 AM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


For FWB, you need to be a F. He's not being a friend. He's being an unpredictible cipher. Tell him that if he doesn't care about you being boyfriend and girlfriend, his WB card is revoked and that shouldn't matter to him. But you know it does and he can't even admit it to himself let alone you. I'd tell him that's the reason why you can't be friends, this bullshit changing of the definition of friends and violations of boundaries.
posted by inturnaround at 9:49 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


This situation is more trouble than it is worth. The whole point of a FWB is that there is no drama and no strings. He's making lots of drama and there are strings. Lots of strings. And frankly he's acting like he is struggling to keep the F part of this clear. It sounds to me like he has developed decided more-than-friends feelings for you and really isn't handling it well.

I think your FWB relationship has run its course.

My thoughts on FWB situations is once you have to start asking other people for advice on how to manage it, that is when it is time to end it.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:53 AM on December 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't want to be so blunt, but here goes-he wanted benefits when it wasn't convenient for you so he throws a tantrum.


You don't need this.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:54 AM on December 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


Also, his last GF was 12 years ago? Either he was junior high the last time he had a girlfriend or he is way too much of a giant manbaby for his age.
posted by elizardbits at 9:55 AM on December 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


This guy sounds like a mess. Don't worry about trying to get him to see the error of his ways; he won't and trying will just be frustrating for you. I agree with the "this isn't working for me" line. Then cut him loose.
posted by Katine at 9:58 AM on December 14, 2012


he texted me to say he was never going to speak to me again.

Yeah no one needs this in a FWB situation. If you want to have a final "come to jesus" talk with the guy using the "It's not who you are, it's how you're acting" thing [i.e. it doesn't matter if he is or is not jealous, honestly, but this sort of acting out is total nonsense and has no place in the sort of relationship you are supposedly having] and outline some guidelines. Otherwise yeah, life's too short and this is ridiculous.
posted by jessamyn at 9:58 AM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


"looks like I have a girlfriend even though I don't really want one."

FWB or not, that's some petty, obnoxious passive-aggressiveness right there.

Both times he was very conciliatory, and claimed to be in a bad mood that had nothing to do with me.

You don't believe that, do you? Even if it was true, adults don't treat their close friends like crap just because they're in a "bad mood." This guy needs to grow up. Cutting things off with him won't guarantee he will, but staying with will most likely guarantee that he won't.
posted by mcmile at 10:16 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


When he says he loves me, he just blurts it out like he can't help it. When he says he doesn't, he's in one of his rationalizing moods. He will say things like "looks like I have a girlfriend even though I don't really want one." I have never referred to myself as his GF and I don't pressure him. In fact, I need a lot more alone time than he does and I am far from clingy or demanding.

He has told me he "knows I am in love with him." I have felt that way at times, especially early on. He's known all along that he could make it official so it's not like he's resisting because of me.



Yeah dude, this sounds majorly like a defense mechanism - painting you as the one who is trying to make this all monogamous and exclusive even though that's not his thing, but then he gets pissy when you act non-monogamous. Hell no.

(It's sad because it sounds rather like he does love you, or at least likes you enough to be monogamous, but he's completely cocked up telling you or himself that).

I think you are well within your rights to tell him right now that this is over, or if you feel like having one more come-to-Jesus talk, do that and tell him quite plainly that you love him, but you're not in love with him, you do not want to be exclusive, and the very next time he acts like he "knows" that better than you do or gets pissy that you're with another guy, you are through.
posted by nakedmolerats at 10:32 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Add my voice to the chorus of DTMFA.

If he won't acknowledge that his behavior (the reasons for the behavior are actually irrelevant) is a problem that he needs to fix, you can't save the relationship. That applies to relationships with friends, lovers, spouses...almost all voluntary relationships, in fact. It's time to walk away from this particular one.

It's probably true that you'd eventually like a committed romantic relationship, whether poly or monogamous, right? His behavior is going to make finding that primary relationship very difficult. If you need a way to explain your decision to end things that he'll have a harder time arguing his way out of, focusing on your own desire for a real committed relationship might be the way to go. He may argue that you can do that while maintaining a relationship of sorts with him, but you can just say that you feel the need to focus on this endeavor, and that having him in your life makes that harder for you. I mean, honestly, he doesn't really deserve this kind of "it's me, not you" explanation, but I suspect anything else will just encourage his Crazy. Without lying, if you can make this about you wanting something that is not him, rather than about his (appalling, childish) behavior, it might go down a bit easier.

Good luck. He doesn't sound worth the effort anymore. You sound pretty awesome, and I'm sure there are guys out there who would be thanking their lucky stars to find someone as chill and understanding as you.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 10:33 AM on December 14, 2012


If this dude was gay, I'd swear I knew him. Like "knew him" knew him.

The thing is, when you're in this situation with someone you like, even someone who treats you badly, you tend towards wanting to forgive them. The behavior is unacceptable due to the nature of your relationship and the guidelines you've established, but, if there's someone you like, you want to give them all kinds of benefits of the doubt. So you start explaining it in your head "he says he's not jealous but obviously he is, so maybe I should be more understanding/careful/deceitful." But that's not FWB. That's a relationship-without-responsibility (arguably the worst of both worlds), and it's a fucking disaster (literally).

Your biggest problem is that he doesn't own up to it. If he did, maybe it would be worth talking it through. But if he's not going to do so, it's just going to be a big pain in the ass.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:34 AM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


He's got an immense amount of anxiety about his jealousy and the idea of having a girlfriend that's probably too much drama for anyone to deal with.

A lot of the talk about "I have a girlfriend (but I didn't want one!)" or the "I'm NOT jealous!" post rationalizations are self defense mechanisms for feeling out of control. Ditto for telling you that he doesn't do that love stuff anymore. Wishful thinking meets being poorly connected to his own emotions that he's too busy having a hissy over being jealous to admit he's jealous.

What he has told me about his relationship history makes me think I'm one in a long line of non-girlfriends he developed feelings for and then got angry at them for it.

You hit the nail on the head here. He wants his cake and to eat it to, a girlfriend and to be a cool, unattached/detached poly-dude. The thing about the murky soup that is poly is a lot of people don't actually have sexual jealousy, they have emotional jealousy (this is also a common source for baseless accusations that you're fucking a friend) which is a lot harder to get a handle on because we rightly admit that wanting someone to like no other person better than you is crazy. Plus the ideals of poly can be as hard to uphold as the extremes of monogamy- if ugly monogamy suppression is screaming fights over porn and the like, ugly poly is feeling guilty and unenlightened when the green eyed monster drops in to say hi.

Some people are just shit at relationships.
posted by Phalene at 10:36 AM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thank you so much!!!

I've been struggling with a way to define this weird quirk some men have, and you nailed it in one sentence:

"What he has told me about his relationship history makes me think I'm one in a long line of non-girlfriends he developed feelings for and then got angry at them for it."


Yes, certain types of men get angry at you when they develop affection for you. No, I don't know what that's about, but it is a Real Thing.

Yes, DTMFA. I've never ever ever seen this improve. A year and a half is too long, already!

Script is:

"This isn't working out. It's time we go our seperate ways." You might add a, "It's not you, it's me" or similar. I do NOT think you should explain his no-go of a relationship style to him, stay clearof that weirdnesss. Just get out as quickly and politely as you can!

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 10:39 AM on December 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sometimes our friends are a mess. Looks like the generic FWB thing isn't working out. Anyhow, it's your call, not his. The more of a pain in the ass he is, the less access he gets to your time. But you should explain this to him as clearly as you can.

If he doesn't accept (or understand) your terms, and can't offer you a workable alternative, then you may have to just DTMA. This is always a bad thing, because people are rarely purely evil or worthless, and it's always not good to do something that may turn out to be hurtful to someone. Keep in mind that you can have strong feelings for someone that you don't want in your life.

You cannot force him to understand or accept your viewpoint. It's not within your authority or power to change him. He's not obligated to change just to make your life easier, and vice versa.

Here's the deal: figure out whether you want to participate in your friend's issues--and on what terms--or decide that he just wants you to get into his handbasket and ride with him to his own personal Hell. Cyclical drama is sometimes a pattern that a person sets for his life--do you wanna keep doing that dance forever? You may never be certain. The reality here is that you don't have to be, because this is not about him, it's about you.
posted by mule98J at 10:43 AM on December 14, 2012


I noted the part where he sounded drunk when he called, and thought that might be a key to his behavior. But it doesn't really matter. Drunk or sober, he's being a jerk, and not being a good friend, and his treating you like shit means that you don't want anything else to do with him. (And good for you.)

I'm not sure I would bother with gracefully, to be honest. I would probably lay the blame squarely on his doorstep, not negotiate, not discuss, and tell him it's over because he's been a giant dick. This is one of those times where "It's not me, it's you" is the way to go.
posted by Angharad at 10:47 AM on December 14, 2012


He isn't a FWB because he isn't a F. He isn't a fuckbuddy because he isn't a buddy.

There's a reason "Immature Emotionally Blackmailing Acquaintance With Benefits" isn't a thing.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:06 AM on December 14, 2012 [16 favorites]


I think rtha has said it well: "he doesn't seem to respect himself either, since he can't bring himself to be honest about what he wants". Doesn't matter what your relationship with him is, he's bringing his sh*t into it -- his unacknowledged, self-neglecting and self-perpetuating sh*t.

Maybe a year and a half of FWB is too long for him to stick to the extremely arbitrary self-image he's constructed for himself. Whether he wants to admit it or not, having an intimate connection in his life invariably leads him back to his self-loathing issues (hence his long line of undefined partnerships -- undefined as they leave him with an easy out each time the relationship treads too close to unresolved material) and resentment for the person who is making him aware of his inner pain by simply being a part of his life. He's convinced himself that his "rules" make him invincible in spite of his unacknowledged inner wounding, and yet human contact for a prolonged period of time seems potent enough to prove his own rules obsolete.

I think you're right that he's not going to admit it, and it IS in your best interest to cut him loose (agreeing with others that once a no-strings relationship starts carrying all the drama of a REAL relationship, it's time to either cut loose or relationship-up). He needs to adult-up and do the work of raising his own self-awareness, rather than repeat a possible pattern of resenting the people who bring light to the areas of himself he has gone on neglecting. Unfortunately it's 100% on HIM to either learn to question his belief system and adapt, or continue to struggle with the growing pains of forcing himself to stay inside a cage of beliefs that no longer fit him. Either way, don't let his lack of self-respect become catching. Move on, sucky_poppet, and be available for someone who wants to celebrate the awesome you make them feel, rather than resent you for it.
posted by human ecologist at 11:07 AM on December 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


DTMFA, yes. Also be careful. He sounds very controlling, impulsive and possibly can't take responsibility for his feelings/actions. Be very firm with the boundaries you set and stick to them. If he has a key to your place, get it back.

Sorry to be so alarmist, but there is something here that creeps me out a bit.
posted by retrofitted at 11:16 AM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


No wonder he acts so strange. He has professed a life style that he can't live.
posted by Cranberry at 11:16 AM on December 14, 2012


This is definitely DTMFA time.

The nature of a FWB relationship is such that you can usually break things off by saying "this arrangement isn't working for me anymore." Most people understand that FWB is both transient and not for everyone, and anyone who doesn't understand this should not be in a FWB relationship in the first place.
posted by Ragged Richard at 11:30 AM on December 14, 2012


This guy has more damage than a dented can store and is absolutely deathly afraid of his own emotions and feelings, to the point where he blames other people for causing them. You will feel soooooo good when you dump him.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:37 AM on December 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


DTMFA.

First of all the biggest mistake someone can make is getting into a FWB thing, when one party has real feelings for the other, and the other party either knows, and doesn't care, or knows and manipulates with it.

FWB is usually a short-lived thing, as either one or the other party will eventually find a new partner, and the benefits aren't needed from the friend anymore. A protracted FWB usually means that one party is a commitment-phobe and the other party is hoping against hope that the situation changes (otherwise, would be out finding the relationship he/she really wants.)

But live and learn, I bet you don't do this again any time soon.

This guy is a piece of work, he wants things his way, on his time and you don't get a say in it.

It's not fun for you any more. So end it. You've got some good scripts there. But since you've got the ball rolling and he knows you're angry, you can meet him for coffee and say:

Based upon your behavior, this isn't working for me any more. It's over. I may want to re-visit our friendship in the future, but for now I don't want to have any contact."

Then hand him a bag of all of the shit he's left over at your place.

De-friend on FB, block his number, and send his emails to the spam folder.

Trust me, you'll be over this VERY quickly.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:42 AM on December 14, 2012


inturnaround: For FWB, you need to be a F. He's not being a friend.
QFT.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:06 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think he needs therapy for his commitment issues. He also needs to know about how having sex with another person gets you attached and can lead to falling in love with the other person. It's a chemical reaction, that's probably why it's happened more than once and he's just oblivious to this.
posted by eq21 at 12:08 PM on December 14, 2012


he texted me to say he was never going to speak to me again.

I kind of wish you'd responded with:

"So just the sex then?"

No, seriously, he's got issues bigger than your friendship, that you're not responsible for.
posted by vitabellosi at 12:37 PM on December 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


Your relationship is based on lies [known and unknown] and is untenable.
There's no such thing as a long term monogamous on/ monogamous off relationship.
Stopping kidding yourselves [both of you].
"He needs therapy"; "you need therapy" are irrelevant.
So shit or get off the pot- you know what I mean.
posted by ArnoldLayne at 1:24 PM on December 14, 2012


DTMFA.

Why put up with BS if you don't have to? Get someone who wants to bang you as much as he wants to ring you and you're set for life, chica.
posted by lotusmish at 10:46 PM on December 14, 2012


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