Time To Shut It Down.
January 5, 2013 5:48 PM   Subscribe

How can I do this without being a jerk?

I'm a woman in my mid-thirties. Almost two years ago, I met Very Young Guy. He's 13 years younger than me. We hit it off right away, have many of the same interests and became fast friends. Then things got physical between us a couple of weeks ago. There was no alcohol involved, and I was very explicit about it needing to be a friends with benefits type situation. I have done this before, successfully, with people whom I still talk to and care about even though we are no longer sexually involved, and in hindsight realize that I was overconfident in thinking that I could have that same sort of relationship with Very Young Guy. Last night, he called me, and said that he'd been daydreaming about us being closer in age and proximity, and referred to me, albeit teasingly, as his fantasy woman. I'm troubled by this. He's a dear friend, and I don't want to be that person who just drops him like a hot rock because I got nervous. But there is just no way that he and I have any sort of romantic or committed future together. It is absolutely out of the question. I felt I was extremely clear and consistent on this. I don't want to freeze him out and just stop returning his calls, but I also don't want to give him any sort of false hope. I would, of course, prefer to salvage our friendship, but more than that I want to do what's best for him. Part of me thinks I should write him a nice but firm letter, and then not talk to him anymore, and part of me thinks that's too harsh. Any thoughts appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Slap him down and give him one, only one, chance to redeem himself. If he crosses any lines after that, drop him like a hot rock. He's young and he might be taught, but it needs to be a sharp lesson. And if he won't learn it from you right away, let him learn it from someone else while you get on with your life.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:07 PM on January 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

I was very explicit about it needing to be a friends with benefits type situation...
...he'd been daydreaming about us being closer in age and proximity, and referred to me, albeit teasingly, as his fantasy woman.

"Very Young Guy, I felt I was extremely clear and consistent on this. There is just no way that you and I have any sort of romantic or committed future together. I value your friendship and if a FWB situation isn't what you are looking for as well, then we have to go back to platonic friends only."

(The age gap is a red herring; plenty of young men would be up for this and plenty of older women wouldn't be. This is about communication: you and the guy being on the same page about the nature of the relationship.)
posted by headnsouth at 6:09 PM on January 5, 2013 [16 favorites]

I think it is too early to say that you need to cut him off completely.

Him saying that he thinks you are his "fantasy woman" doesn't necessarily imply that he envisages something really serious happening. I guess the daydreaming about you being closer in age could be interpreted that way but I would be just as inclined to think that it shows that he is quite aware of the limitations of your relationship.

If I were you I wouldn't sleep with him again and I would explain why you don't want to continue the relationship along those lines. Then see how he reacts and try to keep doing the things that you were doing together previously...there is no need to take any drastic action at this point unless you really don't think you can control yourself around him.

I'm a guy his age and I know I would be able to deal with that - give him a chance at least.
posted by kwes at 6:11 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just wrote this in a different post, but sometimes people just need the boundaries restated a couple of times. Do it gently but firmly and make sure he gets and is o.k. with it. If he isn't, after explicitly restating it, then it would be best to gently let him go.

Also, make sure he really gets it without harboring any fantasies, or holding onto any possibilities of a possible deeper relationship.
posted by Vaike at 6:14 PM on January 5, 2013

I agree with the previous posters before me. If you were good friends before, this physical aspect is new, and he wasn't dead serious about you being his fantasy woman, you should be able to pull this back. I don't know if you'll lose his friendship or not -- that's up to him -- but I don't think that you absolutely have to cut him off completely right now.

I think you can just sit him down and say, okay, I thought we were clear on this, but since we're not, let's go back to being friends. And if he can't maintain that boundary, then drop him as a friend.

On the other hand, I'm not actually sure that he's actually catching "those" kinds of feelings.
posted by sm1tten at 6:16 PM on January 5, 2013

If you have been friends for two years, face-to-face is probably the best way to go. Something along the lines of "You're awesome and I value your friendship but this is never going to happen because I just don't think of you that way."
posted by futureisunwritten at 6:17 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

yeah, don't jump the gun just yet- it's possible he's not actually romantically attached- he might just have been saying nice things. But you could have a talk with him to restate that you cannot have anything romantic with him. Maybe too, he is testing the waters to see if you changed your mind, but that doesn't 'necessarily mean he can't handle a FWB if you restate clearly that that's what you really want.
posted by bearette at 6:21 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is it possible you've missed his point?

He'd been daydreaming about us being closer in age and proximity, and referred to me, albeit teasingly, as his fantasy woman.

But really, you'll always be 13 years older than him. Maybe he's worried that you feel awkward about being so much older, and he's trying to make you feel better about that?
posted by Houstonian at 6:24 PM on January 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Just approach it in a light-hearted, laughing it off kinda way? If he ever brings something up that crosses the line again, I'd just say "LOL... Easy Tiger, I ain't looking to get hitched up to ANY man anytime soon. This is a FWB thing only, remember?"

That way you can keep things friendly and not put either of you in an awkward position, and maybe even continue with the status quo.

But if he keeps pushing things, well yeah... call it off.
posted by matty at 6:44 PM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yeah, the fact that he said he was daydreaming about you two being closer in age and proximity means that he too realizes that the way things are now, it won't work out ultimately between you, no? Also, I don't know how he said it, but it seems possible that he meant fantasy woman in a sexual way, no? Like other people are saying here, he may just have been trying to be nice. Maybe he is just in a sort of happy sexual haze about you two and that's really all it is. Good luck!
posted by onlyconnect at 6:44 PM on January 5, 2013

This is the classic situation for why friends with benefits situations don't work.

Because it is very, very rare that both people are honestly only in it for the sex.

I think you need to be prepared for the idea that this is not going to work. I don't think you need to "smack down" the dude just yet, but I agree with everyone who has said you need to continue to restate that this will never be a relationship.

I would personally also be very prepared for it to turn out that this guy cannot go back to being just friends with you right away. I could be wrong, but don't be surprised if things get really hairy in the short term.
posted by Sara C. at 6:45 PM on January 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

He's a guy in his early 20's having a FWB relationship with a woman in her 30's. OF COURSE you're his fantasy woman! Carry on with the relationship and use Matty's script above if he says anything else you find concerning.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:36 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

ThatCanadianGirl totally has it!

If I may, you are assuming a lot. He knows it's not going anywhere.

If you are not enjoying him, stop. If you are enjoying him, carry on.
posted by jbenben at 7:53 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

For your own peace of mind, maybe spell out for him what you mean by friends with benefits.
posted by J. Wilson at 10:14 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

You guys are friends. Talk it over.

In the right place and time, fantasy can be a pleasant sexual enhancement. His meaning may need some clarification. You won't know unless you talk about it. It's good that you are concerned about his feelings. I get the impression that you are well aware of your boundaries, so I don't believe he'll come away from this confused. It's possible he may not have the same vision of a sexual relationship that you do. He's young enough that his experiences may not have prepared him for you. By that I mean that his contemporaries may not have been the challenge, or, let's say, the prize that you represent to him. Anyhow, we don't always know what lurks deep down within us until someone comes along and shines a light on it.

While writing this I had a short vision of remembrance, of a time long ago and in a galaxy far away, when I stood in front of a mirror in a young woman's bathroom, fresh from her bed, and grinned like a fool, nearly laughed out loud with joy. She seemed pleased, also, but I don't think she was quite as impressed as I was--I was much newer at this sort of thing, and absolutely impressed with her--how she looked (clothed and otherwise), that I was with her, and all the rest of it. You might say I carried my ballast a bit too high for my center of gravity, and it took a while for things to get back on an even keel. It was good while it lasted and the rest isn't relevant here. Anyhow, he may be in the process of having the details soak in, and still is all tingly with it.

It could be helpful to slow the physical part down, or maybe not....I don't think the issue rests on that part. Better to first restate the rules. Then, assuming the relationship isn't exclusive, let him be aware that you won't be seeing only him by mentioning that you are busy on such and such a date (or some similary tack). Could be that you do this in phases, instead of one long, comprehensive discussion.

My thinking here rests on the sort of "friendship" that you've established with him. If your relationship is actually more superficial, then I think that a meeting to discuss the rules of engagement, so to speak, would be in order. Either way, people don't often touch each other with the same degree of entanglement, so no matter how well-intentioned you are, it could be painful for both of you.

Don't write him a letter.
posted by mule98J at 12:04 AM on January 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

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