Sex and intimacy and emotional connection
December 28, 2013 6:20 PM   Subscribe

For the last odd month, I have been getting together with this guy and having really enjoyable/intimate/fun sex together. He just wants to be friends, but I'm half trying to convince myself that it could be/will be more, eventually. I just don't get it, how can the sex be this lovely with no emotional attachments on his side?

One night, while I was at a dinner party with a handful of people I had recently met, I ended up kissing this guy who I had thought was really attractive and who I had met in group settings a few times prior, but who I did not know particularly well.

A week later, at another event, we ended up kissing again. The next week he came over and a few days later, he came over again and has been over a few times since. We hang out, maybe make dinner together and then have sex. The sex with him is good, like, really good. He is sweet and tender and affectionate and caring in bed, more so than anyone I've been with before, even people with whom I've been in LTRs. He's just really passionate and lovely in that way... and the thing is, I think the good sex has really fucked with my head.

After we had hooked up a couple of times, he told me he wanted to be honest with me and that he only saw me as a friend right now but we could see how it goes, I was a little bummed but told myself that it was ok, and that I would be fine with this since I still don't actually really know him that well.

Fast forward a few weeks later and we are both in our respective home towns for the holidays. I've been e-mailing him regularly and texted him a few times and his responses have been slow in coming and lukewarm. A part of my is kicking myself because he told me he just thought of me as a friend but for some reason I have managed to blow this whole thing up in my head to something that it's not, and am sitting here with a sort of sick and lonely feeling in my stomach because it's been over six hours and he still hasn't texted me back.

I know this probably sounds stupid, but a part of me tried to convince myself that he actually did feel emotionally involved but was just afraid of admitting it to me, which I acknowledge is sort of ridiculous and which I think is where this blowing this whole thing out of proportion thing in my head happened.

The thing is, I don't get it, how can he do that?! I mean how can you have such lovely, tender, eye-gazing, smiling sex with someone without getting emotionally attached? (also for what it's worth, I believe that he is genuinely a nice/polite/decent guy outside of the bedroom, too).
posted by Ocellar to Human Relations (43 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
The thing is, I don't get it, how can he do that?! I mean how can you have such lovely, tender, eye-gazing, smiling sex with someone without getting emotionally attached?

Does it matter HOW he can do this? All you need to know is: some people can do this. They just can, and other people can't, and it's hard for each group to understand the other. But denial is not the solution.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:28 PM on December 28, 2013 [39 favorites]


Some people are wired such that they can be tender, affectionate, and doe-eyed in the moment, but not have deeper feelings than friendship. Including nice, polite guys (and gals).

It's common enough that it's not really worth asking "Why is he like this?"; but rather, asking yourself, "What role did I play in landing myself in this painful scenario, and how can I make sure I don't do it again?"

It's a hurtful position to find yourself in (many of us have been there), but focusing on yourself rather than him is the best way out of the pain.
posted by nacho fries at 6:32 PM on December 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


He's not interested in a relationship. At least not interested in a relationship with you right now. He's tried to be clear, and though it would have been great if he told you before you had sex, he's been honest with you.

Sounds like he can tell you're not ok with it and is pulling back already. Sounds good for both of you. Keep looking! You'll find someone great who is tender and awesome in bed and also wants a relationship.
posted by arnicae at 6:34 PM on December 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


I like what showbiz_liz has to say: some people can do this. They just can.
And though you didn't ask, from my experience with such people (who are not jerks, who are honest about there never being anything more), your best bet is to get very far away because you will keep on hoping and hoping and hoping, and not being totally honest about being fine with being nothing but friends (if you're anything like me), and you will pine, and go there, just so you can have a tiny little taste of what perfect is like, but never enough.

It's not good. Run away. Find someone available. You deserve it.
posted by b33j at 6:36 PM on December 28, 2013 [19 favorites]


From an anonymous commenter:
So, this happens a lot. (As many might link to on Mefi alone.)

I am a female, so I can only answer it from a female perspective, but I had a relationship with a guy that was like this - but both of us were emotionally on the same page. For me, it was more along the lines of having fun with him, and being intimate, but knowing that I didn't want the emotional strings of any sort of full relationship. We also weren't possessive about each other - such as wanting to be exclusive - although we were actually sexual exclusive with each other while we were together.

We texted and had a date-like relationship (even to the point where friends of his knew we were involved) however it remained casual. He was fine with me literally baking cookies in lingerie for him and his friends or being half naked in the hot tub - we'll go ahead and admit this was a phase of my life.

I had about a week where I imaged that we could date, then the more I thought about it the more I felt like we were better as friends. Yes, we were intimate and passionate and clicked in the bedroom, but our lives just weren't in sync. I didn't really see him as an emotional partner outside of the bedroom.

So to answer your question as best as I can, he can (and I did) do this because although we were very sexually compatible, we were not dating compatible. He was a great guy too! He just wasn't who I wanted to date, and he didn't want to date me either.

If you want to date this guy, and he doesn't want to date you - you can't change his mind, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't think you are a great person or super awesome in bed - it just maybe isn't a good dating fit in his mind.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:37 PM on December 28, 2013 [8 favorites]


I sympathize, because I am utterly incapable of shagging without experiencing some pretty heavy emotions. When I've shagged people casually, I absolutely could not understand how we could be so intimate and seemingly loving during the shag and then afterwards they'd just shut that off like we'd just played a game of squash together or something. It made me feel like they were replicants, but as other posters have already said, it's just something people are wired for or they're not. Apparently we're not.

I'd very strongly advise you to stop seeing this guy. You're obviously falling for him, while for him you're basically a nice poke-buddy. If you keep seeing him, you are probably headed for a whole lot of heartbreak. You could end up feeling like a pitiful clingy stalker weirdo, and he is going to seem like some sort of sociopath, all because he is capable of doing the "sex without love" thing and it doesn't work like that for you. I have been there, and it was hell.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:40 PM on December 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


I mean how can you have such lovely, tender, eye-gazing, smiling sex with someone without getting emotionally attached?

It's taken me a long time to realize that some people just can. They can turn it on and off like that. I'm not one of those people and it doesn't sound like you are either, but those people really do exist I've found.

Or he is feeling something, just not the same thing as you and/or to the same degree.

Or he's hung up on someone else.

Or a million other things you may find out about one day or may never find out about that may have something or absolutely nothing to do with you.

I'm really sorry. Say oh well, delete his number, be cool, brief, but polite if you run into him socially, and move on.

Also, beware the sex haze. You're deep in it, but the good news is that when it lifts you'll realize that what you felt was mostly the result of a fleeting moment when the stars aligned and not really about him at all. Obviously, for the sex haze to lift you have to stop having sex with him...
posted by whoaali at 6:40 PM on December 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


I mean how can you have such lovely, tender, eye-gazing, smiling sex with someone without getting emotionally attached?

Maybe this guy just didn't grow up watching porn. In my experience, guys who spent their formative years watching a incredible amount of porn tend to be unwilling or incapable to have anything other than porn-style sex. Where you are the object he puts into certain positions and does certain things to and it's all about maintaining a high level of visual stimulation for him or getting off in the specific way he is used to (or limited to).

Guys who have never really watched much porn tend to be way more into connecting with YOU during sex - you as a person, rather than just your body. And it's much more like there are two actual people there, rather that just him and a body. Just another possibility.
posted by cairdeas at 6:49 PM on December 28, 2013 [28 favorites]


I can't look it up now, but it is supposedly easier for men to be like this than women. They have less bonding hormones going on than we do during sex. That's how you are falling for him and it's not mutual.

I think you need to break it off with him before this gets worse. Yes, even the supposed "friendship." You are attached and he isn't. It will only get worse if he's around being wonderful and still not in love with you and you keep hoping otherwise and leading yourself on.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:02 PM on December 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


It sounds to me that you are equating emotional intensity with a formal relationship. He's able to be doe-eyed and smiley because he is feeling strong things, and they probably don't evaporate when he puts his pants on either!

Over the past few years, I've gotten more like this. I'll see someone, have *feelings*, but the decision to forge a formal relationship is independant of those feelings. Just because I don't want a boyfriend much of the time doesn't mean I'm numb sex machine, devoid of emotion. The smiley sex is very real!
posted by supernaturelle at 7:19 PM on December 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


I mean how can you have such lovely, tender, eye-gazing, smiling sex with someone without getting emotionally attached?

I'm female.

For me, it really boils down to "I like you, but I just don't like you enough to want to date you/be in a serious relationship with you." It's not like I dislike this person, but there are reasons I'm not interested in going further. The intensity, connectivity, intimacy are not fake. They just aren't enough.
posted by sm1tten at 7:20 PM on December 28, 2013 [15 favorites]


Some people are wired such that they can be tender, affectionate, and doe-eyed in the moment, but not have deeper feelings than friendship.

*raises hand*

Hi. I am this guy. I can't really explain how I do it, it's just the way I'm wired. But a lot of the shmoopy in relationships comes from physical bonding, so it's not really surprising that a lot of people can have shmoopy sex without the shmoopy extending past the bedroom.

The only real thing you can do here is be totally, brutally honest with yourself: can you truly be satisfied with something that's perhaps a little more intimate than friends-with-benefits (in my experience that means the friendship is first, sometimes you tumble into bed together because hey, sexytime is fun and it's fun to do fun things with friends), when what it seems you really want from this guy is something deeper?

The healthy answer is almost always no, but YMMV.

For what it's worth, I'm currently on the flipside of this in a way. We have a Thing That Is Not Just Friends, and there's some non-bedroom shmoopy, but I cannot commit to anything more than that. I made it super clear, and also said essentially "That is not going to change anytime soon, if ever. If you want to keep doing this in the hopes it'll change, that's not a great idea and I'm just going to hurt you. But if you're truly okay with this, let's rock." It sounds like your guy is in a similar headspace in regards to you, and it also sounds like he was equally clear.

I would strongly suggest that if you aren't 100% totally okay with this only ever being a friends who get naked thing forever, it's probably a good idea to stop taking your clothes off together. Staying in something unsatisfying in the hopes that it'll change one day isn't healthy, and isn't going to end well for you.

And to be a little more blunt, you yourself admit you don't really know him all that well. Endorphins are running your thoughts right now, and that's totally normal and okay. Recognize that this is a chemical/hormonal thing in your brain, and it'll pass, and you should be fine. I'd say turn off your cell for the night and do something else.

For me, it really boils down to "I like you, but I just don't like you enough to want to date you/be in a serious relationship with you." It's not like I dislike this person, but there are reasons I'm not interested in going further. The intensity, connectivity, intimacy are not fake. They just aren't enough.

I'm a guy, FWIW. And yeah, this seems like a pretty good summary. I think temporary/transitory intimacy is something that queer guys are good at, partly for a whole variety of historical reasons, and partly as mentioned above that men just don't have the same levels of bonding chemicals. So we (yes obviously the exceptions are many) feel something intensely in that moment, but it's a transitory thing.

It sounds to me that you are equating emotional intensity with a formal relationship. He's able to be doe-eyed and smiley because he is feeling strong things, and they probably don't evaporate when he puts his pants on either!

I feel like this answer is not only incorrect, it's playing up to the cognitive distortion Ocellar is experiencing. Sure, maybe it's possible that this is more accurate. I think a lot more likely is that he was honest and direct about what exactly his feelings are, and they don't include strong feelings that continue when he's dressed.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:28 PM on December 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's not like I dislike this person, but there are reasons I'm not interested in going further. The intensity, connectivity, intimacy are not fake. They just aren't enough.

Yes, exactly. It's sort of similar to meeting someone you are not sexually interested in at a party and talking to them happily for a few hours and then they get sad that you don't want to immediately be their BFF. It's an emotional connection, but what feels unusual or intense for one party is commonplace or superficial to the other.
posted by elizardbits at 7:29 PM on December 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


I am someone who doesn't really see a conflict with being intimate with friends -- they're people you know and trust and love, right? Even if you're not interested in being in a "relationship" with them, I don't think there's anything wrong with intimate friendships.

Just as long as everyone involved knows what they're doing. I do think people can be absolutely casual and cool about all of this -- both men and women. Not everyone can, though, but that's OK. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you.

It sounds like you want a relationship and the intimacy that comes with being more than just friends who are sleeping with each other. That's good! You know what you want! But it just may not be with this guy! And that's OK too. It doesn't make him a bad person. It just means he has a different approach.

Where you go from here is up to you, and I know it's harder to quit people than everyone acts like it is. But no matter how much you make like him as a person or however compatible you are, you're just not in the right places right now. It's a thing that happens and it sucks but it doesn't make you foolish or wrong or anything else. But know he's not going to be what you want and try to go find out who is.
posted by darksong at 7:56 PM on December 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


he told me he wanted to be honest with me and that he only saw me as a friend right now but we could see how it goes (emphasis mine)

I applaud his honesty about the first part, but he really needs to drop that last bit of hedging -- it obviously gets him a better response, but it's cagey. Would you have slept with him if he hadn't added that part? I bet not. Anyway, my point is that the MeFi classic, "Listen to what other people tell you about themselves" is almost always true, so maybe that will help you in the future. Good luck, and just continue to be true to yourself.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:32 PM on December 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


Just chiming in here to say I don't get it either. To me, sex without feelings is like a party without booze. Or something.

You're responsible for your own well-being, so take care of yourself! That probably means stop having sex with him.
posted by jessca84 at 9:12 PM on December 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


When people say they aren't interested in a relationship, it's really best to believe them wholeheartedly. Maybe that's not the case and deep down he does want a relationship, but the highest probability is that what he was saying was the truth: he enjoys having a hook-up buddy, but you're not love-of-his-life or "end game" material. You already know that you are starting to like him and you know that if you keep hooking up, your feelings will grow. You're just putting yourself in a bad situation. On his end, he feels he's already warned you that he just wants to be friends -- thus, whatever emotional feelings you develop aren't his fault because he didn't lead you on, even if he is still having sex with you. It's shitty, but that's how these things tend to go. You may want to save yourself some heartache and put a stop to this. Or you can keep going knowing unrequited love may be around the corner.

From what I've read, women tend to get emotionally attached when sex is involved whereas men are able to compartmentalize it. For men, it's more of a physical urge, like eating, whereas for women it's more emotional. As a woman and a lesbian, I don't have a hard time believing this to be true.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:03 PM on December 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


For men, it's more of a physical urge, like eating, whereas for women it's more emotional.

As a queer man, I think it's a bit of an overgeneralization. I think perhaps more accurately men tend to be more adept at separating the physical urge from the emotional needs. We do bond emotionally through sex, we do feel attachment through sex, same as women do. We just, I think, seem to have a little more ability to divorce "I'm hungry" from "I am hungry and I want to have a really incredible meal." Not that women can't and don't do this. Obviously. I think there's a spectrum from pure physical lust to deep emotional bonding, and on average in any given sexual encounter, men are slightly more likely to be to the left, and women are slightly more likely to be to the right.

But trust me, men can and do feel the same emotional bonding with sex that women do. We just... turn it off sometimes, I guess. (And sometimes we think we're turning it off, but we're not. And that gets messy.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:28 PM on December 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you want a physiological explanation it may have something to do with oxytocin, one of the major "bonding hormones" that performs a crazy number of roles in the body. I don't think there's much definitive proof that men might have less of it on average and it's probably more complicated than a single hormone and how much of it is available to a given person, but the Wikipedia article suggests that men typically have a constant oxytocin level during sex and women tend to get a larger release at orgasm, especially if lots of foreplay is involved.

I could never do what this guy is comfortable with doing but I don't fault him for it. I do know what it's like as a dude to have an orgasm with a long-term monogamous partner and then instantly want to fall asleep, play video games, or fart around on the internet. Men seem to be somewhat wired to easily switch gears right after sex, particularly if you're comfortable with the partner and not going through the crazy lovey-dovey phase of an intense relationship. He's probably the kind of guy who would need lots of hand-holding and non-sexual affection and such to build the connection you want and is deliberately not being that guy because he doesn't want an intense / romantic relationship.
posted by lordaych at 10:45 PM on December 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just adding to the "completely possible" chorus. I'm a woman and had a brief casual relationship with a guy I had even friends with for a few months. The emotional and physical connection was really intense, and we both had feelings for each other, but neither if us was interested in a serious relationship.

It sounds like others have said above that you aren't able to separate the physical and emtional connection from wanting to be more serious, which is fine. But it's not fine with this guy, because he told you it's not happening. Like others have suggested, I would stop having this kind of a relationship with him.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 1:09 AM on December 29, 2013


I'm going to suggest something very different from the other commenters who are telling you to just take the man at his word and accept that you are his friend and you always will be and you should keep looking.

You clearly want this man as a romantic partner. There is no way that you're going to be able to wholeheartedly date other people. You can't want one thing and go after another.

I think your intuition is probably right that the profound intimacy you're feeling is reciprocated. As we get older, intuition becomes a better guide than the logic of what people say.

But if he's saying he sees you as a friend, there is obviously something stopping him from committing. Is there something missing in your relationship? Does he usually fall for girls that give him more of a chase? Does he have an ex in mind? Figure out what's stopping him, then you'll know whether it's surmountable.

Don't give up on a dream because you think you should or because it will save you heartbreak. Hearts are made to be broken. Give up on your dream only when your heart gives up.

Good luck.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 1:43 AM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


From what I've read, women tend to get emotionally attached when sex is involved whereas men are able to compartmentalize it. For men, it's more of a physical urge, like eating, whereas for women it's more emotional. As a woman and a lesbian, I don't have a hard time believing this to be true.

I think this is really unfair, and comes from a place of 1950s-ish "men are like THIS, women are like THIS" sort of thinking. In addition to that, i think it's also coming from a place of minimizing the people who are really into it and caring like the OP and others in this thread describe, but don't get all the intense feelings the way some others do as somehow actually not being as in to it and it just being a "physical urge like eating". It's really binary, and crappy, and stupid, and asdklfjaf.

There are absolutely a lot of men who approach it like women do in your explanation, and also plenty of women who are more like the men you describe. I'm writing this as a man who falls somewhere between the two, who is friends with several women who fall decidedly in the "man" category of it just being a thing that they like doing.

What i will say, is that EVERYONE i've talked to about this at any kind of length with reports one similar thing. They regularly seem to match up with people from the other category. The women who don't get attached constantly get "clinger" partners who want more, and the men who get attached seem to regularly find women who go "uhhh, i think you're reading stuff into this that wasn't here".

Pretty much, Ocellar, know that you aren't alone in this and that the universe seems to somehow tilt the pool table in a tiresome romance movie "opposites attract!" way so that all the people with polar opposite ways of experiencing this seem to end up doing it an anomalously large amount of the time. To the point that they're thankful and make a point of mentioning it when they find someone who was on the same page.(especially with the non-attaching people finding other non-attaching people)

This is anecdata of course, but still. I've talked to a bunch of people about this sort of thing quite a lot.

As for this specific situation, i'm on the side of "please, FFS, listen to what he's saying to you". All of my friends of the non-attaching type constantly deal with people going "but they're sending mixed signals, they're obviously way too affectionate in XYZ way/when we're doing it to not feel more like i do!" when in fact they're sending perfectly clear signals by using their words. I also agree with the assessment that "but we can see how it goes" is really just thumbing the scale and hedging that isn't really what he means. He's perfectly happy with this situation as it is and sees no reason for anything to change, and that's what he means by that. It's a very "This is how i see things, and you can decide how you feel about it" kind of statement that's a lot more definitive than it sounds.
posted by emptythought at 2:02 AM on December 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


There's another explanation, which is that his level of what you call "emotional attachment" is more similar to yours, but either he knows that he doesn't want a relationship right now, or else he believes that a relationship with you specifically wouldn't work out, for reasons not connected to emotional attachment.
posted by emilyw at 2:53 AM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just don't get it, how can the sex be this lovely with no emotional attachments on his side?

Would you find the opposite of this easier to understand? As in: I just don't get it, how can I have a lovely emotional connection with someone but the sex isn't good? I think that makes more sense - we can get how you can love someone, but the sexual chemistry isn't right. We know that's just really unfortunate. And it's also unfortunate that the reverse is true - the chemistry can be right but the love isn't there. That also sucks.

However a big positive for you is that you now know what amazing, intimate and connected sex feels like, so you won't be tempted to settle for a mediocre sex life just because you happen to find the relationship side of things with someone. Hold out for it all - great emotional and sexual connection with someone who feels all of those things equally for you.
posted by billiebee at 3:55 AM on December 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


Although I'm casting my memory back into the dim, dark past I've definitely had intense connections with people whilst having sex and not really wanted to hang out with them outside of that. Being honest from the start and knowing when to disengage would have saved me a world of pain.

I don't think it would be a bad thing to have another conversation about it, but if really awesome sex is all that it is then you should disengage now.
posted by h00py at 5:33 AM on December 29, 2013


Just chiming in here to say I don't get it either. To me, sex without feelings is like a party without booze. Or something.

Some people prefer privacy, freedom and non-obligation to partnership. That doesn't mean they even slightly lack feelings.

I don't believe that sex can be good - as in mutually respectful, intimate, fully attentive and mutually joyous - without all parties feeling glad to be where they are, and genuinely and profoundly fond of whom they're with.

I do believe it's perfectly possible to be profoundly fond of, respectful of, admiring of, attracted to and sexually available to another person while having an overriding desire not to entangle anybody else's life with your own.

if really awesome sex is all that it is then you should disengage now.

Unless you can find it within yourself to be genuinely and unreservedly OK with really awesome sex being all it is, I agree.

It might help to ponder the likely truth that his desire not to be in a relationship doesn't mean he thinks there's anything at all deficient about you. If he did, you wouldn't be having really awesome sex.
posted by flabdablet at 5:54 AM on December 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm a woman and flabdablet just exactly described my attitude toward my sexual partners. I liked sex, it's fun and nice, but I was not interested in being 'the girlfriend' and having to do a lot of boring work along with it. Even if you like the person, being in a relationship is a lot of boring work.

Believe what someone tells you about themselves. If you want more from this guy, OP, you need to stop sleeping with him if he doesn't because you're going to end up even more hurt in the end.
posted by winna at 7:19 AM on December 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sometime you just love someone in bed but not anywhere else.

"The only love they had was the love they made"
posted by French Fry at 7:52 AM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think your intuition is probably right that the profound intimacy you're feeling is reciprocated.

I disagree with this. Profoundly. Intimacy in the moment (which several of us have described as something we actually do) is not the same as intimacy when pants are on. Dude feels one, and apparently doesn't feel the other.

Mind reading, especially in a relationship (this is a relationship, it's just not A Relationship), is one of the most classical cognitive distortions there is. Dude said clearly he does not feel that intimacy which you claim he is.

But if he's saying he sees you as a friend, there is obviously something stopping him from committing. Is there something missing in your relationship? Does he usually fall for girls that give him more of a chase? Does he have an ex in mind? Figure out what's stopping him, then you'll know whether it's surmountable.

What's stopping him is he doesn't feel the same way she does. There's this weird thing people do when it comes to relationships where because they want something to happen (in this case by proxy), and the other person doesn't, they figure it's just like some video game: unlock the puzzle and S/He Will Love Me. It doesn't work that way.

Perhaps it might be helpful to think back to a time when someone was totally into you, and you just weren't that into them. Now think about how annoyed and violated you'd feel if that person kept trying to make a relationship happen with you after you had clearly and honestly stated that you simply didn't feel that way.

Don't give up on a dream because you think you should or because it will save you heartbreak. Hearts are made to be broken.

Ugggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggh. This may be the worst advice I've ever seen here. Hearts are not made to be broken. Heartbreak is a terrifying, painful, tortuous thing to go through and avoiding it in a healthy manner is a completely rational and desirable thing for human beings to do.

Here's the bottom line: when someone tells you they're just not that into you? >99.9999999999999999999999% of the time it means they're just not that into you. It doesn't mean there's something 'missing' that you can fix, it just means you didn't click that way. It happens. It happens every single day.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:02 AM on December 29, 2013 [20 favorites]


Goddammit I should have previewed because:

Sometime you just love someone in bed but not anywhere else.

Is the absolute best summary of all my word spewing above.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:03 AM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think this is a woman/man issue, but more an unfortunate mismatch. I am a woman in a similar situation, but my feelings coincide more with your guy's.

I like the guy I'm seeing! He's a great guy; we have great fun and great sex, we laugh and cuddle and get schmoopy, as someone upthread called it. But I simply do not have room in my life or my head right now for a serious relationship. I don't have the time, energy, or inclination to devote the kind of consideration that a person in a relationship deserves. Fortunately, he's on the same page, so it's working out so far.

In all honesty, however, if he were to indicate that he wanted something more, I would distance myself from him. Not because I would stop liking him, but because I am literally not capable of maintaining that kind of relationship at this point in my life, and I wouldn't want to hurt him by lying.

My advice is to appreciate your guy's honesty, and find someone who wants the same things you do.
posted by SamanthaK at 8:45 AM on December 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


From an anonymous Mefite:
When I was younger I wasn't very good at sex without the context of a relationship, and I think it's because, despite men's words and actions that screamed "I don't want a relationship", I secretly believed I would be the one to make them change their mind. I learned some lessons, stopped having casual sex, and moved on with my life.

Just this year I met someone I clicked with on every level, and who told me, in his words and actions, that he would never, ever be interested in an exclusive relationship. And you know what? I believed him. And we went on to have one of the hottest, sexiest, and most intimate connections I’ve ever had, and we are still good friends who care about each other. It really is possible to "just" have sex with someone and have it mean something, and no one was more surprised to find this out than me.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:59 AM on December 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


I know, it doesn't make a lot of sense: how can there be this amazing connection in one area, and yet not in another?

And I know it's super annoying and sad and disappointing to hear "believe what the person is telling you" when they say they don't want more.

Because it doesn't make any sense.

Here's what, I have really come to see, that it means: it's a shortcut. People are messy, and complicated, and most people -- especially, bless their hearts, men -- have almost no idea what they feel in any given moment. That's what you need to remember. So it's easiest to just take the person at their word -- it's simpler. It doesn't mean their word is the absolute be-all and end-all, and that they will never change, but just that, for now, that's where they're at.

And you have to respect that. Even if it doesn't make sense, or doesn't feel true to you. It's true for them.

Be grateful that you've got a handle on what you feel, that you're aware, of how you feel -- that there's no confusion, or fear, or messy emotional or life stuff mucking up that awareness. The person you're with does not, right now, have that. You don't want to get involved with anyone who is anything less than 100% clear on what they want and how they feel.

This sucks, and I'm sorry. But, as others have said, it happens. All too often. Live your life boldly, whatever you do. Godspeed.
posted by gsh at 10:14 AM on December 29, 2013


I've had sex with women that I actually had feelings for and emotionally connected with them during it, but I wasn't interested in a relationship with them for a variety of reasons that had nothing to do with feelings of affection. It could very well be that he has feelings for you but thinks there is a fundamental incompatibility that would prevent an actual relationship from working out.
posted by empath at 11:08 AM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The people who are saying this is a straight-up gender thing are wrong. I am a woman, and I have had a bunch of transitory sex like you describe in my life. Sex fosters intimacy; in casual sex relationships, I think people tend to guard themselves from that and guard their vulnerability. (You don't say the kind and giving things running through your brain because you don't want to give your partner the wrong impression; you have ferocious sex rather than gentle sex because it's less intimate; etc.) But it doesn't have to be that way; people can recognise that this moment is intimate, and roll with it in a really genuine way and have a very emotional experience in that time. It doesn't mean anything other than that you had a nice time naked together.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:59 PM on December 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


One more thing to consider: you say he is a good guy, but if he knows you want more out of this and he knows that he won't be able to give you more, then he would stop having sex with you if he was truly a good guy. Yes it's true that YOU should be strong enough to stop this relationship if you know it's not what you want, but at the same time he would not take advantage of you and think "well I told her I don't want more, so it's up to her now." If he really was a good person, he should know better than to treat you like that if he truly respected you.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 1:12 PM on December 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


but at the same time he would not take advantage of you

He has been completely honest about what he wants/needs/can give. You cannot take advantage of someone if you have given them full disclosure about what they can expect.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:34 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know this probably sounds stupid, but a part of me tried to convince myself that he actually did feel emotionally involved but was just afraid of admitting it to me, which I acknowledge is sort of ridiculous and which I think is where this blowing this whole thing out of proportion thing in my head happened.

Listen to what other people tell you about themselves

What was happening is that your ego tried to convince you that this person wants what you want instead of what they actually told you they want, and had it progressed to anger at this person it would have meant that you think this person owes you what you want as well.

It's easy to avoid acknowledging this because this culture tells us that emotional intimacy is a universal progression within romantic and sexual relationships.
posted by MillMan at 2:22 PM on December 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


most people -- especially, bless their hearts, men -- have almost no idea what they feel in any given moment.

Even if this were true, and I have very strong doubts about it: when somebody demonstrates that they do know how they feel by explaining it perfectly clearly, it's best to take them at their word.
posted by flabdablet at 3:19 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thank you everyone for all of this advice! There's some great things in here to mull over the next few days while I'm at home, and hopefully, too, some good time to gain a bit of distance for the hormones to settle and to try to be 100% honest with myself about my own expectations with what's going on... and what, potentially, I'm setting myself up for.
posted by Ocellar at 4:00 PM on December 29, 2013


For some people sex is totally separate from everything else, they just aren't connected at all. They cannot help it and might even feel bad about it, the nice ones will even warn you. They can totally utterly enjoy sex with zero emotional connection and no intention of ever having a relationship. These people might even not consider sex a factor when deciding who to date, they might even marry the person they have the worst sex with ever. Try to imagine food and relationships being related, that might be how it is for them. There are also people who tie money or prestige or even something weird like smell and relationships together.

The trick is to not assume people are like you or society expects them to be.
posted by meepmeow at 5:11 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just don't get it, how can the sex be this lovely with no emotional attachments on his side?

There's nothing to "get"; you just need to accept that this is a real thing and some people do not automatically attach these things.

and most people -- especially, bless their hearts, men -- have almost no idea what they feel in any given moment.

This is not true, and not "especially" true for anyone, including men. Men, as a group, are not children who cannot process or know their emotions. He's being honest, listen.
posted by spaltavian at 7:32 PM on December 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think having sex involves so much kissing and touching and admiring each other's body, saying so many nice things (flattering things) to each other, the flirtation involved to get there in the first place - what happens is it feels like what "love" must feel like. There's a loose connection in the brain of some people that makes it impossible to think of doing all that very personal, very touchy stuff without "love" being involved. Then the next day comes and it doesn't feel quite so much like love after all.

It's normal to expect there to be more and it's normal when there really isn't more. It's all about learning what real love is compared to what just a good roll in the hay is.
posted by aryma at 9:27 PM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


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