He Wants to Be Friends

Visitor's Question from a 21-30 year old Female
I met a guy in the end of March and we first started going out as friends, movies and such. I could tell that he liked me romantically, but I had been broken up with (in email) by my former boyfriend about a month earlier. In that case the guy didn't want to ever hear from me again. I was naturally hurt and hesitant to starting anything new. So, I pretended to not pick up on the cues of R's interest (new guy).

However, as we started going out more and more I saw him in a different light and after about two weeks of going out, the day after Easter Sunday we kissed in my doorway for the first time. We agreed, since I was still scared, to take it slow.

R is 30 (I am 26) and he had not had a relationship for three years and had pretty much lived the life of a bachelor spending his time doing volunteer firefighter work (on top of his regular work for the city) and remodelling his house. Now being in a relationship with me, we spent practically every day together and he had to get cover for his duty nights all the time. His parents living in a different state came to visit him a weekend in May and I was with him and his parents the entire time, enjoying every moment of it.

It is hard to describe a relationships all nuances, but it was really good and we had a great companionship as opposed to a mere physical one. I had not been intimate with a man before and feeling at ease with R we went the whole way in the end of May. June first was his birthday and my friends and I all took him out and I made him a fleece blanket and a cake.

About a week after we got intimate he said he felt scared and confused and that he didn't know what he wanted. He was concerned that he had neglected his other duties. Another week later he broke up. I was devastated, but he never cut me off, but wanted to maintain contact with me. We have seen each other on an average 1-2 per week doing things like going for movies, dinners, renting movies and watching it at my place. He always said that he was still keeping the door open to getting back, but he couldn't promise more than that, i.e. no certainties.

I want to stress that he has not given me a dishonest impression and R has always spoken his mind so far, not doing anything that he didn't want to do. It has been some of my guy buddies opinion that a guy who has completely ruled out a relationship with his ex-girlfriend would most likely not see her like R does. It would just be too hard knowing that the other party wants more than you can offer.

After breaking-up I more or less made a 'status-check' every time I saw him asking, wanting reassurances if the door was still open. R said that the constant asking does not really help, but he'd rather just go slow and hang out, enjoy each other's company and see what happens. I guess, when we were dating we ended up going 190 miles per hour instead of taking babysteps. Eventhough we were so new together. I guess, also that I had a tendency to look for bad signs in what he said and did being afraid that what my other boyfriend did breaking-up would happen again.

My roommates think that he is acting nice around me and that he is taking things slow. We always hug each other goodbye when we part after a night out. We laugh together and have fun. I guess, I am still feeling a little impatient. I have strong feelings for him and hope for a future together, but at the same time I know we need to balance things and not rush like we did. R and I agreed that we would not talk about the relationship all the time and that I can assume that he is still holding the door open unless he explicitly says otherwise and that he can assume that my feelings are the same unless I explicitly say otherwise. Meanwhile we are doing things and emailing each other. I let him do most of the calling and he calls.

Since we agreed to not always bring up the status of things, he has called more and acted more at ease. Yesterday we rented a movie and watched it at my place and I made dinner. We had fun and smiled together. Sometimes he can go from very comfortable to a little tense if things get to close. When we talked on the phone about 3 weeks ago he 'slipped' and called me 'hun' which he always called me when we were dating but uptil then had not said since we broke up in June. The word 'hun' just came out in the conversation. He is not the touchy-feely kinda guy who routinely calls people 'hun'. He is a very practical, down-to-earth kind of guy. Not the kind who would sing ballads outside a womans window. He also enjoys just being by himself in his house working on stuff, just being by himself.

At the same time I get a real impression that he does enjoy being with me and that we have a lot of 'stories' together and we can naturally joke around. People constantly tell me I am really pretty, but I never and never have felt that I am. I like to dress up though and he doesn't comment on it but you can notice in his eyes.

What is your impression of what is going on? Is this guy reluctant to commit to a relationship where he has to lose some of the freedom to just be alone in his house and do his own things.

It is really hard to describe a relationship without making the guy sound like a jerk. I don't think he is. He doesn't act like he is out to hurt me. He said that he feels like he just wants to take a break from having to worry about relationships. He is trying to figure things out he said, what he wants. And also if he wants a career change.

Please, give me an advice. I really have warm feeling towards R and I have given him ample chances to cut the ties completely when I confronted him on different occasions (prior to our 'deal'). He has never said anything about wanting to not ever see me again and he has not stopped calling like fading it out. At the same time he hasn't approached me in a romantic way, like wanting to cuddle, hold hands or such. It's like he knows that would inevitably start the relationship anew.

RomanceClass.com Advice
Many people have built up expectations of what a "serious romance" is like and involves and are intimidated by that. Really, what you guys are doing right now IS a serious relationship. You are best friends, which is what the core of any great relationship should be. The only thing missing is the romance side, which he feels would "change things". Really it would *deepen* your connection without bringing any other pressures - except the pressures he has concocted in his brain.

It definitely sounds like you guys rushed into things before and that he was harming other areas of his life - work especially - as a result. The relationship should be PART of his life but should not be a wrecking ball to it! So he is very afraid of that aspect.

You need to help him understand that what you have now is a healthy, happy relationship and that introducing intimacy wouldn't change things. His expectations of "well but if I call it DATING it means I have to do X and Y and Z" are just in his head.

I have a whole how-to on going from friend to boyfriend/girlfriend here -


What you need to do is realize that it doens't matter at all what you 'call it'. Names are pretty meaningless in a relationship. What matters is how you FEEL and obviously you guys feel strongly about each other. You spend more time together than many people who are "dating" do. So why worry about what you call it? Start thinking of yourselves as "together". And "Together" means you are together, period.

There are relationships that go on for years and years where the people simply maintain separate homes. Those can work fine. There are relationships where people share a house but each have their own rooms. Those work fine too. Unless you are very keen on kids, there's no reason necessarily to push to live together or marry. So if that helps, think of moving in that direction. Don't push him on "dating". But tell him that you're his "partner" and are happy being that. Give him hugs and kisses on the cheek, call him honey and such. Those are all things that people who care for each other do, regardless of the "name of the connection". Don't push him to be your "boyfriend" - but show him that you care for him. At some point he'll realize that giving your relationship a name doesn't matter - that how you feel about each other does. And that showing your feelings or hiding them doens't change them being there.

-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at RomanceClass.com

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