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Friends With Penalties

Dear Susan,

I have been hooking up with a guy consistently for four months. It started out that we both wanted a friends-with-benefits situation, and we would basically hang out, do homework, etc., and of course hook up, but that was it. He made it very clear to me that he wasn’t into me further than a physical relationship and that he was on a break with his gf, so he still had feelings for her. I didn’t really have them for him either, though. I just thought he was attractive and fun, so perfect hookup material.

Throughout these four months, I helped him deal with his gf calling things quits and I have been tutoring him in school, and we have become overall closer friends. He even told me that I am his best girl friend and that he trusts me more than any other girl he knows.

Recently he has started acting really sweet to me and like he wants something more:

  • He gets really upset when I need to leave him and always finds excuses to spend more time with me. 
  • He also has started wanting to go out on what I would usually consider to be “dates”, and he pays for me. 
  • He has been calling me beautiful and gorgeous a lot and he gives me random unexpected compliments much more often. 
  • The other day I awoke from a nap we were taking and he was holding me in his arms and just watching me sleep. 
  • He even mentioned that his mom (yes, I met his parents, but in a “just-friends” situation) thinks I am really pretty and that I seem like quite a catch, and he regards his parent’s opinions very highly. 
  • He also always makes comments about how he could see us being married in the future, but he does it in a joking way of course. 
  • He even wants to do more couple-ish things together, like cook and learn more about each other’s lives. 

Basically, I feel like these are all signs of him falling for me as more than a FWB, but am I just fooling myself? Could he just be doing this because he is single and bored/lonely? Even though he pays for me now, he has never said anything about it being a “date”, and he has never tried to hold my hand or kiss me in public.

I just don’t get why he is trying to be so much more involved with me if he knows he could still hook up with me without putting in the time and monetary investment. So I am pretty much just confused about whether he actually is developing feelings for me or if I am just getting my hopes up for no reason.  

Thanks,

Hopeful But Confused

 

Dear Hopeful,

What jumps out at me immediately from your letter is the fact that you obviously have strong feelings for this guy and hope that the two of you can become a couple. I wonder why you ever thought that “attractive and fun” was perfect hookup material, rather than relationship material? You say that you just were looking for a FWB, but I don’t understand what the benefits of that arrangement were. If you really weren’t interested in a relationship, you wouldn’t have developed feelings for him, right? But it sounds like you fell for him anyway, which is what usually happens in FWB – someone catches feelings. Sometimes both people do, but it’s much more common for one person to get hurt. 

I agree with your perception that his recent actions appear to signal increased interest in spending time together, and a more emotionally intimate relationship. It may well be that he does like you and wants to make something work. There are several things I think you need to be concerned about:

  • Is he truly over his ex?
  • I share your worry that he is lonely and adrift right now, enjoying your company. Is he just biding his time with his great FWB until he falls for someone new, or is he trying to make this something more?
  • He has relied on you for support, both emotional and academic. Does he feel that he owes you in some way? Can it be that he has picked up on your feelings for him, and is responding in a way that pleases you? 

One of the most common mistakes women make is that they read too much into the time they spend with a guy. A guy can spend a whole weekend with you, cook meals together, laugh together, be passionate – do all the things that feel like being in love to a woman – and have absolutely zero emotional investment. If he is in a “no relationship” mindset, or views you as FWB material only, he can enjoy your company and the sex without any worries that you might get hurt, because these are the terms you both agreed to.

It’s time to stop guessing and ask him directly. You don’t need to make a big confrontation out of it, you could just say something like, “You’ve really been acting different lately, what’s up?” to get the conversation going. Because you like him, you need to find out asap whether the feeling is mutual. If not, you need to get out right away. 

There’s an article in The Atlantic today about a new study of FWB relationships, Romance Trumps Friends with Benefits. (H/T: Stuart Schneiderman). Researchers from Harvard, Syracuse and Purdue conducted an online survey of college females, half in FWB and half in traditional romantic relationships. Their findings:

  Friends with Benefits Traditional Romantic
Total # sexual partners 6.4 1.9
Frequency of sex Lower Higher
Non-sexual time spent Less More
Satisfaction with relationship Lower Higher
Comfort expressing needs and desires Lower  Higher 
Comfort setting relationship boundaries      Lower  Higher 
Discussion of other sexual partners Higher Lower
Condom use Higher  Lower 

 

I don’t find most of these findings surprising, but am particularly struck by the difference in sexual history between women in FWBs and women who are dating. This suggests, at least to me, that the casual, no-strings nature of a friends with benefits arrangement leads to faster dissolution of those relationships and increased likelihood of entering additional casual relationships, leading to partner counts for women more than triple the women in relationships.

If you were cut out for casual it wouldn’t matter, but you are not satisfied, you want a traditional, romantic relationship. So why don’t you get one? If not with this guy, with some other guy. As long as “attractive and fun” doesn’t mean “unavailable,” there are many other guys out there. 

Like so many women who try to do the FWB thing, you’ve found that it doesn’t really work. We are not meant to relate to other human beings in a strictly sexual way. We want emotional intimacy. I recommend that you not settle for anything less in future.

Hope this helps,

Susan

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The Matrix of Modern Relationships

I was feeling a little crafty today, so I made a chart. It actually helped me understand relationship dynamics by thinking about all the potential variations. I’m sure I missed some, so if you have anything to add, leave a comment! Also, this is a perfect conversation starter for relationship war stories, so feel free to share those too! A key defining the terms can be found below.

Note: Apologies for the tiny print. You may need a magnifying glass. On second thought, if you do, you’re probably too old for most of the options here.

Key:

(terms and definitions by me, with some help from Urban Dictionary):

Bi-Poler Relationship: Double dipping, cheating.

Booty Call: A late night summons — often made via telephone — to arrange clandestine sexual liaisons on an ad hoc basis.

Crying Shoulder: A masochist who listens endlessly to stories of your self-inflicted drama and can always be counted on for sympathy and comfort.

Dead End Relationship: An unsuitable pairing, where both parties fully understand that they are getting into each other’s jeans, not genes.

Fake Relationship: When one party, usually the female, pretends that a regular hookup wants to meet her parents.

Friend with Benefits: Two friends who have a sexual realtionship without being emotionally involved. Typically two good friends who have casual sex without a monogomous relationship or any kind of commitment.

F*ckbuddy: All the benefits of being in a relationship minus the bullshit like not doing enough for Valentine’s Day or her birthday, not spending 3 months salary on a stupid ring, and not spending enough quality time with her.

Frenemy with Benefits: What FWB often turns into. Someone who is both friend and enemy, a relationship that is both mutually beneficial or dependent while being competitive, fraught with risk and mistrust.

Gender Confusion Relationship: Usually occurs when an effete male in the bro community needs hetero cred. He will often choose a high testosterone female who enjoys “broing out” and clomps around in Frye boots. He is also likely to prefer anal sex.

Hate Sex: When the fine line between lust and hatred gets blurred, often resulting in mind-blowing sex.

Imaginary Relationship: When one party reads waaayyyy too much into slight and meaningless gestures, convincing themselves that they are important in the life of someone who probably doesn’t know who they are.

LJBF: Abbreviation for “Lets Just Be Friends”. Used mostly by women to indicate that they don’t want a romantic relationship, but don’t mind receiving attention from a guy that wants to be more than friends.

One Night Stand: Hooking up with someone for one night of sex with no strings attached and hoping to never see them again. It is important not to exchange any personal info with them so they can’t track you down and stalk you later.

Perfect BFF: BFF of the opposite sex who will never, ever try to access your vagina.

Pity Sex: Incompatible with the tingle, lube essential. Usually granted after begging from a guy who you have LJBF’d, dumped, or who has just lost a member of his immediate family.

Problem BFF: BFF who owns a penis that you absolutely do not want to see.

Slampiece: A derogatory term referring to a female booty call who is not girlfriend material or not worthy to take out on dates.

Stalker: Common usage of the term, along with the term ‘creepy’, has come to be used as a defense mechanism for anyone seeking justification for not being attracted socially or physically to someone else. Anyone who thinks an undesirable might be interested in them will almost always automatically label her/him a stalker. Note: Real stalkers seek out beautiful, interesting, and often famous members of the attractive gender. 90 percent of the people who use the term couldn’t get a real stalker to save their lives.

Starter Relationship: When a woman is so desperate for a boyfriend that she accepts the least attractive member of a male cohort, hoping to trade up asap.

Swag Relationship: Promotional merchandise of the human variety. Arm candy. Its purpose is not to communicate or relate, but to promote the social status of one or both parties. The only requirements for a swag partner are good looks and popularity.

Technicality Boyfriend: When a woman who is providing great sex to a guy issues an ultimatum at a time when he sees no other poon on the horizon. Emotional investment is zero.

Whipped: Being completely controlled by your girlfriend or boyfriend…in most cases a guy being completely controlled by his girlfriend.

Zip code relationship: Living a double life. One relationship at home, another at school. Always on the down low.

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The Complex Psychology of STD Transmission

We are screaming FIRE! and everyone is just sitting around ignoring us.

Representative for the Centers for Disease Control

I’ve never written about STDs before. There are several reasons for this. One is that I know you’ve all had sex ed, and I’ve never felt like I have anything to add to the always good advice: Wrap It Up. However, three things happened recently that have got me thinking not about STDs themselves, but about how we behave when we suspect we have one, get tested, and share this information with current and future partners.

1. The first thing that happened is that April is STD Awareness Month.

2. The second thing that happened is that I received this email from a reader:

When I was younger (read teenage, dumb and thought I was in love) I ended up contracting herpes from my then boyfriend. I didn’t know he had it, never asked and he never told. I can’t blame it all on him since I allowed him to skip protection and I now know that some men don’t even realize that they have it. Now, this puts me in a sticky situation when it comes to dating and hook ups. I have always been upfront and honest about my situation with any perspective partner and usually tell them in a neutral setting with out any of the sexual tension. I tend to prefer a FWB because of this as opposed to a casual hook up.

Considering that the CDC estimates that approximately in 1 in 6 people aged 14-49 have genital herpes, it’s something bound to rear it’s ugly head in the hook up culture. What are your thoughts on the subject? How do you see it when it comes to telling a potential partner? The impact it can have on young people considering that it’s so reviled in our culture, even to the point of Times magazine calling it ‘The New Scarlet Letter’ at one point?  I’m not so much looking for advice as like I said, I’ve come to terms with and am always honest with a sexual partner (I figure, if you want me bad enough, you’ll wrap it LOL!), but I know back when I got it that I was young scared and never wanted to have sex again so if that was me, how many other young people are in a similar situation?

3. The third thing that happened was that a young woman I know realized something was up with her lady parts and went to get tested.

She had had sex without a condom, so she figured she had gotten very unlucky. Here was her mantra as she waited for all the various test results:

Please, please, please don’t let it be herpes. Chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, fine, whatever. Just not herpes. Please.

Obviously, no STD is fun. It totally sucks to catch a bug from another person during sex. It’s genital herpes, though, that most often strikes fear into the hearts of people, because it is incurable. Genital herpes is forever. The infections this woman prayed for are easy peasy – heavy antibiotics, no drinking for a few days, and you’re done. HPV? Horrible, but the vaccine helps a lot, and it generally “goes away” after a while. AIDS? So rare on campus and among straight people that it’s rarely even included in routine STD testing.

The Facts

There are a million new cases of herpes each year, 2/3 of which occur in people younger than 25. Researchers estimate that 1/3 of college students will contract genital herpes by the time they graduate.

One-third

It’s very confusing to talk about herpes, because there are four different possible permutations. For starters, there’s type 1 and type 2. Then there’s mouth and genitals.

1. Genital to Genital (Type 2)

  • 2/3 of new genital infections.
  • Responsible for 90-95% of recurrences.
  • 90% of those who have HSV-2 infection do not know that they are infected.
  • 90% chance of recurrence in the first year.
  • Recurrent outbreaks are usually milder and briefer, and typically occur four to five times per year.
  • Outbreaks become less frequent and less severe over time, and usually end in 5-6 years.
  • 70% of transmission occurs when there is no outbreak, or any symptoms during shedding period.

2. Mouth to Genital (Type 1)

  • Transmitted through giving and receiving oral sex.
  • Causes about 1/3 of new genital infections.
  • About 75% of new genital infections in college students.
  • 50-60% chance of recurrence in the first year.
  • Then only recurs about once every other year.
  • Produces less viral shedding than Type 2.

3. Mouth to Mouth (Type 1)

Big whup. Not worth discussing.

4. Genital to Mouth (Type 2)

  • Rare but it can happen.
  • After recovery from a possible first episode, of little consequence, i.e., not likely to reactivate and cause signs or symptoms.

Who Gets It?

For ages 14-49:

  • Type 2 prevalence is nearly twice as high among women (21%) as men (11%).

Women are vulnerable to the microscopic tears that make transmission more likely.


  • Type 2 is more than three times higher among African-Americans (39%) than whites (12%).
  • The infection rate among African-American women was 48%.

John Douglas, MD, Director of the STD Division of the CDC:

It is quite clear that this increased rate of infection in African-American women is not due to increased risk behavior.


  • The infection rate was roughly 4% among people who reported having just one sex partner ever, compared to almost 27% for those who reported 10 or more partners.

Susan Walsh, blogger:

It is quite clear that the increased rate of infection among the promiscuous is due to increased risk behavior.

The Psychology of Herpes


1. We’re too trusting, and we don’t verify.

A recent study by the University of Iowa was published in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. The goal of the study was to determine the effect of non-romantic sex on STD rates. I know you won’t be surprised to learn the study’s primary finding:

For both genders, having sex with a friend made someone less likely to be monogamous.

Duh. People having several sexual partners at a time is very common in hookups or FWB relationships. This increases risk in obvious ways. However, there’s also another disturbing finding: in FWBs in particular, people having sex with friends tend to assume that their friends are STD-free. Peggy Giordano, Professor of Sociology at Bowling Green State University says:

When people have sex with a friend, they tend to be more trusting that the person doesn’t have a sexually transmitted disease and therefore fail to use a condom. If you’ve known a person for a while, you don’t have that vigilance. You’re probably not going to ask them to go and get tested for STDs.

Sex with an ex is also considered very high risk, since you really have no way of knowing who they’ve been with since you broke up. The prevalence of “sexual involvement in nonromantic contexts” is expected to contribute to a steady increase in STD transmission.

2. We have a casual attitude about a very serious subject.

In a piece called Why Isn’t Random Hooking Up Scary Anymore? , writer Gretchen Voss shares a frightening story:

“I don’t ask questions that I don’t want to know the answers to,” says 27-year-old Jenny* with a laugh. That’s why she hasn’t asked the three men she’s currently sleeping with about their sexual pasts. And when they inquire about hers, she lies. They don’t know she’s had sex with dozens of guys—instead she cops to six, the magic number that she and her friends have decided sounds most acceptable.

For now, Jenny is focused on her public relations career in Philadelphia and has no interest in pursuing a committed relationship. “If you’re with multiple people, you can’t get your heart broken,” she says. Having casual sex keeps her safe, at least emotionally. There’s the dude downstairs—a friend’s ex—with whom she could never have a relationship outside the bedroom. There’s the old pal who is “just a friend with benefits, nothing else,” who Facebooks her for latenight booty calls. “I’ll go over and we’ll have sex, and then I won’t hear from him for two weeks,” she says. “And I’m totally cool with it.”

I will resist the urge to rail at the insanity of this woman, who is surely headed for the trash heap in one way or another. Suffice it to say that this attitude is not uncommon, and the health implications are obvious.

3. It’s very easy to get away with not disclosing your status.

It’s hard to determine who gave you herpes. Most people who are infected don’t know it – they are carriers but have never had an outbreak. So when you hook up with Teddy, and you get herpes, Teddy will say, “No way! I don’t have it!” And he may be telling the truth. You have no way of knowing. I have heard stories of couples where the girl has contracted herpes, accused her boyfriend of cheating, and he is so insistent that he doesn’t have it he turns around and accuses her of cheating. In fact, it is very plausible that neither cheated.

It’s also the reality that people who have no symptoms do not want to take the blood test. They don’t want to find out, and be told they now have to inform all sexual partners. Talk about a buzzkill.

Here’s how the testing works:

Herpes can be cultured, and there’s also a blood test for antibodies. A culture can tell you whether you have Type 1 or 2. It can also tell you if this is a true primary outbreak.

  • If you are in a monogamous relationship, and you get a positive culture but a negative blood test, you do have it, and got it from your most recent partner.
  • If you have had more than one partner, it’s not possible to pinpoint which one infected you.
  • If both the culture and blood test are positive, the infection is not brand new, so it may be impossible to ever know who gave it to you.

Only the first scenario can give you the information as to whom, but it cannot tell you about that person’s history of breakouts. There is obviously a lot of wiggle room here when it comes to fessing up.

It should be noted that you are required by law in most states to disclose this information to your partner. Knowingly infecting a partner is against the law, and numerous high-profile celebrities have been sued for this, including Paris Hilton and Derek Jeter.

What You Should Do


1. You must always, always, always use a condom during sex.

It does not eliminate the risk, but it does reduce it significantly.

2. Oral sex is the overlooked culprit.

It accounts for 3/4 of new infections at college. I know you aren’t going to start using dental dams, so all I can say is that you should check to make absolutely sure the guy does not have a fever blister or cold sore. It’s no guarantee. You’ll have a much better sense of this if you are in a monogamous relationship. It sucks, but the truth is that a guy who’s got a teensy tiny cold sore on the way can plant Type 1 herpes on your vag, and that is genital herpes.

3. If you decide to enter a monogamous relationship, and you want to go bare, you should insist on testing for both of you.

Lots of couples go together, but if you don’t you need to see your partner’s clean bill of health. Unromantic? Perhaps. Too bad.

4. If you are getting sexy with someone who seems particularly unconcerned about contracting at STD, put your pants back on.

Guys who boast about “rawdogging” are almost certainly already infected.

5. If you get herpes, be rational as you try to determine where you got it, keeping in mind all of the uncertainty of tracing the infection.

If you are certain about who gave it to you, you can sue and try to obtain medical records.

6. If you already have herpes, there is some comfort in knowing that outbreaks do tend to abate over time, even in the worst cases.

Talk to potential partners before having sex, obviously, and tell them exactly where things stand. It’s your moral obligation.

7. You are not alone.

By the time you’re a senior in college, you can look around a lecture hall of 300 and figure that 100 of you are in the same boat. There is actually an online dating sight for people with herpes.

8. Herpes prevention may be on the way.

Though research efforts to develop a vaccine have failed to date, there is a very promising vaccine trial that began in February. BioVex of Woburn, MA is conducting Phase I trials of its product ImmunoVex on 42 subjects in the UK. Animal studies have shown the vaccine to be almost completely effective. Their method is new – they have deleted five of the virus’s genes. If all goes well, the vaccine could be available in less than five years. The vaccine would not be therapeutic – if you’ve got herpes already, it won’t help. However, in couples where one partner has the virus, the other person could get vaccinated and remain immune.

Herpes has been called the gift that keeps on giving. It’s painful, both physically and emotionally. You cannot be too careful. The best piece of advice I can give you is this:

Limit your number of sexual partners.


Sources:

http://yoshi2me.com/hsv1-hsv2.html

http://www.collegesextalk.com/questions/diseases.htm

http://www.webmd.com/genital-herpes/news/20100309/cdc-genital-herpes-rates-still-high

http://www.herpesonline.org/faq.html

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Old FWB or New Shy Boy?

Dear Susan,

First let me say I love, love, love your blog…it’s required daily reading for me! I would really appreciate any insight/advice you have about my current situation…Basically, it’s the classic tale as old as time…the old f*ck buddy conundrum. Last spring, while in the final semester of grad school, I started hooking up multiple times each week with a casual friend. This was my first FWB type relationship, but we both really seemed to enjoy the time spent together (nearly all of which was in one of our bedrooms). Our arrangement seemed to have an expiration date, as I planned on relocating out of state following graduation. Keeping this in mind, I tried to be careful of catching feelings for this guy and focused on enjoying our casual relationship for what it was. Summer came and I made the move across country for my new job. I was a little surprised at my sadness that things with my fwb had come to a close, but he gave no indication of wanting anything more. I knew in my head it was best for me to move on to new, more commitment-minded prospects in my new locale.

In my attempt to meet someone new, I joined an online dating site. This fall I met a very nice, albeit somewhat shy, (total opposite of typical alpha asshat) boy through the site. Online Boy has been forthcoming that he is pretty inexperienced with relationships, but has told me he would be ready to start one with me. After my FWB experience, I thought the things Online Boy is offering were what I was looking for…

HOWEVER, my problem lies with the original FWB. Much to my surprise, since my move this summer we have remained in contact. He texts me daily and sometimes we talk on the phone. Our talking/texting is occasionally overtly sexual, but more often mundane day-to-day musings about our respective lives. This near constant communication with him has made moving on more difficult and I think I’ve developed even stronger feelings for him. I’ve tried to limit my respones to his texts/calls, but he is persistent…and I feel like I’d really miss him if I were to cut him off completely.

I’m trying not to be deceitful with Online Boy and have told him that I want to take things slow…hoping this would buy me time to figure out what exactly I want. I don’t understand why, when Online Boy is suddenly offering me the things I thought were missing with my FWB, I still feel so unsure. Am I destined to have feelings for the emotionally unavailable, commitment-phobic FWB?

Catherine

Hi Catherine,

Thank you so much for your kind praise! Seriously, it’s feedback like this that gets me moving in the morning (Confession: I’m in PJs under the covers, but my mind is moving). OK, the first thing I need to do here is confess that I am not sure whether I can offer you objective advice, because I have already lost my heart to Online Boy. However, I want you to figure out your feelings so that you can be happy, and make someone else happy, so I’ll give it a shot.

I have to say, it sounds like you did a great job of keeping your head on straight while having the FWB. Of course, we can’t entirely control whether or not we catch feelings, and women are particularly vulnerable to this. So I’m not surprised that after all that great sex, and all the raging hormones, you would feel sad to leave him behind.

This question of an expiration date is the bane of modern day relationships. You go to college at 18, eager for romance, and with your whole future ahead of you. However, that future is one that must include academic achievement, meaningful internships, perhaps a semester abroad, an impressive job offer upon graduation, and possibly graduate school. You don’t know where you will be living for any of these crucial experiences, or indeed afterwards. Young people today are essentially nomads until they reach their mid-20s. That’s six or seven years of becoming involved and separating, repeating the cycle. It takes a lot out of a person. Guarding oneself against becoming attached, when attachment is what we crave as human beings, is emotionally taxing, to say the least.

I give you a lot of credit for giving online dating a shot, for trying to meet new people. You lucked out; Online Boy sounds like a really good guy.  I fear he runs the risk of revealing too much too soon–he would do well to hold back a bit. (Would you please ask him to give me a call, so that I can set him straight? He needs a one-hour session in Catherine Psych 101.) Seriously, though, I don’t think it is fair for you to be comparing these two guys. It’s apples and oranges.

  • Online Boy has demonstrated qualities that make him an excellent relationship prospect. He’s earnest and honest. He is up front about wanting a relationship with you. Assuming that you are physically attracted to him, he sounds like the whole package.

With Online boy, you have established a compatible friendship with relationship potential. The sexual connection has not been fully explored.


  • FWB is hot. The sex was good. And now he’s texting, calling and generally acting like he misses you. Could it be that he felt more for you all along? Or that your absence has made him realize you are the one?

With FWB, you have a sexual history with relationship potential. The friendship compatibility has not been fully explored.


Before going any further with Online Boy, you need to ”man up” and have a frank conversation with FWB. You are spending time and emotional energy wondering what it is he wants, and you owe it to yourself to get that out there. I’m a big believer in saying what you need to say, but you can bring it up without initiating THE TALK. For example, you could tell him that you are surprised the two of you are still in touch, months after you graduated. Then be silent until he responds. Never underestimate the power of silence. Make the other person fill it.

Or you might tell him that you miss him, and see if he reciprocates. His persistence shows that he genuinely enjoys your company and values the connection between you, but here you are dating someone else, and he may be FWB’ing it with someone new as well. You need to know what the deal is there, and because the two of you have avoided becoming emotionally entangled, it’s likely that you will have to initiate that dialogue.

The other thing you need to be prepared to discuss is where the relationship could potentially go if you were both interested in pursuing it. Now that you’ve completed your education, you may be in a position to settle in one place. Is it possible that he could wind up in the same place? You might decide to schedule a weekend visit, and see how things go.

I don’t think it will be possible to pursue something real with FWB and date Online Boy at the same time. It’s too confusing, and not really fair to Online Boy. After you speak with FWB, you should have a clear idea of what is possible there. If you decide to pursue that, you need to cut Online Boy loose so that he doesn’t waste his time. You may sincerely like him, but if your heart is preoccupied with someone else, then the timing isn’t right.

If FWB remains commitment-phobic, I would ask for some time and space. You may be able to have a friendship, but you are going to need some distance to transition to that. Ask him to stop contacting you, and tell him that you’ll be in touch when you feel ready. In that case, you can continue to see Online Boy and evaluate whether you could have feelings for him.

You know that I’m all about the nice guys, the Dads instead of the Cads. But you can’t force sexual attraction. If Online Boy doesn’t do it for you, there are certainly many men out there who are looking for more than a FWB by their mid-20s.

But honestly? A hot, shy boy who is wearing his heart on his sleeve? I recommend taking that boy to bed for a whole weekend. You just might find that FWB is a distant memory.

xoxo

Susan