A friend who’d like more benefits

We've had a lot of unhappy friends-with-benefits situations lately. In other news, assuming we all still have power, let's chat at 1 p.m.

After moving far away to go to school, I decided to break up with my boyfriend of two years. I went a bit off the rails over the first few weeks, using my new found single life to sleep and make out with as many people as possible. One of the people I slept with became a friend-with-benefits, yet I was still seeing other people.

I hung out with this friend – "Oliver" – pretty regularly when we were sober, seeing each other during the day and watching films together at night. I didn't ever want to stay over because it seemed too much like we were in a relationship. Though the more I spent time with him, the better friends we became, and I realized I had feelings for him.

He went home for a week for break, and when he came back, Oliver told me that he'd been talking to someone else, "Marie," and said we couldn't spend as much time together now, and definitely couldn't hook up. The next night when we all went out clubbing, I got really upset and told him how I felt about him. He had no idea, but said he really liked me as well, but that it was too late to do something because he was talking to this other woman now.

But sometimes when we'd hang out in a group and other people left, we'd always end up kissing or sleeping together again. As this kept happening, I assumed things were going really well between us, yet he kept saying he couldn't make up his mind between the two of us. I got really annoyed at him one night and told him to just be with Marie, so he said he would.

I tried really hard to stop talking to him to make it easier on me, but it was almost impossible. I didn't want to lose a really good friend again, as I'd already recently lost one when I broke up with my ex-boyfriend.

One recent night, we ended up lying next to each other in bed, cuddling, and talking about our feelings, and he said that he really liked me and felt awful for making me upset all the time, and then he told me all he wanted to do was kiss me. Then we slept together.

I'm really conflicted about what to do, because Oliver and I have liked each other for longer than he's known Marie; we just didn't know about each other's feelings, and only realized once it was too late.

He is going to tell Marie what happened. I'm really worried that if she decides to give him a second chance, I won't be able to even talk to him anymore. I am so sick of him trying to decide between us, but the problem is, I just can't stay away from him. I just need advice on how to stay away from him if they stay together, and what to do if they don't.

- Friend

You say you don't want to lose Oliver because you recently lost another friend, a.k.a your ex. Boyfriends can be close friends, but they're still romantic partners. They're not the kind of friends who will be there wherever, whenever, no matter who you're dating. Maybe you should spend some time finding better platonic companions who make you feel like you'll never be alone. That might help you make better decisions about Oliver, no matter what happens with him and Marie.

As for staying away from Oliver, well, you just have to do it – at least for now. You are capable. It's a willpower thing, and you have it, somewhere. You can also ask for help. For example, if you're hanging out with a bunch of friends (and Oliver), tell one of them that you'd like to leave together and share a ride home. Stay as busy – and surrounded – as possible.

We've had a few recent letters about friends-with-benefits situations that became confusing for one person. Letter writers have said that their relationships started out casual, but became something more. The thing is ... that's how relationships work. They start as one thing, but often, they grow. Perhaps the lesson in these letters is that you shouldn't be so quick to say, "I want nothing! We are friends and it is all super cool!" Instead, the honest answer might be, "I like you. Let's see where this goes." Maybe the relationship goes nowhere, but just in case it does, you've made it clear that you're open to more.

– Meredith

Readers? How should she deal with Oliver if he remains coupled? What if Marie is out of the picture?