Are we just friends with benefits?

Hi there,

Recently I started seeing my 55-year-old ex-husband's ex-best-friend, who is 32 (I'm in my late 40s). My ex-husband is aware I've had a few run-ins with him, but he's not aware of our sexual encounters. When I suggested to my new friend (with benefits) that I was going to let my ex-husband know, he suggested I don't mention it to him. They used to work together.

I think I really like him, but don't want to be clingy. He's been married and divorced and has two children who are younger than mine. My question: Is there any chance of a lasting relationship between us? When we get together, we tend to go out drinking beforehand and end up at his house until the next morning. I feel so comfortable and safe with him and don't want to lose that.

I'm not sure if this is just a friendship with benefits from his point of view, or if it could develop into something more. I'm not sure how to talk to him about it. When I see him, talking is really not what we both are looking for, and we default to sex. The few times the subject has been discussed, I've mentioned to him that he makes me feel wonderful and that our time together is quite remarkable. I've also said I don't want to loose him as a friend. His reply was that I don't need to worry.

I don't have an issue leaving this relationship as is, with no commitment. My issue is that I need to know what that relationship status means to him. I get attached very quickly and I don’t want to get hurt or vice versa. He is a very nice man who has been hurt in the past. He’s also known me with my ex-husband for the past 10 years or so. We used to spend time together as two married couples. He knows how much my ex hurt me. What do I do?

- Worried

You should have a conversation with this man about your evolving relationship. You already know this, of course, but it sounds like you need me to tell you it's time.

Ask your questions and talk about your feelings. Just make sure you have the conversation outside of the bedroom. Maybe even outside of the house, so you can't default to anything else.

I know you're afraid of getting an answer that ends the whole relationship, but if you're at the point where you’re asking others (including me) to read his mind, you have to make a move.

Do your best to focus on questions he can actually answer. You might want him to commit to plans, hopes, dreams, and promises, but it's a little early for that. The best question might be: Is there any potential for more here? Maybe start there and let him know you understand that you're both still figuring this out.

Also, stay honest. Sure, you're worried about losing the friendship, but you’re more concerned that you might break up. You say you "don't have an issue leaving this relationship as is, with no commitment." Think about whether that's true.

– Meredith

Readers? Is the age difference relevant here?