It’s a lot more than sex

Letters to [email protected].

I am currently seeing this guy (I'm 22, he's 24). We met seven months ago on Tinder and have gotten really really close. Yes, we have sex, but we spend most of our time together chatting, watching movies, food shopping, laughing, eating, etc. I spend at least half of my time at his place (we always hang out there because he lives alone and I live with my family). We text every day, we cheer each other up when we're sad, and we look after each other when we're sick. Here’s my problem: I'm pretty sure I love him, but I'm not supposed to. My friends always call him my boyfriend, and his friends call me his girlfriend. I see where they're coming from and I agree; it's like a relationship without the label of it.

He doesn’t understand why people think we're a couple, so I always just say, "Yeah, I don't know either," and brush it off. Last year I got out of a four-year relationship and he got out of an engagement. When we met, I didn’t know what I was looking for. But his relationship ended very, very badly. It had sent him to a very dark place. When he met me he knew he didn't want a relationship, but I wasn't aware of this and was just seeing where things went. He doesn't feel ready for a new relationship yet and is in denial of what we are. He acts like he has feelings for me, telling me how much he misses me when I'm not there. I've never heard of anyone acting the way he does and not having feelings for that person. Today over text he asked me if I’m still OK with being just friends, but I don't think we are just friends. I think he asked because he knows this isn't how friends behave, and that I know it's something more. I told him I’m happy with how things are at the moment. Because for the time being, I am OK with this. I'm holding out hope that when he's in a better place, he might realize that we have been acting like a couple all this time, and maybe he will want a relationship. I also cried because it hurt to think that he doesn't have any feelings for me. I know I shouldn't get my hopes up, but it's incredibly difficult not to when he treats me this way. I just don't want things to end now. If it doesn't work out, I'd rather it was further down the line, when I have given him more time.

I know everyone is going to tell me that I should tell him how I feel, and if he doesn’t feel the same way I should end it to avoid getting hurt even worse in the future. But I simply don’t want to. He is making me so happy at the moment, I just don't want it to end, not yet. I guess I am writing this in the hopes I’ll be told it's OK to keep doing what I’m doing, even though I know it’s a bad idea and will probably cause more pain in the long run.

— A girl who is terrible at handling her feelings and emotions

You've anticipated much of what will be said today, and your predictions are probably correct. I imagine that the comments section will have plenty of people telling you to ask this man for what you want and to leave if you don't get it.

That's my opinion, too, but I know it's easier said than done – and I know you don't want that advice. You're not going to follow it and I understand why. Instead, all I ask is that you stop lying to him.

He asked if you're happy being friends. You don't have to answer in a way that will scare him. You don't have to admit that you're madly in love. But you can point out the obvious, which is that there is a romantic relationship here. You can say, "I can't call this a friendship; we're intimate in so many ways. That said, I understand your need to avoid big promises and labels right now. I can accept that for the moment." If he says, "I don’t know why everyone thinks we're a couple," don't shrug and let him pretend like everyone else is wrong. Again, tell him the truth. You can say, "Everyone believes that about us because we behave like a couple."

Don't let him scribble over the truth. This is more than a friends-with-benefits situation. This is daily support. It's OK to remind him, even if you want to stay breezy about the label.

– Meredith

Readers? Advice for turning this relationship into something more? What's your advice, knowing the LW won't end this now?