Started seeing Ex again. Should we have a “talk”?


dranha asks:

I had been dating a girl for about 6 months, and then we stopped seeing each other. She said she felt things were becoming too serious, and wasn’t ready for a relationship. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a relationship, and I really liked her, but I knew I couldn’t change her mind, and me best chance was to stop contacting her. 6 weeks later, she got in touch with me. We met up a few times, and it’s been great. We are both playing it cool, but we’ve had a lot of fun, made out etc, and she is coming over for dinner this week. I don’t want to sound misogynistic or anything, but I feel that as a man, it’s not my role in a relationship to talk about feelings, emotions etc. However, I’m worried that in a few weeks, she might start feeling the same way about being in a serious relationship.

Should I just tell her how I feel – that I really like her, and want to continue seeing her, but I’m not looking for an intense, serious relationship either. She has already told me she wants to be exclusive, but she is a few years younger than me, and I think the idea of commitment etc terrifies her. 

On one hand, this could reassure her. On the other, I feel like we should just keep meeting up and having fun, and see where things go. But is the same thing destined to happen if I go down that route?

Demetrius says:

Was it George Santayana that said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”? Pretty sure it was, and I’m pretty sure that holds true for not just life, but also your current situation.

I understand your reluctance to have a talk because once you define something, it makes it much easier to form an opinion about it, good, bad, or indifferent. If you continue on with this nebulous sex friendship thing you’ve got going, it’ll probably end eventually, but not having a talk extends your chances of not scaring this very commitment phobic girl away from your friends with benefit situation in the more present tense. Even if you tell her point-blank that you don’t want a commitment, the very idea of speaking about that feeling might drive her away. On the other-hand, leaving things completely undefined could work, but could also backfire because your Friend with benefits might start playing out worst case scenarios about where things are going. I think in your case, action is better than inaction.

Personally, I’m a big fan of defining these sort of things, especially if it’s the second go-round. I just think that once you throw sex into the mix, things become a bit more fragile, so being very clear on wants and expectations is important. How you approach the talk needs to be very different from how you would approach a talk with someone when you are looking for a commitment. Yes, you should have a talk, but you do not need to frame it like “We need to have a Talk™” . You can define things in a way that doesn’t imply commitment, a desire to progress on any level, and still be clear about expectations without making it sound like a commitment. My strategy in these sort of situations is  to talk about it less in a “this is what I want sort of way” and more of a “things are great, let’s keep them this way and have a dialogue if either of use becomes unsatisfied”. Right now things are good, so start with that. If you can convey the message that things are currently great and you’re not looking for much more I think you’ll be fine. If that freaks her out, honestly, she’s probably not ready to be engaged in any sort of relationship, regardless of its level of commitment.

I say this as someone who has been friends with benefits with a person or two in my life. Let me just say that there are people who engage in these sort of relationships who can have adult conversations about expectations in dating, and a lot of people who can’t, regardless of how casual things are. Some people are just scared or put off by these conversations no matter what. Not because of the results of these conversations, but the very idea of defining relationships. I’m not judging these people, we all have our own fears and hang ups around dating, I’m just aware that in some extreme cases, that fear of commitment is bigger and deeper than just wanting to remain single. So, have the conversation, be prepared for her to freak out, but also be prepared to have a frank, low pressure conversation about what you both want out of your sex friendship.

Now that I covered the bigger issue, let’s cover the miscellaneous stuff I want to address quickly:

  1. Yes it would be considered misogynist to think that it’s a woman’s role in a relationship to talk about feelings, emotions, etc. and also dumb. As an adult engaging in adult relationships, it’s your role to discuss feelings, wants, emotions, etc.
  2. In a few weeks things could change, and having the conversation I talked about in the above paragraphs will probably have very little bearing on when things eventually change. You could just ignore my suggestions and let things play out and you’d still be safe, if we’re being honest. It’s low risk, and more than likely will have the same outcome of whether or not you tell her how you feel, but it’s too passive for me to encourage.
  3. The fact that you were casually dating this girl for 6 months, she had a commitment freak out and returned 6 weeks later to give it another go leads me to believe this is either going to be a very brief rekindling, or maybe she’s changed what she’s looking for.

That’s all I got. Enjoy what you’ve got, while you’ve got it, and don’t be afraid to casually tell your FWB that you aren’t looking for a commitment.

Good Luck Out There.

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