Friends With Benefits

Q: My friend and I began dating about four weeks ago. At first, everything went great, although a little too fast. She loved my poetic side and I began to write her poems. Everything was great, including the sex. However, about two weeks ago, she freaked out when I wrote her a poem expressing my true feelings for her. You see, she didn't feel the same for me (or not yet, as she said). So she decided that we should be friends with benefits and I thought it was a great idea. I now realize that this arrangement might have worked for me when I was like 29, but not at 38. I need someone that's going to be there for me 100 percent, not halfway. I'm going to tell her that if she's not willing to give me another shot at being her boyfriend, then I'm out. It's going to hurt because I do care for her, but I want a full relationship. What do you think? -- Ralph, 38

Dr. Susan: Your relationship apparently did move way too fast, at least for her. Not everyone falls in love in two weeks. Some do, some don't, and some feel pressured when the other person expresses too much, too soon. The problem with the whole "friends with benefits" scenario is that one person may want to go further, commitment-wise, while the other wants to continue playing the field. There is no way I know that you can get her to give you another shot at being her boyfriend. You're getting tangled in the terms. Is she willing to be exclusively with you, but without calling you her boyfriend? Or does she actually only see you as a convenient friend she enjoys sleeping with? What would happen if you cut out the physical intimacies? Would there be a friendship left? It's safe, fair and reasonable to require exclusivity in sexual relationships. If she's not ready for that, you're probably wasting your time. Anyway, you barely know each other after one month of seeing one another. Slow down and see if you can start over.

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