Dear Auntie Sparknotes,
I have a problem and I hope you can help me! I have just started my first semester in college and I am having a great time. However there is a boy that I have recently started "seeing" so to speak. He is a big flirt and from the start it was obvious that he liked me a lot. While I found him extremely attractive, there were a couple of things about him that I don't really like (for example, he is a smoker, can be kind of rude, and is very bossy) and I had initially decided that I didn't want to be anything else other then friends. Then at a party (with the help of some alcoholic beverages...) we made out. I liked it and figured, what is the big deal? I'm young, want to try new things, he's handsome and a good kisser, and it doesn't have to be serious.
Unfortunately, he seems to think that our hook up sessions mean we are dating. I want a friends-with-benefits relationship and I do not know how to tell him without hurting his feelings. I also feel a little guilty because I feel like I maybe led him on a little. I knew from the beginning that he was looking for more than I was, and I still flirted back and I guess in his mind fully reciprocated his feelings. How and what do I say to get out of this...? I know that it is kind of immature and that I should be able to be honest and say how I feel by now. But every time I try to broach the subject I just chicken out cause I don't really know where to start.
The good news: this week's mysterious spate of scary mom letters has finally come to an end. (Phew!)
The bad news: nothing makes Auntie want to pull out her perfectly-coiffed hair by its little brown roots quite like letters like these—in which a person admits to knowingly messing with another person's head, and even to knowing they shouldn't be messing, but then claims that they can't bring themselves to stop messing and do the right thing 'cause it's just so scary and hard.
Because you know, and I know, and I know that you know, that once you know that your casual fling is the other person's serious business, you have to talk about it. Even if you've never actively lied, even if you've never discussed your relationship at all, and even if that person's reasons for thinking you're in one are weird and deluded and make no sense. His assumptions aren't your fault, but knowing about them and not correcting them? That's where you need to change. And one of the reasons you have to talk about it is that, as you've discovering right now, knowing that you're feeding his false hopes will eventually start to eat at you. (Trust me: you might be able to quiet your own nagging conscience with "Hey, I never said we were dating!"—but say it out loud to a person you've hurt, and you'll feel right down to your bones just what a pathetic and flimsy excuse it really is.)
Fortunately for you, the best way to get out of this is also the simplest: you break it off. No big conversation, no long-winded explanation. Just tell him the truth: you're sorry, but you're not looking for the same things, and it's best if you stop seeing each other. Which, for the record, is what you'd do anyway, even if you'd been honest from the start. Friends-with-benefits arrangements only work by mutual agreement; when one party develops feelings for the other, the agreement has to either evolve ("Okay, we're dating"), or end ("Okay, we're done"). You can't keep carelessly kissing someone you know is pining for you; it's mean. And since you don't like him that way, it's time you went your separate ways.
Have you ever been too chicken to call it quits on a hookup? Share your stories in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.