Hi there Auntie Sparknotes!!
So I have a weird problem. There's this guy. Who else? Those irritating creatures. (No offense to Uncle Sparknotes.) He's perfect and sweet and blah blah blah, right? Heres where it gets tricky: we're friends with benefits.
Which is fine, but there's one problem. He doesn't like me. I mean, he likes me as a friend, and thinks I'm hot, but he doesn't like me like me. And, needless to say, I like him.
After six months of this, we are getting closer, and recently got a LOT more physical. I'm starting to feel a little weird about this; I feel like I shouldn't be having my first time doing important things with a guy who doesn't even care about me. Obviously I see nothing wrong with FWB, but I'm wondering if this relationship is completely healthy, considering I like him, and he doesn't like me back.
I think I could be falling in love with him. I feel so confident and sexy around him and he makes me feel protected and safe. I'm enjoying this so much, but at midnight, that tiny, irritating detail always comes back to me: he doesn't like me back. He has no feelings for me. And it bothers me, because when this ends (and it will), it will rip my heart out, and he won't even care. (To make it even more complicated, we go to a strict boarding school and there's absolutely no sexual activities allowed. If I get caught, I'm kicked out.)
So what should I do? Continue this really fun relationship with a guy I really really care about? Or should I end it before it spontaneously combusts? Or just yell "YOLO" like a stupid, uncreative teenager with no vocabulary and rip my pants off?
Oh, definitely that last one. I mean, this is the internet! Any life philosophy that involves the yelling of "YOLO" and the ripping-off of pants is always and invariably superior to all other possible options, right?
Oh. Okay. Sorry. [Puts pants back on; resumes mantle of responsible adulthood.]
And all pants-ripping aside, let's just get the worst out of the way: you're in for some pain, here, no matter what. Not because friends-with-benefits arrangements are inherently bad or disastrous, but because engaging in one with a person you feel more-than-friendly about is a one-way ticket to Hurt Feelingsville. Saving yourself from the worst of it would've meant breaking things off as soon as you started getting attached (and even then, it would've stung like hell). Now, there's no way out of your situation that won't involve at least a little bit of heartbreak.
But considering your general level of savvy about this whole thing, I'm guessing you know that already.
Which is the one bright side to this situation: that you seem to be very much aware of how you feel, of how he doesn't feel the same, and of exactly what that means for your relationship. (Namely: nothing good.) You know you're not in a healthy place, and you're already starting to feel less-than-great about the state of things. So all that remains is to make your choice: hurt now, or hurt later.
Of course, how you hurt, and on which schedule, is up to you. You can end it immediately, with or without confessing your feelings, and get on with the healing process while taking whatever small comfort you can in having acted with integrity. You can focus on something external, like the risks of getting caught, and try to convince yourself that this has to stop for practical reasons. You can wait for your post-hookup hangovers to get worse, and for those uncomfy midnight moments of clarity start to bleed over into your time together, until you're ending it not just out of self-preservation but because you're honestly not having fun anymore. Or you can decide that hey, you're screwed either way, so you might as well go all in on this doomed love affair and see it through to its natural, soul-crushing conclusion. (Although ugh, I really hope you won't pick that last one; you deserve better than to strap a time-bomb to your own heart.)
But whatever you choose, here's what I want you to do: remember that heartbreak won't kill you. You'll hurt, but you'll heal. And while there are probably some smug, short-sighted people who'll excoriate you for "setting yourself up to get hurt," opening yourself to the possibility of a painful outcome doesn't make you stupid, or negligent, or immature. At best, taking risks can bring you amazing things; at worst, it teaches you an important lesson about your own resilience. The only thing you could do wrong, now, is to not learn anything from what you're about to feel.
And if, when it's all over, what you feel is regret? Then consider that maybe, if just for the sake of trying something new, the next guy you get involved with should be one who loves you back.
Have you ever fallen for a FWB? Tell us how you handled it! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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