I have a situation that I don’t really know how to handle.
A little backstory; I’m 30 year old woman and I’ve never been in a relationship. I’ve been complimented on both my looks and personality, but I’m an introvert and have struggled with self-esteem and anxiety issues most of my life so I don’t meet people often and rarely put myself out there. This means I have pretty much no experience to work from when it comes to relationships. But despite anxiety issues, whenever I like a guy, I do tell him, and every time I’ve been rejected and we just stayed friends. I have had guys like me, but please believe me when I say they have all been creeps, ranging from making me feel like they’re trying to buy me (I am neither a hooker nor something in a store for you to check the specs on and then haggle a price for. Please don’t treat me that way) to full-blown ‘I know where you live’ stalking. These two facts combined have not helped my unwillingness to put myself out there. But last year I moved to a new country where I didn’t know anyone and I wanted to make some friends, so I put myself out there and met a guy who I became good friends with. I developed a crush after a while, was rejected, and we just stayed friends. Again. He’s a pretty awesome friend though so it didn’t really bother me that much.
Months after my confession, we were out at a bar near his place, and one thing lead to another. Neither of us were even close to drunk (nothing happened until a couple of hours after we’d had a single glass of wine) and neither of us was unhappy that it happened or regretted it in any way, and after a few long and awkward conversations we decided to be FWB. He’s ridiculously comfortable talking about feelings and really good at knowing when I’m feeling uncomfortable so he’s pretty easy to talk to. He knows when to push me and when to lighten the mood, so we have been able to discuss it pretty well and made sure we were both on the same page and comfortable with that.
That went on for a few months. Things were going well. He’s helped me open up more emotionally and keeps trying to help me with my self esteem issues. I’ve been getting a little better about all that and I’ve gotten a lot more relaxed around him because of a combination of the above, and KNOWING where I stand with him so I don’t have that anxiety of ‘what if?!’. Then things started changing… And this is what I need help with. I think he’s starting to view me more as a girlfriend rather than just a friend. But I’m not sure if that’s just me being hopeful and wanting that, or if it’s actually happening. And despite his openness to these types of conversations, I don’t even know how to START having that conversation.
Anyway, there are a few things that have made me think things are changing on his end. He’s not a big texter. He prefers to talk in person so most of our texts are arranging a when/where/what of the next time we hang out. He’s like this with everyone, not just me. He doesn’t even have his phone on him when he’s doing a lot of things, and when he does have it on him, it’s turned off a lot. But he’s started texting me more often, and for unimportant things. Just to make a joke, or tell me something that normally would have waited till we hung out in person. And making arrangements with me further out as well. He’s started making more time for me, and I was already the friend he saw most often. He’s started introducing me to more of his other friends (I’d already met some, they’re all lovely people), and bringing me along when he’s seeing them. He’s joked about introducing me to his parents. He made a point of telling me he wanted to spend time with just me for his birthday. He’s started using pet names when he talks to me like ‘sweetie’…
Typing all of that out I feel like an idiot for thinking I need external confirmation that things have changed. But I still don’t know what to DO with that information. How do I approach starting that conversation? A part of me is still scared I’m just seeing what I want to see. But if things ARE changing, and it’s because I’ve been getting more comfortable with him and more ‘myself’ around him, so to speak, the anxiety of not knowing could reverse that so I SHOULD have the conversation rather than letting it fester in my brain like I have been… I just can’t figure out how to bring it up! How do I say ‘hey, I know you’ve already told me you don’t feel that way for me, but, do you feel that way for me?’ It sounds ridiculous!
Please help me before I do something stupid…
Trying To Exit The Friend (With Benefits) Zone
As with Gizmoon from last week, sometimes you have to take somebody’s behavior at face value.
Here’s one of the truths about FWB relationships: they all end eventually. Either you quit having the benefits (y’know… the banging) or you quit being friends. This might mean that the friendship ends… or it evolves into something more intimate than a simple “we like to bang on occasion.”
Generally, when you’re maintaining a casual relationship, you keep your partner at a certain distance. People who want to keep a relationship strictly sexual tend to go out of their way to avoid setting up a dating frame – you don’t have the same conversations you might have with a friend or partner. You don’t integrate them into your social circle. You don’t see each other at times when sex isn’t the objective. You almost never make plans for things futher ahead than the next time you’re gonna hook up.
So, guess what your honeybun is doing? He may be doing it consciously in hopes that you’ll get the hint – some people feel like they have a hard time walking back a “we’re just fucking”. He may not realize how things are changing and that he’s giving off more relationship vibes and this is an indication of how he feels without realizing it.
But there’s only one way to know for sure what’s going on: you just ask him.
It doesn’t have to be a big deal; not every DTR conversation needs to be dramatic. The next time you two are hanging out in person, just mention “hey, am I crazy or have things been getting a little different between us? I mean, I really like it, but I want to know if I’m picking up on something or not.” This gives him some space to either say “yeah, actually, I think you are” or “No not really” and lets you both agree to let the status quo continue.
But if you want to know, then you’re going to have to be willing to risk things and call the question. There’s no reward without risk… but I think the risks in this case are fairly low.
G’day from down under Doc,
For a number of months now I’ve been following your posts quite obsessively. I’ve even been rereading some for it to sink in. I’ve observed there to be common threads among most of the advice and topics you cover. You’ve even gone so far as to talk us through apparent contradictions such as the difference between self-acceptance and self-improvement.
All that said, I feel that my progress is rather slow, because as much as I attempt to take on board this advice, I can only retain so much. I’ll remember certain areas whilst forgetting others. and at other times will not consider certain parts because I perceive them to not be relevant to me, even though they may very well be (and if not now, then possibly further down the track)
So I’d like to ask, when I’m reading articles such as; 5 simple ways to jump-start one’s life, and building emotional resilience or changing one’s attitude, etc… how can I ensure that I’ll head them as I go about my day so I can ensure holistic progress?
Hopeless Romantic Pedantic
You’re not wrong, HRP – it can be a lot to process. If you’re not careful, it’s really easy to get overwhelmed with information overload.
The key to careful, steady progress is to not try to take it all in one giant chunk. Let’s take martial arts as an example. You don’t get handed a black-belt and told to go break boards. You start off at the very beginning and learn the basics: how to stand, how to angle your feet. Here is how you want to move your arms, here’s how you want to move your legs, here’s how you maintain your balance. The individual lessons at first may seem unconnected to learning how to kick like Bruce Lee, but each little bit builds on one another. You learn to incorporate that bit into yourself until it becomes part of your muscle memory, and then you build upon it.
Then, as you progress and learn more complicated parts like, say, katas, you learn those bit by bit. You see the whole thing, then you practice the first few steps. As you learn each component, you add to it and start to incorporate the next step. Once you know the full kata, you continue to practice and refine it – you may spend one day working on flowing smoothly from one move to the next, then spend the next day working on speed or power. Every piece builds on the next and informs what comes afterwards.
But whether you want to follow your own path or take the steps I suggest, just remember: little steps at a time. It may not be as fast as you want, but it’ll help ensure you get the lasting success you want.
I’m dealing with some things that I haven’t been able to talk with anyone else about, and I thought you may be able to help me out. I’m a 25 year old virgin male. It’s a secret that’s been eating away at me for a long time. I’ve had opportunities to have sex, but I never went through with it out of fear of humiliation. I fear that I’ll be so anxious I won’t even be able to get it up, and if I do I’ll be so inept that I’ll end up embarrassing myself anyway.
I recently met a girl. She’s the only person I’ve ever told. She was really kind and non-judgmental, and even after unearthing my insecurities still seems interested. I can tell she’s experienced – which freaks me out a bit. I just want this weight lifted. I’ve carried it around for far too long. I just don’t want to embarrass myself and look like a lesser man in her eyes.
You have nothing to be ashamed of LB. There’s nothing shameful about being a virgin, and the first time with anyone is going to be a bit stilted and awkward. You’re relative strangers to one another, learning what you both like and don’t like. There’s going to be of starts and stops and momentary awkwardness and rueful laughter. That happens to everyone.
If you’re with someone who’s as awesome as you suggest, then the last thing she’s going to do is judge you. Trust me: she’s not expecting Studly Good Night right off the bat. The key to being a great lover, even as a virgin, is simply to relax and communicate. Having a can-do attitude and a willingness to listen without ego is going to do far more for you than having plowed your way through more strange ass than a tractor driver at a mutant donkey farm.
So: deep breaths. Let the tension drain from your body. There’s no embarrassment to be had and you’re not going to be a “lesser” man. You’ve got this.