Q: Hi Meredith,
I am a single woman in my early 30s and am involved in a "friends with benefits" situation. The gentleman is an ex-boyfriend from about a decade ago. We dated on and off for over 3 years but have stayed very close since we decided to finally call it quits. The break up was mutual.
We have supported each other through good times and bad over the years. We've been through deaths, other relationships, breakups, new jobs, and new apartments. We have a great connection that I never want to give up. We think alike and have the same dry wit. There is only one other person who can make me belly laugh like he does and that is my best friend from elementary school. We truly enjoy each other's company (in and outside the bedroom).
There are multiple reasons why we finally ended it but I will touch on just a few. We were young when we started dating, and we were both (admittedly) having a hard time committing and picturing ever settling down. He had a hard time believing that I didn't want to get married and have kids anytime soon. At one point he and his roommate started hanging out with a new group of friends, most of whom were women. Knowing he did not have many friends I encouraged it at first. Long story short, I started to get jealous. I have never been jealous in any other relationship prior or since and I hated how it made me feel. He started treating me differently and the spark was no longer there. I had to call it quits.
Over the years we have dated other people and keep a respectable distance during those times but always stayed in contact. The minute we are single, the "friends with benefits" arrangement kicks in. Over the past year we have really enjoyed each other, but there was no spark -- until the other night. It totally caught me (and I think him) off guard. We have kissed many times over the years since we separated but the kiss the other night sent shivers through my body and tears to my eyes. It was that spark that we had been missing. Not saying a word or knowing what to do, he snuggled in close to me and we just fell asleep. We've talked since then but "it" has not been discussed since. So here is my question: Do I bring it up? Do I leave it alone so not to rock the boat? I think I would be open to dating again but I am nervous of the rejection. I cannot stop thinking about it.
Thanks for reading!
– Unexpected Feelings, Boston
A: You must bring it up, UF. Even without that magic kiss, it'd be time for a discussion. You guys have been half committed to each other for years, which means that you've only been half committed to finding a real partner. The spark is obviously there. You just need to decide what to do about it.
Bring it up. Tell him that you want to try dating him again, because you do. If he doesn't, it's time to rock the boat so hard that he falls out of it.
And please know this: The spark never left. Sure, you didn't feel it until that kiss the other night, but it takes some spark to fuel a friends-with-benefits situation. The spark was moving things along, making you want to run into each other's arms every time you could. Your guy either wants to pursue that spark or he doesn't. And if he doesn't, you need some time and space to accept your reality.
Have the talk before you spend years feeling hopeful and confused for no good reason. Explain to him that all you want to do right now is try.
Readers? Was the spark ever gone? What's happening here? What should she tell him? What happened with the kiss? Will he want this? Does she have to rock the boat?
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a new novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith here and on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.