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Are we just friends with benefits?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  November 20, 2012 08:40 AM

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Again, I'm looking for updates from former letter writers for the holidays. If you wrote me a letter, please send me an update from the same email address that you used to write me the first time.

And now a letter from my home state ...


Q: Hi Meredith,

About a year ago I broke off my engagement to my boyfriend of five years. It was the hardest decision of my life thus far, and while I cared for him deeply, I am 100 percent happier now than I was with him. I have always been the girl with a boyfriend, falling quickly into relationships with guys for the wrong reasons -- mainly because they liked me and were good guys. I have approached dating this time around very differently, dating multiple men at once, and really focusing on what I need and want in a partner. I feel like I have a really healthy outlook on dating.

So why am I writing? There's a glitch in my otherwise grounded approach to dating and that glitch's name is "Luke." I met Luke about 11 months ago out at a bar. Luke was seemingly nothing like the other guys I dated and initially I was very tepid about him. I was convinced that our first date would crash and burn, but I was wrong. We continued to date -- however, at the time I was also dating someone else. We continued to casually date for a couple of months and then one night we were supposed to get together and he cancelled at the last minute. About a week later he stopped returning my texts. I got the not-so-subtle hint. I deleted Luke from my contacts and made amends with the fact that he wasn't interested. I still had feelings for him but I also didn't want to torture myself with the temptation of contacting him.

I didn't see or hear from Luke for a few months until we bumped into each other. We talked and he apologized about how he ended things. From that night on, Luke has been a different guy. We started going on day dates for brunch or lunch, just talking, and maybe just a goodbye kiss. We also became much more honest about what was going on the first time we dated. I told him I had been seeing another guy. I found out that he disappeared because he was also seeing someone.

The thing is, I can't every really tell where I stand with Luke. I really think that Luke and I are at the very least meant to be good friends. Sometimes I think that we are a classic case of friends with benefits, but we go on dates, he has cooked me dinner, he consistently responds to my texts, and although we are having sex, it is neither the reason nor end game when we hang out. Luke has said that he doesn't need "another girlfriend" -- that he's really looking for a wife. He also told me that he dated his last girlfriend for a year and a half before they became exclusive. I know that Luke likes me and I know he enjoys spending time with me, but I wonder if I am just someone to pass the time with while he finds his "wife."

I can't help but think that if he disappeared before for the other girl, there must have been something about me that didn't click with what he was looking for, and I have a hard time imagining that that "something" has changed. I have tried discussing some of these topics with Luke but I don't get a lot of information. He reassures me that he is into me and that for him it takes time to build relationships. To be honest, I'm not sure that I want to be exclusive with Luke, but I know there is something about him and the way I feel about him that is very different from the other guys I've dated.

Am I on a dead end road with Luke or should I continue to see how this develops? What signs should I be looking for (or what signs am I ignoring) to tell the direction of our relationship?

Thank you!

– Is there potential?, MD


A: You've had a busy year, my friend. Please take a deep breath and relax a bit.

I don't know what Luke is doing or what he wants, but it's early in the game. You can't rush the answers, and it might be too early for signs.

My advice is to enjoy your time with Luke and to tell him what you want as you figure him out. Isn't that what you learned from your last relationship -- to be forthright about your needs? If you don't want to sleep with someone who's sleeping with other people, tell him. If this lasts another few months and you want to be able to call him your significant other, make it known. That's all you can do.

Again, you've had a wild 11 months. I just hope that you've used some of your freedom to hang out with friends. Had you emailed me a year ago, I would have advised you to cool it with the dating and to give yourself some space to adjust to life as a single person. I'm sure you feel like you wasted five years in the wrong relationship, but you didn't. You didn't lose any time.

It's too early to decode Luke, so you just have to keep dating him and paying attention. As you do that, please spend some of your energy on building a life that will remain whether Luke's there or not. I'm happy that you have an active romantic life, but if you don't find balance, you're going to overwhelm yourself.

Readers? Is she being honest about what she wants from Luke? When should she ask him for more? Does she want more? What does he mean when he says he's looking for a wife instead of a girlfriend? Help.



– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

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 novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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