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Friendships and False Hopes

Hey Doc:

I was going out with this 24-year-old girl for about 3 months. We enjoyed our time together but she fell for me pretty hard. Since it was only 3 months, I believe that her feelings were mostly infatuation, but I'm not sure now.

I panicked and broke up with her because I don't think I'm ready for that kind of commitment. I feel like I will hurt her later because I am not that experienced and still want to enjoy other women. Don't get me wrong, she was everything that I would need in a girlfriend, but my mind is not ready for a serious relationship with anyone. But I still love her company more than with most of my friends. I don't want to let go of her friendship, but I also don't want to give her false hope by enjoying her company too much.

She says that she feels hurt, but she understands where I am coming from and knows that we can only be friends. She has reassured me that I don't need to worry about her in that aspect, but I still do. We like doing a lot of the same things, which makes our time together very enjoyable whether we are intimate or not.

Is this wrong? Am I giving her false hope, even though we have reached a mutual understanding about where the friendship stands? Should I believe her when she says that she knows we can never be together? I mean it was only three months, and she's not a little girl. If she can bear this, I would love to still be her friend and kick with her without a relationship/commitment. What to do?


When you break up with someone; even if it's only been a short or informal dating relationship, you shouldn't give her false hopes by agreeing to be her "friend". People need some time to heal after these breakups and that takes distance. The person doing the breakup will often offer the friendship in order to help ease the pain, but in fact, this usually just gives false hope that things might turn back into a relationship again.

In your case however, she seems mostly fine with the "friends with benefits" arrangement. You seem to be concerned for her well-being and have made it clear that things are not going to go any further. I suggest that you might continue this on a trial basis, but keep your eyes open for signs that she's not handling things very well. Some of the things to look for include:

* Pulling away emotionally
* Beginning to use sex as leverage - for example, either offering it in order for you to come see her when you don't want to, or withholding it when she senses you're not fully "with her".
* Acting jealous over things you do with other people - including friends and family
* Introducing you to her friends as her "boyfriend"
* Starting to make future plans for you and her to do things like take vacations, etc.
* Acting upset, but telling you that everything is "fine!"

Here's the bottom line: as you both continue in this "relationship" one of you is likely to find someone else you either want to date or start a relationship with. As soon as that happens, it's likely going to put a hitch in the current plans. When that happens, you're going to wind up in another breakup where all the drama starts over again. Frankly, this is a scenario that can play out over and over again and will eventually hurt someone - likely her, but maybe you! This would be the time to fully end the relationship and move on for everyone's benefit.

Best regards...

Have a love, dating, relationship, sex or man/woman question? I answer all email. You can write to me at dwneder@beingaman.com for answers. For more information about my books, "Being a Man in a Woman's World" (volumes I & II), and other products visit: www.beingaman.com. Check out the discussion group at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/beingaman.

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