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#647: “To bang or not to bang, that is (literally) the question”

the doctor and rose, in separate dimensions, on the other side of a wall from each other, cryingDear Captain Awkward,

I may or may not be in love with my best friend. We have been close for over 10 years, and dated briefly at age 18, 8 years ago, when we broke up due to long distance and the mutual feeling that we both needed to have college experiences and relationships and sex, and to develop individually as people. We remained very close, rebuilding our friendship from there, and supporting each other through the stages of growing up, relationships, jobs, etc, from afar (with the exception of Christmases, a couple summers at home, and visiting each other, we have lived in different parts of the country for 8 years). We have always been able to talk very frankly about our boundaries as well as about our mutual attraction. We have also been able to adjust very well when either of us was in a relationship with another person, adapting the intimacy of our relationship to an appropriate level and giving each other space when we needed it. I know that if he fell in love with someone I would genuinely be delighted for him, and vice versa, because it has happened a couple of times, without issues. We would re-draw our boundaries and adapt our friendship. However, right now he and I are both single, and we are about to have a month together for christmas. I know that historically those circumstances lead to me feeling very romantically and physically attracted to him. On one hand that is great, but on the other hand, we are still on opposite sides of the country for at least two more years until we finish our degrees.

The thing is, neither of us wants to do a long distance relationship, and honestly he and I have already discussed the fact that the distance, and the fact that there has never NOT been distance makes it difficult for either of us to know how we really feel about each other romantically. When we see each other it is in these emotionally intense bursts, and I don’t know how he would fit into my daily life or how I would fit into his, whether we would truly be compatible romantically, or whether we are just building a romance in our heads. We have said that if we lived in the same city, and were single, we would probably give dating a try, since we like each other so much, and actually our long term goals are very compatible. We’ve also promised to NOT pull any “My Best Friend’s Wedding” stunts. I guess my question is this: should I keep my hands off him this Christmas? As it is now, in two years, he and I can have a conversation about actually ending up in the same state, (we’ve discussed that we are interested in many of the same cities and as of now, it wouldn’t have to be a huge romantic pressure thing to try to end up in the same city). We have never actually slept together, though we have done other things over the years when we were both single. Would it change things in such a way that it would BECOME a romantic pressure thing?

Regardless of whether he and I worked out romantically, I want him in my life and it would be lovely to be in the same city. I just don’t want for either of us to sabotage other relationships because we are secretly holding onto this one, and I also don’t want to sabotage this friendship or to do anything that could prevent it from developing into something romantic if that was the right thing.

Advice?

My feeling is, if after knowing this person for eight years you are working toward goals like ending up in the same city someday, referencing My Best Friend’s Wedding as a Thing That Might Happen, routinely renegotiating your boundaries and level of intimacy around whether one of you happens to be dating, and arranging your current romantic and sexual decision-making around this eventuality to the point that you would not get together now for the mere CHANCE to try it out “the right way” later, then the “Isn’t it rich? Are we a pair?” cat is already well out of the bag. However, I am kicking this one to the commenters, since logistics and timing are real factors here, and since “Oh, just fuck* already, you’ll figure out a lot from that and you are clearly burning for him” is probably not the thoughtful response you deserve. ❤

Commenters?

*contingent on respectful discussion and mutual consent

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119 comments
  1. Bang him. Hope that helps.

    • LW, here is the slightly longer and more thoughtful explanation of why you should bang him.

      One of two things will happen if you bang him:

      1. Wow that was weird I can’t believe I’ve been thinking about that for years umm I’ll catch you later
      2. Wow that was magical the universe is full of light and joy and possibility let us bang some more

      If it’s weird, you’ll get over it. Someone I know once banged someone they’d been friends with for nearly ten years and the consensus was ‘…cool… uhh… bye.’ They are still friends. That same person once banged someone who filled the universe with glorious white light and orchestras of puppies singing lullabies and suddenly all their hang-ups about ‘I’m not ready to get married’ and ‘I don’t want a long distance relationship’ and ‘I don’t like to eat with people I’m dating because then they get Attached’ fell away and a year later they were married and lived at the other end of the country [I do not actually recommend marriage or the North of England, but you catch my drift].

      Reader, that someone was me.

      Things that work, work. If it doesn’t work now, it probably won’t work in two years or in five or in twenty, because *all* relationships are hard. What happens if you wait two years to bang him, live in the same city, find that the banging is incredible and then six months later you get the opportunity of a lifetime to go and be a doctor for the President for two years? [I watch too much Grey’s Anatomy] Are you going to give up the opportunity of a lifetime for the magical banging? Are you going to give up the love of your life for the President? Or are you going to slog it out even though you both hate long distance relationships because being together is worth it?

      Because, like, why wait two years?

      • damadafaka said:

        1. Wow that was weird I can’t believe I’ve been thinking about that for years umm I’ll catch you later
        2. Wow that was magical the universe is full of light and joy and possibility let us bang some more

        This. 100%

        • TheLadyK said:

          Agreed.

          There is also option 3. This is awesome but long distance still sucks so let’s have happy pants time when we can and work things out later if we can end up in the same place but not sweat it if you find a good partner at home.

          I did that one, with my eminently bang able best friend for over a decade, as allowable with us dating other people. Banging or no, we’d travel to fun cities around the U.S., be tourists for a long weekend and then go on our merry way. For years. Eventually we did have the opportunity to live in the same city. We’ve been married 2 years now, best friends for 15. We get weird answers when people ask us when our relationship started, but otherwise things are pretty solid and straight forward.

        • ordinarygoddess said:

          LW, I’m going to try to be kind and gentle with this, because I can see you’re already really wound up about this, and I don’t want to make it worse. And yet.

          “one person feels 1 and the other person feels 2” is an outcome that nobody ever expects. And when it does, it is nothing less than The Worst Thing In The World. But I stand here as living proof that a friendship like the one you’re describing can, with love and gentleness and self-care (and the small advantages of being long-distance, like the fact that they can’t see you cry while you FB chat), it CAN survive even that, and be beautiful and wonderful and a blessing and a joy.

          If you have already decided that this person being in your life is worth the price of admission, and it sounds like you have, then just – own that decision. Quit overthinking it. Follow your gut. Do it, or make your peace with not doing it. Live with the consequences. It will all be okay in the end.

          • Queen of Scarves said:

            I second that comment entirely. I was in a very similar situation to the LW this time last year, I asked the other person about maybe entering in a relationship with the goal of being in the same city a few months down the line. They were into it, then started dating someone else. So it blew up in my face and was one of the worst heartbreaks I’ve had, but I’m so glad I went for it. We are slowly rebuilding the friendship and I don’t have to live my life wondering what might have happened. And I have clarity for myself to just be free to meet/pursue other people.
            The thing is, I made that decision and opened that conversation fully prepared and accepting of the fact that it might work out, or it might not.
            But ordinarygoddess is right, LW. Live it, own it. You will be ok.

      • Mary said:

        You don’t recommend the north of England? You have no taste. 😉

        • B said:

          +1 🙂

          • North of England represent!

          • Zooey said:

            Yes, the north of England rocks!

        • wol said:

          Well, quite!

          (Also, you have just solidly confirmed that you are the Mary I thought you were. I believe we’ve met else-social-media! I hope this isn’t creepy.)

        • TJ_Rowe said:

          Another got-married-in-the-North-of-England Awkwardeer, registering agreement!

      • Bonus outcome for number 1: next time you’re wondering should we or shouldn’t we, you can remind yourself of the mediocre sex (or makeouts, or however far you get), and that will make it easier to say “no, he is not for me, I will channel this energy into Other Things”. As opposed to now, where you too little interest to move to each other but too little interest to truly move on.

      • BethB said:

        The North of England is amazing.

  2. Ellen Fremedon said:

    Like a screen door in a hurricane, LW.

    • Jaz said:

      I’m so stealing that phrase!

    • coincidentally, that is also how i would bang captain america. holla!

  3. Lizzie said:

    Bang him. Also, make an opportunity for banging early in the visit, because if it goes well, you’ll regret any wasted time.

  4. David said:

    LW, it sounds to me like the two of you have a deep friendship, you have both been very responsible and mature about maintaining your relationship, and there is enduring chemistry between you. Were I one of the two of you, I would reach out to the other and suggest outright dating for that looming holiday month. Take that friendship, connection, and chemistry for a trial upgrade. You’ve heard of “year and a day” handfastings, where after that year you reevaluate how you both feel? Try a month and a day of being a couple with the understanding at afterward to you will return to your individual lives to consider how well it worked for you. But for that month, well… some bones were meant to be jumped. Git ‘im!

    Wishing you both the best of luck, but frankly I don’t think you’ll need luck, just the same maturity and understand you’ve had between you for years.

    • dynamitochondria said:

      :\ typoes

  5. Yes. If he’s up for it (intended). Don’t waste any more time wondering about whether the two of you connect sexually.

  6. Pizkies said:

    Personally, after having spent 2-3 years pining for a guy I could’ve banged at several points but didn’t, who is now way-way-way unavailable… yeah, I’m gonna come down on the “Bang him” side as well. Don’t waste your time and emotions on “what if”s.

  7. Lynda said:

    What they said. Life’s too short.

  8. Joan of anon said:

    Here’s what I see: you guys communicate and manage your feelings fucking amazingly. Really impressive, from the sounds of it.

    So – to be honest, I don’t think I can give you any advice rather than to work it out between the two of you. Talk to him about it. Be honest and work it out together, but it sounds like that’s what you’ve both been doing really well for the last 8 years anyway.

    (As a personal opinion which you should totally disregard – go for it. These opportunities make amazing memories and sometimes taking a risk on something is worth it, even if it fucks up, for the fun and joy and excitement you feel wen you’re going for it)

    • SpiderKitten said:

      This – mostly. Talk to him about what you’ve written then go from there. Who knows, something may happen or it may not (or you might get a very nice time 😉 )

  9. cyllan said:

    Yes, but!

    Before you are both in the same city, talk about this. Make sure he’s on the same page you are, get him on board the Bang Train. Then go for it if he’s down.

  10. DFTBAwkward said:

    Hi LW! Here’s a little advice, coming from my experience of being in an LDR for a little over a year and a half.

    LDRs suck, no sugarcoating that. I was extraordinarily bad at managing my feelings about the LDR, and my partner and I spent a lot of time and money traveling to see each other. We weren’t as far as you–just across state lines instead of across the country, so arranging visits just meant a few hours in the car, not expensive flights or plane tickets. I realize that may change things. But I think when you find the right person, and you know it’s the right person, you make the LDR work because that’s the only way. You just do what you have to do, even when it’s hard and it sucks.

    Partner and I lived in these two different states when we started dating (I lived in a big city for grad school, he visited said city frequently already). Our first date was great, and I knew I liked him. Subsequent dates were great. When we started becoming more physically intimate, that confirmed a lot of the “ok, this guy is REALLY great” for me, and it made me realize I wanted to commit to really trying out the distance, even though we were both hesitant at first. Two years later we live together and are planning to get married year after next, and even though LDRs are awful I regret nothing, because he is wonderful. I’m glad we stuck it out.

    Being intimate with this guy is going to help you learn whether or not he’s a good partner for you. Think about all the things you learn about someone when things get physical: sometimes awkward stuff happens–can he roll with it and you still have fun? sometimes intimacy makes you feel really vulnerable–does he respect that? how does he handle any boundaries you set with him? is he concerned about you enjoying yourself or is it all about him? These are VERY VALUABLE THINGS TO KNOW about somebody you’re interested in having a relationship with. IMO, it’s better to find this stuff out now, when you still have time to plan your future and his role in it, rather than two years from now when you’re graduating and your life is very unstable and you don’t know where the next steps are. I really don’t think you have anything to lose. You could confirm that you are very compatible and you want more. Maybe it doesn’t work out that way, but if like your letter says you’ve already “done other things” and kept your friendship intact, that seems to me like you could also recover from some awkward sex and still stay friends, too.

    I don’t see anything to lose, but a lot to gain. I say go for it. I hope you have fun and that it works out in a way that makes you happy.

    • The risk I see is if one of them decides that they’ve changed their mind about no-LDRs — they’re in love, the sex is awesome, the romantic feelings are awesome, and they want a relationship even if it is from far away — and the other does not. It sounds as if they’re both sunstantially more “Noooooooooooooo!!!” about LDRs than either you or I would be, and if they both stay that way it’s fine; and if they both change their minds and decide that they’ve found the right person and so they will make it work, that’s fine. But I’ve known people who *don’t* believe that, if they’ve found the right person, they do whatever they have to to make it work. They will give up the right person rather than have an LDR, because not having to go through what LDRs do *to them* is that important to them. And that’s their choice.

      So if one of them falls head over heels and the other doesn’t quite so overwhelmingly as to override the no-LDRs policy, or even if they both fall head over heels but one or the other of them is so absolute about the no-LDRs policy that they’ll hang onto it even if they are madly in love, it becomes really, really hard to handle. Not just awkward, but supremely painful for both of them.

      I’m not sure I’d take that risk, when I felt reasonably confident that I could otherwise have a fairly pleasant two years with a supportive friend and then try out dating that person when we had less to lose. Sure, I wouldn’t be in that situation in the first place, because I don’t have that strong a no-LDRs policy… but if I were, or if my prospective partner were, I don’t think it would for certain be possible to brush it aside even if we were both sure we’d found the right person. That doesn’t mean ‘Don’t bang him’ is the only right answer… but you said you didn’t see what they had to lose, so I wanted to try and explain it as I saw it, since I fear they could potentially have a lot to lose, if things fell out wrong.

      • Terrified Gardener said:

        I was thinking this, but I wasn’t sure how much of it was my mum’s old sexist claptrap about “if you sleep with them you (female) will get more attached and he (because only straight couples allowed) will get less attached”. It may just be that if you both start seriously considering a romantic relationship the floodgates will open and it will be hard to go back to the situation you’re in now. But maybe not. Either way I agree that there is a risk involved, but the risk isn’t necessarily linked to sex, it’s just linked to allowing those feelings to develop in a certain direction.

        • minuteye said:

          But that imbalance in feelings could happen at any time, with or without physical intimacy. It could happen after two years when they’re able to be in the same city. There isn’t any way to really protect against it, other than honest and open communication (which it sounds like the LW has).

          Yeah, there’s risk. But nothing in life is completely without risk.

          • I agree! It’s just about which *particular* risks LW is most comfortable with.

            As I said, if it were me I’d go for it. But I am not the sort of person to ever have had an attitude of, “I categorically refuse to consider LDRs as an option, ever, under any circumstances, no matter how in love we both might be.” Nor have I ever been in the position of wanting to date somebody who has that attitude. I think most comments here have worked from an assumption that both of them might change their minds about that policy if they find they connect well enough as romantic partners and lovers; and I’m not really counting on that being true. They might feel 100% sure that they are right for each other and *still* not be willing to go through an LDR for each other. Or worse, one of them might want to change their minds and do the LDR thing and the other not, and cause heartache all around.

            Waiting two years does *not* eliminate the risk of heartache. I know that. You and everyone else who have brought that point up are absolutely correct about it. But it does eliminate the risk of this *specific* variety of heartache. The thing is, we don’t know how much of a risk this particular variety of heartache actually is, and that’s what gives me pause. The LW sounded pretty certain that the no-LDRs policy was an absolute, and not going to change no matter what; and that’s why I said wait… because if it *is* an absolute, then the risk is 100%, and the best thing that could possibly come of sleeping together on the holiday was to find that they weren’t right for each other after all. That is not a good “best” to have. It’s an okay thing — if it happens that way, OK, they’ve learned something and hopefully they’re still friends. But it’s not what you want as the best possible outcome.

            If the no-LDRs policy is negotiable, however — if things went well *enough* between them during the break, both physically and emotionally, then LW would be willing to deal with an LDR even if they didn’t really want to, and finds out after talking to their friend that he at least *might* be willing to do so as well — then the risk lowers from 100% to something less, and then it might make sense to take the risk, IMO. And that’s something the LW can find out by talking to their friend and thinking about their own position; but it’s information we do not have and I’m not assuming. The risk of having the no-LDRs policy bringing their budding relationship to a screeching halt might genuinely *be* 100%.

            And taking an 100% risk of something you will find unpleasant is not generally considered a good idea.

          • minuteye said:

            pocketnaomi: You’re right, the nature of the risk does change. But I was also referring to the possibility of feelings changing within a friendship. One party in a friendship (long distance or not) might suddenly realize that friendship is not enough for them. People fall in love with their friends all the time, sometimes the friends don’t fall in love back.

            I’m just seeing a fair few comments claiming suggesting caution on the grounds that “You might have sex and find that somebody’s feelings have changed and you’re not on the same page anymore”. But you might also do absolutely nothing and still wake up one morning to find that somebody’s feelings have changed and you’re not on the same page anymore.

          • Minuteye: Yepyep. Postponing does not eliminate the risk of waking up and finding that somebody’s feelings have changed and Now It’s Weird between them. That’s always possible. I think it’s fairly unlikely for these two, because they’re good communicators and have been doing this for eight years without it happening yet. However, there’s a few ways that curveball could easily happen; the most obvious of them would be for one party to find someone else they’re really serious about, right around the same time that the other has discovered they’re in love with their friend. That is a very real risk in this situation, and one I don’t think I’d be willing to chance by leaving things on hold for two years.

            But, once again, I don’t have a thing against LDRs. I have had good ones, and it’s required some balancing, but actually hasn’t been all *that* hard. Not too lonely, not too stressy, and not too much management involved to keep it basically full of Happy instead of full of Angst. I’m working from the position that LW knows whereof they speak when they say, “Neither of us want an LDR,” and that that is absolute.

            If it *is* absolute — if there is honest to goodness, NO POSSIBLE WAY that they would both consider an LDR, no matter how much in love they are — then they would be setting themselves up for a guaranteed heartbreak by deliberately taking actions which increase their already-growing romantic feelings for each other. But you’re absolutely right that they might end up with that heartbreak anyway, and frankly it is looking as if they will, because at least the LW is really sounding as if they’re falling in love with their friend and it’s not going to go away.

            If they both feel that way, then they might still get their happy ending in a variety of ways, but the only thing which would allow for a happy *middle* (as in, during the next two years) is to revisit that no-LDRs policy. If only one of them feels that way, then it’s gonna be weird no matter how it’s handled, but assuming the same degree of maturity and communication skills they’ve shown to date, they should be able to overcome the weird. I’m going to modify my original “Don’t bang yet,” position, and say that the cross between “LDRs are absolutely not an option, but we’re going to go deliberately doing things we know will increase the feelings which will make us want one anyway” is a bad combination to choose. I think the better path is to ditch the no-LDRs policy, and the not-as-good path is to hold onto the no-LDRs policy and also do their best to keep a lid on the romantic feelings until they can be together (which would include not banging, or dating, until that time). But really, anything that doesn’t combine both moving deliberately in the direction of wanting a relationship with making an absolute commitment not to allow themselves to have one should be okay. It’s that combination which is the trainwreck.

          • minuteye said:

            pocketnaomi: That sounds like a solid approach, as long as the no-LDR caveat is non-negotiable (something I have trouble wrapping my head around, since my own promise-to-myself not to get involved with anyone long distance lasted right up until I found someone long distance I wanted to be with). But it seems to me that one of the possible bad outcomes is that they put their lives on hold for the next two years, not pursuing opportunities or new people that might be fantastic, putting this hypothetical relationship (which might never happen) on a pedestal that nothing else can live up to.

  11. tawg said:

    LDRs aren’t too complicated – you two already fit into each other’s daily lives. You already talk readily and easily about your feelings and your experiences and your plans for the future. That’s half the work already done, you know? For me, the hard part of an LDR is having no one to snuggle with. That gets hard, but for me I’m pretty okay with my gf living in another country. We text a lot and call a lot, and I don’t have to worry too much about having bad breath when we catch up :p Not having someone physically with you is very much a YMMV thing, and given that you have so much experience with that part of it already in your friendship… Maybe it’d work. Maybe you could travel to visit each other more often, maybe you could change the way you communicate more often to be more sensory intimate (like, phone calls rather than email. Or phone sex. Phone sex can be pretty great, imo).

    I say you give dating a try over Christmas. Say, “I’m into you, and I think about being in a relationship with you a lot. We have some time together now, how would you feel about going on a date or two and seeing if we do have romantic feelings when we’re face-to-face?” Because it sounds like you wanna be with this person, and I think making steps towards that happening sooner rather than later is going to be good for you. Best of luck, whatever happens over Christmas!

    • Don’t forget the wonder that is Skype. I don’t know how LDRs were maintained before it. And I’m one who *likes* LDRs (no having to negotiate “me time”.

      • I had an awesome 12-year LDR before Skype. We maintained it with quarterly long-weekend visits, combined with AIM and a good imagination. 🙂

  12. The general consensus seems to be building toward “Yeah, do it.” I’m going to throw in a voice for the other side.

    In my experience, it can be much, much harder to go back to, “It’ll be just fine with me if he/she finds somebody else; we’ll just go back to being platonic friends and that’ll be that,” if you have already discovered that you have amazing sex together and experienced the emotional closeness associated with a period of sexual intimacy. If it were me, honestly I’d just go ahead and bang him; then figure, “If it feels amazing both physically and emotionally for both of us, and we’re in love by the end of the vacation, we’ll just sigh and deal with a long-distance relationship already.” But I also deal with long-distance relationships more comfortably than it sounds as if either of you do.

    If you did have sex, and discovered that it was not only physically wonderful but jacked up both of your in-love-ness feelings to an eleven out of ten, then one of two things would need to happen in order for stuff to be OK between you. Either you’d both need to change your minds about long-distance relationships; or else at least one (and maybe both) of you would need to be even more — as in way, way more — super-awesomely-mature about remaining just friends and managing boundaries and accepting each other’s new love interests than you already are. And frankly, you’re both already doing such a good job at it that you might be able to do it… but it’s a really, really hard job and I’m not sure I’d *count* on being able to do it.

    So, if you’re both truly certain that you do not, no way, nohow, under absolutely no circumstances, want to manage a long-distance love affair for the next two years, then I think you should probably not bang him. All the good stuff other commenters have said about finding out if you’re sexually compatible, etc. can be done in two years, if you still both want to.

    However: you and he really need to have this conversation between you. It’s fine to reach out for advice to the community, and these awesome people can give you some great suggestions, but the only people who know how these suggestions fit into your lives are the two of you. So I’m going to emphatically add my voice to the choir of those saying, “Talk this over with him. Now — BEFORE you are in the same city for the holidays. Figure out what is his preference for how the two of you should spend time over the holiday, what is yours, and what you will both choose to do afterwards if the results of the experiment make you want to be a couple — or, still more difficult, if the results of the experiment make one of you want to be a couple and the other not want to, at least not right then. (If neither of you want to, than you’re more or less OK — so long as you’ve been respectful, gentle, and decent toward each other during the experimentation, it should be possible to slip back into your friendship with the consciousness of a question settled.) Also, if you *do* decide together that you are going to have sex, make sure you also have all the usual discussions any couple should have before they have sex, about contraception and disease prevention and things the other should know about your personal sexual quirks generally. Just because you’ve been friends for a long time and dated some of that time doesn’t mean you know everything you need to about each other in this geography you’ve never shared before.

    Best wishes! Let us know how it all turns out. 🙂

    • I agree. If you go for it I suspect it will be really intense and awesome and hopefully everything you’d hoped it’d be. But then, what’s over there? It’s the distance looming like a dark, sad cloud over your heads. LDR:s aren’t a bad thing, but neither of you want one, right? I know you’ve dated before so this wouldn’t be brand new but I know how I would react to having all this intimacy and sex and FINALLY being close and having that taken away: like a happy kid on a sugar rush and the following crash. But grown up style, so with alcohol, watching the Bodyguard and eating cookie dough. It’s not just sex either, you suspect you’re in love with him? I agree sooo hard that you should have a talk before doing anything.

      I guess it also depends on how good you are at being in the present and all that. I’m not very good at that, so YMMV. Good luck LW!

    • NameChange said:

      Another agree, here. Some people manage (somehow) not to get sex tangled up with the rest of their feelings. But for other people, having sex can really, really, really affect how they feel emotionally about the person they’ve just had sex with. If you are not absolutely sure you can handle that sort of change, or if you know you’re going to see emotional changes/fallout as a result, I’d vote for *not* having sex with him just yet.

      One other thing — you two are used to being friends who are separated by distance and who are not in a relationship. Even if you’ve dated before and have known each other a long time, you are both accustomed to a different situation now with specific ways of handling your emotions. If you do something to change that dynamic, that could upend how you deal with each other. Go slow.

      And as others have said, good luck! May whatever you choose turn out to be the absolute right choice for you. 🙂

      • I feel like what’s needed here (because I get very overly attached with sex, too) is clear lines. If you DO decide to sleep with him, make sure that the expectations are communicated ahead of time. It drives me nuts when someone plays up the “I want to see you again and I’m interested” fantasy when they really aren’t- but it sounds like you’re on the level with this guy and you shouldn’t have any problems at least getting the words said.

    • Paulina said:

      “Either you’d both need to change your minds about long-distance relationships; or else at least one (and maybe both) of you would need to be even more — as in way, way more — super-awesomely-mature about remaining just friends and managing boundaries and accepting each other’s new love interests than you already are. And frankly, you’re both already doing such a good job at it that you might be able to do it… but it’s a really, really hard job and I’m not sure I’d *count* on being able to do it.”

      An additional wrinkle is that you’d also have to count on new love interests being mature about it too. Being with other people for a while and then coming together again when you’re living in the same city can be better as something that happens naturally than something that starts turning into an actual plan or expectation, or that might look like a plan from the perspective of other partners in the interim. Unless it becomes a plan that everyone involved can be honest about and get on board with, of course. But that may be a topic for the future, as you see how things develop; just be wary down the line that future partners, if any, may have a very different reaction to your close friendship if it also includes recent groin action.

      One thing the LW mentioned is that these periods of reunion tend to be very emotionally intense anyway. Explicitly deciding to give things a whirl, carefully discussed and considering how your relationship is changing, seems far healthier than either spending a tense month trying to resist or having it slid into. LW is wise to have seen this situation coming and be considering how to approach it.

      • eightysixed said:

        I definitely second the issue about new love interests perhaps not being as mature.

        Personally in these situations, I know that my trap has always been that no matter how much the ‘no LDR’ gauntlet has been emphasized, in these situations I’d bang over the break, have a heady rush of ‘wow amazing’, and then subconsciously take myself off the market and behave as though I was in an LDR, even though that wasn’t the case.

        While this letter sounds like the OP and friend have a truly fantastic and mature friendship that can handle negotiating boundaries that could perhaps sort this out in a truly fantastic way – it’s hard for me to read this and not wonder exactly where the ‘no LDR’ mandate is coming from. Is this because one person isn’t entirely ready to commit to a relationship with anyone or just with the other friend? Sure dating in the same city is easier than long distance, but LDR’s during school have the benefit of long breaks and a firm end date.

        I bring up this doubt because I have one of those good friends who I’ve had a range of thoughts regarding ‘hooking up’ to ‘dating’ – and for me the idea of hooking up has largely been more attractive when we were living the furthest apart and an LDR seemed like a totally unworkable idea. I’m attracted to him, we get along well, and know each other very well – but there are also some disconcerting flags that don’t make him seem so awesome as a long term relationship partner.

        The OP and friend appear to have a really fantastic relationship where they are able to really talk about these things – so none of that may be an issue. But while not wanting to do an LDR during undergrad makes all kinds of sense, in this situation refusing to discuss an LDR as a possibility is something that caught my attention.

      • Queen of Scarves said:

        Yeah. New love interests not understanding that the relationship can readjust can definitely be an issue. That’s how I ended up basically barred from communicating with my friend for over a year. But the new love interest who imposed that rule was very much a Darth and my friend took a while to recover after that relationship imploded.

    • See, I think the risk of not doing it is postponing their lives for two years 😦

      • Oh, absolutely! I didn’t mean to imply there wasn’t risk on the other side as well — there is risk on either side. It’s just a question of what risk the LW feels more comfortable taking, and what risk her friend does.

        • You’re totally right about that. I guess I’m just reading a lot into that “and in two years…”

          To me it sounds as if the LW is already postponing living their life here and now.

          And that – oh I so want the LW with their carefulness and kindness to have joy now. Maybe it will be with the best friend. Maybe the LW will let go of the dream of the best friend and find someone else.

          But joy now! That will be great

  13. QuinFirefrorefiddle said:

    My husband and I were in different states, anywhere from 3-6 hours drive from each other, for our entire relationship, until we married. LDRs can suck, yes, but they can also work. To make it through a LDR, you need trust and good communication skills. You’ve both proven you have that in spades over the course of 8 (tumultuous, hormone-riddled) years. And looking back, I’d rather my husband and I had lived in the same city while dating- but I’d also rather we dealt with a LDR than waited until we were in the same city to start dating.

    Therefore, I have to get on the “date for a month and then reevaluate” train. I would, however, suggest giving yourselves some time- say a week- to adjust to the cuddling/kissing/dating thing, with new boundaries and all that. Because you’ve been waiting 8 years for this, and it’s going to be… weird. Good, almost certainly, but weird. And then, when you’re both ready and enthusiastically consenting- well, do whatever you’re enthusiastically consenting to.

  14. Flippity said:

    I’m going to be the loan voice of dissent, here, based on what I would do in this situation.

    In your shoes, I wouldn’t bang him. Not until or unless I had an end-date for the LDRness, a job in their city or them a job in mine, not without talking to him about it first and making absolutely certain that he’s on board for an LDR. I wouldn’t want to risk a friendship I have for a romantic relationship that might-be.

    (It’s also worth noting that I have a standing policy for myself of never dating in my friendsgroup, even if there’s mutual attraction and existing love, because I-for-me value my friendships more than I do romantic relationships.)

    • Flippity said:

      (lone, lone, lone, would you believe I’m a proofreader for my day job?)

      • JenniferP said:

        Its teh weakened!

        • Angel said:

          It took me way too long to see the joke here, and now I’m dying. Great.

    • You are not not aloan! 🙂 I said not right now, too, though for slightly different reasons.

  15. jessalae said:

    I have no advice for the LW (although I think I come down on the “discuss it very thoroughly before you’re in the same place then BANG HIM” side), but Captain. CAPTAIN. THAT PICTURE. TOO MANY FEELINGS. WHYYYYYY.

    • JenniferP said:

      Re: the photo, love is only pure and true if you save it for ‘someday,’ right? ❤

  16. Eureka said:

    I would go the screen door route. But then, my general MO is to jump in with both feet because I’m more likely to regret what I didn’t do than things that I actually did. I found my current fiance because I confessed my pantsfeelings, he felt the same, and we proceeded to blow the roof off of the hotel.

    So I guess the question is-how do you, personally, handle things when a relationship doesn’t work out? Would you rather live with the knowledge that you tried and it didn’t work out, or would you rather be able to look back on this as a nice might-have-been if you never do manage to live in the same city?

    • lol “the screen door route” is that what we’re going to call making the decision to screw someone now? because that’s awesome and we totally should

      • Eureka said:

        I would be tickled purple if that became true!

  17. Mary said:

    I think it’s soooo dependent on how you feel about sex and what sex means to you that I wouldn’t dare offer advice. Whether you can have casual-ish/friendly sex without feeling significantly different about the other person afterward, or whether sex always tends to means Something Significant Has Changed for you. Same questions for him.

    But if you want personal anecdata, it’s ten years ago this week since a girl I’d fancied online for 18 months and then spent two or three nights with whilst on holiday in her city phoned me to say she was coming to stay for my birthday. (I’d invited her, she’d declined, and I’d been mixed Disappointed/Relieved because It Was Complicated. So when she changed her mind I was mixed Delighted/Panicked!) We really liked each other but there were good reasons for not getting involved, like the fact we lived in different countries, so we decided to do what someone’s suggested above, and play at being girlfriends for four days with no commitment after she went home. Anyway, to cut a long story short, ten years later and she’s currently asleep on my left and our daughter is asleep on my right. 🙂

    So, you know, if you trust each other enough to do that, and you both trust yourselves well enough to think you won’t freak out and blame the other for whatever reaction you might have, it can definitely work out!

    Actually, what I’d actually do is play it by ear. You can decide in advance that you’re not going to, and then find that it Just Feels Right, or you can decide in advance that you’re going to, psych yourself up and then feel daft (or frustrated!) because the opportunity/moment/desire never arises. The only thing I’d really recommend is not to get ridiculo-drunk on the off-chance that it slides into sex, or to do the self-deceiving thing of “we’re not doing this we’re not doing this we’re not doing this oh look we totally did”. Only do it if you’re both pleased and happy and fully in-the-moment!

  18. Let me tell you a story, letter writer. I totally had That Friend, though we dated at 15 and this next thing happened at 18, so you have age and experience on your side. Friend and I were the kind of friends where we talked about everything for hours and hours and I felt so comfortable with him. We could hug and snuggle up against each other and talk about things and it felt so, so right. We dated, and I was sort of awful to him, and we broke up. He got a new girlfriend who hated me in the way that 17 year old girls HATE each other, and which I mostly thought was kind of amusing, and which he found pretty baffling. They broke up, and as it headed towards me going away to university, I found myself developing some serious PantsFeelings. Three years between 15 and 18 are a long time, you know? Maybe we could make it work this time! I was better at communicating, and so was he (the thing that had broken us up the first time) and I really really liked him.

    So, about a month before I was due to go to university, curled up on my sofa together after a party, I asked him if he ever thought it would work between us now. He basically said no, and I was like ‘oh, damn. That sucks’ and we carried on snuggling and talking. Five minutes later, he said ‘so…when you say ever? Do you mean…now?’ and five minutes after that, there was kissing. Much kissing. ANYWAY four weeks later we were still kissing and saying things like ‘but I hate the idea of long distance’ and then someone asked if we were staying together when I left for uni and we decided we’d regret it more if we didn’t try.

    Long story short, it didn’t work out. We broke up in a hilariously painful way and we are no longer friends. Not in a bitter, not liking each other way (I have the fondest feelings for him, and I’m pretty sure he feels the same way) but in a ‘it’s weird when we talk and some things are nicer left in the past’. I don’t regret it for even a second, even though I lost a great friend. If we hadn’t tried, I would have missed out on so much more. That relationship taught me so much about what I want for myself, and from my partner, and in my relationships. And it was also a really wonderful six months in which I was largely deliriously happy.

    I’m telling this story because I think there are a ton of ‘we banged and now we’re together forever’ and ‘we banged and it was totally fine even though we don’t bang any more’ and ‘we banged and oh god it was horrible no never you’ll ruin your friendship’ stories. This is a ‘we banged and it was great, and then sad and painful and I lost one of my best friends and I don’t regret it’ story. It may not work out. But it still might not be a mistake. Have the conversation. Kiss the boy. I bet you won’t regret it either.

    • Eureka said:

      I think this was what I was trying to say.

    • blackcat said:

      I did this on a slightly adjusted but similar timeline (15-19 years old). I banged him. It was really good sex. We did not get back together (my decision). Then it was awkward, but okay. Then I met my now husband and he stopped talking to me. And that hurt, because we had so many things in common and I genuinely wanted to be friends.

      It has been a decade. Things are not awkward, but that’s because we don’t talk. Every so often, I see something and I think “Oh, he would find this so hilarious.” But I have similar thoughts about the other people to whom I was once close and have now drifted from. At least, in this case, I got some good sex out of it. While there may be some regret (in part because he and my now husband would totes be great friends if they met in an alternate timeline), time dulls many things. Life will go on and things will be okay.

    • bowbeforethoraxis said:

      I have a story like this too!
      Met friend when we were both 14, then we were best friends for 7 years with both of us having Feelings That Went Unspoken and boyfriends/girlfriends off and on throughout. Then after 7 years, we got drunk and did the uber-Christian (he was Christian and firmly against sex before marriage, not me) equivalent of banging, glorious making out and dry humping. The next day while sober, we talked about it, and decided to try things out. We spent 2 years (one of them long distance) doing our thing, then his feelings changed and mine didn’t. My agnosticism became an issue, he was ready for marriage and I was ready for more drinking and dry humping (Oh, 23 year old me *fond but exasperated sigh*), he wanted a definite end to the long distance and I wanted to be in City That I Was In. He ended up engaged to someone else within 6 months and we still sort of talked and I was invited to their wedding and it was awful for me (the best man told a story that illustrated the perfection of their relationship, but didn’t realize that was a story about something that happened with Me and Groom, not Bride and Groom). We didn’t talk for a while, but after running into each other at other friends’ weddings we both apologized for the way we treated each other (not super kindly).

      We don’t talk much now, 3 years after the wedding, mostly because we live in different places and when we’re in the same city we both have people we’d rather see. When we do run into each other everything’s good and not very awkward. Sometimes I really miss the him that was, but we’ve both changed and I like who I am now, and know I wouldn’t be the same person if I hadn’t had that experience. Sometimes I wonder about what would have happened if, and maybe wish a little, things had worked out. But, I don’t regret the way things happened at all. I’m really glad we tried it out, because I don’t know if our friendship could have worked out anyway. There was always that tension that we knew we could be a great couple together, and we were for a long time. We just both changed in unexpected ways, and I think if we’d never given it a shot the UST would have imploded the friendship anyway.

      My story didn’t have the happy ending of us riding off into the sunset together, but it still had a happy ending.

  19. Erin McJ said:

    What degree programs are you both in? If one of you is in a thesis sort of program where you could in theory complete the degree remotely, or part-remotely sitting on the other’s couch with a laptop, that adds a potential degree of freedom, were you to decide together to give a relationship a go. A move or half-move is by no means the first avenue I’d try, but speaking from experience, I do think the pressure of having two unpalatable, high-stakes options (effective celibacy during prime mate-meeting years without a good sense of whether it works short-distance; or, alternatively, one party quits school or tries to transfer) can be a pretty big barrier to a successful long-distance relationship. Having a third alternative available might make it easier to give it a go — since it sounds like what you want here isn’t really a booty call.

    All of my significant relationships have had a long distance period; the one that worked is the one that had a good set of possible endgames. I wish you luck, and if you want it, good smooching.

  20. roadtrips said:

    Another voice of dissent, or at least a suggestion to pause. This is like one of those word problems that you do not have enough information to solve. There is no right choice here, because any choice carries with it a risk. So, sleep with him and risk changing the way that you relate as friends, or risk losing the possibilities of the unknown. Don’t sleep with him and risk that the possibility for a romantic relationship will atrophy, or one of you might meet someone else and then you might just naturally grow apart. It’s really hard to keep a relationship in this flexible gray area of waiting for conditions to be right. Eventually it’s going to fall one way or the other – the possibility for you two to be romantically involved will fade away, or you’ll start dating. There’s unfortunately no way to predict what will happen, but the best way is to communicate – be really honest with yourself about what you want and tell him. Be honest even if it’s impossible, or seems like it’s asking too much. Maybe write him a bunch of letters (that you don’t send) about what you want before you talk to him. And then ideally you can make the choice together. It seems like you’re ready to leave the gray area, which means that you’ll probably leave it regardless of what choice you make.

    • human said:

      LIFE is a risk. I’m 36 and I regret far more of the risks I didn’t dare take than the ones I did, even the ones that blew up in my face spectacularly.

      That’s me, not necessarily the LW… but still. 🙂

  21. senalishia said:

    I agree that this community can give you some helpful anecdotes, but in the end the only people who can say what the right decision is are yourself and your prospective bang-buddy. Do some good, honest introspection about how you think you would react if, after sex, you and/or your friend are a) more desirous of a romantic relationship, b) less desirous of a romantic relationship, c) other possibilities you think may be likely. (You have probably done a lot of this already.) Then, discuss with your friend. It sounds like the two of you communicate extremely well; it may be that just talking it over gives you a better perspective on what you (individually and collectively) want. Overall, though, I would guess that, given your black-belt communication skills, it would be hard to permanently damage your relationship no matter what you choose. Good luck and have fun 🙂

  22. boutet said:

    You said you’ve done “other things” already. Are those things fun and satisfying? Can you do those things some more? It looks like your options aren’t Bang or Not Bang, so much as they are Bang or Other Things.
    Or maybe start with other things and then if other things are being particularly awesome and you feel like you want to go on to the banging you can bring it up and see where he stands on it.

  23. TO_Ont said:

    I think if it was me I’d probably wait, but then spend the next couple of years keeping the guy in the back of my mind and not really connecting with new people because some part of my mind was waiting for the guy, then finally date the guy and realize I don’t actually want to date him. (This hasn’t actually happened to me or anything — just that I can totally imagine my brain playing that kind of trick on me). I guess what I’m saying is, taking the ‘safe option’ has its own risks too. But that’s me speaking as someone who is pretty sure she takes too few risks and ends up paying for it.

    • I have definitely done this.

  24. duck-billed placelot said:

    So it’s probably not this. But just in case it is this, as it was for … a friend (Ok, actually for a friend, as well as … a friend. It’s not totally uncommon, is what I’m saying.) who was in a similar to your maybe in love; thinking about moving to be near each other in 2 years; trying to game out the exact best move vis a vis timing of sex eruptions to ensure long term foreverness situation – Now in my FRIENDs’ cases, that turned out to be one party (the maybe-thinking-scheming party) being way more invested than the other party, who didn’t even know he was invited to the party. This led to some very unhappy realignments of relationships, in one case after someone had made a fairly major life decision with the other party in mind. It’s fun, to have a person you like admire you. It’s fun, to hear that you’re sexy and desirable. It’s nice to have someone who will support you and be an amazing friend and stroke your ego. But it’s very easy to keep all those things without having to actually date someone if you can say that long-distance is the problem, rather than you not being super-duper into the person.

    Listen, even if a he also has castle-in-the-sky daydreams, 10 years is an awfully long time for not trying this out, particularly if you had summers (months!) together. This is such an important time for you, and even if it’s been mostly subconscious, it’s not good to let a maybe-someday get in the way of your actual life. The advice I wish someone had given me, I mean, my friend, is: the healthiest thing you can do is let go of the fantasy, decide to not let it be a possibility, and embrace the life you have right in front of you. You deserve better than someday maybe. You deserve the kind of white-hot love that scoffs in the face of distance. And you definitely deserve to spend your daydreaming time on winning a Nobel prize or scaling Kilimanjaro or whatever amazing thing you’re going to do with your life, rather than a guy who – maybe? probably? – doesn’t feel the same way.

  25. One question I’d ask myself before proposing shuffling with his mortal coil is — can you see him writing a letter similar to yours to an advice forum? I mean, maybe that’s not his style, but I more mean — do you think he thinks about this as much as you think about this? I know I know “use your words” rather than attempting mind-reading and etc. but like, if you have a gut feeling about that, and your gut feeling is no, he doesn’t, then I wouldn’t, cause in my experience that way heartbreak lies (not that there is a road map for avoiding heartbreak. God we’d all buy it if there were).

    • Fergie said:

      I thought the same. Maybe the LW is overthinking this while the friend is quite ambivalent.

      • Linden said:

        That’s kind of my take on it, too. I probably don’t know what I’m talking about, but I feel a little tingle of danger at the idea that these folks are madly in love (or have the potential to be madly in love), yet they are dating others in what sounds like a rather emotionally unavailable way. “I’ll date you because you’re here and I want to get practice at relationships, but really I’m holding out for another person I won’t be able to get with until, oh, say two years from now.” That kind of compartmentalizing with other people perhaps indicates a detached attitude that would carry over into this relationship if it ever truly got started.

        • Myrin said:

          You have just perfectly stated a big reason for why I have such a big problem with that trope in fiction (along with a never-ending “But why are you not dating in the first place if you want it? What kind of martyr behaviour is that? You can try out relationshipping with each other! You can still break up if you meet someone you’re interested in!” and so on, but yeah, I’ve only ever encountered this in fiction and I imagine it’s more complex in real life.).

    • JenniferP said:

      Solid question, Polychrome, and ❤ forever for "shuffling his mortal coil."

  26. sarahcircusnachos said:

    I vote for sweet, sweet holiday lovin’, personally.

    Maybe it’s because I just got married to my high school sweetheart – we dated for a month 15 years ago, broke up, lost contact, reunited by chance, happily ever after. We didn’t have the advantage of the friendship you’re describing, LW, but we did have his honest feelings for me and my “eh, what’s the worst that could happen” attitude towards sex and dating. I can’t promise you a happy ending, but for me, I almost always choose in favor of “lol that was awkward, now what” instead of “well, we’ll never really know, will we?”

  27. lasers said:

    What if, instead of the question being “Do I prioritize THE CONNECTION now or THE MAYBE MORE LOGISTICALLY SIMPLE CONNECTION later?,” the question was “What decision will most help me live in the real world, rather than my head?”

    This person is not the most important person in your life– you are. Your relationship with him won’t determine your future happiness– your relationship with yourself will. Playing the odds on how to get to a certain kind of (fantasy) relationship with him seems like you’re listening more to imaginary-future-LW-and-boy rather than real-life-right-now-LW.

    Another question that has helped me prioritize myself over a fantasy version of a relationship is asking, “What decision will teach me the most about relationships, myself, and what I want?”

    • Clementine Danger said:

      I was going to write a comment, and now I see that what I wanted to say has already been written. I’ve always been the sort of person who would rather regret doing things than regret not doing them. This has ended badly for me on several occasions, and well on several others. So yes, I’m throwing in my vote with lasers. Which is an awesome sentence I wish I got to use more often in casual conversation.

    • CS said:

      Holy shit this is a beautifully succinct way of putting it. +500.

    • YOU deserve an Internet. Living in the world, not in one’s head, a wonderful thing for LW to aim for

  28. Amtelope said:

    I’d totally bang him. Right now it sounds to me like you are devoting a lot of emotional energy to this maybe-relationship, and possibly making life decisions about where to live in the future so that you can have an opportunity to give it a shot, when you haven’t actually had sex with this guy. I think it will give you 1000% more information about whether this thing has a future to find out whether the two of you enjoy having sex with each other (plus whether you enjoy spending time together in a romantic way). And the answer may be “Yes! Let’s try to make the LDR thing work,” in which case, yay, or “Yes! … but I still don’t want an LDR, so let’s try not to think about how awesome this was until we can be together,” which will suck and be painful, but (to me) not appreciably more than this thing you’re doing now.

    But if the answer is “Actually, having sex with you is weird and meh, and I would much rather be hanging out with you platonically than cuddling up to you in bed,” then you’ll know. And you can let go of the idea of this relationship, and “maybe this guy” can stop hanging out in the back of your mind for all other potential relationships to have to measure up to.

  29. Once upon a time said:

    There are similarities in this situation with something I’ve experienced. Possibly the differences are greater, but I’ll post it in case it’s useful.

    I once had this boy or should I say he once had me. Very, very long distance, actually entirely so, we connected over the Internet but also talked over the phone. And we were so close. I felt that connection was so strong, everything, literally everything clicked. We’d go in and out of relationships (him mostly as it was less of a priority to me) but always be there for each other. I’d never felt so understood and cherished.

    This went on for ten years. (As I said, a relationship was not a very big priority with me). Then we met. My thinking was, to a large extent, let’s put this in the real world, PROBABLY a lot of the firework is just in my head.

    Reader, it wasn’t. It was magical. He was very vocal about how much he was into me, he suggested that we find a way to continue this in the real world.

    The weekend was over, we each went home, staying in touch intensely for, I can’t remember now, a month? Two? Then he started to fade. Very suddenly, very indirectly. But suddenly he was impossible to get hold of.

    I wish I knew what happened. I really do, but I’ve made peace with the fact that I probably never will. It broke my heart.

    My conclusion though? I do not regret this. I do not regret any of it. That connection we had helped me a lot at a difficult time in my life. That feeling of being loved, cherished and understood in such a strong, mutual way built me up when I needed it.

    But in a sense it was an illusion. If he had really loved me and known me, respected and cared for me as much as I thought, he would not have pulled that fading stunt on me. If what we had would have been all that strong and special it would not have changed because of one weekend together. Not having that false sense of love and security in my life helped me move on with was actually there.

    I think holding on to that not fully consumed relationship because jumping in fully might destroy it is a little like being that chill girlfriend who won’t voice her own desires because that would inconvenience the dude. Let him be inconvenienced and let the chips fall where they may. At least that will be real.

  30. AltoFronto said:

    Oh man. I once had this online friendship with a guy for about 6 years. He seemed kinda neat and we got chatting about ourselves, and about what we would do in the event of a Zombie outbreak, and it was pretty rad.
    We talked about our home towns, and our separate relationship dramas, and all that stuff. We became really close friends, sending messages every evening and sharing our various life-dramas. He was one of the most special people in my life at that time.
    He took on some Further Education at the other end of the country, and had girlfriends and I was happy for him, even though I was well into crush-territory. And I was always half holding out for the possibility that we might someday meet in person and immediately hit it off and have a proper “happily-ever-after” kind of relationship.

    And we totally did. It wasn’t perfect – I’d invited him to my birthday party, and everyone drank too much, and we had a whole drama getting Drunk Friend home, and there was vomiting in the taxi, and Drunk Friend had lost his keys, and I lost sight of Special guy wandering off into my unfamiliar town with another drunk friend, and my phone battery died, so I had to wander around at 4am with Cousin who had got himself locked out of my flat while we were ferrying Drunk Friend, trying to work out what had become of Special Guy…
    Anyway, the first night I met Special Guy in person, I spent a good portion of my time feeling annoyed at him for wandering off and then miraculously turning up on my doorstep at 6am with this stupidly apologetic expression on his face. And we spent all the next morning hung-over, trying to get my Cousin to the bus station, which he hadn’t remembered where it was, so it took all day and we were exhausted…

    Ultimately, it was not the flawless movie romance that I had sometimes played out in my head. That part came later in the evening, after beans-on-toast were had, when I steeled my courage, asked “Would it make things awkward between us if I were to kiss you?” and he said “No.” and I was bloody elated, I can tell you.
    A few days later, we were like “hey, that was awesome.” “yeah, can we do that on a regular basis? Like, as a girlfriend/boyfriend thing?” And we were long-distance for about 8 months after that, until we’d got a place to move in together, and now we live in the same flat. We’ve had to learn more about each other, but mostly to do with how we eat food, our neat-freakery, and what kind of art we like on the walls. Y’know, the kind of thing you never really know about someone until you experience living with them.

    It’s been about 3 years, and we’re still doing pretty successfully as a couple, I’d say. You don’t really know *how* it’s going to work out, until you just kind of *do*. Be direct about what kind of relationship you’d like to have, and if moving to a new city to try it out is scary (It was really weird for the first year, at least) then you can work out ways to mitigate that (can you both live separately while you date for a while? Can you hold off on any major joint-purchases?).

    But the first conversation you have is “I’d like to do a relationship with you” and then you can figure out “How do we do our relationship?”

    • k3ilyn said:

      That is a pretty epic night. Glad it led to/ended with happy butterfly times.

      • AltoFronto said:

        Thanks 🙂 It was and continues to be brilliant. – but on that night, I think we both would have been happy if we’d just had a casual night of it and then gone back to being friends, too. I think if LW can agree that it’s still A Good Thing, whichever way it goes, there is literally no way to lose.

  31. monologue said:

    I had a friendship like this. It went on for around 5 years. Eventually we fucked and it wasn’t good, and I’m kind of more gay than not, and our friendship kind of survived that but then he moved far away and got married and we lost touch for a while and it ultimately didn’t survive that. I still miss him and regret losing touch with him, but I don’t regret that I’m not married to him or something like that.

    So, LW, I would say if you think you can imagine sleeping together casually this christmas and it going well or not well and then going back to being friends, I would totally go for it and sleep together and just see how that works out for you. If what you’re really talking about here is sleeping together as the start of a committed, long distance relationship you aren’t sure you want, then maybe consider that a bit more carefully and discuss it with him. I guess basically with my friend I ended up choosing option 1. After a whole lot of strong friendship that carried on through each other’s relationships, and both of us always felt a little pang of jealousy and regret when the other was in a relationship, though we never torpedoed each other’s other relationships at all, I kind of decided eventually over the course of a couple of months, let’s just casually get physical and see how it goes, because the love and respect part, it is there. And for me the physical part just didn’t work out.

  32. CS said:

    Hey LW! Go you for building what sounds like a beautiful, mature friendship with this person where you talk about your feelings and boundaries! I have a few pieces of advice.

    One: perhaps I am projecting, but I hear a lot of worry in your letter that seems to boil down to “I am going to fuck up this beautiful, valuable friendship by not doing dating Exactly Right.” And that is completely legitimate, because intimacy is scary and relationships are scary and it is really scary to change something that you know works, even when you really want to! But I think it is important to remember that there is *always* a risk when you decide to deepen your relationship with someone. Even if you wait until you are both in the same place and totally 100% ready and do everything totally by the book, there is a risk that things won’t work out and it will make your friendship difficult for a while — waiting is not going to completely remove the possibility that messy shit will arise. SO try, if you can, to ***let go of the idea that if you control everything and do it Exactly Right you will thereby be able to control the outcome and keep messy shit from happening***. Feelings are messy and uncontrollable, and strong friendships can and do survive them, as long as everyone involved does their best to be honest and to do right by each other.

    Two: I also hear a worry that I hardcore relate to, that you have built this up in your head and that you are going to sabotage other relationships only to discover two years from now that it’s not actually all you thought it would be. Friend, if that is where you are I have definitely been there and I say, trust your gut. If you feel like this is someone who you are really seriously compatible with, who excites you and who you have good chemistry with, trust that, and don’t worry too much about the distance skewing your judgement. You have known this guy for long enough to make an accurate assessment about your relationship.

    Three: it sounds like you have spent a lot of time in your relationship with this guy making the judgement call that the time is not right for you two to be together, and that that judgement call has been the right one. Just be aware that once you’re in that pattern, sometimes it can be hard to take the plunge and change things up. Story time/context: I’m currently in a two years and counting relationship with someone I’ve known for more than ten years. We spent at least four years before we got together flirting intensely across several states, and the last year before we got together we actually talked several times about hooking up/dating and I always drew a boundary there because I didn’t feel ready/we were in different states/I was worried about messing up our friendship. I still think that waiting was the right decision for both of us! BUT because we had gotten into this pattern of “Oh we want to but it’s not a good idea,” when we WERE finally both ready/circumstances made sense for it to happen (which involved us both having more time but not actually us being in the same state) it was hard for us (and specifically for me) to let go of that thought pattern of “I want to, but it’s going to mess things up.” (In fact, it took his brother shutting us into his room “to work out your shit” to make us actually sit down and come to the realization that we needed to just go for it.)

    Tl; dr: let go of the idea that if you control the circumstances you can control the outcome, be honest, trust your gut, don’t be afraid to change things.

  33. Yo, I think it is time for some POLYAMORY.

    “But wait!” you cry, “I didn’t mention wanting to bang *other* dudes!”

    Ah yes, but you have in fact been accidentally polyamorising *all this time*. You two have feelings for each other, but also date other people. You’re massively good about boundaries and communicating. Why not have an LDR, and other romantic relationships closer to home? Because if your problem with LDRs is that snuggles and hot banging are hours way, then polyamory solves all your issues (although it may create new time-management ones, soz).

    Obviously, don’t do it without as much thought as you are giving to the “should we bang” question, but I think you guys may be the best set-up to deal with it, because you’ve been basically doing it for years. And if you actually think “well it was fine when we weren’t dating, but now that we are I would prefer to be monogamous”, then that is fine too. Different boats for different folks and so on.

    If you do bang but remain just friends, then yeah it can get weird. You might need to take a break from the friendship for a while. But also, you can probably recover from that weird if you are kind to yourself and acknowledge that it’s happening.

    Take all things with a pinch of salt because I would have banged the bejeezus out of that boy 8 years ago and am thus coming from a waaaay different viewpoint to yourself.

    • Alexis said:

      I totally thought about posting pretty much this exact thing! I had originally decided not to because the LW didn’t even hint in that direction, but I think your point that they’re a little bit already doing poly is pertinent.

      I had a friendship kinda like this – except with more banging – for a while when I was in college and grad school. We didn’t know if we’d ever be in the same place, and we liked each other, but we didn’t want to “be in a relationship” so we just saw each other on and off (lots of intense visits). We only banged when we weren’t in relationships with other people, but it’s not like my feelings for him really went away between times, we just didn’t talk about them much (maybe kinda like the LW and the best friend don’t).

      We did have one of those epic disaster endings as far as the dating went; he started dating someone seriously right before I moved to where he was, and didn’t want to be involved anymore. I was pissed off because I had wanted to try “really dating”, and it took a few years before we were actually friends again, but we are now, and I have no regrets. And it was a bit like proto-poly for me, I think – to realize that I could have enduring feelings about one person while also having feelings for others.

      Life is complex. Bang, and communicate. 🙂

    • Vicki said:

      I am poly, and one thing to note about this suggestion/possibility is that there are people who won’t want to date you if they know that you’re poly and already in a committed relationship. There are also people for whom that will be a net plus, but they’ll be different people, and a smaller group.

    • Zillah said:

      Ehhhh – that could be a solution, but I’d really shy away from seeing it as a magic bullet. If the OP wants to try out polyamory, great, but I think that decision should generally happen on its own merits, not as a solution to a speed bump in a relationship. Being good about boundaries and communication is important for all relationships, not just polyamorous ones. I’d also argue that they have not been “accidentally polyamorising” all this time – in fact, it seems like the OP is saying that they specifically draw new boundaries when they’re involved with other people because they feel uncomfortable being relationship-y with each other and others simultaneously.

      I’m not saying it’s not a solution to consider, but IME, polyamory works when it’s decided on because the people in question want to be polyamorous, not because they’ve hit a difficult point in their relationship… so the way you’ve worded the first couple paragraphs in this post is way too strong for me.

      • MsM said:

        Agreed. In fact, I think the biggest argument for LW and friend getting it on is that I don’t think they’re going to be able to move forward with anyone else until they confirm exactly what they have with each other. What they’re doing now strikes me as a very different thing from pursuing additional primary partners or secondaries: they might have good communication with each other, but they need to let everyone else know what’s going on, too.

        • Solid points. “Relationship broken, add more people” is never the way to do things. I did try to mention the downsides a bit.

          I do feel that monogamously dating other people in this situation is already opening cans of worms. Obviously they’re dealing with it well, but it sets off my own insecurity alarms.

  34. Owl Whispers said:

    I have known someone for many years, and been BBFs with him for around 3, and there was a lot of pent-up sexual tension between us, but for all the years I’ve known him, either he was taken or I was taken.

    Then finally he was single and I was single and after many months of sexual tension and awkward “is he flirting? Is he not flirting? Does he like me like that? What’s going on?”, we banged one morning and 5 months later, we’re still together and everything is *amazing*.

    My vote is go for it! See what happens and where it goes. It can either be like in my case, where it was everything I’d hoped for and so much more, or you could find out, actually, reality and fantasy don’t align in your case. There’s only one way to find out! You have nothing to really lose, but you do have a lot of knowledge to gain, so stop torturing yourself and just go for it. You can figure out where to go from there later, as it seems you’re both very good at communicating with each other.

  35. toujours gai said:

    Hey LW! I’m usually a lurker here but this… spoke to me.

    When I was in my first year at university I got drunk with a very good friend and we slept together. I was not committed to this! It was fine! Friends with benefits! Yeah! For anyone who can’t already see where this is going, we went out for four years.

    Thing is I think I always knew I couldn’t really do the marrying your first college boyfriend thing. For some people it makes them happy, I kind of wanted to spend my early 20s being able to move places without thinking about it and going on dates with tons of weird interesting people and having ridiculous one night stands that I would later snort wine out of my nose whilst recounting the stories of. So we broke up. We’re rebuilding the friends thing and it is kind of great but also kind of weird and achy and sometimes I play this song and have a little cry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0IjNCd21po

    I don’t regret it though, because that relationship was in fact transformative and gorgeous and I’ve never laughed harder with someone and I’d also never fallen in love before.

    So basically what I’m saying is: don’t assume things won’t change and you won’t fall for him (although maybe you totally won’t!). And don’t assume the thing you Kind Of Already Know (you don’t want an LDR) will magically go away if the sex is amazing enough and the talking is amazing enough and the boy is amazing enough (although maybe it totally will!). But… If the boy is amazing enough and then the thing you Kind Of Already Know is still a problem and it breaks down and it hurts and it’s weird and achy, you might still not regret it.

  36. KT said:

    You are spending a ton of mental energy on this and already talking long-term plans. If you’ve fooled around in the past and done everything but , I think you might have a clue about your sexual compatibility, and a bit o’ fuckin’ will just firm up that clue a little more (hehe. firm).

    If you bang, and all goes well, I think it’s fair to have a talk, “I see us heading in a direction. Do you see that, too?” Then, if all goes well with THAT — make plans. Together. There is this prevalent idea that it is unwise to choose where you live based on love, but people do it all the time, and if you both generally agree on a place to live and could both see yourselves thriving there independent of one another, well, you’re ahead a lot of people who relocate to be with the person they love.

    The way I am seeing this – and apologize if I’m reading too much into this — but in the situation you are describing, you seem to be attempting to get into a relationship with this friend in a logical, rational way to avoid getting hurt. And I get it. I am the master at holding back just that teeny-tiny little most secretest part of my heart and emotions, of trying not to show that I am too fond or too invested in someone, so if something happens — like, they meet someone they like better or the long-distance thing doesn’t work out, well, I won’t be completely heartbroken. Except it doesn’t work that way, and I’ve ended up heartbroken anyway, because sometimes, emotions like to punch logic in the face.

    TL;DR Fuck, Talk, Plan.

  37. short-time-reader, first-time-writer said:

    Well LW, I’m kind of late to the party here, so it may be too late, but for what it’s worth here are my two cents: Ask yourself if what you want is to go back and have the relationship you used to have with this person, or if what you want is to deepen the relationship that you actually have now.

    If it’s the first one, then a lot of your desire may be nostalgia, partly resulting from the fact that you broke up without some kind of fight or negative experience triggering it. If it’s the second, then I think you have a more solid foundation for moving forward. Either way, I think you need to talk this out and be upfront: he may be thinking the same things as you, hesitating to act.

    Honestly, I think you two should give it a chance. You clearly love each other, and the only uncertainty is about what type of love you feel. If you both go into a relationship with your eyes open, then you should be able to stay friends afterward even if it fails, and you’ll likely be stronger once you’ve resolved any lingering doubts. The risk of letting the opportunity pass you by seems greater than the risk of failure, based on how you’ve described this person and your history. It seems like the biggest problem you have right now is uncertainty, and it stems from hesitation rather than a lack of communication; there’s only one way to answer the question “would we work?” for certain.

    As for the dreaded Long-Distance Relationship…I don’t think it’s something to be so afraid of. Phone calls, Skype, emails, IMs, and all the other tools we have are helpful. I was in a LDR myself, for a number of years – it ended with us breaking up, but not because of the distance. I am still friends with the ex-girlfriend involved, and I treasure the years we spent as a couple. I learned a lot about myself and what I want/need from a relationship, and it made me a better person in more ways than I can count. I think it was good for her, overall, despite my mistakes (since she still talks to me, it can’t have been too bad). During that time, we spent months in adjacent states, and took turns riding the train to see each other for a weekend when we could, but we also spent months on opposite sides of the world; I’m in the US and she was in Japan, for a while. That lasted as long as 6 months, once. There were times when it was hard, but when we finally saw each other again I felt happiness that is indescribable.

    In short, I think it’s better to try than to wonder, and it sounds like you’ve spent a lot of time wondering already. I think you two have the kind of close friendship that can survive one person saying “I want a relationship” and the other person saying “I don’t”.

    It’s hard to imagine hearing that, I know. But pains like that heal. Uncertainty holds you in limbo.

    Whatever you decide, good luck.

  38. The Aphid said:

    So I married my Best Friend Of Ten Years, and it seems to be working really well for us.

    I have no idea whether banging now will increase romantic pressure to be together later. Maybe. Maybe not. Seems like it could go either way. But I wonder if it would help at all to sit a bit with the idea of how things might play out if it DID become a romantic pressure thing, and what that would mean for you both.

    My sweetie and I took things really, really slowly. Like, we were platonic roommates with gradually-increasing romantic tension for about two years before we finally got things into the open. At that point, I had already moved to be with her. Two whole years before. (Which worked out really well for us! As a former member of the Legion of Maybe-Bi-Maybe-Ace Ladies, I think there are definitely relationships where debugging the roommate situation and making the treaties of the Dishes In the Sink before bringing intense, messy romance-feelings into things can be a really pleasant arrangement. I suspect, however, that this is not the arrangement for the LW. At all. The romance-feelings sound like they are already there or ready to be there.)

    In our case, there were years where we both spent time thinking things like “regardless of how we arrange romance/sex etc., I want this person in my life and to settle down near them.” There was a lot of coming-out to do before banging was on the table for us, so we batted around ideas like “maybe someday we will set up as two Victorian spinsters and adopt children together if sexy straight relationships aren’t panning out enough to produce other co-parents!” Or, “maybe she’ll get married to Some Guy and I will move in with them or near to them and we will all three raise the babies, and that will solve my maybe-asexual-but-do-want-to-parent dilemma.” Then she moved for school and I had an end-date at a seasonal job I’d taken for the travel and was now ready to stay in one place for a while, and we agreed to get an apartment together. Several months before I actually finished at the faraway job, we had a long-distance phone conversation where we said that yes, we are committed to each other on some kind of life-partner level. Regardless of what other decisions we might make and other priorities we might acquire, this is a priority for both of us.

    I would have moved to be her roommate anyway at that point, but I needed to know whether my level of commitment was reciprocated before I started thinking about things like, Am I planning to stay in her grad school city until she’s done there, or is this just someplace to land temporarily and have a fun time hanging with Best Friend for a year while figuring something else out? I would have been able to go with it either way, at that point, but felt that we were standing where two roads diverged in a yellow wood and we couldn’t travel both indefinitely and I didn’t want to dawdle in the crossroad indefinitely either. And I’m wondering whether that’s where you’re at, too, in some way? Only about pantsfeelings rather than roommating, obvs.

    I think it is very possible my now-wife and I DID sabotage chances at other relationships (both before and after that phone call) because we were holding onto this one. Because we had already chosen, and so we were standing at the buffet of possible partners going “yes, that looks delicious, but I’m already full. I have what I want. If I’m hungry later, I’ll find something else then.” It’s OK to know what you want, at whatever age you want it, and to try to make plans around that, even though what you want might change in two years or in ten or in fifty and the plans might not work out anyway. I feel like there can sometimes be a lot of pressure on young people to explore and try everything and figure out What We Really Want and not tie ourselves down or get too committed, and sometimes when you’re standing where the roads diverge and you can’t travel both, that can be paralyzing.

    If I have any actual advice, instead of random musings on my own path from friendship-to-partners, it’s to wholeheartedly choose the road (or rock-to-rest-on-and-eat-trail-mix-for-a-while) you most want to try and will make you most happy right now and then don’t look back. I think if it this relationship is going to develop into something romantic, it will be able to do that, regardless of the timing. The order of banging/moving near each other/etc. is probably not going to weigh more than a hair on the big scale of whether you both want to choose each other (either as friends or partners or both). You can’t reliably buy any particular future with the “right” present, so I’d say choose what you want in the present (whether that’s some form of change or the status quo for two more years), and then keep choosing that as the present turns into the future.

  39. The Aphid said:

    So I left a super-long comment that’s in moderation, and then promptly thought of a more succinct way to say what I was trying to say.

    If you’re truly OK with this friendship maybe never becoming romantic and the two of you maybe moving on and winding up with other folks, I think it could make a lot of sense if you want to prioritize the supportive friendship you already have and value, and if you’re not up for re-defining things while you’re far away and trying to focus on school. My now-wife and I had periods like that during our long, slow transition from friends-to-spouses, and I regret none of them. If limbo is comfy, there’s no reason not to hang out there for a while until you get other stuff sorted. If it’s meant to be, the relationship will survive this. And either way, you can survive this and thrive.

    As far as I can tell from this brief letter, it sounds like limbo is maybe not so comfy? In which case, I think it could make a lot of sense if you decide you want to prioritize trying to move the relationship along to a new place, and you want to seize the day and bang now, or talk about banging and find out if one of you doesn’t actually want to bang ever, or make more specific plans about moving to the same city and dating in two years, or any of the myriad other ways to change things. My wife and I also had times where we took a big step and changed things, and I regret none of them. If it’s meant to be, the relationship will survive this, too. And either way, you can survive this and thrive.

  40. The thing is, neither of us wants to do a long distance relationship, and honestly he and I have already discussed the fact that the distance, and the fact that there has never NOT been distance makes it difficult for either of us to know how we really feel about each other romantically

    I was going to be all clever, but everyone else beat me to the reasonable, wonderful suggestions. As usual, since the advice here is really solid.

    Didn’t see anyone specifically address that one, though. LW – you’re already in a situation where you’ve had the conversation about long distance relationships and our feelings and the wind and the weather and what if but it’s a twelve hour drive yes but what if, and despite that, you’re still wondering the possibility of maybe just possibly… What I mean is that you’ve already talked about the physical logistics of moving specific people to a certain location at a given time, decided that it was unfeasible and unlikely, and yet continue to wonder and come up with reasons to consider “well, maybe”. So the mere logistical barriers were not, in itself, enough to curb the fantasies.

    It’s a lot more important to reach for the “Oh, if only”-ies than the “Eh, I guess if”‘s.

    So it’s not about city locations, and how to plan six hour flights, and so on. It’s about taking a chance on an idea that takes up a lot of mental space, and for testing the validity and possibility of idea, I can’t imagine anything better than a one month holiday together, in the same place. One month is a lot of time to get to know the quirks of something. And then after that one month, you’ll find out if it’s the sort of thing that’s worth continuing to attempt, or if it’s not.

    It’s okay to have a one month relationship too, and then have ample time to think over all the new facets afterwards.

    If not, there’ll always, always, always be some simple, reasonable and logical reason to postpone things by a few days until next time there’s a long weekend, or next time someone is single, or next time the holidays stretch a bit, and so on and so on. Once that starts it becomes oddly hard to ever find a day that actually fits the “Okay, go” signal, because you’re stuck in a holding pattern.

    I’m not saying it’ll be perfect flawless butterflies of sunshine and rainbows, but two more years and a weekend of “You know, maybe we could be us some day” loses to potential sunshine mixed with occasional rain every single time.

  41. jenfullmoon said:

    I would normally advise that you hold off for a couple of years if this had been a mutual crush of short duration. Except you two, Harry and Sally, have essentially been pining for each other for EIGHT YEARS. Jeebus christ, EIGHT YEARS. Eight years of waiting around to live in the same town and you think you can wait for two more to make it “right.” You’re dating other people just to date other people but are still thinking about each other, and you kind of hope that the relationships you have in the next two years won’t work out.

    GOOD LORD, JUST TRY IT OUT AND BANG ALREADY AND DO AN LDR IF YOU HAVE TO. It’s been eight years. Just find out if you two could even work out like that. Hell, maybe you’ll bang once and it’s so terribly incompatible that you’ll utterly be over the idea and never pine for him again-then you’ve saved yourself two more years of pining!. Maybe you’ll be so into each other it lasts forever. Maybe you burn out after a few months, but again, you’ve learned and you saved yourself a year and a half of pining. It makes me sad that this is, as far as I can tell, a MUTUAL crush/pining and you’re all just wasting it waiting around. Man, just find out if it’ll work or not already.

    Also, what other folks said about polyamory, I third it. If you’re so concerned with monogamy and an LDR, then have an open relationship.

  42. quinalla said:

    Definitely talk about it. If it were me (I’ve been in a similar situation), I would be down with having a month of dating/romantic times/possible sex with the idea that it go back to business as usual after. That is exactly what I did in a similar situation as my first boyfriend in high school was 2 years older, when he went to college we mutually agreed to break up and see other people if we wanted, but during the two summers before I went to college, we were both single so we picked right back up with the understanding that it would go back to being broken up again. Is their risk, sure absolutely, but I think it is well worth it to enjoy some time together. We did not end up together and are not very close anymore, but still facebook friends which is good.

    I had a LDR with my then fiance, now husband, for 9 months while I finished college and he worked 3 hours away. It sucked, but e-mail/phone and seeing each other on weekends when we could helped and the end in sight helped a lot, key for me and I think a lot of folks in LDR.

    My sister and her now husband maintained a LDR for ~1.5 years. Did it suck, sure, and it took a lot more active management, but with an end in sight, it was bearable for the relatively short time and they did see each other on weekends sometimes which helps of course and skype is amazing.

    But yeah, bring it up, sounds like you two communicate quite well so I’m sure you can work something out. And whether it puts more pressure on you both to end up in the same town, so be it. I think you both are going to want to be in the same town regardless, at least I would in your situation, so I wouldn’t worry about that too much. I think the worst case here is one of you really wants a relationship and the other just wants to stay close LD friends, but as others have said, you run that risk now already that one of you will decide they want more. I would definitely recommend trying out dating for that month and see what you both think. If you really click, then it would be good to know so you can end up in the same town for sure 🙂 If you don’t click (hopefully mutually, but even so), then you will both probably be able to pursue other relationships more easily and if your past communications are any indication to stay close friends, even if there is some awkwardness for a bit.

    Good luck!

  43. Alcor said:

    I tend to think LDRs suck ass. I still do. I refuse to have my primary (I am poly) relationship be long distance because I need physical contact from at least *someone* I am very very close to, and if this is the person I’m going to consider marrying, fuck if I’m having them be at a distance I can’t easily go to in an evening after work.

    My advice, given that I have these opinions on distance, is that you’re entering a very classic problem. You clearly have the hots for this person, and they probably do for you, so just go with your gut, see how it works out, and chances are you will end up having The Discussion where you try to figure out how to handle your distance issues. If you both refuse LDRs, one of you will have to suck it up and move locations if you want a relationship; there’s really no other way. This decision is sad and sucky to make, but it’s a thing you’ll have to decide on. Of course try to figure out whether a relationship will truly last a long time if you do; I’m not sure what trial methods of sorts you have access to, but whatever ones you can find, start one or more up. The holiday is a good one. Try to find other long encounters. Maybe do the LDR thing in the short term as preparation, heavy on the traveling to visit. So on and so forth.

    Also, last opinion from me: I’m pretty sure you will bang him regardless of what we say. The entire post is assuming this, because usually, when people want something badly enough, they’ll go for it. You asking us here is like flipping a coin: it is both more common and arguably better to flip and then pick the option you wanted anyway. Your reptile brain is way more powerful than you, us, and that coin. Not to mention way more intuitive and insightful about your situation, many times.

  44. Emdashing said:

    So…with the caveat that everyone is free to disagree with me–waiting to get together because you don’t want to do a LTR is about as logical as waiting to get together so you can avoid “having cancer” or “being unemployed” or any other thing life gives you over which you don’t have full control. People avoid LTRs for good reason–they are hard and they often lead to the end of a relationship. But…do they often lead to the end of relationships that would otherwise never have ended? Treating Distance as if it were the kryptonite of otherwise invulnerable relationships seems overly simple. There is no way to be sure you would have ideal circumstances for any relationship, but part of any good one is that it can weather the difficulties put in front of it.

    I don’t want to minimize that distance is hard–it’s very very hard–but it’s also very good at helping you figure out the “can I live without hir and be equally or more happy” conundrum. Since you say waiting will put you both in a sort of limbo until you can really give it a go, give it a go now. I think it’s a good sign that you’ve already managed long distance friendship which, really, is almost as hard as long distance romantic stuff. Put simply, you guys have continued looking forward to seeing each other even without the extra fun of banging. Adding banging to the mix might just make that even more true. Or it might make you realize you don’t really want to bang him on the regular, but speaking as a person who really likes to plan: Maybe that’s good information to have BEFORE you decide to live in the same city.

  45. attica said:

    In one of the many ways life is unlike a rom com, in real life the story doesn’t end when the UST* does. You still have things to talk about, and problems to negotiate, and new days to greet. Go ahead, sally forth. Sure, the results may be not what you expect, but isn’t that every day anyway? You’ll work it out. If you bang, you may find the friendship fizzles, you may find a reliable fuck buddy but nothing more, you might find the secret deed to that chocolate farm that you’ve always wanted — the one with the corral of unicorns. Or you might find all three somewhere along the continuum. Any which way, you have to work it out.

    I’m on the side of To Bang, but that’s not really my point. Decide something, decline to dither further. Step up to life.

    *UST=Unresolved Sexual Tension. (In this case, we could be cute and make the acronym LUST, with the first letter aptly standing for Long.)

  46. wordiest said:

    Just another pro-bang vote. Usual caveats… if it feels right at the time, and if he is also into it. But I’d risk erring on the side of banging. Because even if it goes wrong, it’s most likely to go wrong in ways you can deal with more easily than losing the opportunity forever and then wondering what might have happened. It’s cliche, but I think it’s true for most people, we regret more the risks we didn’t take, the opportunities we let pass, the times we didn’t try. I think it takes a lot longer and is a lot harder to get over not ever finding out what might have been and whether or not it would have worked than it does to get over a failed relationship or even the loss of a good friend. Plus, banging a friend often doesn’t lead to losing a friend. Maybe it’ll become a good relationship. Maybe it’ll revert back to friendship. Maybe it will become awkward for a time, and then become a good friendship again. There are a lot of ways this can work out without being a bad thing.

    But even if it goes poorly, it’s easier to then cope, because it will have gone poorly for a reason. And if that reason is big enough to damage your friendship, then it reveals something about him you didn’t know – something that makes you two incompatible even as friends. And that knowledge will make healing from the loss a lot easier. People don’t just stop being friends for no reason. Sometimes the reason is as simple as, it became less convenient and the bond wasn’t strong enough to be worth maintaining, but there’s always some sort of reason. But you know the reasons you’re not trying now, and I don’t think any of them are the sort that will be all that helpful later on if you regret not trying in helping you to move on if your opportunity vanishes. Not that you couldn’t move on from that, just that I think it’d be harder and more painful.

  47. Knayt said:

    I’m also on the bang him side of things. I also suspect that at least part of the hesitance is worrying about damaging the friendship – which is probably a complete non issue. If the lines of communication were bad, or the friendship was a difficult one, or any of a bunch of other things it might be a concern, but as is it seems vanishingly unlikely. Sabotaging the friendship is just not something that warrants much worry.

    Maybe things will work romantically, maybe they won’t. Either way, there’s the knowledge of what the situation is, and the underlying friendship beneath it stays.

  48. Commandant Cray Cray said:

    “When we see each other it is in these emotionally intense bursts, and I don’t know how he would fit into my daily life or how I would fit into his, whether we would truly be compatible romantically, or whether we are just building a romance in our heads.”

    I FEEL YOU.

    This is a specific kind of LDR problem people rarely bring up: If you haven’t had the chance to date in person before (with both of you having individual lives and seeing how they mesh in the same location) then you have NO IDEA how your lives will work together. I’m in the same goddamn tipsy boat of decision making. Some questions to ask yourself courtesy of my current dilemma:

    1. Do you have a similar lifestyle? Do you fit into each other’s social circles? What habits and activities make up your daily lives? Do you like having routine sex with each other?
    2. If you do get to finally be together after a long distance relationship, where will you go? Their city or yours? One of you is going to be the brand new person trying to fit into the other’s established life. Do you move to a third city? Then you will both be new there but have few social options but each other. That is super intense.

    The passion of brief interludes is not necessarily something to build a life on. Conversations on the phone are not the same as breakfast across the table from someone forever. I know that sounds very far away from the situation now. But an LDR is only the path to an end goal of being together. And what will that look like when you finally do?

    I’m not asking this as someone who knows the answers. I’m asking these as legitimate questions (for both me and the LW). Help! Please forgive the illustrative question/tangent:

    I desperately want to be with my person, although we have never lived in the same place. But the only way to establish if we work together is to be in the same place. But to be in the same place to see if we work together we have to commit to an LDR and a move. It is a vicious cycle of decision awful. It’s a leap of faith to upend your lifepath to that extent. My head has been fucked up on the question for months (years?). I think it’s a no, but damn I want it to be a yes.

    (Having said that I’d still bang him. But not necessarily to be in a relationship. And perhaps don’t make life decisions in the afterglow?)

    You sound awesome and thoughtful and I will be rooting hardcore for you no matter what you choose.

  49. gallantqueer said:

    Okay, LW, take a deep breath. Jedi hugs for thinking so hard, and high fives for being so damn responsible and awesome at communication.

    I think this is really one of those questions, LW, that we can only give you our personal feelings on or good tools for. (Which makes it a fun question to answer so thanks for writing it down.)

    My personal feelings are that both banging and not banging are good options. You don’t need to choose right now. I know you’re worried/excited/psyched/kinda in love right now so this is probably infuriating to hear. Own that energy, love it, ride it, accept it, however you want to metaphor it.

    You say that situations like this historically have led to attraction, and yet you don’t know what will happen this time. I’d go in with an open mind and do what seems best when you get here. Either way it seems like you’re at a place of not knowing with this relationship. I know that can be uncomfortable, but maybe again try and embrace it.

    Ps. Do you really want to bang him? Because one reading of your letter is you know that you will have pants feelings, you don’t want to act on them because there’s too much distance and uncertainity, so you’re looking for concrete reasons not too. If you don’t want to bang him for any reason then you definitely don’t need to.

  50. I vote bang, but only if you are using a really reliable form of birth control. Because uncertainty is awful, but uncertainty + pregnancy is the worst

  51. Nameless said:

    Letter writer, I have been where you are now. I also did not want a long distance relationship and we knew it would be several years before one of us would be able to move to live in the same town as the other. Even so, getting together as a couple was the best thing we ever did. It’s been a year now, we’re still long distance and it can be tough. Sometimes you just want to curl up in bed with the person you love and you can’t because of the “lots of miles” in the way. But knowing that one day we’ll be together and not have to say goodbye for weeks/months at a time makes it all worthwhile. I wish you a happy future… together.

  52. 30ish said:

    I know this is probably a lot easier said than done, but I feel it would help to take things step by step and cross the LDR bridge when (and if) you get there. And this goes for the whole potential relationship as well, it sounds like it’s already been built up to a huge thing with many expectations attached to it (no wonder if you’ve been into each other for years, but it can still be dangerous to get ahead of yourself). You’re basically already thinking about a problem that you don’t know you’ll ever have to deal with in reality. Maybe try to think about how you would approach this if this guy weren’t a good friend, but someone you just met and really liked. How would that change the situation? Would you be less cautious and go for it? Would you say “nah, I’m not trying anything when we would be long distance for 2 years anyway”? In other words: I know this guy is very special to you (and what you have may indeed be very special) but it might help you to treat the situation as a non-special one.

  53. rhythla said:

    My best friend in college and I had been friends since the beginning, but we were never single at the same time. Come junior year, we finally were so we tried dating. I was more into him than he was into me, so we ended the dating after one month. During this month, we never made it far sexually. It was easy to reset the relationship back to friendship, and we remained friends through his next relationship, which ended senior year. It was not until he lived in CO and I was in NY for graduate school did he begin to have feelings for me romantically and wanted to try again. I was willing to give it a shot because we clicked so well together, though neither of us really wanted to do the long distance thing. I flew out there for new year’s and we finally had sex.

    IT WAS AWFUL.

    But I cannot tell you how easy it was to say, “whelp, this isn’t gonna work due to distance, let’s just be friends,” after finding out how sexually incompatible we were. Because we had not let it go on and on with uncertainty mounting and fantasies running wild, it was again easy to reset the relationship back to friendship. We still talked regularly afterward and began dating other people. I love my friend to death, but I 100% do not have pants-feelings for him anymore and I am glad that we found it out sooner rather than later.

    Tl;dr: bang him!

  54. Dear LW

    One other thing occurs to me. Your letter reads as if you know yourself to be in love with your friend (for some value of “in love”) but sort of think he’s maybe not in love with you.

    That contrast of certainty and uncertainty is intentional.

    LW I read your letter as hoping he might be, fearing he isn’t, and fearing also that the whole relationship fall apart if you’re right and he isn’t in love.

    It might. But if you are in love with him and don’t get past that, the relationship will fall apart anyway.

    Faint heart never won fair lady – or gent. Courage is a very very very attractive quality.

    If he doesn’t love your courage and kindness. Well. Well. If he doesn’t, he isn’t the man you hoped he was

    Good luck to you

  55. Laurie said:

    No do not sleep with him. This is a relationship amped up by intrigue and distance (anyone hear of “distance makes the heart grow fonder). If you are meant to be an actual couple, then wait until you actually live in the same city, start dating like regular people and have sex when you feel you are likely to commit to the LTR thing. Just my opinion — it sounds like you have a solid enough friendship to keep it if you do have sex and it all goes wrong.

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