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#908: “Staying the night with someone carries a lot of intimacy weight for me. How do I manage my feelings about that with potential partners?”

Dear Captain Awkward:

A girl I’ve been seeing for 5 weeks broke up with me and it hit me really hard. It took me a night to realize that I had attributed a lot of emotional weight to staying over at her place on week 4, when she asked me to come over and stay the night . So when we had the break up talk the week after that, I felt completely blindsided.

In my mind, staying the night means we are Officially In A Relationship. I was already imagining meeting her friends and hopefully eventually her family, stuff like that. In the days following that night, she invited me to a gathering with her friends and also to a dinner her friend invited both of us to, so it seemed like my expectations of what that night meant were holding true; up to that point I hadn’t met any of her friends. And then a week later she wanted to break up.

I told her my feelings about that night during the breakup, and her response was the typical “you built up too much of this relationship too fast, maybe slow it down in the future.” But I really don’t think I can change how I feel about staying the night with someone. Based on talking to some friends, it seems like people my age don’t attach nearly as much weight to this as I do, as it’s just one of Those Things You Do in a new relationship. Is there anything I can do to resolve this disparity in the future when dating someone new?

Basic background: I’m 28 years old and I didn’t start dating until I was 25. The longest relationship I’ve been in was 6 weeks. I’ve read about attachment patterns in adults and I solidly fall into the anxious-preoccupied model.

Aw, sweetheart, I’m so sorry. It sounds to me like she liked you a lot and was still deciding about things when you spent the night together, which happens (the human heart is unpredictable and subjective)(people attribute different importance levels to getting intimate for the first time), but it doesn’t make the ultimate rejection sting any less.

Finding a solution to predict or resolve how “people your age” feel about when & how to start spending the night together isn’t really going to work, but I think there are a few things you could try out that might work better for you and give you a greater feeling of control:

a) Go slow. Some people can gleefully fuck on the first date and stay through brunch or even dinner the next day without having it mean anything in particular. You know that’s not you, so, slow down. That doesn’t mean that you have to be celibate, but in the first few weeks of dating, think seriously about kisses and make-outs that are not goal-oriented, conducted with the understanding that “pants stay on” and that “everybody will sleep in their own bed at the end of the night.”

I don’t want to fall into the boring trap of the Rounding-The-Bases-Model of sex, where every “base” means an escalated level of intimacy – kissing can be plenty intimate/sexual/emotionally charged and this may not work for you, like, at all. Still, if you want to try this, when kissing starts to seem like a good idea to everybody, kiss/be kissed by your dates. Kiss the bejeezus out of them. Make out. Enjoy. Savor. Take breaks to talk. Kiss more.

The name with your email is male, so forgive me if I am assuming wrong, but there is a lot of pressure for men to be always up for sex and to be the aggressors and the escalators in sexual encounters with women. Give yourself permission to not play that role by default and to be a little old-fashioned about it all and see if you feel better – more excited, less rushed, less pressured.

b) Level with your partner. When spending the night starts to seem like a good idea to everybody, talk frankly about what it means to you.

Yes, I’d love to – I really like you and that is very exciting! – Can we talk about it for a second first? For me, (having sex/sleeping together/spending the night) with someone is a sign that I want to stick around for a while and really get to know them. It isn’t casual for me and I don’t ever feel good about having a one-night-thing. It’s ok if you approach all that differently, or if you’re still deciding, and I’m not mentally picking out china patterns – I’m enjoying what we’re doing now very much! Just, if I’m gonna stay over tonight I want to make sure you’re on the same page: That you see this as the beginning of A Relationship, that you’re excited to stick around for a while and see what we could be together, and that you’re ready for us to be exclusive/monogamous*. I know everybody moves at different speeds, so if that’s not quite the case tonight, I’m more than okay holding off or slowing things down until it is. 

*(If monogamy is your thing, and I think it might be).

See what your partner says and how they react. If they seem unsure, if it’s too much/too fast, if they are still thinking about how they feel about you, stop. If they pressure you to have sex/spend the night/level up the intimacy in the relationship without giving you the reassurance that you need, stop. If what they want doesn’t match up with what you want, stop.  If having an honest conversation about your feelings and needs around sex or where your relationship is going “kills the mood” with a potential partner, it’s definitely not the right moment to sleep with them. If you’re meant to pick it back up, you will. People who want to bone each other are extremely resourceful about finding “the mood.”

 If you have the conversation, and things seem to stall out at for the moment because your partner is still deciding where you fit in, it can get really awkward and feel like rejection/disaster/why bother? even if everyone is doing their best and it will all be fine later. We don’t have a lot of cultural scripts for “I like you, but let’s slow down a bit and be sure” even though it’s an extremely common thing to negotiate in new relationships.

If your partner is receptive and kind and gets it and seems to still be into you (and you’re still into them), and there’s an “Ok, so, now what?” awkward moment, try this:

a) Verbally reassure them that you like them and that it’s okay if they aren’t sure right this second – it’s worth it to you to wait a little while and be sure. (You say you are anxious-pre-occupied in your attachments, and one way to manage that over time is to provide others with the kind of reassurances them that you’d like).

b) Say, “I’ll text you tomorrow.” (& follow through with that).

c) Kiss them goodnight, if they’re up for it.

d) Go home/physically separate, if that’s what you need to do to take care of yourself emotionally.

e) DON’T OBSESS. 

Ha, I joke. You’re going to obsess. I would obsess. It is perfectly normal to obsess!

The key, when you are obsessing, is to distract yourself and/or channel that energy in other ways. Masturbate furiously. Work out, or do something creative or otherwise absorbing. Call a friend and tell them all about it, or write it all out in a letter or email that you don’t send. Play video games. Have and feel all the hopeful/mushy/vulnerable/sticky feelings in the world, just don’t vomit them all over your maybe/maybe not girlfriend…right this second. You’ve got to give it a little time to work itself out. Send one (promised) text along the lines of “It was so great to see you last night, hope you slept well” or something else pretty simple and kind (“Good Talk, everyone!”). Then maybe turn your phone off for a while. Go to a movie in a theater.

f) Pay attention to reciprocity in communications.If you send the promised next-day-thanks-for-the-date-and-the-good-talk text, and the person texts back and normal conversation/texting levels ensue, great! If you start making plans to meet up and it’s all easy and natural, great! Relax. Flirt. Things are still on.

If there is a long, weird silence, if things get stilted and it’s impossible to make plans, then pull back, at least for a few days or a week. Don’t flood the person with emails or texts or calls or chipper “Just checking on our plans!” Part of this is “bracing yourself for the coming rejection,” absolutely, and part of this is “giving the person permission and space and time to think.” Don’t read too much into any one communication or gap. Look at patterns. Look especially at how you feel. Do you feel happy/comforted/hopeful? Do you feel like you could ask this person for reassurance, like, “I’m feeling kind of vulnerable after our talk, everything still good?” The right person for you is going to make you feel like you can ask that.

Your goal is a certain kind of relationship, and you get pretty invested in your dates before any of this comes up, so yeah: If you tell someone about what sex means to you and then suddenly things get weird or distant or sour, it will suck. You will be okay in the end, but the short term will suck like it sucks right now. What you might have next time that you didn’t have before is the knowledge that you took care of your own needs to the fullest extent that you could.You used your words, you asked for what you wanted, you gave the person every kindness and consideration, you were real and true about what being intimate means to you, you showed integrity and patience and a willingness to be vulnerable. The right people for you, specifically, the ones who will stick around to know you and like you and love you, specifically, are going to be happy and excited and grateful for the way you spoke up.

Finally, I truly think that the “almost, but not quite” people are going to appreciate what you did by speaking up, too. Maybe that one moment gets “ruined” and the relationship doesn’t go anywhere, but your honesty, integrity, and courage will leave the world better than you found it. In the movies and other media, the sex we see is all zipless and effortless and we have so few models for how awkward and vulnerable sex with other people can be. Most/many movie sex scenes involve people getting together for the very first time, but I rarely see on-screen couples who are about to sleep with someone for the first time stop and have either emotional or very practical talks about what about to happen. Where are all the”I have an STI, here’s what you need to know” talks?

See also:

  • The “I’m/You’re a person who can get pregnant/make someone pregnant, how are we handling all that, pray tell?” talks.
  • The “I’m super-ticklish, please don’t touch me in x, y, z places” talks.
  • The “Here are my kinks” talks.
  • The “Oh by the way, I have some giant scars, don’t be freaked out” talks.
  • The “I have some past traumas from abuse, so please never grab me or hold me down, even as a joke” talks.
  • The “Ow, that hurts, not that way. Try this” talks.
  • The “Nope….still nope….not quite…ah, well, tomorrow is another day” talks.
  • The “I see this as basically recreational and not especially meaningful” talks.
  • The “Hey, I really like to be emotionally involved before I have sex, so let’s hold off for now” talks.
  • The”My sexual identity is ______, which means ______” talks.
  • The “I have been thinking about and wanting to do this with you basically forever, I am so psyched right now!” talks.
  • The “My antidepressant is killing my sex drive lately, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t initiate sex, I totally wish you would because I miss doing it with you so bad” talks.
  • The “I am too stressed out right now, ask again later” talks.
  • The “Let’s try to make a baby!” talks.
  • The “It’s my first time and I’m nervous, go slow” talk and the “It’s not my first time, and I’m nervous, go slow” and the “I don’t really know what I’m doing, can you talk me through it?” talks.
  • The “We have 10 minutes until the kids wake up, let’s get this DONE” talks.
  • The “I feel self-conscious about my body” talks.
  • The “Intriguing offer, just ate a giant meal, tho” talks.

Alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll the talks, forever and ever and ever, until everyone has good information for making decisions about who and how and when and why they have sex, and everyone feels heard and seen and believed and safe.

Ideally, we have sex and relationships with other humans at least partly because we want to feel awesome and make each other feel awesome. If emotional connection and reassurance that this relationship has a future is what you need to feel awesome, then you should ask for awesome. It won’t always be perfect or even go the way you want it to, but that doesn’t mean you should accept substitutes.

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75 comments
  1. entendante said:

    I would watch the hell out of movies with those sex scenes in them.

    • ailicre said:

      RIGHT???

    • Yeah, especially ones where the talks aren’t, like, proof of how vulnerable and fragile a character is, or a woman warning someone she’s “broken.” Where are the scrappy, joyful, broken-in people? They sure as hell exist in real life!

      • rmd714 said:

        i love the expression “scrappy, joyful, broken-in people” so much

        • JenniferP said:

          Yes, how lovely!

    • S said:

      I actually really liked Friends with Benefits for this reason. There is this whole “My knee is ticklish” type conversation they have the first time and it is amazing and hilarious and fun. I’m sure that movie has other issues but that made me grin.

    • My school had a class called CAPP – Career and Personal Planning – and although it had its issues, I’ll say this for whoever designed the curriculum: at least someone somewhere had said, “Sixteen- and seventeen-year-old students are already having sex, so we should at least TALK about consent.” We had a couple of guest speakers come in and talk about how to negotiate for your own emotional and physical satisfaction.

  2. MK said:

    Hi LW – when I met my husband he pulled the brakes on us getting intimate too fast/only spending sexy time together, and politely requested that we do lots of things together that were not kissing etc. I was really impressed that he was able to a. ask for what he wanted, b. do it in a way that made me feel special and that he respected our budding relationship. I suspect the right lady for you will be on board with taking things slow/having spending the night mean that you are in A Relationship.

  3. Myrin said:

    What a warm and compassionate response, Captain. I’m not even the LW and I’m feeling plenty good and reassured right now.

    • Natatat said:

      Was going to comment the same thing. A really kind and encouraging answer, CA. My situation is somewhat similar to LW so it’s much appreciated. For a late bloomer it’s hard for me not feel heaps of shaaaaaaame about myself sometimes. Your answer had a nice reassuring tone to it.

  4. BHicks said:

    Late bloomer here (didn’t start dating and having sex until I was 27). Sex has as much weight as it has. Being able to stay casual even with overnights happening doesn’t make you better at dating. Nor does it make you worse. There is no right way to feel about intimacy (unless things ever cross into abusive/controlling territory, obvs.)

    I am in a situation right now with a guy who I met two weeks ago. HUGE sparks and connection and chemistry. But he wants kids and I don’t. We agreed to meet up for a sex date the next weekend. It turned into a 16-hour sex and conversation and sleep and coffee date. Which tripped all my wires and made me realize that I can’t handle casual sex if I have an interest in the person beyond the physical. There is no compartmentalizing for me. And even though it’s only been two weeks, the next time I hear from him, I’m going to say with regret that I can’t continue sleeping with him because (oh irony!) I like him too much.

    You are not doing anything wrong by having feelings. That doesn’t mean you can’t think about what they mean or where they come from. And that doesn’t mean how you handle relationships won’t evolve and change the more you do it. I’m 38 now and I have become SO much more honest and less anxious/panicky than when I was first out there. Being honest and open even when it means things end with someone cool means you never have to feel like you gave up part of yourself to date the “right” or “cool” way. Good luck.

    • Absolutely this. When people say, “Just be yourself!” it is kinda referencing the fact that if we do not put our true selves forward, they won’t be there for the right person to fall in love with.

      LW, your heart is open and willing and vulnerable, and the right person is going to treasure that.

      • cruelmistress said:

        Plus, in my experience, keeping your true self under disguise doesn’t really work– it’s hard for other people to have a true connection with a disguise. If people wouldn’t love the real you, they won’t love your disguise. They might tolerate the disguise, but it will never be as good as being seen and wanted the way you are.

  5. hellodangergirl said:

    As somebody who is casual about sex and also not a complete jerk, I would be very happy to be told by a potential partner that sex/sleeping over/any other intimacy milestone means a whole lot more to them. The last thing I want to do is hurt somebody I’m contemplating forming a relationship with.

    • S said:

      Yes this!

      I will say LW, also, it’s good that you’re self aware about your attachment style and how you feel. Please, don’t try to change that because you like someone. I recently had a friend who repeatedly took the time to have very clear “this is casual, it cannot be more than that for reasons” with a partner, and then that partner leveled up the relationship in their own head. When my friend realized it she broke it off immediately hoping to avoid hurting her partner, but the breakup was tearful and traumatic on both sides.

      Sometimes you are fundamentally incompatible with someone because of how you view relationships and how you progress through them. The earlier you can recognize that about each other, the better off you both will be. You can both move on to potential relationships more suited to YOU. I know it really sucks to have to give up on a person you really really like, but ultimately the Captain is right. You have to protect yourself. You deserve to not be hurt, and to find people who share your values and your wants.

      • This is so accurate

  6. This is the best thing I have read about sex and relationships in a long time.

    • JenniferP said:

      Why, thank you! ❤

  7. FiercePassion said:

    Hey Cap’n, I’m seeing in your answer a conflation of “sex” & “spending the night together”. I thought the letter writer was talking about “spending the night together” which may include sex.
    I too see “spending the night together” as a form of “leveling up” (I’m poly & kinky so it’s a different kind of leveling up), but that doesn’t mean I’m not sexual with people on a date. It just means that without prior discussion, the default is “after sex there may or may not be cuddling, but everyone is sleeping in their own bed”.

    • JenniferP said:

      That is true – the Letter Writer did not say that they had sex, while I assumed that there was at least some sexual intimacy associated with that night when I wrote post. “Spending the night” and “sex” and “intimacy” can also obviously cover a lot of specific ground that isn’t necessarily “P-I-V intercourse.” I’m gonna let the assumption stand for now, because I think that talking through assumptions and specifically what people mean when they so something like “spending the night” or “levelling up” or “sex” or intimacy” is the purpose of the post. I don’t need to know what the LW and this person actually did together during that night. Before you do anything that would constitute “levelling up” for you, talk about what that means to you, make sure you’re on the same page as the other person, don’t assume that they have the same approach as you.

    • …my reply to this posted on the general comment thread accidentally, but I basically wanted to say that I agree.

    • Jack V said:

      At first I assumed they’d already been having sex, but had just spent the night together *as well*. But I think the captain’s interpretation is almost certainly correct, I think someone thinking the way I first thought would have phrased a lot of things differently, and “doing sexual things” is a much much much more common proxy for intimacy.

      Fortunately, the advice is much the same either way.

  8. Trig said:

    “The “Intriguing offer, just ate a giant meal, tho” talks.”

    Ha. I am there, quite regularly.

    Husband and I have this conversation in the form of me going “WOW I AM SO FULL! GEE I SURE ATE A LOT! MAYBE I SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE THAT GIVEN THE FACT THAT MY STOMACH REACTS BADLY TO SOME FOODS AND I HAVEN’T FULLY IDENTIFIED THEM ALL, OH WELL!”
    He gets the ‘just Netflix tonight, no chill’ message without there being a supremely unsexy “sorry, gotta run to the toilet mid-makeout” moment.

    • pagooey said:

      I loved this one too. Append me saying “AND WHYYYY DID YOU LET ME EAT ALLLL THE BIRTHDAY GNOCCHI YOU SO KINDLY PROVIDED, YOU SEXY BEAST??”

    • Turquoise Dragon said:

      The other morning, partner and I were both making noises about ooo, early morning naked and cuddling . . . . but we wanted to have different type of sexy times right then, and neither of us was interested in what the other wanted to do. So we snuggled and hugged and got up and started the day. Sometimes, even both wanting to have sex right then doesn’t lead to having sex after you get into the details. And that’s okay, too.

  9. pana7otta said:

    When my now husband asked me quite a lot of years ago if I wanted to come to his place for the night, I told him: I like you too much and know you too little for that. I think I still remember my exact words because a) it was exactly how I felt and b) I felt confident about it – anybody who reacted badly to that wouldn’t be worth a second thought anyway.
    I realize that only works in the very early stages of a relationship though.

    • miss_chevious said:

      I just had virtually that same convo with a guy! Unfortunately, it did not end happily — the actual convo went fine, but he ghosted the next day — but ultimately it was the right decision for me and I feel good about treating myself well.

  10. LauraA said:

    Great answer, and great comments so far – I just wanted to say, Captain, I am impressed with the thoroughness of that list!

  11. ashbet said:

    Very much not only relevant to late bloomers, too — I was a very early bloomer (and have spent 26 years being sexually active and in romantic relationships) . . . but I’m now entering the dating scene again at 40, and I still need to have that talk with people.

    I love sex! I love intimacy and cuddling and feeling safe enough to share emotional vulnerability! And yet it’s still important for me to say “No” to sex or intimacy that feels too rushed or presumptuous (specifically using that word because some potential partners have seriously jumped the gun on when it’s appropriate to broach the topic of sex, like . . . before the first date. Nope.)

    I want to have sex in the context of a relationship that has the potential to become a primary-type partnership for my partner *and for me* . . . which means that I really need to get to know someone to a decent degree before it’s on the table.

    And this is from a poly, kinky, sex-positive, experienced person — none of that means that I want to rush into sex with someone I don’t know and trust.

    (None of the above is meant to imply that being more experienced in sex or relationships is “better” — only that this isn’t just an issue for people to whom this is a new thing., It can also be a struggle for people who have been doing the relationship and sex thing for a long time, because starting something new, and leveling-up in physical and emotional intimacy, can be pretty fraught for anyone.)

    Excellent advice, as always, Captain!

    • viva said:

      Yes, I’m very much the same way. I wasn’t a late bloomer, I adore sex and intimacy, I’m fairly kinky, I’m not demisexual – and yet I can’t be sexual/intimate with someone unless I trust them and get to know them a bit first. I’m in my 40s and have only had three sexual partners and all three have been long term relationships. I used to assume I’m just picky but reading today’s post and comments makes me realize it’s a certain attachment style.

      This discussion has been enlightening.

  12. Captain, thank you for this response. I’m a fellow anxious attacher, and the early stages of a maybe-relationship generally feel so nerve-wracking that I want them to be over with STAT.

    This advice gives me a better sense of how to be at peace with my own presences, while also stating them in ways that are clear and compassionate to people who don’t share my approach. I’m bookmarking this, in the event that I feel like dating again sometime.

  13. DarthSnuggles said:

    As someone who’s been in very similar circumstances to the LW earlier this year, this post hit me right in the chest. I (sort of) lost my virginity (at 27!) to a friend who knew A) that it was my first time and B) that I had feelings for him. We agreed to a friends-with-benefits-but-who-knows-what-might-happen kind of thing. I was under the impression that he, while not sure if he was ready for a relationship, did have some feelings for me (as evidenced by him saying things like “if I didn’t have some feelings for you, I wouldn’t be here”) and would be open to exploring that in the next few months. He also initiated all of the intimacy, from the very first conversation about us potentially to hooking up all the way to our last sexual encounter. With my enthusiastic consent and plenty of signals after that first discussion that it was more than welcome, but still. In my mind, he was pursuing me just as much as I was pursuing him.

    And then a couple of weeks later he met and started dating someone else within the span of about 48 hours. He was honest about the situation, disclosed to me immediately that there was someone else he was interested in, and made it clear that while he still wanted to be friends, whatever else had been going on between us was over. It was…extremely difficult. In the months since, we’ve remained friends (albeit with a few bumpy patches) but he’s said things like “I never thought of you as anything but a friend” that seem to conflict with what he’d told me earlier. I don’t think that he was lying to me to get me in bed with him, because I made my interest pretty clear and would probably have slept with him regardless, so there really would be no reason to lie. On the other hand, what he’s said since meeting his girlfriend doesn’t totally jive with what he told me before she was in the picture. So I don’t know what to think.

    …Sorry for the lengthy derail. Basically, what I was trying to say was the what the LW is going through resonates really strongly with my own experiences, and I’ve definitely had similar thoughts about how people in my age range seem to treat sex and intimacy much more casually than I’m able to do. I have some extra baggage that I acquired during a totally sexless five-year relationship, but even without those issues, I think I’d be hard-pressed to have truly casual sex. I seem to be wired for commitment. It makes dating kind of nerve-wracking, because I worry that the person I’m seeing will have expectations that I can’t fulfill, and that I’ll have to go through a lot of painful rejections to maybe find someone who will take things at my pace. Captain, your words to the LW comforted me immensely; it’s so helpful to know that there are other people out there with the same worries and fears, that I’m not irreparably damaged or terminally behind all of my peers when it comes to relationships.

    LW, I wish you all the luck in the world in finding a partner who will be right for you!

    • Oh wow, Darth Snuggles, so sorry that happened to you. I too will be bookmarking this post as it has so much good advice in it. I’ve also found myself in a mis-matched and problematic relationship in that the guy I’m seeing only wants to be FWB/fuckbuddies and yet he sent out a whole host of mixed messages early on and still is tbh, such as wanting to be exclusive, spending the night, lots of long chats, lots of cuddles, seemingly real feelings involved on both sides, yet he refuses to see me as often as I’d really like. I know this isn’t an agony aunt column and whether or not I end it because it isn’t *quite* fulfilling all my needs is my choice, but I just cannot get him to discuss it. I’ve tried, but he just doesn’t respond. He told me he was the same when his mother made him get therapy for depression, he just wouldn’t/couldn’t talk to the therapist.

      I’m still undecided, but as there isn’t much of a gap between what I really want and what I’m getting I’m still seeing him for now. What I really want is what we had the first few months, which was great. Then he suddenly announced he was getting ‘too invested’ and drastically cut back on contact between visits (by 95%) and also the length of the visits (by about 3 hours-arriving later and leaving earlier) themselves.
      What I really don’t want to happen is tell him it’s over only for him then to agree to what I want, or maybe I do want that to happen. Idk I’m just confused and this blog isn’t really for those sorts of problems.
      I’ve tried the ‘I really want things to go back to the way they were before and I’m really not sure if I can continue like this’ approach and he just got annoyed and told me to make up my mind, so I don’t think he’d budge.
      I don’t even know *why* he doesn’t want more, it’s as though he made the decision and is sticking to it. He says he *never* wants a serious relationship, ever, definitely not marriage & kids. All the advice I receive is ‘dump him’ but I’m happier with things as they are than I was on my own and I’m highly unlikely to do any better tbh.
      Apologies for farther derailing 😳

      • misspiggy said:

        See if you can force yourself to act on the basis that you are perfectly likely to do better, and then decide if the current situation is what you want. Personally I wouldn’t be putting up with mixed messages like the ones he is giving, but everyone’s tolerance for that kind of thing is different.

        • Thanks for the advice, misspiggy, but in the thirty years since I met my ex-husband I’ve not once come anywhere close to even starting a relationship. I’ve been trying and failing the past eight years. I don’t want marriage/cohabitation/more kids either so I’m just enjoying it while it lasts. It’s just disappointing when it was euphorically wonderful and then he suddenly remembers that he wasn’t supposed to have ‘feelings’.
          I have another guy interested but tbh it only makes my feelings stronger as I realize I don’t particularly want to date/start a relationship with him, I just want more from my ‘FWB’. It also helps that there’s a huge amount of physical (and mental etc) attraction there that I’ve not experienced before so maybe it’s just lust/infatuation.

          I sometimes feel like he’s just throwing me scraps because I’ll take them, but I spend more quality time with him and it’s better quality than anyone else I’ve ever dated, including my ex, so maybe I’m expecting too much. Idk I’m confused 😖
          Great advice from the Captain, as usual, but for me I think I’ll just carry on all the while we enjoy each other’s company. Sometimes I think I’m bordering on ridiculous to even contemplate ending things.

          • tawg said:

            FWIW, I don’t think you’re expecting too much from your relationship. I think you’re expecting things that you want, and maybe need – that’s a good sign that you think you are deserving of a great relationship that ticks all the boxes! I’ve got no real advice for you, but I think that your wants and expectations are valid; nothing you’ve said about what you want or miss in your relationship seems excessive or demanding.

          • tbh said:

            But like, what if things never ever went back to the way they were when y’all started up? What if things continued just as they are, with him refusing to talk things through with you, and you being hurt and confused forever? Would you be happy? I mean really happy. Not “this is better than my ex,” “what even are my prospects really,” “this is better than utter loneliness,” but really actually happy.

            Here’s the thing. It’s never gonna happen. The going back to the way things were thing? Never gonna happen. The cat is out of the bag. It’s not going back in. That part is over. Whether he did it because he’s his own worst enemy and just needs time and convincing, or because of some other reason, it’s dunzo.

            I get that you’ve been struggling for a long time. I get that you’ve finally found somebody you have awesome chemistry with. But chemistry alone doesn’t mean y’all are good for each other.

            I agree with misspiggy. You CAN do better. You’re really cool! There’s people into you right and left! Don’t stay in a nebulous thing just because you think this is the last and final word on People You Can Have Chemistry With. Because, statistically speaking, that’s a falsehood. There’s seven billion people on the planet.

            If you’re honest-to-god happy doing this thing with this person, then by all means, keep going, why not? But, would you have brought this up on an advice blog if you were?

          • Thanks so much, tbh, yes I am happy but I would like to see more of him. Tbh my mother thinks I might be bipolar, as I’ve had ‘manic episodes’ but when I saw a psychiatrist about it he thought it ‘unlikely’ and that my ‘highs’ were just ‘normals’, but I actually think I just had a manic episode, as I felt so loved up and euphoric, like I was on something. Sex was unbelievable and is still the best I’ve ever had, if not as good as before. He’s told me that ‘it’s never gonna progress’ and I’m ok with that.

            I also have a hoarding problem that was likely caused by my depression and I was unable to deal with for years. Since I met him I’m dealing with it. I’m also off anti-depressants and taking steps to avoid spiraling back into it again. So, all the while my mental health is better and I’m happier I think I’ll keep seeing him. It’s not a massive problem, but I’m definitely keeping an open mind about dating other people. I might even mention the ‘attached’ book to him when I’ve finished it. The sex (and the company) is just too good to give up at the moment. I was really just wondering what I could say to him but I guess it’s pointless saying anything much if he’s avoidant-attached. I’ll keep reading the book, though.

      • I just want to say, I think this blog is the place for exactly this sort of problem, and it is completely valid for you to be unsure and discontented and conflicted about this situation. It sounds tough, and I wish you all the luck and courage in sorting it all out.

        If it helps, I don’t think he’s going to suddenly agree to the level of attention you want, and if he does it will be precarious – he has unilaterally changed the terms of your relationship once, and if he changes back, will you trust him to keep things that way? To me, the lack of discussion, negotiation, and compromise that cuts both ways is way more of a red flag than the numbers relating to lengths of visits. I believe you when you say the gap is small, so I won’t say “dump him” outright, but I think you are wise to talk in terms of “still seeing him for now.”

        • Charybdea said:

          Yah. I too am feeling a red flag on the way his desires are decrees and yours seem to be negotiable in what you’re describing.

          I mean, if it’s this much work already.

          • Well it doesn’t really feel like ‘work’ or it’s more to me a question of ‘am I happier to leave things as they are or to break it off?’ The answer is is be happier as they are. I guess all the advice about dumping his is because he’s getting *exactly* what he wants, so I need to find someone who’ll give me exactly what I want. Maybe he already feels he’s compromised due to the fact that he’s physically very attractive (facially he’s above average but not McDreamy, but very much ‘my type’, he works out and is in great physical shape, which I find very appealing partly because I’ve never been with a guy in great shape before and didn’t realize how attractive I found it) and I’m not (he says I look great for my age tho but I’m overweight at BMI 31). So there’s this part of me whispering in my ear that he’s using me for sex and too embarrassed to introduce me to friends and family or be seen in public with me.
            But I really like him! When we have sex the way he looks at me and touches me is way more meaningful and loving than my ex ever did and we have the same sense of humor and are constantly laughing and we have similar views on most things so we get on really well. I’m reluctant to give it up just because I want more of it. I mean, many couples want to see more of each other and can’t but that’s usually mutual and unavoidable, not a unilateral decision from one party.
            I’m almost tempted to end things over this in the hope that he might try to get a FWB going with one of the other 5-10 ladies he says agreed to it, then he can see how great I am for him!!!! But I think that’s being delusional. It’s definitely worked, though, I felt blissfully in love in the early months, now I don’t, but I think I still have very strong feelings. Neither of us mention the “L” word obvs. He told me he has avoidant personality disorder so I went overboard telling him how much I liked him after that, rather than playing it cool like I normally would. Another mistake on my part, along with opening up too much about my past, family, friends, emotions and problems. He’s much more guarded.
            Still, overall I’m much happier seeing him than not. I even came off antidepressants and I’m doing ok. On those I felt nothing, now I feel a huge range of emotions, some of which are truly life-affirming.

      • consolare said:

        If it’s that casual in his eyes, why not start looking around? Clava saca otro clava. A nail pulls out another nail.

        • Thanks, seesawyer!
          consolare, I could write an essay on just that I’m afraid! We met on an online dating site and he said right off the bat that he was happy for me to date other guys with a view to a more serious relationship, but that he wouldn’t want to carry on seeing me if I slept with (as in had sex with) anyone else. We had several weeks/months early on where it was apparent that neither of us were happy that the other still had a profile up and we mutually agreed to disable our accounts. However, when one of the other men I’d been chatting to sent me a text while he was with me, he questioned me about it, then went totally distant on me. I was at a loss to know what to do or say, and I obviously messed up as he said I came across as defensive. Two-three days later he decided on the ‘we’re only supposed to be fb’ change.
          Since then he has continued to say the same thing about dating other guys, but I’m not sure if he’s being honest (he insists he hates game-playing and is upfront and honest but I think he’s actually a gifted game-player, effortlessly playing hard-to-get and misleading me into believing I was more than just a fb).
          I had a second profile up on another site and he was most put out that I hadn’t deleted that one, too, so I did.
          Then a few weeks ago I reactivated it, met someone, told him, and he promptly reactivated his account! He’s been on every day since then, despite my new date not working out (he clearly wanted a very serious relationship very quickly and when I asked to slow things down he just ended it-after one long date but lots of texting).
          I’ve asked him about deleting profiles again but he won’t respond. He just ignored it.
          I’ve been on Internet dating sites since 2008 on and off and never met anyone else that I clicked with so well; we live pretty close which is a real bonus and we share very similar interests, intellects, education and background. It’s extremely rare to find such a connection so I just am very skeptical about it happening again, unless I make a concerted effort to get out there and meet like-minded people. We’ve both suffered with depression, too.
          He’s much younger than me, if that wasn’t obvious, so I think I’m just gonna have to accept things as they are, tbh. It’s the best sex I’ve ever had by miles anyway! I think it’s probably lasted so long because we don’t see enough of each other to actually get into disagreements (apart from that time when he declared he was too invested). It’s actually his first relationship anyway so maybe he was surprised that he developed feelings, as he has stated his belief that ‘women do’ more so than men. Idk if that’s true or a stereotype tbh but it’s on Wikipedia so he believes it.
          I did ask him if I dated another guy for a few months and it ended, would he want to resume our FWB relationship? And he said ‘maybe but it would have to be more casual, with less attachment’ so I do think he is actively trying to avoid developing stronger feelings just because that’s what he had planned. It doesn’t help that his younger brother is engaged, I think he looks at him and thinks ‘I don’t want that’.

          • Clarry said:

            Ashara– Here’s what stands out for me in you posts:
            1. Charismatic guy you click with and have great sex with right off the bat
            2. Won’t commit
            3. Says he doesn’t mind your dating other guys, but if you do get sexual with one, withdraws from you
            4. Says he wants openness and honesty but also strikes you as being a gift game-player
            5. Plays hard to get
            6. Plays hot and cold holding out a bit of the good stuff that you want, teasing you along, then punishing you
            7. Somehow has you convinced that you can’t do any better
            8. Somehow has you convinced that he’s the attractive one and you’re not

            I see controlling bastard written all over this. Really good guys convince you that they find you attractive and beautiful, and they do this both in sexual situations AND outside the bedroom. They’re proud to be with you. He may genuinely be confused about what he wants, but he doesn’t seem to be doing anything actively to help himself become unconfused. He may not be doing it purposely, but he does seem to be stringing you along. This has red flags all over it.

          • Vicki said:

            Don’t assume he doesn’t find you attractive just because you’re heavier than the current cultural ideal; the range of what humans are drawn to is very large. He may be a game-player, but if so, what he is playing for is the chance to have sex with you.

          • TO_Ont said:

            My interpretation is a lot less harsh than others I’m reading here, maybe because the description of this guy is reminding me of myself. To me he just sounds confused and not sure of what he really wants, and worried about getting hurt.

            The thing is, that may not be something he sorts out quickly (or even possibly ever, but since you say he’s young it might be something he eventually does figure out).

          • Clarry, when you put it like that…
            Lol it does sound *terrible* because I’ve tried to be concise so I’ve necessarily left out most of the good parts and possibly exaggerated the bad. On balance I’d say the good outweighs the bad *so far* but if that changes then it’s over for me. His distancing has actually started to work; I no longer feel ‘blissfully in love’, rather it felt like I’d been dumped but was still having sex with an ex. Now I feel I’m getting over the ‘dumping’ 🙄 and my feelings are settling somewhat (although obvs still not ideal).
            Unfortunately I don’t want to marry or cohabit with anyone in the future and this means my choices are severely limited as most men either do want that or they want a casual relationship which isn’t monogamous, so the chances of finding someone that I connect with, lives reasonably locally, am attracted to etc who wants exactly the same thing as I do are vanishingly small, given that *everyone* in my social circle is happily married. We all have to compromise at some point.

            Vicki, yeah he obviously finds me attractive enough, but I do wonder if he might be more inclined to introduce his ‘FWB’ to his friends & family as a GF if she were more socially acceptable i.e. his age and conventionally attractive. Maybe not.

            TO_Ont

            I think he’s confused, too; but so am I.

            I’ve read a fair bit of the book ‘Attached’ and it seems he is avoidant with a touch of anxious, whereas I’m secure with a bit more than a touch of anxious. Apparently my ex has no attachment style at all, which explains a great deal to me😂

          • theSingingLibrian said:

            Oh I have so been there.

            I started a FWB with a guy who I wasn’t all that interested in, but I was coming out of a horrible divorce and nervous about having sex with someone new so no-strings-with-someone-i-know-and-trust seemed like a good option.

            But then he kept attaching strings. Staying the night, cuddling, telling me he wanted to be my boyfriend. He even told me he loved me. Eventually I gave in and started reciprocating feelings. “Ok lets try this. But you have to take me to dinner. In public. Before 11pm.” Of course he totally flaked multiple times and I got hurt. Why did he have to mess up something that was working so well as a casual thing??

            The thing is though, I kept him around for a lot longer, because I kept telling myself that I was only in it for the sex and he was better than no one. But in reality, every time he cuddled or was sweet I opened my heart and let myself get hurt AGAIN. And while I was spending so much time investing in him, I wasn’t looking for anyone else. Eventually I realised I had to cut ties, and to distract myself I went online dating and met some lovely guys who actually arrived when they said they would, and took me out for dinner! There are better guys out there. Dont waste your heart on one who doesnt deserve it.

          • ArchaicPen said:

            Oh sweetie, you need to stop seeing this guy. Just because it’s better than your previous relationships, doesn’t mean it’s the best you will ever have. You deserve so much better than this (regardless of whether he’s a great person and confused or a manipulative ass, the relationship isn’t what you want, and there is someone out there who can give it to you). I noticed recently that I was dating guys who were very good looking but didn’t treat me well. I think it’s because in the past I always felt like I was too unattractive to date guys like them, so I wanted to hold on regardless of what was good for me. Is that type of thinking clouding your judgement here?
            I know how crap long term singlehood can be, especially when your friends are all married, and you feel like there’s nobody out there, but honestly, if you’re anxious enough about this to be dissecting his actions in such detail and assuming things about his motivations because you can’t trust him to tell you outright, you need to detach and look after you. Gather your friends around, throw your energy into the activities you love, try some new hobbies, connect with the people that love you, and take care of you.

            I also just wanted to add, you say “it’s as though he made the decision and is sticking to it” re not wanting more.

            He is allowed to do this! Listen to what he is telling you, and believe him. You can’t logic or convince someone into wanting more, or make him move faster by throwing energy at the problem. He might change his mind, but please don’t waste the only life you have on trying to force this. If he realises he made a mistake in letting you go, then he knows where to find you.

            My friend told me the other day that a relationship is right not if it doesn’t feel like work (because what does that mean? I quite like working!) but rather if it feels like pulling on a cosy sweater. I like that image and I want it for you. You won’t find your person while you are throwing your time at your current guy, I’m sorry.

            Ask Polly has a lot of lovely articles on not settling for half hearted guys, I recommend reading her archives and having a good cry. Hugs if you want them.

          • Thanks, ArchaicPen, great advice, I know I need to get out more, get new hobbies, new (single?) friends etc.
            My family are all many miles away and my friends are all too busy to see much of me, my depression has held me back but I need to force myself. I think CBT seems to be pretty much that. Chronic insomnia with the depression severely impacted on my ability to function, too, I’d never commit to a new club or class in case I missed one due to being asleep or too tired. It’s not just a straightforward relationship issue, really. Appreciate the advice greatly.

      • I just wanted to add that I guess my situation is relevant to the OP/LW’s situation as a good example of what happens if things aren’t discussed thoroughly upfront, although I’m starting to think that it was inexperience on both our parts that got us into such a mess.☹️

      • isolucy said:

        I was in a sorta similar situation, with a man who wouldn’t commit. He seemed to be deliberately holding back from hanging out as much as even he wanted in order to enforce that. I ended up giving him an ultimatum about it, and he couldn’t bring himself to commit, so we broke up. It was awful. I missed him so much. But eventually I started getting over him. I dallyed with others, who never quite measured up, but proved to me that I was desirable and that that sort of relationship was what I wanted. It reinforced that I wasnt wrong to want what I wanted. Then, six months later I got a text from the first guy. He’s worked through his issues and wanted another try. We’ve now been together three years, and the game playing problems never surfaced again. Maybe he would have worked through his issues anyway if I’d stuck around, but it had been undermining my self confidence. I was unhappy, and deserved someone who wanted me as much as I wanted him.

        Don’t give up on your person! You deserve someone who wants to spend as much time with you as you want to spend with them! If he can deal with you wanting more, then that’s great. If not, he’s not right for you anyway.

        • Thanks isolucy and to everyone who replied. I’ve ordered the kindle version of the attached:identify your attachment style and I’m reading it now. Unfortunately I’ll have to wait for the original as its only available in paperback, but I think the kindle one will be helpful. You’re the best!

  14. I don’t think the full talk *has* to happen immediately, either? Like, if the first time I ask someone to spend the night, they say, “No thanks, not tonight,” and leave it at that, I’d be OK with that. There doesn’t have to be a reason given. And, depending on the current situation, I might be happy leaving a longer explanation for another time.

    • Elizabeth said:

      Yeah but I think in this case LW theoretically DOES want to spend the night. He just wants to make sure his partner attaches the same meaning to it that he does. In this case, you really got to talk to the other person and make sure that they’re on the same page. If LW is not ready to sleep over, though, then yeah, he could just say that!

      *assuming pronouns based on CA’s response, apologies if incorrect

  15. LW, I am similar to you, right down to being a latebloomer (and I have been REALLY TERRIBLE about Having Talks). Whereas many people I know are casual about intimacy of varying kinds, including FWB arrangements, I am not. At all. (I tried the FWB thing ONCE and confirmed it to myself that it isn’t how I am wired. That’s OK! (It also got awkward even though I acted exactly the same toward my friend as I had before. That wasn’t OK. Lesson learned!)) I have since learned that “demisexual” is a fairly accurate description of how I tick, in that I have to feel an emotional or mental connection with someone before I feel physically attracted, and it explained a lot to me. I am also a monogamous person, and that is just what works for me. It makes perfect sense that I’m not going to feel comfortable just casually boning other folks, or dating a lot of people at the same time, or being one of many people whom someone I am becoming emotionally bonded with is seeing, and that’s OK, too.

    Whatever your thing is, or your things are, you’re fine the way you are, your wiring is fine, your comfort zone is fine, the way you feel about things is fine, your way of being close to other people is fine, and there will be someone (probably several, maybe even lots of someones) out there who appreciate the way you are. So be you, and relax, you are OK. Your way is OK.

    I second the vote for Having Talks. Believe me, I find it excruciatingly difficult to talk about my feelings and also find disagreements highly uncomfortable. (This has gotten A LOT better with age.) Each time I have had a Talk, though, things got better!

    In the meantime, you’re not alone! Nothing is wrong with you.

  16. espritdecorps said:

    Spouse and I made out at a party after knowing each other as friends for a while, which he hadn’t done before. We were in our mid twenties.
    My attitude towards dating and sex was very casual, Spouse is demi-sexual and took things more seriously.

    How that ended up playing out was that we dated, held hands in public, and made out in our cars. We weren’t exclusive, and I dated/slept with other people for the first part of the relationship.
    It was on him to decide when and how to escalate physical intimacy, it was on me to decide when and how to escalate emotional intimacy/exclusivity.
    It wasn’t a conscious decision, but it let both of us explore the relationship without feeling pressured physically or emotionally.
    It helped that we were both frank and unashamed about our needs and expectations.

    You don’t need to disclose your romantic history on the first date, but you should be upfront about your dating style.
    “I’m not casual about relationships, and prefer to know someone before getting intimate,”
    “I’m looking to date and have fun. I’d love a LTR, but don’t like to get intense right away.”

    Some women will be insecure or freaked out if you don’t want to have sex right away. Some will think you’re lying about your orientation. Let them go. That relationship would be awful for you both.
    Dating is a numbers game, most dates/new relationships don’t work out, until one does.

  17. I want to add that I think the same way about sex versus staying the night. (Such that I was confused and had to go back and reread the letter to see if LW had mentioned sex at all.) And I do think that the discussion about intimacy is important, but it might be a bit different if they’re already having sex and just not sleeping overnight together. I had a relationship that started out as fwb and turned into casual dating, and one of the major ramps up was from sex to sleeping overnight (and still sex). I, too, attribute more emotional intimacy to spending the night together than to sex/doing sexual things. There might be more pressure (perceived or real) to spend the night if they’re “already” having sex, because maybe the intimacy goes the other direction for the other person.

  18. Sunny said:

    Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller did SO MUCH to help me date with an anxious attachment style. My biggest take away was how to spot/filter out people with incompatible attachment styles – I dated someone who was very avoidant and my moderately anxious self became unrecognizable. It was really Not Healthy.

    I’ve recommended it to a few people, it’s a very easy, engaging read. My approach to dating completely changed and my “picker” improved monumentally.

    • Oh wow, sunny, I gotta get me that book! I just googled it and did the compatibility quiz. I couldn’t answer some of the questions about him so I just checked the neutral answer, but the results were that I’m anxious and he’s avoidant which doesn’t surprise me in the least tbh! Thanks for that recommendation.

    • Seconding Attached! It helped me realize that there were avoidant people around me, and how that pulled me from secure to somewhat anxious when being with them. I might need a second read when it comes to spotting them in the future!

      • I’m halfway through it and it’s an incredible book! I’m gonna recommend it to anyone and everyone lol. Thanks to all who’ve offered advice, gratefully received 😊
        I’m supposed to actually be on a date tomorrow but it’s a second date and I’m really not enthused at all, in eight years of Internet dating the pickings of men who will actually date rather than looking for ‘cosy nights in in front of the TV’ are extremely slim. ☹️

        • Sunny said:

          I met the guy I’m about to marry via okcupid about 6 mos after reading Attached 🙂 He was just himself, honest and sometimes vulnerable and I think my ability to see his value and date in a sane way is due to my awful previous relationship + that book.

          I started reading the profiles, messages totally differently. I went on fewer but better dates. I wish I could remember some of the keywords – but a lot of captain awkward red flags overlap with them. One of many reasons I love this site – so many applicable concepts.

          • Yeah, it is a truly awesome book, Sunny, thanks so much for the recommendation. I’m halfway through and now know that I’m predominantly secure with a few elements of anxious thrown in. I’ve not been on the cycle of dating people and behaving in the anxious pattern and mistaking that roller coaster for love, though. I’ve only really had three relationships before this one, including my marriage, and none fit that pattern. It’s just I think his avoidant behavior is bringing out the anxious in me. ☹️ At least I’m aware of this now.

    • Hey Sunny I finished the book and have to wholeheartedly thank you for the recommendation. I’m now recommending it to everyone. It’s completely changed my perspective on dating/relationship and I wish I’d read it when I was 14!
      Even way back then in the 70s/80s I believed all the stereotypes that most men are avoidant and women anxious, so I prepared myself that I might be dumped after sex and it happened surprisingly rarely. I also was desperate NOT to be seen as clingy and needy so deliberately didn’t express my feelings as openly as I should have done. I think when I met my ex I was mostly secure with a bit of anxious, he was mostly secure with a bit of avoidant, but over the years he became more and more avoidant, which actually made me more anxious. Maybe these avoidants pull out all the stops early on to reel you in and only start their avoidant behaviour once they have you. That’s certainly what my current guy did. It’s given me a fresh understanding of his behaviour and I’m much happier with our situation now. I’m not ready for commitment myself, and I’ve stopped fretting about the whole thing. I actually wrote him an email recommending he read the book but I know he won’t. He didn’t respond, predictably. But I now know when to speak up and what to say. That was what was really bothering me.

  19. megpie71 said:

    Completely at a tangent: Captain, I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve excerpted the bit about “Talks” for future reference for topics which could/would/should come up for discussion for characters in a story I’m working on.

  20. gemmaem said:

    Talking about what intimacy means to you, and what types of intimacy you are comfortable with, can be a really tricky part of dating. People often try to make it easier by looking for commonly understood expectations and attempting to conform to those. But the truth is, even a person who has “conventional” expectations for a particular community or age range is still, if they are wise, going to want a partner who is able to have this conversation the honest-and-hard way.

    I have continued to date guys who had different-to-me-but-still-compatible feelings around intimacy precisely because they showed that they were able to have this conversation honestly and respectfully. I have calculated “Okay, it might take longer before I can have sex with this guy, but he knows how to communicate what he wants without insulting me for wanting something different, and this increases the likelihood that the sex is going to be worth it, so, sure! Totally worth getting to know him better.” I have also chosen not to date guys who had feelings that were not compatible with mine, but the point is, that doesn’t mean they did wrong by conveying those feelings! It just means we weren’t compatible. That’s okay. It’s better that we know!

    As tricky as it is to talk about intimacy and feelings, and as vulnerable as this can make you feel, it’s always worth remembering that by having the conversation in the first place you’re demonstrating something good about yourself.

  21. angelinds said:

    LW, don’t discount the fact that just knowing how the other person feels about things and managing your expectations accordingly can be a massive anxiety squasher. You may find that you still want to sleep over, or have sex, or what have you, but knowing that its still casual at this point for them can help you make a more informed decision for yourself. There’s something to be said for “I really like this person and want to have some fun sexy/kissy/snuggle time with them and hope that it goes somewhere, but I can appreciate that they’re still making a decision about it and manage my assumptions/expectations”.

  22. theSingingLibrian said:

    As always, the captain’s advice is on par. Always level and use your words.

    After some crazy-making escapades where I jumped into bed with men with dubious intentions before knowing what those intentions were, I decided that dignity be damned! I was going to demand upfront honesty.
    The next time I had the opportunity to have sexy make outs on my sofa, I sent the boy home early instead, because we hadn’t yet had “the talk”. But the next time I saw him, I sat him down on a park bench and said “I’m going to invite you back to my house again, and this time we are going to have sex. But, I need to know what that means for you. Because I don’t mind either way, but I need to know if this just sex or if we are starting a relationship.”
    Turns out he was crazy into me and really wanted a relationship, hooray!! And because we had had the conversation upfront from the very beginning, there was no awkward “will he call??” We just got straight down to the business of being together.
    And now of course 2 years later we get sexy make outs on our sofa every night 🙂

  23. Emma said:

    Your language here is ishy, Cap. Sexual encounters shouldn’t have aggressors or escalators, but especially not aggressors.

    • You’re right, they shouldn’t. But there *is* pressure on men to be sexually aggressive, it’s part of rape culture. Thankfully things are changing, along with attitudes towards sexism, racism, and all other forms of bigotry and stereotyping, but it’s still there.

  24. Amber Rose said:

    I personally didn’t find the “what are the expectations here” talk to be a mood killer. It resulted in fantastic cuddles. He initiated it as well. I ended up staying the night in a platonic sort of way, which you may find to be a helpful intermediate step if you want to try. Sleeping together without sex was such a warm fuzzy moment for us.

  25. I too read sleep overs as separate from sexual activity, and loved the advice.

    If something is important, it’s worth talking about.

    There’s an outcome I haven’t seen addresses though.

    If someone said to me that X meant possible commitment to them (and it didn’t to me) I would probably say so, and add that I wasn’t precluding commitment, but I didn’t yet feel it, and X wouldn’t change that for me.

    In other words, I would say neither “Me too! Now we’re serious!” nor “Nope, not for me, bye”

    I don’t know how that would feel for LW. When office heard the equivalent, I’ve ended things.

    • Argh! When I’VE heard the equivalent

  26. Ainsley said:

    Here’s an experience I had that LW might find helpful. I (a woman) dated a guy who told me early in the relationship that he wasn’t interested in sex with people he didn’t want to get serious with. It came up in conversation when I was first getting to know him, he was totally comfortable with that aspect of himself and I appreciated the info. He actually said it with a sparkle in his eye that suggested that sex with people you want to get serious about was simply so exciting and cool that for him, nothing else compared. I’m in the opposite camp re: casual sex, but I in no way felt judged by his preference. So, LW might consider getting this info out early, long before intimacy is on the table.

    Disclosing things early, when the stakes are low and you haven’t even decided if you like one another, is often much easier than doing it later!

    I’ll add that, even if LW gets the info out early, doesn’t mean it’s “out of the way” early. Because, take note: I subsequently went home with that guy *while still uncertain whether I wanted to date him!* We were making out, both very into it, he suggested we go home together, and in my head I was like “wait, does this mean I’m indicating interest in a serious relationship because of that thing he said earlier?” But I decided that no, it was probably fine. Learning a new fact about someone is not like a binding contract. We had a great time and ended up dating, so it worked out.

    So yes: get the info out early but don’t assume that because you’ve said it once, all of the person’s subsequent actions constitute contractual agreement, since they may not see it that way!

    The Captain may have been eliding for the sake of efficiency but I don’t think “If I’m gonna stay over tonight I want to make sure you’re on the same page: That you see this as the beginning of A Relationship” is the best or most likely outcome… because of the word “tonight.” I think in most cases you’ll find some time passes in between the person learning what sex means to you and deciding to go ahead with it, and it’s best if the first occurs when the second isn’t immediately on the table.

    And that time can be really magic! There’s something great about making out with someone and weighing the question of going further, of drawing out the suspense.

    We’re culturally very conditioned to accept a WOMAN who is overcome by sexual desire for someone, but insisting on holding back because of caution or propriety or some other reason that doesn’t reflect negatively on her partner. If you are indeed a man who dates women, you just need some scripts that will make it sexy, fun and okay for you guys to hang out while your date decides if they want to get serious about dating you.

    You: I really like… sex with people who I really want to date. That’s like my thing, I’m not into the casual thing.
    Her: check please
    You: hahaha
    Her: hahaha
    You: are you like… you’re a casual person.
    Her: sir I don’t know what you’re suggesting
    You: hahaa
    Her: hahaha
    [silence]
    Her: I guess just like… I dunno. To me that’s part of deciding if you want to date the person, you know?
    You: okay now we can get the check
    Her: hahahaa
    You: hahahaa

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