Ask Dr. Nerdlove by Harris O'Malley

How Do I Turn a FWB Into A Relationship?

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I am currently in a friends with benefits situation with a girl I met on Tinder. I have been single for about 5 years now and this is my second try at the friends with benefits situation. I have to say, so far, I don’t think I’m wired to be in this kind of relationship.

I always saw myself as a monogamist so sleeping around was not never really my thing. The first time, the girl had just gotten out of a long relationship and wanted to be her own person for a while. I thought to myself, I’ve been single for too long this is perfect to figure out what I want ! I ended it after a week because she didn’t want to cuddle or kiss. And she had already met another guy in that week anyway so that didn’t fly with me. That was last year. Now I signed up on Tinder and met my current friend in my second week. I keep my Tinder active but I don’t go on it anymore because I don’t like to sleep around with a bunch of women. I like security and simplicity. But this girl, we hit it off right away. Same kind of humor, same hobbies etc… On the second date with her, she told me that she had a lot of bad experiences with her exes and that she was just dating and taking things slow. That put me off a bit but we get along so much I didn’t want not to see her again. A few days later she invited me to dinner at her place and I made a move. I’ll skip the details but needless to say we are very much in sync.

She told me again that she wasn’t looking for a relationship, I told her that even though I am, I still want to see her again because we really do have a wonderful time when we are together. We text every day, pretty much every morning and night, she loves it when I kiss, cuddle with and hug her. We watch tv like I love to do when I am in a relationship.

We have known each other for about a month now and here’s the big problem, even though I get a big part of what I want, she still says things like: ”I’m gonna regret when you meet someone and I have to let you go. I just can’t be in a relationship right now.” and other variants of this. I tell her that I don’t want to meet other people and that this is enough for me right now, and it is. She also tells me that she is done with dating sites because there are too many weirdos (no s--t Sherlock) and that I am pretty much the only guy she is seeing. But I get very anxious because I don’t want her to meet someone else. I guess my problem is that I am split between an amazing girl with whom I get along amazingly that gives me almost everything I want, including amazing sex but with the thought in the back of my head that its only gonna explode in a horrible way sooner or later OR peace of mind and trying to find a better partner who actually is ready for a relationship…

Is there a way to change her mind? Is there a hidden message I’m not seeing ? What’s your take on the situation? Please help me figure this out… And thank you for your time.

Gizmoon

DEAR GIZMOON: Alright, Giz, first things first:

You can’t change another person’s mind. You can set things up so that the circumstances will allow her to change her mind, but you can’t force somebody to want something she doesn’t actually want. So let’s just drop that line of thinking and work on something that might actually be productive… and maybe lead to her deciding that she wants a relationship with you.

And we’re going to do that by examining just what it is she’s saying and doing. You seem to be missing some pretty heavy clues she’s dropping.

She’s out of a recent relationship and wants to take things slow. You’ve been respecting her desire to take things slow. That’s all to the good; you’re showing her that you respect her desires. You’re not pushing her boundaries, you’re being sweet and caring… basically, you’re showing that you’re potential boyfriend material while still having what is – ostensibly – a casual relationship.

Now, while she’s saying that she can’t be in a relationship right now, let’s look at what she’s doing. She’s told you that she’s given up on dating sites. She’s told you that you are the only person she’s seeing right now. And then there’s her phrasing: “I’m gonna regret when you meet someone and I have to let you go.” Look at that sentence very carefully. Notice who is leaving whom in this hypothetical scenario she’s worried about.

Here’s a hint: it ain’t her.

So what’s going on here? Well… I think what happened is that your snugglebunny laid down a position that she thought she wanted. She was – not unreasonably – not comfortable with the idea of being in a committed relationship so soon after the crap she went through with her exes. A month in, however, she’s starting to realize that she’s settling in with you. She likes what you two have together. She’s in all likelihood starting to wonder about maybe changing her mind.

However: you met on Tinder. While lots of people start long-term relationships with people they met there, Tinder still has a reputation as being primarily a hook-up app. It’s not unreasonable for someone to think that a guy she met off Tinder – one who agreed that they weren’t dating – might still be on the market. And I suspect that she feels like she can’t bring up maybe possibly being in a relationship with you. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that she’s worried that if she tries to broach the topic, it’s going to blow up the cozy little arrangement you two have. And so she’s sending up these little trial balloons – little ways of trying to sound out how you’re feeling about things.

So… I think that you and she may be closer to being on the same page than you think.

While I don’t know if you necessarily want to have the full Define The Relationship Talk, but you can certainly float a trial balloon of your own. You might casually mention that you’ve decided to get off Tinder. Or the next time she brings up the idea of “It’s going to suck when you find someone else”, you can tell her “Well I don’t know about that; I’m incredibly happy where I am,” without the “right now” qualifier. Saying “right now” or “for now” implies that you see an end coming. And I can promise you: if she’s worried that you still see this as a temporary thing, then “right now” is leaping out at her in full 3D and screeching violin chords.

Or there’s even the classic “Wait… were we supposed to be seeing other people? Because I haven’t met anyone who interests me even vaguely as much as you do.”

But the best advice I can give you is: enjoy what you have, right now. Every relationship ends until one doesn’t, and you have no real idea of knowing which it’s going to be. Even if you two do have the DTR conversation and agree that you’re committed, that doesn’t mean that things won’t end. Break-ups happen, regardless of the type of relationship you have.

But if you spend your time borrowing trouble from the future and dreading the possible end of the relationship, you won’t have the time or energy to appreciate what you do have. So take a deep breath and just savor things. Enjoy your time with your snugglebun. And if you find  an opportunity to gently (gently) see if she’s feeling differently about dating… well, there you go.

(Although, for the record: pretty sure she wants to actually date you, Giz and she’s hoping you’ll make the first move.)

Good luck.

Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, doc@doctornerdlove.com