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Parallax - Advice

November 17, 2003

Never-ending story

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question!I am twenty-two years old. About twelve months ago, I ended a three-year, live-in relationship with my boyfriend. It was good, but he wasn't right for me. We have managed to remain best friends, even though he is still in love with me. The problem is that I am still madly attracted to him and find myself wanting to be intimate with him. He tries to make moves, but I push him away and tell him that I don't think it is right to 'mess around' if we are not together. Little does he know how difficult it is to deny him. Is it wrong to still want to have sex with him? I don't want him back and I don't want to play games. Please help me make the right decision. Email to a Friend


Her view:

Dear Playmate,

I'm afraid you're already playing games. The fact that he keeps trying means he is wise to your interest level. It is very hard to hide those inclinations—people usually pick up a tip-off that a little fooling around is an option. So...you can take on the 'friends with privileges' role.

It's not a bad idea, if that's what you want. Or you can get back together and resume couple status. Or you can give him up altogether and let him get a new girlfriend. And then the two of you can resume your relationship when you're fully over each other.

Until he is in love with someone else, he will continue to try to win you back. Perhaps this appeals to you. Why else would you let someone who you know is in love with you hang around you all day?

Option one of 'friends with privileges' will probably happen whether you want it to or not. You are well down the path. It just takes one vulnerable or drunken evening; he will make his move and you'll be amenable. This will most likely segue into a more long-term arrangement of either complete coupledom or separation. So decide now, before you are influenced by the nookie.

Take a complete break or get back together. It sounds like you ended it for very clear reasons. Maybe you'd like to review them.

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His view:

Dear Playmate,

Sex is probably the leading cause of relapses. The scenario you describe seems ripe for it. Best of all, you know it. You also know that sleeping with him will break your 'best friends' illusion and ruin your chance of a clean break.

And yet you ask. You want to hear that it's not wrong to desire him, that—noble as your prudish behavior may be—there's nothing wrong in giving in. You want an easy excuse…a justification that you, yourself, can't create.

Regardless of what I say, or my female colleague says, I think you are going to shack up again. I know it; you know it; he knows it. It's just a matter of time. So, your best option is to do some up-front damage control.

When it does happen, tell him that it's just sex. And after it happens, avoid all other forms of intimacy. If you do a good job, he'll realize he can't get you back via the sack. Then he'll either call it off, or get accustomed to being used.

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