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Unusual Ex/Best Friend/Boyfriend(?) Situation


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Hi all. Will try to keep this short. It's gonna get tricky. Buckle in.

 

I met this guy 4 years ago. Things were going great. Four months in, after a small fight where I was demanding, he broke up with me, saying he "can't give me what I want." He, however, continued to call/text and see me, EVERY.day since, regardless of what we have gone through, for nearly 4 years now.

 

In the first year and a half, we were in a constant grey zone, and we would make up to break up. We had another six month long honeymoon period at one point. But the issue was always the same. He wouldn't commit to me, and always seemed distracted by what options he had or imagined to have.

 

He then moved far away for work. I was sure this would be the end, given the unstable relationship. But nope. He called me every day, multiple times a day, for the year he was away, and then moved back. He visited me about 6 times in that year; I never visited him. We hooked up the first time (almost 2 years ago) but never again since.

 

While he was away, he got a girlfriend and she moved in with him back to our town (!). This was a huge shock to me when I first found out because he was legit calling his ex everyday. We all tried to be "friends" and meet and hangout. The minute his girlfriend met me and saw our interactions and how close we were (also she was threatened because I was too hot, she told him that), she threw a tantrum that we could not speak anymore. At this point, he tried to get involved in work stuff with me, as his only excuse to see me. Two months in to not being allowed to talk to me, he broke up with her and sent her packing back to her state. He tearfully told me how hard it was for him to be away from me and that they fought about me constantly.

 

At this point, I was super fed up with him and kind of over his mess, but I've also truthfully never stopped loving him. I love him a lot. So, in the six months that have followed their breakup, him and I got super best friends status with each other., repairing any distance that was caused. Our relationship is closer and more healthy and loving than it ever was. We went on a month-long overseas trip together that brought us very close. He is very close to my family and friends. I regularly skype with his parents. We adopted a pet together. We openly and clearly tell each other we love each other all the time. Honestly, outside our families, we are each other's first call, and have been for years. I am his partner and he is mine. We spend almost everyday together. People think we're married all the time.

 

All of this is happening under the guise of "friendship" and we have not been physical in almost 2 years. A week ago, in a drunken night, (I was drunk, he wasn't), we slept together naked but did nothing but cuddle. Physical touch seems EXTREMELY scary to me now, given the depth of emotion, length of time and pain from the past.

 

He went on a date recently and I snapped and called all of this "best friendship" a sham. Told him I can't go on like this anymore. Told him it's stupid to watch a love get squandered away. We want all the same things, in terms of life values and future visions. We are nearly twins. He was quiet when I first brought it up, which made me feel like crap, but he's brought it up himself several times since, telling me that he feels the same, he agrees, I'm right, it just means he has to get off the "carousel" of online dating (he's quite the player, but much less in recent years, seems to care less and less, he's 36 now), he's "warming up" to it and to give him time. We have talked very seriously about hypothetical visions of what our future would be like together since. It's been now 2 weeks since I first brought it up. Still up in the air. Meanwhile, he's moving out of his apartment in 6 weeks, and planning to squat in mine for a month before he takes a trip (that he also invited me on) and makes any decisions on where to live. He also has offered for me to share his car with him...and I'm like how...

 

I literally cannot make sense of this. I have never known anyone to have this situation. Can anyone help explain this?

I was kind of ambivalent there for a long time when he lived far away and then the girlfriend and such but now after our trip and everything, I think we are soulmates and I nearly can't imagine life with anyone else. Our bond seems very REAL relative to the phony online dating firestorms I get that implode after a month or two. He really does feel like my "partner." I am 100% sure he loves me a lottt. As I do him. He's been there for me through surgeries, car accidents, family deaths, job losses, therapy sessions, everything.

 

What's the hold up?

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If he loved you, he would be with you. Why would he date other girls if he loved you? You need to wake up!

 

What a complete waste of four years. How many times does he have to show you, that he does not want to have a relationship with you.

 

He is a friend, and likes the attention that you give him. That is it.

 

You need to go NC and move on with your life! You cannot be friends if there are feelings.

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I had perhaps a similar situation except that we were never gf and BF. I adored this man in every way. Except one. And that was that I for whatever dumb reason... Was not able to get physical with him. I tried on several occasions over the years (and it was way more than 4 years--off and on). And I just could not seem to go there. In the end we had to part ways (a nasty fight about something that had nothing to do with what we were really fighting about--but it did the work of finally separating us from the merry go round. He is with someone else now who adores him and finds him sexy and attractive. I've never found anyone who could make me laugh as he did and I miss him a lot-- deeply and profoundly. But I'm still not physically attracted. I always felt like it was so tragic that that One thing had to be the decider... But in this case it was. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and realize that if it was meant to be... It probably wouldn't be this much work. Wishing you all the best... Keep us posted.

Edited by fwdthinker
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I had perhaps a similar situation except that we were never gf and BF. I adored this man in every way. Except one. And that was that I for whatever dumb reason... Was not able to get physical with him. I tried on several occasions over the years (and it was more than 4--off and on). And I just could not seem to go there. In the end we had to part ways (a nasty fight about something that had nothing to do with what we were really fighting about--but it did the work of finally separating us from the merry go round. He is with someone else now who adores him and finds him sexy and attractive. I've never found anyone who could make me laugh as he did and I miss him a lot-- deeply and profoundly. But I'm still not physically attracted. I always felt like it was so tragic that that One thing had to be the decider... But in this case it was. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and realize that if it was meant to be... It probably wouldn't be this much work. Wishing you all the best... Keep us posted.

 

Aw that's sad. I wish you well too. I find him attractive, I just feel like the boundary/fear of not being intimate is so strong now that I nearly would have to be wasted out of my mind to go there. It's just too heavy now, too long, too close, too much drama and history. Hard to explain. I find it easy to sleep with total strangers but somehow with him? nope. I tried for years now to love someone, anyone other than him, but also nope.

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It might be time to find a good therapist to work through this with you. Time ticks on. I spent all those years with someone hoping it would morph into the forever relationship and it didn't. Don't do that. Trust me. perhaps a therapist can help you sort out this situation and give you insight. Maybe both of you are commitment phobic so this dance ends up giving each of you what you need to feel safe. Meaning a pseudo relationship without the full commitment and lots of fantasy thrown in the mix to keep it exciting (fantasy for the what ifs and if only's). My two cents because I have been there..

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It's basically mutual. I make no moves and he makes no moves, after we had many earlier years fights over commitment and jealousy when we were dating/sleeping together. It's been my sense that not sleeping together has been his hack for staying together while allowing him to sleep with other women without guilt/shame/getting in trouble with me. That's what I was trying to end with my recent outburst (which was the first time I spoke to him about being together in also 2 years).

I do get slightly insecure every now and then that how could it be possible that a red-blooded man doesn't sleep with a woman that's around him all the time when he's attracted to her. He found and pursued me initially for a sexual relationship though (he's admitted that to me) and I'm his "type" based on anyone I've seen him be into. We've also had sex maybe hundreds of times in the past. So I don't know. Mixed results on that one.

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It might be time to find a good therapist to work through this with you. Time ticks on. I spent all those years with someone hoping it would morph into the forever relationship and it didn't. Don't do that. Trust me. perhaps a therapist can help you sort out this situation and give you insight. Maybe both of you are commitment phobic so this dance ends up giving each of you what you need to feel safe. Meaning a pseudo relationship without the full commitment and lots of fantasy thrown in the mix to keep it exciting (fantasy for the what ifs and if only's). My two cents because I have been there..

 

I definitely agree that we are both commitment phobic and a pseudo relationship feels "right" and "safe" to us both. If I'm being honest, I think we both need to feel we are single and still exploring options because we are not ready to admit this is the "best we could do." But at the same time, we both like being in a relationship so we both are, with each other. I know it sounds messed up, but I think you always get the relationship you're ready for, not the one you aspire to. And he and I are super similar, so maybe I should look in the mirror for some answers.

 

I do feel ready for the real deal though, so if this thing doesn't move forward, I feel fairly ready to move on. I think. Although it feels like getting punched. It is trending more likely than not that we will actually for real be together at the moment. I think.

 

Most of my optimism is purely around our age. Being this "grass is greener" optionality personality type, I think we both need to be close to 40 to finally admit ok ok maybe I turned over every rock and this is the best there is out there. I sense a HUGE difference in him and how much he cares about casual dating/sex now versus when we first met. Sometimes I think we just met too soon and never let go.

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I agree with HollyJ. And I’m not surprised it isn’t working out with other partners for either of you - who would be comfortable with their partner calling and seeing an ex on a daily basis that you admit to having slept naked with? You’re both being unfair on other people you bring into this

 

I think the fact he said he’s “warming up” to the idea of being together says it all. surely if he genuinely felt strongly about you as more than a friend he’d jump at the chance? Such a lukewarm response would set alarm bells ringing for me.

 

Doesn’t sound like he’s the one and i’d go no-contact if I were you. The only way you’re going to make a relationship with someone else work is if he’s out of your life and you owe yourself the opportunity to be happy. We only have one life.

 

Good luck!

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Unfortunately you're not "each other's partners almost like a married couple". You are friends and he's dating others. Perhaps enjoy the friendship but start fresh in a new relationship.

All of this is happening under the guise of "friendship" and we have not been physical in almost 2 years. He went on a date recently

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Hmmm chicken or egg?

 

I can’t help but wonder if all your reckless dating habits ( and let’s be honest it’s an incredibly dangerous pattern ) are because of your situation with him or if he’s another reckless incident for you?

 

I know you kinda snapped at people pointing out how risky your actions were so at the risk of you shutting down, because honestly I don’t see the point of advising about this situation while being suffocated by the elephant in the room which is the broken nature that you seek men.

 

Is he the cause? Have you been doing all this in response to him?

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If I'm being honest, I think we both need to feel we are single and still exploring options because we are not ready to admit this is the "best we could do." But at the same time, we both like being in a relationship so we both are, with each other. I know it sounds messed up, but I think you always get the relationship you're ready for, not the one you aspire to. And he and I are super similar, so maybe I should look in the mirror for some answers.

 

I do feel ready for the real deal though, so if this thing doesn't move forward, I feel fairly ready to move on. I think. Although it feels like getting punched. It is trending more likely than not that we will actually for real be together at the moment. I think.

 

Most of my optimism is purely around our age. Being this "grass is greener" optionality personality type, I think we both need to be close to 40 to finally admit ok ok maybe I turned over every rock and this is the best there is out there. I sense a HUGE difference in him and how much he cares about casual dating/sex now versus when we first met. Sometimes I think we just met too soon and never let go.

 

So what you are saying is that you are each others plan B. If all fails you will have each other to fall back on. And you find that a sound emotional investment?

 

Based on what you wrote, it sounds like he is indeed using you as a safety net and you are telling yourself that you are doing the same but in reality, you want something more. Waiting to be close to 40 in case he wisens up is a terrible idea if you are a woman and you would be wasting precious years that you are never getting back if you carry on this non-relationship. Chances are that he will end up settling with someone who is new and shiny and younger that he doesn't take for granted. Based on the timeline you mention, you met him when he was 32. That is NOT young. Most people have gotten sleeping with lots of women out of their system by then. If at 36 and after knowing you for 4 years, he still wants to explore what else is out there then imo, he is just not that into you and I find it highly unlikely that he will stop taking you for granted all of a sudden. He likes you but only as plan B. You are his emotional safety net but it doesn't sound like you are the person he sees himself spending the rest of his life with. Imo, this guy will never appreciate you enough to commit to you and you are wasting precious time on him. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. You need to break the dysfunctional pattern you are trapped in.

 

P.S. If you are a "grass is greener" optionality personality type and this is keeping you stuck on dead ends like this guy sounds, hindering your dreams for the "real deal", then maybe it's time to seek therapy.

Edited by Clio
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I think you're relying on lots of cliches and psychospeak and "types" because you don't want to accept the nitty gritty. If you both wanted to be in a serious exclusive relationship with each other you would be, the end. It's really not about age at all. It's about being the right person to find the right person. I was closer to 40 and I did marry my ex boyfriend, but it had nothing at all to do with my age or his age. Or accepting that this is the "best we could do" - because that's settling - no thanks. I know it feels like getting punched because you've invested your time, energy and feelings into this. It sucks, I get it, been there. Let him be out there dating, you be out there dating and if you two want to be together it will take two minutes to decide - one of you will approach the other, ask the simple, direct question without apology "do you want to be in a relationship with me" and the other person will respond yes with enthusiasm. It takes less than 2 minutes actually. When it takes much longer in this kind of situation it's because it's not right.

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Please cut ties and go no contact. You are interfering in his relationships and you also won't have one of your own until you kick this habit. you will never be a couple. you are too dysfunctional together and why should he date you when he gets what he wants -- plus gets to date others. Decide that you are better than that and end this friendship. Do things with other people and move on. Kick this drug

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Just wanna say that I basically agree with everyone. I’ve been “over it” romantically and we haven’t even discussed it in 2 years for the reasons mentioned. The romantic possibilities and feelings re-emerged recently because we’ve spent so much time together and it’s been so fun the last six months. Definitely makes you think hm why the eff are we not together, this is working so well. He feels the same. But the issue remains, we’ve been each other’s safety net and backup plan for years. If we don’t move from Plan B to Plan A, we’re just going to hold each other back from finding someone. I’m done settling for it. After you’ve known someone for 4 years, you don’t like stay up at night dreaming about them. Luckily the starry eyed honeymoon glasses things goes away, so I’m able to be practical about this. I’ll just make some changes and a push to date more if I find he’s still stalling or says no. Maybe NC, who knows.

 

Obviously a long relationship like this is not that easy to be callous about. There’s a lot of love & support there. Lots of memories. I’d be losing my best friend etc. He’s shown more sustained care and interest in my wellbeing as a human being than any man ever has, and for that I’m grateful. So many male/female dynamic can be reduced to motivated by sex or ego, and it’s nice to have something purely motivated by care and friendship. The whole thing is and feels different from anything else I’ve experienced with a man, which at times makes me feel it’s the real deal. But if he’s too stupid to see it, then adios amigo!

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Just wanna say that I basically agree with everyone. I’ve been “over it” romantically and we haven’t even discussed it in 2 years for the reasons mentioned. The romantic possibilities and feelings re-emerged recently because we’ve spent so much time together and it’s been so fun the last six months. Definitely makes you think hm why the eff are we not together, this is working so well. He feels the same. But the issue remains, we’ve been each other’s safety net and backup plan for years. If we don’t move from Plan B to Plan A, we’re just going to hold each other back from finding someone. I’m done settling for it. After you’ve known someone for 4 years, you don’t like stay up at night dreaming about them. Luckily the starry eyed honeymoon glasses things goes away, so I’m able to be practical about this. I’ll just make some changes and a push to date more if I find he’s still stalling or says no. Maybe NC, who knows.

 

Obviously a long relationship like this is not that easy to be callous about. There’s a lot of love & support there. Lots of memories. I’d be losing my best friend etc. He’s shown more sustained care and interest in my wellbeing as a human being than any man ever has, and for that I’m grateful. So many male/female dynamic can be reduced to motivated by sex or ego, and it’s nice to have something purely motivated by care and friendship. The whole thing is and feels different from anything else I’ve experienced with a man, which at times makes me feel it’s the real deal. But if he’s too stupid to see it, then adios amigo!

 

You have to cut ties. He is not interested in you well being -- if he was, he would be happy for you to meet someone and fade into the background.

 

 

So many male/female dynamic can be reduced to motivated by sex or ego,

 

Honey, this is all about sex and ego. Even if you are not sleeping together

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I just wanted to update that he called me and we are now official and planning our future and moving in together. I am so so happy.

 

Not every story has a clear linear “perfect” trajectory. The amount of negativity and judgement I withstood just staying friends with an ex was unreal, and I don’t blame people. Not to preach, but anything can happen and every situation is unique. Love is love!

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I just wanted to update that he called me and we are now official and planning our future and moving in together. I am so so happy.

 

Not every story has a clear linear “perfect” trajectory. The amount of negativity and judgement I withstood just staying friends with an ex was unreal, and I don’t blame people. Not to preach, but anything can happen and every situation is unique. Love is love!

 

I'm not sure the "anything can happen" (of course, obviously a truism plus a cliche) is the best way to make personal life decisions. Or the extreme "not everything has the perfect trajectory" -I don't think anyone suggested that (I wouldn't, my relationship didn't -we were engaged twice over an 11 year period!) - grasping for extremes like that to justify personal decisions like yours doesn't reflect giving actual thought and responsibility and owning your choices. Same with "love is love" - love is essential and so is compatibility, trust, a strong foundation -for a marriage or serious commitment -certainly is enough to have loving feelings in other situations (reminds me of our marriage officiant, an older, religious gentleman, who met with us before the wedding and said "Ok I know you love each other, that's obvious and I don't want to hear that that is the reason you're getting married -I know that's a reason - but what I want to know is -do you like each other?? what do you like to do together for fun?" (not verbatim but close enough).

 

Try to avoid indulging in those extremes -it shows you're avoiding the facts and specific feelings that are right in front of you to justify impulsive decisions so you can say later 'Oh I couldn't help it because I LOVED him and it just felt sooooo right!" You'll make a far better match for yourself if you're willing to do the nitty gritty grunt work and ask yourself the tough questions.

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I just wanted to update that he called me and we are now official and planning our future and moving in together. I am so so happy.

 

Not every story has a clear linear “perfect” trajectory. The amount of negativity and judgement I withstood just staying friends with an ex was unreal, and I don’t blame people. Not to preach, but anything can happen and every situation is unique. Love is love!

 

OP you aren't going to like this, but you are living in some sort of fantasy world that his making it official and planning your future is somehow going to erase all of the problems you have had in the past. Yes every situation is unique because people are unique, but no one goes from being a player to being a loving committed boyfriend overnight. It sounds like he panicked at the thought of losing you and threw you exactly the bone he knew you wanted in order to appease you.

 

At the end of the day you are right... love is love and it's entirely up to you as to the kind of relationship you want to have... I would suggest walking in to this with your eyes open though and don't just take what he says at face value, watch what he does to back it up.

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