Friends Without Benefits, Part 2
By: The 4-Way Panel
I recently started hanging out again with a woman I used to date. We mutually decided that we wanted to be friends—nothing more. I really enjoy spending time with her and I know she feels the same. My problem is that when she mentions other women she’s gone on dates with or is interested in, I feel jealous, and that confuses me. Do these feelings of jealousy mean I still have more-than-friendship feelings for her? If so, should I still hang out with her? I thought my romantic feelings were gone, but I can’t imagine what else would be causing me to feel jealous. Any thoughts?—BJ, San Francisco, CA
The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown
This is exactly why I think being friends is (usually) a bad, bad idea. Each person generally has a different agenda for what she wants to happen post-breakup. The ender of the relationship usually thinks being friends is the greatest thing since Splenda or the hybrid car; she gets all the benefits of friendship without having to deal with any of the relationship drama.
The breakup-ee, on the other hand, wants to be friends because, whether she wants to admit it or not, she secretly hopes that the other person will fall madly in love with her after finally—finally!—understanding that lasting relationships really are built on friendship. Who needs attraction? Chemistry, shmemistry!
Bringing together two different people with such different goals can be disastrous. Notice that I said “can” be; it isn’t always. I do think it’s possible to be genuine friends, but enough time has to pass between the breakup and the inception of the friends phase so that any raw feelings of pain or anger have passed.
I think these types of friendships are filled with lots of awkward firsts—the first time you get together, that she mentions dating someone else, or that you do the awkward hug goodbye instead of the kiss goodbye will all be weird—but that doesn’t mean you can’t get past them. Maybe you’re still in one of these awkward first phases right now. Give it some time. If the jealous feelings don’t go away, yes, you may still have feelings for her. You could also just be nursing a damaged ego because you aren’t the one she’s excited about anymore. Give it some time, give her a chance, and see what happens.
Check back tomorrow for the gay man’s perspective by Darren Maddox.
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