Friends Without Benefits, Part 4


By: The 4-Way Panel

Dear 4-Way
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 man’s perspective: Chris Kennedy

The adage goes, “You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” While I don’t recommend picking your friend’s nose, at least not in public, I do heavily recommend picking your friends carefully.

Friends (and family) are the most important people in your life, and you should put some serious thought into who you’re spending your valuable time with.

Your choice to hang out with someone you dated is a tenuous decision and one I warn against doing. Why did you two start to hang out again? San Francisco is a big city; I can’t believe you couldn’t find anyone else to hang out with.

You say you mutually decided to be friends, but I wonder if that’s really the case. My man’s intuition—we can have it too!—tells me one of you likes the other person as more than just friends and secretly wishes you’ll get back together, and I’m guessing it’s you who feels that way.

Don’t kid yourself; you’re jealous because you still have some feelings for her. That emotion is no picnic and you’re going to feel it on a regular basis if you continue to hang out with her.

Obviously, as a friend, you’ve got to be okay with her dating other people. Not only do you need to be okay with it, but you also need to be supportive and encouraging as she tries to find love. That’s what friends do. I feel like you’ll be sabotaging her, even if only on a subconscious level, as she confides in you. That’s not what friends do.

By the way, she may experience feelings of jealousy too, and could do some surreptitious sabotaging of her own when you start dating others. I also think it’s a potential minefield for your future dating life to be friends with an ex. Especially one you haven’t resolved your feelings for.

Pick friends you haven’t been romantically involved with and leave her for good. Use some discipline—learn what you were supposed to learn from your relationship with her and move forward to new friends and new loves without the baggage.

Check in next week for another Q&A series with The 4-Way.

The 4-Way is published monthly. If you have a question for our 4-Way panel, please send it to them in care of the editor at To read more of The 4-Way columns or to listen to our podcasts, visit The 4-Way now.

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