I’ve been feeling pretty guilty, because I know us queer people pride ourselves on becoming friends with our exes…but I’m not sure I’m interested in this specific relationship without the intimacy of dating.
So I started dating this person last summer, and we had a pretty great time with it. I felt like we were moving not too fast, not too slow. But also, we were having a lot of sex; not to often, but enough that it shaped the relationship. I liked getting to know them but I have to admit that the physical intimacy (it’s been pretty rare in my life) was a good part of it, and there were a lot of great convos around sex.
Over a month ago, they came to me and said they didn’t want to have sex anymore, and to sum it up, wanted to start being friends (we were never really friends in the first place). It was not necessarily easy for me, but I wanted to respect their decision and give friendship a shot, so we kept spending a lot of time together, sleeping (actually sleeping) together and doing all sorts of activities. The problem is that recently I’ve realised it wasn’t working out for me. I still feel that I want something romantic with them, and I can’t seem to be satisfied with being friends. Also I’ve realized this person seems to mostly show their vulnerability during sex and is very hard to access emotionally outside of it. I feel disconnected from them and mostly sad, sometimes frustrated. I’ve tried to talk to them about it but they kept saying that they didn’t think about it, and everything felt fine.
I don’t know if this a good idea to keep trying, or is it okay to recognize that we worked as lovers but not as friends…or should I just take some distance and see how things change?
Queer culture all around us tells us we can be friends with our exes. For some people, this transition from whatever it was (romantic, sexual, etc.) to friends is pretty simple. That has never been the case for me, and I’m here to assure you that you don’t need to be friends with your ex. I’m not friends with a single one of my exes. While I admit that sometimes I’m jealous of folks who can stay platonically close to people they’ve dated, I look back on how all my relationships ended and can rest in knowing that person is out of my life for a reason. I realize my opinion is in the minority, but I’ll always stand behind folks who want to end relationships for good.
It’s particularly difficult to maintain a friendship with someone you have feelings for or someone whose intentions are mismatched from yours. From how you’re describing the nature of your relationship, it sounds like you had a great sexual connection. You found someone you had natural chemistry with and could talk to about any sex questions. I might be off base here, but I get the sense that these sexual feelings translated into romantic feelings for you…which is totally fine! What I’m noticing here is that this may not have happened for your partner. While I certainly can’t speak for this other person, the way you’re framing their reason for wanting to be friends makes me think that they consider your relationship mostly sexual. Many people enter into various types of dating/sex/situationships for different reasons, and it can be tricky when you and the person you’re in it with want different things. Even if you just enjoyed the sex and wanted it to stay slightly sexual/slightly romantic, this person wants sex or friends, nothing in between. Just like some people can be friends with exes, some people can have relationship dynamics that are just friends who have sex occasionally.
You mentioned your ex/friend mostly shows their vulnerability during sex “and is very hard to access emotionally outside of it.” They sound somewhat emotionally unavailable, especially since their response to you wanting to talk is “everything is fine.” Everything is not fine for you, and a friend with good intentions would respect your relationship enough to enter into this dialogue. Maybe they’re not ready to do this, and that’s okay, too. If they aren’t ready to even enter into an intimate platonic conversation, it makes me question if you’ll ever feel satisfied in any type of relationship with them.
You’re asking all the right questions; Should I keep trying? Should I accept closure? Should I wait it out and see how things change? I’m not going to tell you what to do. Only you will know what feels good in your body. Maybe get curious about how this is all making you feel. How is your body responding to to being just friends? Do you feel any sense of relief when you think about ending things for good? Do you feel like you want to gift them your patience while they figure things out? Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to lean into your gut feeling. As someone who puts off making decisions so much that the decision is often made for me, I can assure you that even if you wait for something to happen, that is a decision as well. Mull over how each of these options affect you and remember you deserve the love and time you’re willing to give to others.
You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.