What It Means When A Co-Worker You Were Hooking Up With Starts Being Weird
Dear Nice Guy and Fuckboy,
I have been in a roller coaster "more than friends but not a relationship" thing for almost a year now with a guy I work with.
For the first four months of our "thing," we just partook in daily texting and constant flirting. Then we started going out, meeting each others' friends, getting physical, holding hands in public, the whole shebang... except we agreed to FWB terms, so there was no messy strings.
We were best friends who happened to be really into each other. I mean, what sounds better than that, am I right?
We were best friends who happened to be really into each other. What sounds better than that?
Then I did something really stupid: I really fell for him. (How was I not going to?) I kept the feelings I had developed to myself for awhile until he could see something was wrong.
I told him I had feelings for him that were too strong to just be friends with benefits.
He proceeded to say that he loved being around me, my laugh made him weak, my compassion for others killed him, but he couldn't do a serious relationship because he wanted to climb the ladder in his career.
So, I left and cut him off. I couldn't sit back with have the feelings I had for him and just pretend to be his friend. I wanted more. and I knew he did, too.
After I stopped talking to him, he texted me every day, came up to me at work, would use our friends to talk to me and basically went nuts. This really showed me that my guess was right, and he felt the same way I did about him.
I didn't speak to him for two weeks, and then, I got drunk at an office party and went home with him.
That night, he professed how much he missed me, the last two weeks had been some of the shittiest for him, he couldn't stand to hear my laugh in the office because it made him crazy and how him not wanting to be in a relationship had nothing to do with his feelings for me, but rather this idea he was committed to.
He said "nothing was going to change." And I gave in because I missed him.
We just recently opened that can of worms again. He told me, "You can have feelings for someone and know that nothing can happen."
This makes zero sense to me. For me, it's black-and-white: You either have feelings and you act on those feelings, or you don't. There is no gray area.
It's black-and-white: You either have feelings and you act on those feelings, or you don't.
So, I told him I was leaving. He got upset and said, "Do you think freezing me out again is going to get you anywhere close to what you want?" That really struck a cord with me. Maybe he was right.
I read an article once that said, "If you want the guy to commit, you have got to love his emotional pace, even if it's not moving at the pace you want."
But I have also been told that if I don't let him go, he may never realize how much he truly cares about me, that he needs to know what life is like without me in order to come back and surrender to the feelings he has.
So, that's why I'm here asking you guys for advice. Should I take what he said to heart and stick around until he wakes up ready for more? Or do I let him go and hope he comes back?
This was a terrible idea from the start. First off, he's a co-worker, so when things go bad (and they usually do, in these ill-defined arrangements), you're still going to see the dude five days a week, jealously speculating why he's talking to that girl from accounting over by the water cooler.
Don't shit where you eat, B!
But you did do something right here, and that was cutting him off entirely, which, as you intended, resulted in him crawling back.
You're dealing with a master manipulator here. After those two weeks with no contact, he strategically chose to attack when you were drunk at an office party, knowing you were vulnerable.
After those two weeks with no contact, he strategically chose to attack when you were drunk.
Then, once you two had sex, enveloping you yet again in the romantic idea of you and him, he pushed even further by telling you everything you wanted to hear.
He said he missed your laugh, valued your compassion and whatever else he pulled from his tattered playbook. These are all things I'm willing to bet he's used on a healthy share of women in the past.
One thing's for sure: This guy's good.
As for his whole, “You can have feelings for someone and know that nothing can happen,” bullshit? I'm sorry, but I had to laugh at that one. This guy's speaking like he's an authority on the subject, a modern Romeo.
He, like you (until recently), truly believes this crap. Sure, you can have feelings for somebody knowing nothing can happen, but usually there's a catch — he's married, he lives in another country, he's been jailed for murder or something like that.
But that's not the case here. You two work together and have been sharing emotional dialogue and bodily fluids for a year.
What was his excuse for issuing that ridiculous anecdote? Because if he didn't provide one, I think I've got your answer.
You mention the whole black-and-white idea of the situation. You believe there is no gray area, and you're insistent that if you have feelings for someone, you act on them. Plain and simple.
But have you considered that he, himself, is the gray area? This case isn't situational, and you aren't dealing with a man in love.
He, himself, is the gray area.
You're dealing with a man who likes sleeping with you and stringing you along by portraying the perfect gentleman, and having a convincing excuse for everything he's done — and continues to do — wrong.
He's charming as hell, as most manipulators are, and tells you what you want to hear, when you need to hear it. This man is dangerous.
He's charming as hell, as most manipulators are, and tells you what you want to hear.
In case I haven't made it obvious yet, the quicker you rid yourself of this guy, the better. But you're going to have to be smart about it because, well, shit, you work together.
If getting poached by another company for better benefits and a higher salary isn't possible, you need to have a frank conversation with this dude — one where you know upon entering what he's going to say and do in order to continue jailing you in this relationship purgatory.
Nothing more is going to happen with this guy, B. All he's doing right now is keeping you from experiencing something more authentic.
He's stalling you. He's made it clear (from your own testimony) that you two will never be more than what you are and have been. So as much as it hurts to do, you have to believe that.
He's made it clear that you two will never be more than what you are. You have to believe that.
Cut whatever sexual ties you have with this man, and he will eventually back off. And until then, try to avoid any run-ins with him at the office.
You've made this bed, B. Now you're going to have to lay in it.
Best of luck, Bobby
You'd be walking a tightrope by cutting things off with him again, just to get him to come crawling back.
If the same woman does this too many times, we tend to get sick of it. And we don't feel too sorry about getting sick of it, either.
Typically, in this space, I'm all for the woman going out and grabbing what she wants. I'm also all for the revengeful counterpunch, especially if it means championing the case of the victimized, scorned or deceived.
But you're considering manipulating a dude who didn't actually mistreat you, just to get what you want. If you do that, how are you any better than the dudes who do that — the dudes like me, the ones you tell yourself you hate for it?
Say you shun him again, and he comes crawling back and fucking proposes that day. You win.
But what exactly did you achieve? Did you get him to “realize” how much he truly cares for you? You won't have, but that's what you'll tell yourself.
But how is that not you manipulating him into thinking he wants what YOU really want? He already told you what he wants... you just don't like it.
He already told you what he wants... you just don't like it.
You're making what he's doing to you sound really shitty, but he was upfront and honest with you about it from the beginning. Now you're angry at him for staying steadfast to his word? For staying loyal to himself?
He's not doing anything wrong. You just agreed to something you can't handle.
He probably misses you. He probably enjoys you. He probably adores you, just as you said. He probably even loves you. He just loves himself more. And that doesn't make him an asshole. That makes him human.
Of course you can have feelings for someone and know nothing will happen. I've loved every woman I've ever met – whether it was for 10 minutes or 10 years.
He's not doing anything wrong. You just agreed to something you can't handle.
I never wake up not loving them, but I do wake up knowing they're wrong for me, I'm wrong for them, whatever. Our lives don't link, and that's life.
That's why Friends With Benefits are a thing, and have been since the beginning of time. Alexander The Great had them. So does my Uncle Steve.
So, what should you do?
It's fatalistic to go toward the pain, but it's unfair to yourself to avoid the pleasure. The best we can do is be conscious of our decisions, their benefits and their consequences, and be able to live with both.
In the end, all those mini episodes of pleasure and long rivers of pain contort together to make us who we are.
Which woman do you want to be? The one who has as much of him as anyone can have, or the one who loses all of him for good?
Do you want to be the one who has as much of him as anyone can have, or the one who loses all of him?