Friends With(out?) Benefits

Friends with benefitsGetting back to Date #6… we did indeed go for dinner on Thursday night.  On account of it being Restaurant Week here in a Philadelphia, we decided to try Cooperage, a wine and whiskey bar just off Washington Square Park.

After my lunch date with the men of A.R.T.T.E, I fixed my hair, changed my shoes and headed into town to meet my friend-who-became-slightly-more-than-a-friend three weeks ago after a few too many glasses of red wine at the Fringe Festival Bar in Northern Liberties.

Was it a drunken hook up?  Of course not.  He came to my show afterward, and I’d been thinking about hooking up with him for the better part of the summer (granted, I was always a drink or two in when such thoughts occurred to me, but surely the consistency of such thoughts is more important than the cause?)

Nonetheless, I knew there was a lot riding on Thursday night’s dinner so I chugged a cup of coffee before heading out and resolved to pay very good attention to everything he said or didn’t say and, at the advice of Zak, everything I felt or didn’t feel.

(God forbid we simply discuss our thoughts on our relationship or lack thereof; that would be entirely too simple.)


He offers to meet me in my neck of the woods so we can walk to the restaurant together. (Total boyfriend move.)

He does not kiss me hello.  (Hmmm… back into the Friend Zone?)

He breaks our usual pattern of going Dutch and puts the entire three-digit meal on his credit card.  (Boyfriend?)

He doesn’t bother to follow me when I decide to check out the courtyard down the hall from the restaurant.  (Friend…)

He offers to drive me home, opens the door and closes it after me once I’m tucked safely into the front seat of his car.  (Boyfriend… or friend.  Really, it could go either way as he’s always driven me home and has always opened doors for me.)

He walks me to the front door.  (Boyfriend.)

He declines my invitation to “come in for a minute” despite my having previously alerted him to the fact that my parents were out of town for the evening.  (Friend.)

At this point, I begin to think that maybe he’s just tired.  I mean, there have been plenty of times when I’d rather go home and go to bed than go home with someone…

But those times aren’t usually three weeks into a relationship.

At last I muster the courage to suggest we have “little chat.”

He agrees.  Immediately.  As though he’s been thinking the very same thing all evening.

He goes first and even though I like to think everyone I’m dating is madly in love with me, it becomes clear to me that he is not; I find myself simultaneously relieved and disappointed.  Also, he hates my blog.  He’s always hated it and this whole three-guys-at-once-thing is so not his cup of tea.

I go next.  I tell him that our friendship is really important to me and I don’t want to gamble it on a relationship that may or may not work out, especially as there’s “something” between us but it’s “just not enough” (his words, not mine, but it did, after all, take me an entire year, a co-producing meltdown and almost an entire bottle of wine to finally kiss him).

So we’re good—I think?

But now I’m curious.  Is it really possible for two people to go back to being “just friends” once they’ve been something more?

14 Responses to “Friends With(out?) Benefits”

  1. Zak

    Yes, I think it is, if both people are adults, neither is secretly pining for the other, etc.

    Oh, and as for the courtyard move above… in the future, just because a guy doesn’t follow you, don’t interpret as him not being interested. Instead, it may have been he (or some future date) didn’t want to follow and seem like they’re “stuck” to you. Sometimes I purposefully don’t follow my date to make sure they know I don’t have to be one step behind them at all times. Weird, right? Or does that make sense?

  2. sarahnsh

    I don’t know, I’ve always had a rough time going back to friends, but I think every person is different. Some people have an easier time dealing with the change, with me I’ve basically sworn off every guy who has had ‘more’ of me and stopped contact with them. But, of course, that’s just me.

    • Zak

      Do you mean “more” like slept together, because, yeah, that probably is hard to do. I’m trying it for the first time and it’s weird for sure. Kissing, though, I’ve had plenty of friends after that.

      Just curious.

      • sarahnsh

        Well, I actually haven’t dated many people but those I have dated have been more than just simple kissing. So, yeah, definitely weird and I kind of can’t do the whole friendship thing. I know for certain people they can be friends with that person, whether it’s just kissing, more, whatever it may be. Me, it just doesn’t work though, I’ve tried to make it work, and then failed miserably.

  3. Jenny Rebecca Winters

    I think maybe it takes time, and years. When I was 26 and ditched or was ditched, I never wanted to be friends with the guy again or vice versa. But I was looking through my old photo albums (saved from Hurricane Irene) and I was pointing out people to my husband–“hey, he’s a Facebook friend–so is he”–etc. You really never know. Of course when I was 26 we barely had computers and walked to school uphill both ways in the snow, so Facebook and the internet are still kinda novelties to my generation. 🙂

  4. Philly Tap Teaser

    I think it’s impossible to be friends after dating someone. I think it’s even harder for guys. This post reminded me of an epic debate Dale and I have had for the past 10 years that men and women can’t ever be friends, because men usually have an ulterior motive for agreeing to be friends with women in the first place. (That’s Dale’s side). As in, men can stomach friend activities if they believe one day (no matter how far off it might be) that friend activities will lead to sex. I don’t agree; I have a really good male work friend who is really JUST my friend. Although Dale trusts me to the nth degree, he’s always a teensy bit suspicious of our friendship. As in, he doesn’t trust my male friend.

    • Zak

      I’ll admit openly I’ve hoped plenty of times to change a friendship into a relationship. Sometimes a casual one, sometimes a serious one.

      As for the dating portion, I will say, as far as Kat described, a kiss isn’t serious enough (in my mind) to warrant losing a friendship, provided one or both people aren’t upset about not dating. If Kat and Date #6 are both truly okay, then they can keep a good friendship.

      I think once you’ve gotten serious with someone – crossed a “line” – then things are really hard to keep just friends. It takes effort. I saw a girl I was “dating” for the first time in a few months, twice in the last month, and it was hard to see her with another guy, understand my feelings for her and not confuse them with the real feelings I have for my girlfriend. But, we were able to be friendly, joke around and not mess around, which is the key to building a friendship (the desire to build the friendship, that is). If she or I wanted more, we would never be able to build that friendship, I think.

      I’ve rambled long enough. Time for bed!

      • Zak

        And, by virtue of my own writing, I may have happened upon a future blog post. Thanks Kat and Philly Tap Teaser, for dragging it out!

  5. Brazilian

    Yes, one can be friends with a past girl-friend (in my case there was no sleeping with her). At the time, the girl I was interested in (now, my wife) was not interested in me and introduced me to her girl friend whom I took to a restaurant and dated a few times. We did kiss, but no more than that. A few weeks later, the girl of my dreams asked me out and I broke up with the girl she had introduced me. Now, I’m happily married to the girl I fell in love with over 30 years ago and still friend with the girl she introduced to me. We are good friends, in fact she was a bridesmaid at our wedding and we went to her wedding.
    Yes, it is possible (at least, if sex is not involved).

  6. Lost in France

    from my recent experince the road from friend to ‘more than friends’ is a one way road.


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