About five years ago I met up with a friend and we started hanging out. We started out as friends with benefits because I didn't see him as the type of guy I would settle down with. He always expressed an interest, but I turned him down. We have continued together over the years, and I now realise that I want an actual relationship with him. After being around for a while, I realise that he is actually a nice guy and someone I could actually be with. However, I recently expressed my feelings to him and he basically said he is not able to offer a relationship at this time. He said he is only able to offer companionship/ friends with benefits. The thing that is confusing is that he still does stuff for me and communicates with me regularly. He said the longer I stay, the more I will get hurt. I plan to move on but I am just having a hard time doing that. The fact is, I can't sit around and wait for him, but a part of me still wants more than he is offering.
How can I move on from this situation?
Ok, you fell for your friend and you'd like to make this "utility-friendship" a romantic relationship. But your friend is not minded to go there now, and you're disappointed. Understood. It has been said, "Let no experience be wasted". Let this saying ring true for you. Gain something from this experience. There's always something to learn from a situation — the good, bad and ugly. If you can learn from this experience you won't have wasted time, energy and resources.
Here's a take-away lesson: "Friends with benefits" (ie, two friends that agree to have sex to meet each other's needs), it doesn't work out well. The inevitable has happened to you — somebody always "catches feelings", contrary to the plan. First it was him, and now it's you. Understand that when sex happens a bonding actually happens — believe it or not. That's why "open marriages" won't work either. In Christian circles, we recognise this bonding as a "soul tie" (based on references such as 1 Corinthians 6:16).
My counsel for you:
Make emotional space: You have played this "with-benefits" game for a while now, give it up. You've tied yourself up for too long. Keep in mind what you really want out of life and be determined to go after that. If he's not offering what you're after then move on. Make some emotional space for "Mr Right". Free your heart and make space to fall in love with someone new. Yes, the longer you take to do that, the worse the situation becomes.
Make physical space: You'll need to shut off your friend's access to you and your body. The present arrangement isn't healthy or prudent. Save yourself for someone looking to commit to you. Also, shut off access to your place and assets. Chances are, a long-standing arrangement like this has both of you having certain privileged access that should belong to a spouse. This can complicate things when Mr Right comes along. If your friend isn't committing, then take away things like your house keys and any other privileged items.
Make spiritual space: Yes, you do deserve to be stable and happy, and the confusion won't help. Make a decision to "keep yourself" and focus on what you really want from life, which seems to be a healthy committed marital relationship. Let the "soul-ties" wait until you find someone to tie the knot with. As Prov. 18:22 indicates, there's a spiritual blessing to be gained from a committed marital relationship. You're right to pursue that.
I pray that you both gain the clarity needed to move forward towards lasting happiness, whether together or apart. You can always reach out to www.counsellorscouch.com for more assistance.
Get on The Counsellor's Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.