Rappler’s Life and Style section features an advice column from couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr. Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy holds an LLM from Oxford University. A 37-year-old banker who has worked on three continents, he has been training with Dr. Holmes for 10 years as a co-lecturer and occasionally as a co-therapist, particularly with clients whose financial concerns interfere with their daily.
Together they wrote two books: Love triangles: understanding the macho-master mentality and Imported love: Filipino-foreign liaisons.
Dear Doc Margie and Mr. Baer:
I hope everything is okay. This is the third letter I’ve written about my friend (with benefits). (Read part 1 here and part 2 here.)
I recently received a chat message from him. He said we could always schedule a meeting if I still wanted. I wonder why he contacted me all of a sudden?
When I stop contacting him, he hints that he is interested in me again.
I still want him but I know he just wants a purely physical thing. What’s difficult is that I crave his time and attention.
We haven’t seen each other yet. I didn’t reply to his message because I want to be careful this time, Doc.
Thank you for answering. Stay safe and dry!
It seems that the situation is unchanged: Joe wants a relationship strictly FWB at the pace of his choice; you want more but you can’t make him change his mind.
It would be nice if he was willing to sit down and discuss how the two of you can compromise, given your different goals, and even agree to an FWB deal that both of you are happy with. In this way, the uncertainties would be removed and your anxieties would diminish or even disappear. However, Joe seems more interested in unilaterally dictating the terms of your relationship and having a FB available whenever he wants.
Such is life when one partner is more enthusiastic than the other. The less enthusiastic has the upper hand and the chances of changing their minds are slim to non-existent. Unless you’re willing to tolerate the status quo indefinitely, you either lower your expectations and adopt Joe’s nonchalant demeanor in casual get-togethers on his own terms, or call it a day and seek out a new partner who’s more on your wavelength.
The world has a lot to offer, via Bumble or other means, and chances are you’ll succeed and end up with a happier outcome than you did with Joe.
Thank you very much for your letter.
Since Mr. Baer has given what I think is an accurate analysis of your current situation, I hope you don’t mind my focusing on something else, which I think is just as important as whether or not to contact him. .
However, before I do, please allow me to say something that is not allowed in therapy but is certainly welcome in advice columns: a clear directive. It is best that you do not contact Joe again. You obviously want different things and even if you convince yourself that you can live up to his expectations, I doubt your relationship will work out. Your disappointment in him, among other things, will prevent him from blossoming into what could have been his full potential.
Mr. Baer shared several reasons why Joe is not the guy for you. I hope you don’t mind if I share several reasons why you might not be the right girl for him. I also hope you know that this is in no way a criticism. We cannot be everything to everyone. Hells bells, we can’t be everything to one person. But it’s a good idea not to hire someone who can’t or won’t provide what we need.
For example: Joe. It was clear from the start that what he wanted was an unattached relationship. Even his last message to you, that you can always schedule a meeting if you still want to, makes that very clear. Two words stand out in particular: still and you.
As in: you can “still meet” despite everything that has happened: he cancels several appointments, he does not contact each other, etc. In other words, you know what you’re getting into, and if despite all of that you still see it, you have no legitimate reason to complain if it behaves the way it always has. You have been duly warned.
He ends his message with the phrase “if You, not anyone else, not even him. The responsibility is on you. If YOU want it, not anyone else. If you WANT it, of your own free will, without coercion, not even seduction.
Joe didn’t lead you down the garden path. You know where it is. “You want it? Alright, let’s go. You don’t want it? That’s fine too.
You also know how important you are to him in this relationship: practically none.
There’s no shame in not being important in someone’s life, Bella. The only difficulty is if you continue to stay in such a relationship when you clearly want another one.
A positive thing for Joe: his communication skills are excellent.
However, your communication skills won’t be as great if you keep seeing him. By doing so, you’re sending her the message that yes, you’re okay with a relationship where only sex, and not necessarily a relationship, is involved… which is clearly not what you want.
Hopefully this will encourage you not to see him again, leaving you with more time, energy and optimism to look for other options when using your dating app.
All my wishes,
Please send comments, questions or requests for advice to [email protected]