“Help! How can I tell if a guy is just using me?”

Dear Sarah,

I’m really confused and unsure about what I’m doing with one of my good guy friends. We are both focused on college and work and don’t really have the time to have a full-on relationship—but we have been hooking up for awhile. In the past, I made it clear that I wanted to find myself and become an independent woman. I think that closed him off to me as a boyfriend. Now, I’ve caught up and have expressed to him that I do love him and want more. Although he said he didn’t feel the same way about me anymore since so much time had gone by, we agreed we would start fresh and be adult and go on some real dates instead of just fooling around.

Our clean slate started out well, but then we fell into the old habit of only hooking up when we get together. I’ve tried to invite him into my world with my friends and activities, but he says he’s too busy with school, work, and his own friends. He’s complained that I didn’t express my emotions to him before. I’m perplexed because now I’m being supportive and making an effort and sharing with him—yet it doesn’t seem to matter. He’ll make an effort to sleep with me, but doesn’t reciprocate in other ways, although he tells me he cares about me when we are together. Being intimate with him is important to me, but in public he just treats me like a “bro.” One night, he even asked me to speak to a girl he was attracted to for him because he didn’t want to come off as a creep to her.

I was totally taken aback and it made me think that maybe I’m jumping into this reboot too fast and he’s only in it for the sex. But I’m so confused—if he doesn’t love me why does he sleep with me and tell me he still cares?

—Mystified in California

Dear Mystified,

From what you describe, it doesn’t sound like you have much of a friendship with this guy, let alone a relationship. What you have is a collection of feelings, some troubling—and others warm and loving because of your shared history and the fact that you are so physically intimate with each other. But those emotions don’t add up to much if he won’t participate in your life nor include you in his.

It’s possible that he’s punishing you for rejecting him in the past, but you know what? He needs to get over it. You were honest and clear with him and your reasons were totally valid. Its great to want to be independent and figure out who you are as a young woman! And it’s also OK if your feelings evolve and you decide you want to pursue a deeper relationship. Now, he doesn’t have to go along with that if he’s too hurt or if his feelings have changed, but stringing you along by sweet talking you when you hook up is callous and self-serving. Maybe he was just being clueless, but asking you to approach another girl for him seems like a mean, DB move and you are right to be a little shocked.

I think its time to draw the line: he either wants to date you properly or not, but confining your relationship to the bedroom no longer works for you. If its the latter, luckily you aren’t in too deep, you have lots of other friends and diversions, and you will be just fine. Respect yourself, you deserve more and better.

Love, Sarah

Have an issue that could use a mom’s-eye-view? Our advice column features a real live mother of three who is ready to discuss any of your burning questions judgment—and baggage—free. Email [email protected] with the subject line “Dear Mom.” Please include your first name or nickname and where you are from. Questions may be edited for clarity and length.

Filed Under