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Friendship vs. Fire

There's a blurry line between friend and girlfriend after the fire goes out in the relationship; one reader—with the help of the 4-way panel—tries to decide if fireless relationship is maybe just a friendship.
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Dear 4-Way,

I’ve been dating someone for about four months. She’s really nice and I’ve never felt this comfortable around anyone before. We also have great sex. The problem is that I don’t feel that “thing” for her—there’s no fire or passion; my heart doesn’t skip a beat when she walks into the room. While I think she’s a really nice woman—she’s treated me better than anyone I’ve ever dated—I’m confused about whether to stay with her or not since I don’t have those feelings. I know that passion and fire fade into friendship eventually, but shouldn’t you at least have that in the beginning? I feel like a bitch for even considering breaking up with such a great girl.—Confused, New Orleans, Louisiana

The gay woman’s perspective: Jody Fischer

I hear you LOUD and CLEAR on this one! And here’s what I’ve learned about all that heart skipping a beat jazz: it usually leads to Trouble. (Note the capital T.) When your heart’s skipping beats and your head’s in the clouds, it’s because you’re crushed out and lovesick, not in love.

How have your past fiery, passionate relationships ended up? For me, this over-the-top fiery feeling is warning sign that I’m not seeing the real person.  So let’s go down the checklist for a quality, serious relationship: the person treats you well and respects you; the sex is usually hot; the person is nice, kind, and grounded and comfortable in her own skin; she likes your company and who you are; you have common values and you “get” one another; she’s actually physically and emotionally available; and she’s self- supportive and the timing is right. Add a little fairy dust in there and you could just have a great partner!

I’m assuming that you’re both women, since you said that you feel like a bitch as opposed to a bastard for considering a break-up. So I’ll add another item to the check list: you’re both comfortable with your orientation and how you share that with the world. If one is out and the other isn’t, that’s a major issue.  All that being said, I do think it is possible to have a bunch of check marks and feel the heat when she walks into a room, but for some that takes time; you grow to feel that way. For others, it seems to ignite instantaneously. You have a lot of good things going here, lady, so hold on loosely and don’t let go. See what develops.

The straight man’s perspective: Chris Kennedy

You say you have great sex but there’s no spark? Doesn’t make sense to me. Hmm. Okay, well, anyway, you’re looking for fire. As the saying goes, you play with fire and you can get burned. You probably know this because any fiery relationships you’ve had in the past flamed out. So now what do you want? You want to keep going down that fiery road or do you want to try something new?

It seems like you have that new opportunity now. Are you not satisfied with someone who treats you well and with whom you have great sex? If you’re looking for something more, then yes, get out and let this great girl keep her respect. If you’re considering breaking up with her and are complaining about the lack of passion now, I don’t see you getting any happier with the relationship until you decide that maybe some good things will come from a caring, kind partner. Perhaps you don’t really want someone who treats you well—you’d rather have someone you have that fire with. Someone who keeps you uncomfortable and on edge. ‘Tis a little masochistic. Dare I say you’re a bit of a relationship arsonist. Good luck with your decision. Just make sure to save your partner before you burn down this relationship.

The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown

Congratulations, Confused. It sounds like you’ve found yourself a fantastic new girl friend. And by girl friend, I mean a woman you can borrow earrings from and break down your weekend shenanigans with on Sunday mornings over coffee. Not girlfriend, a woman you want to see naked and consider dating long-term.  It appears as though you’ve landed in Guiltyville, a not-so-charming and not-so-out-of-the-way place you sometimes find yourself in when you’re dating someone who’s so incredibly nice and you really, really want to like her—oh why can’t you just like her? She Tivos Project Runway for you every week!—but you just can’t.

It sucks, but you’re not a bitch. It’s okay not to like people. That’s why we date; otherwise we’d all be married to the first person we ever went out with, and what a disaster that would be. Not liking this incredibly nice woman does not necessarily mean that any of the things your psychologically in-touch friends might be telling you are true: that you have baggage from the past; you’re afraid to commit; you have low self esteem and don’t feel as if you deserve a nice person; or that you weren’t held enough as a baby.  It may just be your good instincts telling you that she’s not the one. As a friend once told me when I was in your situation, just ‘cause it’s on sale doesn’t mean you have to buy it.  You’ve given yourself four months to explore this relationship. That seems like long enough to decide how you feel. Do yourself a favor and listen to your gut: stop over-thinking this and tell her goodbye so you can find someone that really does it for you. You’ll be doing her a favor too.

The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox

You have every right to feel the way you’re feeling. At some point, many of us have fallen into this same rut of dating someone simply for the sake of dating. For those of us who have experienced dating someone that we’re actually excited about dating, we know there’s a huge difference between the two. It sounds like you’re one of the latter, and I congratulate you on that.

There’s nothing wrong with telling the person you’re dating what you’re telling us. In fact, if you don’t, you’re robbing her of the experience she deserves in a mutual relationship. You know in your heart that it isn’t right. We all deserve to be absolutely 100 percent in love with someone and have that love returned to us no matter who we are. Sometimes we find love and lose it, only to replace or enhance it again with the next person we find. Know the difference in what you and/or she have versus what you deserve. If the feelings aren’t there with this person, your quest continues, and you should push on until you find that person you’re looking for.

 

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