Dear Em & Lo: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

photo by galateadia

Dear Em & Lo,

I have been seeing this guy for a year and a half now, he is my best friend, we do everything together. I am in love with him. He refuses to commit or even give us the title of “boyfriend/girlfriend.” Which in turn makes me insecure, jealous, and basically unhappy with the whole “friend” title. I have tried to “break up” (which I technically can’t do cuz of our “friend” status) and still I just can’t let it go. I can’t go on in this limbo and he just won’t budge in the commitment department. I do not want to lose him as a friend but I need for myself to move on…Any suggestions?


Dear T,

You’ve already answered your own question: You need to move on. He’s been nothing but honest with you about the set-up of this relationship, and after 18 months it’s a safe bet he’s not going to change his mind about it. If you can’t be happy with this arrangement (and you obviously can’t), then cut your ties with him. It’s simple math. You will be happier with the result. It may not feel like it at first, but down the road you’ll wonder how you put up with so much less than you wanted. You might lose a friend, but you’ll gain self respect. (Btw, he might change his tune once you’re out of his life and he realizes what he’s missing, but you should not end the relationship simply in the hopes of this unlikely outcome — do it for yourself. And if he decides to become the “boyfriend” you’ve always wanted, then hey, bonus!)

Go on now, scoot!

Em & Lo


  1. I had this sort of situation. My best guy friend and I were sleeping together and spending almost every night together and everyone thought we were dating – but he wouldn’t commit to me. It was painful for me to deal with and it made me feel jealous and crazy. I (with the support of my friends and MANY tears) broke it off and didn’t speak to him for a month. It was really difficult and painful, but I learned a lot about myself in that month and started picking up hobbies that I had put on the back burner.

    He came and found me after that month was over and told me that he wanted to be with me, and only me, and he had taken me for granted and couldn’t live without me in his life. We’re still together.

    But you know what? If he hadn’t come to find me and make me his girlfriend, I would still be much happier than I was with the best-friends-with-benefits situation.

  2. I was in the same boat for 2 years. Cut your ties and go. You will be happier for it. Get on with your life.

  3. Totally agree with this advice. Unfortunately, you have to move on. There are many reasons why you have stayed so attached to this guy, a couple of which are loss avoidance and a high level of investment.

    You’ve put up with this guy for a long time now, waited for him to get his life together, etc. It makes sense why you wouldn’t want to make all of that time a waste by ending things with him. The truth is because of your high level of investment, you don’t want to forget it. But if you do move on, don’t let the time spent dealing with him go to waste.

    You learned not to make this mistake again!

  4. I was in pretty much this same situation. I finally told him I needed to be his girlfriend or I couldn’t see him at all anymore. Neither of us is happy about the situation, but I think we both know we can’t be just friends. We haven’t seen each other or spoken since the end of November and it still is horrible and hard and I think about him every day, but I know that in the long run it is the healthiest thing I can do. He wasn’t ready for a relationship and he was honest. What more can one ask for? Good luck.

  5. It is a bit sad, anathema. But wasting one’s youth underlaid or involuntarily celibate is far sadder. The comparisons to self-betterment and group therapy are valid – that’s how people use it to some degree.

    As for your typo, seduction companies do exist and they are sadder still. They take thousands from poor undersexed doofuses by promising unlimited bikini-model girlfriends. But I think that’s all kinds of paid therapy. At least the seduction community is free.

  6. Wow, the idea of a “seduction company” really seems a bit sad. Load of blokes sitting round saying, “I’m not having much luck, you? Really? What’s yer secret, then?”. Not that I’m not in favor of folks bettering themselves, but I wonder whether the “I can’t laid without you fellows’ help” might not be self-perpetuating. Though I suppose group therapy is successful for many, so who am I to question.

  7. I’ve just been wondering what his problem is here and I think it could be that he sees himself as a bit of a player.
    Yes you should move on to find a guy who is going to give you the respect you deserve.
    I think he doesn’t want to commit to the girlfriend and boyfriend scenario because that would take him off “the market” and he likes to be “available”.
    You carry on with your life and he will be the sad and lonely one in the end.
    Good luck sweetie.

  8. Um, hello. Unless there’s some rule in the universe that says we can have only one friend of the opposite sex at a time then…

    Maybe you could just start looking around for someone you can be romantic with. If this guy is your best friend he’ll understand. If he’s really your best friend he’ll even be a good sounding board.

    In fact, if he’s really your best friend he’s the first person you should talk to about it.

    And no, I don’t mean that as a ploy to make this guy jealous or to set a deadline or otherwise put his feet to the fire. Insead I mean stop treating him like the lover you wish he’d be and start treating him like the friend you say he is.

    I mean, why settle for one half-fish/half-fowl relationship when you could have one solid partner and one old, platonic friend?

    Or am I missing something?


    p.s. But seriously, “cut him out of your life completely” either overburdens relationships or else trivializes friendship.

  9. Years ago the seduction community proposed a type of emotional inflammatory disorder known as “oneitis”, which can be defined as irrational romantic fixation on one particular person.

    Seduction community types will usually agree that if you’ve got something healthy, mutual, and all-around good, go ahead and call it love. But if what you’ve got is one-sided, painful, distracting, or otherwise not-so-good for you… it isn’t love. It’s oneitis. You’re irrationally fixated.

    Oneitis has many causes, including but not limited to: low self-esteem on the part of the sufferer; “scarcity mentality”, or the mistaken belief that desirable partners are unattainable or few in number; a need for security; socially conditioned notions that there’s supposed to be a “The One” for you; etc.

    The seduction community’s answer to this is, “go fuck ten other women”. Some men take this literally, and do so. Some just take it as a hypothetical: IF you had the skills to get with 10 equally beautiful/intelligent/artistic/otherwise stimulating partners, would THIS ONE PERSON, who doesn’t like you back/mistreats you/understimulates you, REALLY seem so special anymore?

    Over the years most women who address the topic of oneitis have replied, “but I don’t wanna go fuck ten other men!” So apparently it doesn’t work the other way around. But you can still take it as a hypothetical: would this guy REALLY seem so special if there were loads of other interesting/hot guys lined up out there for you?

    Well, there are. It’s a long line, spread thin, and you don’t always know who’s on line or just hanging around. So you have to sort them out.

    I don’t know what you’re like, and this looks different for everyone, but the general idea is: put yourself out there in the most positive way possible, meet guys in places/doing things that you like, be flirty and feminine (drop angry feminism as an excuse for not doing this, if necessary), and they will line up. Then you’ll get to pick who you want to be in a relationship with. And you’ll soon wonder why you were so hung up on Mr. I’m-Too-Cool-for-a-Girlfriend.

  10. I have literally been in this situation for 7 years…well not the whole seven years but 3 of those years. It’s been this on and off again relationship. My friends call him “Mr. Big.” I’m afraid to let go as well. He was my first…and while there have been others. I’ll always seem to go back to him. We basically grew up together and the sexual attraction is high but that’s almost it. We care for each other are friends and close but he doesn’t want to be my “boyfriend” and commit. Now I’m moving to be near him (among other life reasons)and now I don’t care. I want to move on. I see myself with someone better for me –not so toxic and not killing my self worth.I agree you should move on too. If it’s meant to be it will be. If not you are living for yourself just as I finally plan to do.

  11. I agree, you need to move on. The only way to do that is to completely cut him out of your life for good (or at least a long time until you can handle JUST being friends). It’s going to hurt like hell at first, but you’ll probably realize you’re stronger than you thought and you’ll be better off. Good luck.

  12. Yes, great answers! Time to cut your losses and move on, before you get even more attached. Guys will commit when they want to, and he obviously doesn’t want to. Also, you can’t go back to being “friends” with someone you’ve had such strong feelings for, so I wouldn’t worry about the friendship aspect of this when making your decision.

  13. Ah I’ve been in this situation for about 6 weeks. There are a lot of extenuating circumstances but I can say it sucks to not be able to say you’re the girlfriend.

    I’ve heard the getting back self respect bit from a lot of people and I agree with Em and Lo. Good luck with it.

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