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Is He Using Her For Emotional Support After His Breakup?

Hello! I became friends with a man I met while pet-sitting (he hired me to look after his cats) and we discovered we were highly compatible with a lot in common. We went on 3-4 what he called “dates”, he insisted on paying, but when it came time for any kind of intimacy, he told me he didn’t want to be in a relationship. No intimacy was had. I asked him if this was about me or relationships in general and he simply refuses to discuss further. It’s been 18 months and we still speak every day, still meet up from time to time (I’ve since moved 2 hours away) and he still insists on paying. He even took me to lunch with his mother and she definitely thought we were dating.

He’s told me that he and I are bonded but when I ask him what he means by that he clams up. Our online conversation can be very flirty and intimate and it’s not unusual for me to wake up to texts from him. We talk on the phone about once a week. He’s still not seeing anyone and neither am I (thanks Covid). He does have a friendship with an ex that seems important to him. She is married, has a child and lives in another country. Together they owned the cats he had when I originally met him. The cats were old and have since passed away. I’ve spoken to therapists and others about all this but haven’t yet been able to figure out how to feel about all this.

I’ve asked him if he’s simply not attracted to me, if he’s gay (he says no), what he thinks is missing...but this never gets resolved as he hates discussing it. I love your straight-to-the-point approach and if you have thoughts on this situation would love to hear them. Thank you.

I think this is a case of someone not presently capable of having a full-blown relationship but still craving companionship.

Story time...

A few years ago, I met a man online who had just moved to NYC after a break-up. We went out four times, he always insisted on paying, he did little things like wipe crumbs off my mouth and send me happy birthday texts. He even invited me to spend Christmas with him.

After the fourth date, I asked him if we were ever going to take things to the next level, meaning physical intimacy. He said no. That was all I needed to hear. He wanted to remain friends but that wasn't what I wanted. To be honest, I was a little annoyed, as I had met him on OKCupid, a dating site.

My sense was this man was trying to re-create the emotional intimacy he had with his girlfriend with me. People often incorrectly assume that men don't care about such a thing, but that's not true.

From that point after, I avoided anybody who selected "new friends" as well as short or long-term dating as their preferred relationship. I also nixed anybody who mentioned in their dating profile they were new in town. With such an admission, I believe people are advising potential matches they are on the site to meet people for companionship or sex, but not dating. Unless they self-identify as asexual, demisexual or other similar orientations, a dating app user needs to consider that they are on a platform intended for dating, not finding friends.

Which brings me to my next possible explanation: maybe he falls on the asexual spectrum. Those who do experience little to no sexual attraction to others. Asexuality is a valid sexual identity. Due to stigmas attached to these orientations, many who identify as "ace" or gray-sexual don't feel comfortable publicly identifying as such.

I would suggest leaving the subject of a romantic relationship alone for now. He clearly doesn't wish to discuss why he doesn't wish to be intimate with you. That's his right. It's also your right to disengage from the friendship to avoid further confusion.

He is under no obligation to explain himself. He set boundaries early on. Where I think he needs to course-correct is acknowledge that he's contributing to your confusion by making an effort to play such an active role in your life. If I had to guess, he's still in love with his ex and is leaning on you for emotional support

Ultimately, it's your decision whether to stay involved with this man or whether to cut the chord and find someone who is available.

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