Miss Information

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My friend-with-benefits is underdelivering on one key benefit.

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Dear Miss Information,

I'm a female college student. I recently spent six months studying abroad, and completely to my surprise, I fell in love in the process. We met the first weekend I was there, and after some time it got serious, and it was an amazing relationship.

Obviously, we had to discuss the question of where the relationship was headed once I went back to the USA. The bottom line is and was that the United States is my base and his country is his base, and we just had to be realistic. Neither of us felt we would be happy in a long-distance relationship, period, but especially not one that was headed nowhere. It was a completely two-sided, amicable decision. So, a month out of it, we're both happy with our decision. We're still good friends. We still talk regularly, and we acknowledge the fact that we still have feelings and that they'll just have to pass with time.

I still love him, and it hurts a lot. I'm not interested in dating anytime soon, and neither is he. But I'm happy that I had that relationship with him, and happy with my decision, and having a good time otherwise.

But here's the catch: all my peers are apparently romantic idiots who romanticize everything that has to do with relationships and would gladly abandon reality in pursuit of being in love. I am sick of the notion that "If you love someone, you will make it work." That may be true in some cases, but it belittles my situation. I love/loved this man just as much as any other person loves their boyfriend, but when people say that, they're implying that somehow I didn't really "love" this guy enough. And I'm watching my peers jump into long-distance relationships that aren't grounded in reality. (I'm not saying they're all bad, but when they're based on fantasy, it's hard to watch.)

Why am I not allowed to have been in love and to have also made the decision that would be the best for both of us? Why does that mean I loved him less? Why do I feel like I am the only one around in my situation? I just want my feelings acknowledged and to feel like I can relate to someone.

 Hot Mess

Dear Hot Mess,

Ah, yes: "If you love someone you will make it work," my old nemesis. (Apologies to my other nemesis, P.E. Rope Climb.) First things first: you already have most of the answers. It sounds like you've put a lot of thought into your relationship with the guy overseas, so on that score, call it a day and go get some Fro-Yo. But you're really asking for validation, so read on.

Let's revisit this "If you love someone…" idea and flip the interpretation — because "…you will make it work" is so vague you can shoehorn almost any meaning into it. What if "making it work" means "not being miserably tied to someone 7,000 miles away?" What if "making it work" means "enjoying your youth on your home soil?" What if it means "loving each other enough to support each other in your development as individuals, even without claims to a relationship?" All of those sound good to me.

The real angst in this letter isn't about the guy at all, though. You've got everything about your relationship straight in your head—so where is your defensive tone coming from? I understand the frustration of being surrounded by people who seem not to accept your decisions, but it's a little extreme to call them all idiots. By your admission, you're only a month into this new, amicable separation. Is it possible you're snapping at your peers because they're reminding you of what you can't have? Or that they're easy scapegoats when you're having a hard time adjusting back to life in the U.S. of A? I'm not saying the hollow advice isn't annoying, but I am saying don't burn bridges over it. How to stop the advice: smile politely, say, "That's a good point," and change the conversation. Eventually these comments will die down.

Stop fretting about your peers, their platitudes, and their dubious relationship choices. Focus instead on settling in to college, and regard any communication with your ex as a pleasant surprise. You made the healthiest choices for you; now put those beliefs into action.

Dear Miss Information,

I recently started hanging out with a guy who I met at my local coffeeshop. We mesh very well together and I really enjoy spending time with him. He kissed me, so I made it clear that I didn't want a relationship (I'm moving several thousand miles away in May, and at this point in my life I'm not looking for any commitment), but that I'd be happy to have a "beneficial" friendship if he was comfortable with it. I felt that I went about this in the nicest and most honest way possible. That's the background to this situation.

When we made it into the bedroom I was astonished. He went down on me and I came like seven (!) times. He was generous and conscious of my reactions. So, where's the problem? Well, I haven't been able to return the favor, because he hasn't gotten hard. He explained that it's just anxiety, and that he can get himself off pretty easily. I assured him that it was fine (why would I complain? I just got off like a billion times) and went on my merry way.

I wouldn't be writing if this was a one-time thing. I've been making out with this guy for a few weeks, but I have yet to see his erect cock. It's disheartening because I really, reaaaallly want to suck/fuck him. I know it's not his fault, and I want to be as supportive as possible. But how am I supposed to be his slam-piece if he can't slam me? I feel awful, because this has been all take and no give. What's the problem? How can I make him comfortable around me?

— Soft-Hearted

Dear Soft-Hearted, 

You deserve some kind of award, because you're the first person I've ever heard use the phrase "slam-piece," and I do this for a living. Is that just a thing that I've missed? Regardless, thanks for ensuring that I'll never again attend a poetry slam without giggling.

Any number of things could be contributing to your guy's nerves. He's clearly cultivated other talents, for which he should get a thunderous round of applause — but which also suggests this is something that's been going on long enough that he's learned to cope with it. You should certainly try to make him more comfortable, but know that the issue might have little to nothing to do with you. As a slam-piece (heh), you don't have quite the same pull that a long-term partner might. By this I mean, he may be antsy about casual sex on some level, or he may have something else going on that he doesn't want to bring up in a casual environment. Or maybe the color of your walls reminds him of the room where his grandmother always made him say the Rosary. Who knows! It's great that you're trying, and you certainly should. It's just that, within the confines of a casual relationship, he may not be willing to open up enough for you to figure out what's going on, and that's fine. 

Addressing the issue head-on any more may just make him feel increased performance anxiety. So take your emphasis away from "boner" and broaden it to "enjoyment." Do nice things for him that don't involve his dick — he's got a whole body, after all. He can still experience pleasure even if his penis doesn't reflect it. Nibble on his neck, pull his hair — whatever gets a reaction. Let him know you're open to requests, and don't register disappointment or confusion over his flacidity. Showing him that you derive joy from giving him joy — whether an erection happens or not — is the real key here.

He's figured out how to blow your mind without slamming you. You may have a different set of tools to work with, but by staying tuned in and getting creative, you can certainly give him a good time too.

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