DINK does not need this poor communicator in his life as a lover and close friend. Not entirely because of his former partner's gaucheness and poor communication, but more because the friend's at a time in his life when he's sleeping round, and DINK really wants something monogamous, monogamish or at least clearly signposted and upheld.


DINK, this is a write-off. You didn't do anything wrong, and whatever drug use your ex is hiding won't stay hidden forever.


Well, it is certainly possible that DINK miscommunicated his interests and the ex-bf heard him in the way that Dan has interpreted, but it's equally possible that the ex didn't communicate his intentions clearly. Then again, maybe these two just have styles that clash; DINK says they broke up because of "communication difficulties."

Still, if you ask someone if they want you to kiss them and the most positive thing you get in response is "you can do it," with no correspondingly affirmative body language or action, it's best to assume they don't really want to kiss you.

It was painful just reading this scene:
"I can’t tell what he wants, so I ask: “Do you want me to kiss you or not?” He says: “Well, you want to kiss me.” I say: “I know what I want. What I want to know is what you want, because I don’t want to break any barriers with you.” He then gets visibly upset and then says: “I’m not a broken person!”

I say: “I never said you were!”

He says: “You can do it.”

I hesitated... because... well, he's still upset and I didn’t expect him to get pissed.

I say: “Are you sure?”

He repeats: “You can do it.” "

This would have started my hamster up into a sprint on the wheel in my head--it's mixed signals times 3! It is a recipe for crazy-making. DINK, you broke up because you two couldn't communicate; the communication hasn't improved since. Save your moves for someone else, someone whose signals you can read clearly, and who understands you.


DINK, I think Dan may have been too hard on you. You obviously still care about this person, in fact you seem to sort of adore him — and so the way I'm reading your letter is: you aren't over him, you have a lot of feelings for him, and you're confusing your feelings for his (you can't entirely be blamed for that confusion, frankly, given that when you ask him if he wants something, he responds by telling you that you want it). You have every right to be frustrated by his failure to be clear about what he wants, but you experience that frustration as worry about him. And all that time you spend worrying about him makes you feel close to him. (Worrying about him makes you feel good. Worrying about yourself would not make you feel good.) He doesn't give you clear boundaries (he spends dinner with you telling you about other guys he's fucking!) — and you're constantly responding to this awkwardness, his awkwardness, by trying to be really tuned in to his feelings, by trying to give him room to DO or SAY something helpful or clear — and the fact that he can't seem to do that makes you worry about him more.

This isn't good for you or your feelings. He can't tell you what he wants, he's not going to tell you what he wants, he keeps trying to make it sound like it's you who wants it... he's a mess. And maybe that's one of the things you find adorable about him (it's easy to be attracted to a mess that's screaming "fix me!" in so many ways, even as the mess has no intention of being fixed). You're trying to do right by him — but the reverse ain't the case, and therefore, it's time for you to see that stepping away for a while ( a substantial while, like 6 months to a year) is going to be better for you and for him than letting this slowly simmer until you're really genuinely (and probably justifiably) angry at him for the way he treats you. (All the reasons you and he broke up in the first place? That's all still going on.)

There's other adorable, messy fish in the sea. And some of them can tell you what they want. Go find 'em.


He then gets visibly upset and then says: “I’m not a broken person!”

This strikes me as a huge red flag. Ex, who is still really young at 23, has some issues he needs to work though.


I believe it is time for America to become a pants free nation.


A relationship is a lot like a soufflé - once it's ruined, it's ruined. Continued pantless TV watching with this particular guy will only disappoint you both. Scrape those feelings into the bin, stop calling the ex, and find someone who, when you are watching TV together with no pants on, makes it impossible for you to watch the TV.



The "I'm not a broken person" blurt out by the ex is an indication to me that Dan may be on the right track that this guy was interpreting everything much differently than the LW. Either way, that was a painful scene. The only thing missing was a heart-wrenching version of "Send in the Clowns" over-playing the whole thing....


This whole situation sounds like a mess. If the LW feels like they are good friends or could be good friends, keep that going. But move on to some other fuckbuddies or boyfriends. This situation as it stands doesn't sounds good. Neither seems to have an ability to clearly communicate so move on to someone with whom you can better communicate (expressing your own needs but also understanding the needs of your partner).


Boy, I just can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone over to a friend’s house and we both took off our pants! I’m glad to hear that this seems to be an everyday occurrence for other people too! Actually, I’m thinking of giving up pants altogether...


I'm not so sure the guy was thinking "he said just be friends" given the whole humid = pantsless move.

I am sure this dude doesn't sound in great working order to be a fuckbuddy, what with the need to communicate and decide when / whether / how you mutually want to fuck / goatmilk / whatever.

Give up on sex here, you can get sex without the passivity and implosions. As far as maintaining friendship, that's sure not a one-step move from here; fade out for six months and then consider.


As a dumb 20-something who was VERY uncomfortable with getting anyone angry or making them not like me, I'd never say no but would try to be profoundly unenthusiastic to their suggestions/desires in the hopes that they would take the hint or just lose interest and leave. ( "Don't go away mad, just go away." )

Sadly, I recognize a lot of myself in LW's tale of his ex. I think DINK tried really hard to say what he wanted and give his ex an opportunity to say no directly but ex wasn't willing or able to for whatever reasons. It's tough behavior to unlearn.

Anyway, DINK should just gently close the door on this relationship. There are plenty of people who can consent or decline decisively but ex isn't one of 'em yet.


I agree with the majority of the commentors above. This ex- sounds like a young, emotionally out-of-tune disaster. Move on, DINK.
Also, I think Dan missed the mark a titch, re: criticism of the opacity of your ask. While you could have just said, "Wanna fuck still?" it's understandable that you were trying to give this guy some space and not pressure him. Where you, I think, screwed up was that he's 22. It's not the age difference per se. You are just expecting a bit much from a 22 y.o. in terms of emotional intelligence. He's 22; he's basically a fern, EQ-wise. He's totally uncomfortable expressing what he wants or doesn't want. And that alone should tell you: Don't be with him. Someone who even slightly projects the responsibility ("Well you want to") for sexual activity (also, he clearly didn't want to, for future reference, despite his words) onto someone else isn't ready to be in a sexual relationship. And god knows I've known my share of skullcases like that; the Rorschach print of immaturity looks really sexy when you want to fuck it. But really it's just a nightmare and you sound like a well-meaning person who could get all twisted up in the shapelessness of a 22 y.o.s nonexistent psyche. Move on. Lots of twinks in the sea.


Don’t people put a fan or AC on when it’s humid anymore? Novel approach taking pants off.
LW, whatever this man was maybe communicating to you, that he chose to go get hysterical about nothing means he has issues. Sounds like it would be best, for your mental health, to finally close this man down as a love interest.


DINK says, “I still have unresolved feelings for you, though I’m working through them. If you’d like to do something outside of friendship, we can talk about it some time. I’m also very happy with us remaining friends.”

I interpret this statement as “I’m still in love with you, and while I’m ‘happy’ to be friends, if you are open to dating again, I would like to discuss that with you.”

If I heard that from someone I was not interested in dating, I would not want to have casual sex with them, as I would think having sex would be making a commitment that I did not want to honor.

DINK might have been able to turn things around if he had simply asked his friend, “do you want to have sex,” after their pants came off. But in the end, there are a lot of people who want to their partners to follow nonverbal cues their partners are supposed to interpret.


I read this as "confused older predator trying to take advantage of the confusion and immaturity of much younger person."


I think they are both confused MV@16.
‘He took his pants off, so I did too.’ Jesus. Gay men seem a different breed to me. A man taking his pants off around a woman usually says one thing, and it’s naught to do with the humidity.


He's 22, he's got no pants on, and LW can't tell if he's interested in having sex?? As a formerly-22-year-old male, I find that hard to believe.

And I thought only straight high school kids acted like this. I'm as flummoxed as you are, LavaGirl.


This is why you don't date 22-year-olds.

DINK, I'd like to introduce you to the concept of "hell yes or no." You did not get a "hell yes" from your young friend. You got nothing stronger than ambivalence. That means he does not want to hurt your feelings but he does not want to be physical with you either. The kiss told you, nonverbally, all you need to know. Go find someone over 27 who knows how to communicate.


Re the pants situation. It's possible that DINK's ex is on the spectrum. That would explain both his difficulties in communicating (though it wouldn't explain DINK's) and his lack of grasp of the concept of modesty. I think Dan's interpretation of what Ex heard is correct -- we all have a propensity to hear what we want to hear. So Ex heard, "I still have feelings for you but I won't act on them. The ball is in your court if you want to resume a physical relationship." So he thinks he's safe with this guy. Then he's invited the guy over and got comfortable, and DINK, despite his earlier words saying he's going to leave it, starts making moves on him. The guy is in his own house; he can't leave; who knows if there's anything in his history that would make him feel that saying firm "no" would lead to worse consequences. So he gives the hint nonverbally through a tepid kiss, which gets the message across.

Also, Lava @17/Slomo @18, here is a story about two non-straight women in their 40s who are platonic friends. One is visiting the other. It is hot and she has no aircon so she is going around her own home in a bra and panties. A MATCHING bra and panties, which is only something the other woman (me, in case that wasn't clear) would ever wear if she were trying to seduce someone. On top of that are frequent double entendres. Is this gorgeous woman trying to send the other one signals? After several excruciating days the woman decides yes, and makes a move. Bra and Panties Woman is taken aback. Some people just have no concept of modesty and don't realise the effect this may have on their companions!


@4. Bouncing. The LW has two desires which he confuses--first, to 'fix' his ex in the context of a principal or exclusive romantic relationship (something he's decided against consciously as a bad idea), and second, to have an intimate fuckbuddy relationship with his ex, in which he fondly hopes he'll get the good things from their relationship without having to deal with the bad. Maybe he has to decide what he wants ... and then bid farewell to both possibilities? His ex is getting happier, easier sex with other people. Whatever 'he violated my trust' means, it would likely happen again if a sexual relationship was rekindled.


@16. Sublime. '...though I'm working through them': in context, I would have taken this to mean roughly how Dan interpreted them, 'though rationally I don't think I should have those feelings; I should get over them, I should get over you'. The words are very different from e.g. 'I still have unresolved feelings, though I suppose I'll have to get over them now', which probably is an overture: 'I'm ready to start again if you are'.


@22/Harriet: “I should get over you,” by default means “I have not gotten over you.” And most people still in love with someone aren’t acting entirely rationally.


MartyVega @16: I wouldn't call him a predator, just selfish and prone to think with his dick. His ex is young, confused, and dealing with a host of issues, and LW doesn't really want to put the emotional effort into being into a relationship with him (a fair decision) but still wants to fuck him when convenient. It's a bad idea and probably not the best situation for the ex (considering the emotional and communication issues) but not harmful to the point where wanting it makes LW predatory.


The best place for a sweaty naked ass on a humid evening is for sure the upholstery
assuming you aren't in the mood to sit on the kitchen counters, of course


Sublime @23: Exactly right. I hope this young man will recognise a red flag when he next sees it, and not invite anyone over to hang out partly unclothed if there are "unresolved feelings" in the mix.

Commie @25: Pants. They took off their pants, not their underpants. Lounging in boxers on a hot night seems rational enough to me.


How do you know they were wearing underpants, Fan?


Per the letter Fan ” well, you’ve seen me naked before.”


@28 You can extend that thought to, "Well, you've seen me naked before, so underwear isn't a big deal," which is how I interpreted it.


"We spent the whole night giving each other extremely mixed signals, and for some reason, neither of us got what we wanted, and it was extremely awkward."

You don't say...


Ms Fan - That was revelatory. It's not always possible, but I tend to feel better put together when my underpants match something - not that anyone ever sees them any more.


L-dub, repeat after me, 'Do you want to fuck?' Only take 'yes' or 'no' as an answer.


Ive spent most of my life in hot humid weather. Most people do in fact keep their houses cold centrally air conditioned boxes so it doesn't matter what you wear, but not all of us. Plenty of people have window units- and they usually don't get the place cool enough when it's really hot and humid- and some people just can't afford to keep it so cool. And some people, if you spend a lot of times outdoors, just can't move in and out between the extremes so easily so you tend not to cool your house to what people indoors all day will prefer.

I'm saying all that to explain that it's perfectly normal to go home with a buddy and take off your pants AND THEN PUT ON SHORTS. I have never known anyone to invite me over to their house and then take off their pants and sit about in their undies though you'd do this in your own home around your own partner. Would seem super awkward to do this in front of your EX, but then again everything about this situation is awkward so who the hell knows. If it was so hot and humid, they should've suggested sharing a cool shower. Stripped down to the birthday suits and hosed each other down in the backyard? Reached in the freezer for ice cubes and melted them on each other's hot bodies? It's a funny letter. I have nothing to say except I'd love to imagine that there's a whole world of men hanging out in their boxers together for no reason that I'm not aware of simply because I'm not a woman.


My read on what the ex- was thinking was different than Dan's but it doesn't really matter. DINK's behavior was weird pants off or not, the ex-made ot excruciatingly clear that he didn't want to kiss DINK and DINK did everything he could to make an awkward situation 10x worse. That shit's crazy.


EmmaLiz @33. There's a "not" in your last sentence that doesn't belong there, right? If not, I'm confused.

Not being a grammar Nazi (today), just want to be sure I understand.


Donny @10, Didn't Bill the cat (your image) lead some sort of movement for the abolition of pants? Even if he didn't, he never wore any. You should start the movement. Ack thbbft!


lol dcp The not is correct placed, but I meant to say "because I'm not a man".

Basically I'm pretending there is a secret world of men who keep each other cool on hot summer days and I'm excluded from because I'm not a man. But I like to peek around from behind the curtain from time to time. Venn would say my fantasies in this vein are problematic and he's right I'm sure. But what am I supposed to say when someone writes in with a letter with so much thick sexual tension - those arms touching, long stares- and of course their pants are discarded just do to the heat. Such as shame that in real life these situations are more awkward and unsatisfying. It feels like such a convenient plot point though, almost a trope. "We were hot so we took off our pants" seems like a new spin on the "I just happened to be standing in front of your house wearing a white t-shirt with no bra when it started raining could I come inside and dry off".


Speaking of hot humid weather, I'm hopping a plane to Delhi where the highs have been around 105 recently and it's extremely humid and I'm going to suggest that we put a hat rack next to the front door and everyone who enters the flat can just hang their pants there immediately. I'll let you know how it goes.


Am I the only one who read "You can do it" not as a begrudging "Oh very well, you can do it" but more as a cajoling "C'mon, you can do it, little buddy!"?


@23. Sublime. 'I know I should get over you--someone who (implicitly) I think is broken' is not a come-on. It wouldn't necessarily be heard as a come-on. Both the people in this story communicate poorly or are ambivalent about what they want. Still, there is no real harm done.


It's possible to me the ex is lounging round in his smalls in a sexualised but not-actually-inviting sex-way for old times' sake. His taking off his pants is not necessarily an invitation, and depending on their general demeanor could be the opposite of an invitation (a this-is-what-we-have-now, a still something but not dating or having passionate sex sort-of attitude, a statement of simple gay companionship). Yes, the signals are mixed; but they're not more mixed with the no-pants than with the 'I still have feelings but I'm trying to get over them' pronouncement.


I want to come down hard on the letter writer for not just saying what he wanted but I recently wanted to have sex with my ex so I lied and texted him that I had a sex dream about him. We were having sex two hours later. We would have still had sex if I just came out and said I wanted to have sex but my ego made me couch it as a desire of my id.

People are fucked up.


I'm a 50-something gay man who isn't interested in a BF situation, but maintains a good number of FWBs. I find that a very high percentage of men struggle with even the most basic communication skills, and also tend to send severely mixed signals.
LW told ex "I'm struggling with my feelings for you". That's not someone you invite back to your place after dinner, much less take your pants off. Well, unless you plan to get naked and do the deed.
People need to use their words. My words would have started being sexual the minute ex took off pants. But if I had real unresolved feelings I wouldn't have gone back to his place before knowing we were gonna bang. Otherwise it's just a disappointment.


EmmaLiz, @37 As long as you meant "because I'm not a man" or "am I woman" your comment makes perfect sense to me. I guess I blew my opportunity to pretend this is something guys routinely do while hanging out. I did have a roommate who would lounge around with his hand down his pants, not doing anything there but keeping his hand there. I said he was checking to make sure it was still there, but once the other roommate and I tried imitating him we realized that it really is a very comfortable way to sit. So, we'd lounge around with our fingers lightly resting on (or at least very near) our cocks for really no apparent reason.

This story is actually true. Although we may not have spent a huge amount of time like that, we did come to accept it as an acceptable non-sexual thing to do in each other's presence. I hope that's close enough to the secret society you were imagining to give you some amusement.

@38, In Seinfeld, I think they were taking off their pants to avoid wrinkling them by wearing them while sitting, which was totally a sensible thing to do, if you ask me. There may even have been a coat rack involved.


My life experience has been that when someone says "I'm not going to put the moves on you" (either explicitly or implicitly) in a situation which would normally be considered sexual - sleeping in the same bed, taking off pants.... they are probably going to put the moves on you.

So, even if you think you have their assurance that nothing is going to happen, don't get undressed, don't get into that bed, unless you are OK with something happening, even if that "something" is only leg pressure, "can I kiss you" , whatever, and willing to deal with it.

Both these men are terribly at using their words and also terrible at non verbal signals. They will either have to get better at it, or get used to awkward and maybe unpleasant encounters.


There's a lot of long-distance mind reading going on here - and the wide variety of results show why mind reading is just a guessing game, with no way to verify if what you think is going on is real.

The best way to deal with this kind of behavior is not to guess what he's thinking, but to just respond to what he says and does. If it's not clear what he wants (if his words, tone of voice and behavior are not all "yes" or all "no"), then that's "no" for now.

If you say "I want to be friends with benefits and fuck now and then. Not necessarily right now, but I wanted to bring it up. What do you think?" but you don't get a congruent, firm "yes" or "no" in words and tone and behavior, say "I don't want to play unless you're enthusiastic about it, I'm fine with remaining friends who don't fuck. I'll leave it up to you, if you decide that would be fun some day, let me know. I won't bring it up again" - and then leave it up to him, and don't bring it up again.


I guess the LW could also pull a RealDonaldTrump and just grab him by the dick and see what happens.


dcp@38~ There’s a long and storied tradition of cartoon animals wearing shirts and no pants...Bill (and LW as well apparently) was just going for the “Full Pooh” look... or the “Full Donald” by which I mean Duck not Trump (although sadly, either would probably be accurate).


Honestly, the guy's "I'm not a broken person" freakout to the context of "I don't want to break your barriers" makes me think there's much bigger issues here that the LW is missing. I'd definitely back off this guy entirely for at least a couple of years until he's more likely to have his shit together (which so few people do before 25).


Lava @27: I think the odds that they BOTH go commando are pretty slim. I also think that if Ex got his dick out, LW would have said so. To paraphrase Theresa May, pants means pants, and in the US that's trousers.

Venn @31: I admit I don't really know what percentage of women look for matching bras and panties versus just grabbing the first clean ones out of the drawer. I know that most women would have an easier time actually finding matched sets; bras in my size are hard enough, let alone trying to find undies that match. I'm sure there is usually colour matching, for instance, to the shirt that's going over the bra, but that certainly wasn't a factor in this case ;)
Women of the board, what say you?

Good luck in the extreme heat, Emma @38!

Hex @39: You and DINK, it seems.


True cockyballsup, another man giving discordant signals. Only time that happened, made sure before, we were meaning the same thing.


Though the difference here is these two had been lovers, much more charged situation. It’s not just this letter, it’s all the letters from gay men.
They do not present the same sorts of problems as heterosexuals do. It intrigues me, because gay male culture is so different to what I know. Peeking in the door going, really?


Good comment @52, cbu. This LW does need to guard his heart, and his friend is a mess in terms of communication. Takes his pants off, then says kiss me if you want. Petulant child behaviour.


Regarding matching underwear ... I'm a woman, have never owned matching bra and panties except when they both happened to be plain white - I've never bought them as a set.


“You can't control your feelings. You can only control your actions.”S*x is one of the most intimate acts a person can share with someone else. Once that line is crossed it will USUALLY change things between you.#fwbdr #fwbdating #nostringsattacheddating #casualhookup

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