Wayne and Wanda: When casual dating gets complicated

When do friends with benefits become buddies of burden? This week, Wayne and Wanda help readers whose liaisons have become a bit murky and hard to manage.

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

I met "Jake" on Tinder, and we spent an awesome weekend together -- just good, old-fashioned fun between two consensual adults. We planned to do it again. He works out of town for months at a time. After he left, I was in a real relationship for a while. That recently ended. Jake is supposed to be back in a couple of weeks and has been messaging me about how much fun he had the first time and how he can't wait to see me again. The problem is, I'm not sure I'm feeling it. It isn't Jake's fault. He's gorgeous, and he's got skills, if you know what I mean. The problem is that I miss my ex-boyfriend, and I just don't know if I'm up for a casual thing. But I feel like Jake and I had a bargain. I'm sure if I saw him, it would be fun. I don't know what to do. Help?

Wanda says:

Just as a friendly reminder to humanity, none of us are ever under any obligation to have sex with anyone -- not our spouse, our partner, the guy at the bar we just let buy us four rounds of Cosmos or the Tinder dude who's been there, done that.

If you aren't feeling it, don't force it. Jake sounds like a laid-back guy. Tell him the truth: that while you had fun with round one, life since took a turn and you're dealing with some issues. Trust me, the word "issues" will send him scrambling.

Wayne says:

Issues? Yeah, I'll holler at you later, girl …

Even more knee-jerk inducing: There's Tinder decorum? Nah, girl. There's a reason it's called a one-night stand, because after the sun rises and the participants make their respective walks of shame, all beds are off. Or all are off the beds. Or whatever.

Point is, just like you followed your lusting loins to a good ol' Tinder time with Jake, you can listen to your heart's cries for your ex. If Jake is as laid-back and skilled as you claim, Tinder will keep him plenty busy if you are no longer in his queue.

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

I've had an occasional, off-and-on thing with this guy for a while. I'm in my late 20s and it's the first time I've really tried having a "casual" relationship. Before him I was either in a relationship or single. The first couple of months were pretty fun and exciting. But time has passed, I've gotten to know him better, and I've gotten to like him quite a bit. So the other night, I suggested we take our relationship to the next level and try dating. He couldn't have put on his pants any faster and I've barely heard from him since. I don't get it. Clearly he likes me, so why the panic at the suggestion that we be more than lovers?

Wanda says:

Oh, faux pas, my dear girl. As long as things were just casual, this guy was all aboard, but you can't change the engine on the plane midflight or -- yep, crash and burn.

Now it will be nearly impossible to convince him you're fine with keeping things just casual because let's face it, you aren't. This is normal, even scientific. Most women, when they have sex, experience a release of oxytocin that makes them feel bonded to and trusting of their partner. The more sex, the more oxytocin, and the more likely you are to feel stirrings of romance.

At this point, you're best off keeping it classy and cutting things off. Text him a "thanks for the good times" and offer to buy him a beer next time you cross paths.

Wayne says:

You can save that goodbye text and that beer. In fact, pour that beer out on the curb for your dead hook-up homie 'cause this guy is gone.

But this wasn't a complete loss. You had some good sex during what could have been a dry stretch and you leave the situation with a learning moment -- you just aren't built for the casual sex scene. Your history leading up to your crack at casual and your heartburn after it flamed out make that clear.

So, moving forward, stick to what you know and what makes you happy -- dating, building a relationship and only sleeping with someone who will be seen in public with you.

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