Muri from Lisbon asks:
The guy that I had a friends with benefits relationship on and off with for about seven years has had a drastic behavior change. He was into smoking, drinking and illegal drugs (not to mention sleeping around and having aggressive verbal reactions). A year ago, he cut all communication with me, because I told him that I had substantial feelings for him, and he didn’t want me to suffer. In the meantime, he became a Sunday school teacher, leaving behind all those habits. Now, he has started speaking to me again. I’ve always thought of him as a good soul, but now he quotes the bible, takes more interest in my life as a whole, asks me my opinion about marriage/relationships and tries to cheer me up. He lives two hours away and has not yet suggested a get together. It’s confusing me. Why is he bothering to give me so much conversational time out of his schedule? Is it pure goodness? I’m afraid he’ll become a priest, as his religious devotion is rather intense. Of course, I love him. Any insight would be great. Thank you!
Greetings, Muri, and I thank you so much for this fascinating inquiry. I can certainly understand the perplexity you feel, watching the flow and current of your friend’s life twist and turn and alter. What a marvelous journey life is, with all of its strange occurrences and diverse settings. I am saddened by my clients when they bemoan the supposed fact that “people never change.” I maintain that people never, ever stay the same. Very often this slow, constant evolution is difficult to note. But when the thunderbolt of novelty slashes like a razor through the bindings of routine… wow… better look out.
I think your friend’s transition has less to do with morality than with simply being tired of living a life he no longer found gratifying. He has readjusted the scope of his own perceptions, and religion or other spiritual pursuits can often assist in this process. Fact is, though, this conversion is simply a step in a transitional state, a sort of bridge to a plane on which your friend is going to seek another life pattern to experience for a time. In other words, getting messed up and having a lot of sex can be tons of fun, but he grew weary of it, and now he’s looking for a new adventure, new stimulation, new forms of intimate contact. That, I think, is where you come in.
It’s simple enough, really. Early on in this affair you were tagged as a “good girl” by this man. Despite your naughtier moments with him, he has always seen you as essentially a traditional lass compared to his other lady friends who were more like daring nymphs to him. Playthings to be chased and captured for a romp in the moonlight. Long before you confided your feelings to him, you were already the girl next door. The sort of lady a fellow takes on a picnic and holds hands with at the movies. You didn’t fit into his life at all then, and in a very noble gesture that I personally applaud him for, he let you go.
Now some time has passed, and your fellow is ready to make some changes. It might seem surprising to you, but people always seek novelty and change even if most are simply too numb to break free of old habits. Now this man’s life has room for a sweet, sensual girl-next-door, and he happens to know just that sort of person. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of confusion for him, and sex is a very conflicted issue in his new way of seeing things. He’s not quite sure how everything fits together. What he does know is he likes you. More important, he respects you.
The only things a couple really need to have a good long-term relationship are a passion for each other and real friendship. Sounds easy, but it’s not. Red-hot passion and deep friendship do not easily coexist. It takes work. It takes mutual respect and compassion. I advise you to do nothing right now, but agree to be this man’s friend and build trust sharing common interests. He obviously values your opinions and ethics already, so capitalize on that. Take an honest interest in the changes he’s made. Listen to him. Care for him. Go slow, and you’ll discover that he really has always cared for you. You weren’t his type before. You are now. Take things one step at a time, and don’t rush it. In the past, your friend was an old fox of a seducer, a master of the arts of sexual manipulation, and now he isn’t quite so sure how to be his new self in the company of attractive ladies just yet. Consider it a compliment. In the end, I think you’ll be quite pleased.
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