Beware The Guy Who Just Wants To Cuddle


One of my favorite dating coaches, Evan Marc Katz, had an interesting post last week. A reader, Mandy, submitted a letter about her current manz situation.

Evan, I’m in an interesting situation. I have deep feelings for someone in my “dating circle’, have become the closest person to him, and yet I know I am not ready for anything serious, in fact I freak out at the thought of anything heavy. He isn’t ready either, so we’re in the same boat.

I am 30, and he is 40. We just like to watch movies, cuddle, hold hands, kiss, talk…we don’t have to have full intercourse all the time, which I find soothing. He usually gives without expecting anything in return. It’s a very sweet and fun situation, and I want it.

But I am a bit confused, since I’ve never been averse to a serious relationship. He has female friends he hangs out with and flirts with, (which I don’t mind) but he doesn’t have sex with anyone but me. Same with me. I “circular date”, but he’s my only sexually intimate partner. He tells me he highly values what we have. I really do too.

So, my question is: Is it okay to want this, since we don’t want anything heavy right now?

Evan’s advice was, as always, quite spot on. Is she wrong for wanting a casual situation? Nope.

However, as I said in my comment on this post, I think we should dig a little deeper. My comment:

I think Mandy is accepting of this situation because she believes this guy when he says he’s not sleeping with any of these other female friends that he flirts with. If he were, I think she’d be less accepting of what this guy offers.
Whether she wants to admit this or not, she believes that – despite the lack of expressed commitment from him – this is a relationship with potential. Let’s apply some critical thinking and common sense to this situation: why would a man tell a woman that he was not sleeping with anyone else? Men only do this for two reasons: because they want to be exclusive or because they believe it is what the woman wants to hear because she asked him and he wants to avoid conflict. Since exclusivity isn’t an option here, his confession likely falls under Option 2. It’s perfectly fine for Mandy to participate in this relationship. But she should accept the reality that this guy is likely sleeping with others, or at least he will.  That’s one of the main reasons why men don’t commit – they don’t want monogamy.

Let’s look at the three glaring red flag/inconsistencies here.

1. This man has a number of female friends that he flirts with..but doesn’t sleep with them – Let’s first ask ourselves why he’s telling Mandy this. Maybe she asked him, which means that this is in no way casual for her. Or he offered this information. In which case…why? As I’ve said before, I don’t trust anybody with an inordinate number of opposite sex friends. Go ahead. Call me suspicious. Men get something out of regularly palling around with women. Maybe that guy likes to be the wise Yoda. Or he’s just investing, just in case he needs a break in case of emergency lay. Or he genuinely wants to date them but knows they want more than he can give. Or he’s gay. Rarely is it ever a genuine desire to hang with the ladies because he gets so much from female companionship.  What’s that? I’m so cynical? Yeah, yeah. The line starts at the left. Sometimes men develop friendships with women who think like guys. I’ll give you that. But for the most part, someone with an atypical number of opposite sex friends (especially if that number is drastically disproportionate to their same sex friends) does so for a reason, and it ain’t companionship.

2. When he and Mandy are together, things don’t always lead to intercourse – Sorry but, what’s that? I know, I know. I should be praising this man for not being all about the sexy time. Uh huh. Whatever. That’s not typical. It’s even more suspicious in light of the fact that he has many female friends that he flirts with yet claims he doesn’t want to have sex with them. He only wants to have sex with Mandy. You  know. Occasionally. Women tend to find a man’s lack of interest in sex as charming. “Oh, he really likes me! That’s why he doesn’t push for sex. He’s interested in me for more than sex.” Uh, one? If he’s straight and confident and has no hang ups, he wants the sex. Don’t kid yourself. Two? If he’s not wanting sex whenever you’re together, or at least most of the time, and he’s content with cuddling, there’s more to the story. Men don’t hang out with women to cuddle. I can assure you that he’s either not big into sex, using you for attention,  or he’s getting it somewhere else. Now, maybe the woman isn’t into sex either. Yay, right? Wrong. A lack of interest in sex usually stems from either physiological issues or psychological issues. Some are fixable. Some aren’t. It’s not as simple as, “Oh, they just don’t make sex a priority.”

3. This man told Mandy that he doesn’t want to sleep with anyone else, despite the fact they both have expressed that they don’t want anything serious - See, I don’t trust confessions like this. Revealing this feels strategic to me, despite how or why the revelation was made. He tells me he highly values what we have. Okay. But what do they have? Cuddle buddy nights watching Netflix? They have no expressed commitment. There isn’t even a promise of a future. It’s..nothing.

Now, I don’t know what exactly is going on here. What I do believe is that this guy is being disingenuous and misleading in some way.

This is what critical thinking is all about. It involves challenging assumptions and not taking everything at face value, despite the fact that what we are being told fulfills every wish and dream we’ve ever had. That alone should make you question what you’re hearing.

What Mandy is hearing is the polar opposite of what she’s being told. She’s hearing, “I don’t want to sleep with anyone but you.”And my guess is that’s intentional on the guy’s part. That’s what he wants her to think, what with all his talk of “valuing” their relationship and how he’s not getting sex anywhere else. He wants her to think there’s a future, or that he cares more about her than he actually does. I won’t even go into the fact that he’s 40 and single and accruing female friends that he flirts/sleeps with. Kind of a no-brainer there.


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15 Responses to “Beware The Guy Who Just Wants To Cuddle”

  1. John Says:

    OP says:
    ” I circular date, but he’s my only sexually intimate partner.”

    Moxie says:
    “Now, I don’t know what exactly is going on here. What I do believe is that this guy is being disingenuous and misleading in some way”.

    Perhaps this guy is misleading and disingenuous. But isn’t she being the same way with the guys she is circular dating? I am sure those other guys would stop seeing her if she told them she has another cuddle and fuck buddy while she doesn’t sleep with them. None of those other circular dating guys would be OK with “I will take you out and have no chance at sex while you give it up to another dude”. Guaranteed she isn’t being upfront about that.

    She is misleading those other guys and so its hard to feel bad for her being misled by the cuddle buddy.

  2. ATWYSingle Says:

    Those other guys are irrelevant. They’re not writing in to a dating coach. They’re not the I best complaining. The only reason you care about those guys is because you’re looking for a reason to criticize her behavior.

    • John Says:

      Why are those other guys irrelevant? The OP didn’t write in to you. She wrote into EMK and you are critiquing the entire situation. So her behavior certainly does become fair game for analysis as much as his.

      When you write about material that other bloggers post, then everything about it becomes fair game. Otherwise use your own material and then only the OP in question becomes fair game.

      • Bill Says:

        Moxie, I agree with John’s point here, my reading of the overall situation was that it was somewhat hypocritical on the LW’s part. The LW wants (and has) a casual FWB relationship, but with many of the “relationship” aspects to it. She likes the casual part because she can “circular” date, but doesn’t have sex with any of them because that would set off her “slut-shaming” alarm bells if she had sex with more than one guy.

        No problems there, except she wants to apply the same standard to her “pretend” boyfriend. You are 100% correct that guys don’t function that way. Him saying that he is sexually exclusive just means that he hasn’t had the opportunity to have sex with one of the many women he flirts with. Guys in casual relationships who say “You are the only one I have sex with” really means “You are the only one I am having sex with RIGHT NOW.”

        IMO, she should enjoy the casual “pretend” relationship she has, while it lasts, forget about what the “boyfriend” does when they aren’t together, AND use protection every single time.

        • ATWYSingle Says:

          She likes the casual part because she can “circular” date, but doesn’t have sex with any of them because that would set off her “slut-shaming” alarm bells if she had sex with more than one guy.

          Where in the article does it say she’s not having sex with other guys because it would set off her slut shaming alarm? Where does it say she dates any of these men more than once? Where is she even complaining that he flirts with other women? She said quite clearly she doesn’t mind that he hangs out with other women. So what is the problem? Rhetorical question alert! Here’s the problem, for you and John, at least: She’s a woman who dates multiple people at once, and it bothers you that she doesn’t feel a need to explain or apologize for that.

          I agree that the guy is probably having sex with other women. But what standard is she trying to apply to her FWB? I repeat: she’s not complaining about ANYTHING. At best she’s wildly naive to think he’s not sleeping with other people, and that that belief is probably causing her not to sleep with anyone else. But what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her, since she’s not looking for anything serious anyway.

          Her question to Evan was whether or not it’s okay for her to be okay with the situation as is. She’s not asking how to get this guy to want more, nor is she complaining that the guy is hanging with other women. Neither of you even know what circular dating even means. You’re making assumptions then creating back stories that might not even be real.

          You don’t seem to understand WHY she feels the need to ask permission to casually date multiple guys. THAT’S THE PROBLEM. She shouldn’t have to ask permission to do that.

  3. ATWYSingle Says:

    Because she’s not doing anything untoward by “circular dating.” That could mean one date with different guys. Why does she owe men she maybe has one or two or however many dates with an explanation for what’s she’s doing when not with them? It’s not even clear what circular dating is but you have her being misleading and deceptive. What they think is irrelevant because we don’t know what circular dating means, therefor we stick to what we do know and focus on that.

  4. DrivingMeNutes Says:

    “I freak out at the thought of anything heavy. He isn’t ready either, so we’re in the same boat. I am 30, and he is 40.”

    Hahahhaha. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t laugh, but the thought of a forty year old , i.e.grown ass man “freaking out” about anything, let alone getting crippled by the idea of something as commonplace as a relationship with a woman.

    • The D-man Says:

      Depends. Is he recently divorced? I definitely wanted to sow my wild oats my first couple years after mine.

  5. The D-man Says:

    Eh, I don’t know about the intercourse thing. I’m like that sometimes and it became more common for me right around the time I hit 40, which is tris guy’s age.

  6. Laure Says:

    To answer the OP’s question: too me it seems okay to want this kind of situation. But, only when you’re sure that this is your idea too.

    I have been in situations like this: deep feelings for someone, not ready for a relationship. And I must admit: that wasn’t me. I was just so in love with this guy that I followed his narrative.
    At first you think it’s fine (look how easy going and fun I am) but after a while, you start realising you’re just getting used.
    Watch out for situations like this. Before you know it, you’re history and he found someone he all of a sudden wants to have a serious relationship with.

  7. Dori Says:

    I think that the guy’s female friends and his supposed sexual exclusivity with Mandy are red herrings.

    Mandy who is 30 is understandably freaking out at the thought of a serious relationship with a 40 year old guy (I am assuming here that both of them are never married and have no kids). Even if he were interested in a serious relationship with her, it would be a dead end relationship for Mandy, who probably wants to be married by age 35 and have couple kids by 40. Another minefield is his low sex drive. if he is not into sex at 40, than at 50 he will likely be even less so. Mandy’s sex drive on other hand should increase. So 10 years down the road she would have very unsatisfying sex life.

    In short what Mandy really is freaking out about is her “deep feelings” for a poor long term relationship prospect. I guess she would be a lot more comfortable (and less confused) with a guy closer to her age, who perhaps does not want anything heavy (e.q. playing house) right now, but might be ready in a couple years.

    I guess not everyone is comfortable in a relationship (remember, deep feelings!) where there is no future, and the writing is on the wall.

  8. Howard Says:

    I hardly ever come to dating advice sites anymore. It was interesting how the dynamic hasn’t changed much. Someone is trying to figure out someone else. Nothing wrong with that, but may I suggest an additional approach? Figure yourself out too!

    This is a very good case of exactly that. The OP is not too clear about what she really wants and where she wants to go. And she is using too much about the details of this guy to determine her world. In other words, she is more sucked-in than she realizes. Her pronouncements about casual dating may just be defense mechanisms.

    There is the old line: The only person we can truly figure and/or fix is ourselves.

  9. Lisa Says:

    Yeah, I don’t think the LW is being completely honest w/ herself…at least not w/ us.

    I think she ~would~ gladly welcome a commitment w/ him but is saying she “isn’t ready either” bc she is hoping not to hear, “sorry, he’s just not that into you; move on.”

    Instead, she wants to play it like she’s cool w/ the lack of commitment to dispense w/ that issue and have readers guess as to what is going on w/ the other issues – the sporadic sex and his flirting w/ other women, and (hopefully) reassure her that his behavior is normal/harmless.

    My guess is, the reason she can’t bring herself to say she really does want a relationship w/ this guy is bc deep down she doesn’t trust him and he’s giving off a creepy vibe. And she’s hoping someone will reassure her that her doubts are misplaced.

  10. Biggie Says:

    I recently started sleeping with a second girl regularly. She was insistent on using protection, despite being on the pill, she said it wasn’t that she didn’t trust me, its that she didn’t trust my other women. The guy in this story would have said something like “there’s only you” or “what other women.” Me, I just put on the condom and ignored the comment.

  11. Jesse Says:

    Is it ok that she wants this? Of course it is. Should she feel troubled by the lack of sex? Up to her. Believe it or not, sex isn’t the do-all, be-all for many people. But from a man’s perspective, I’ll say this: I’ve been in relationships like this. I loved being with that woman, felt so great being with that woman. Could say I got tingly when around that woman. But there was something about her physically that dampened any hot desire for sex. Had sex, but didn’t feel a need for it from her. My take on this is ride it out, no one is getting hurt or misled. Let alone the other women in his life, with something amiss in the sex department, there’s a good chance this won’t be long term. If he has a low sex drive, that’s one thing. But otherwise, if he isn’t satisfied in the bedroom, he’ll keep an eye peeled for something that makes him drool. Meanwhile, he’s keeping his options open, same as the OP

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