We watch films like No Strings Attached in awe when Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher start a platonic relationship and end up falling in love. But that’s a movie and friends-with-benefits relationships don’t typically have a Hollywood ending. Mine surely didn’t.
Flashback to the middle of freshman year: I’d met Jake* at the bar and we hit it off instantly. He started texting me and even took me out on my first college date after meeting up in the library. I thought to myself, “Jake must really like me.” The hook.
I spent the next couple of weeks picturing my new frat-star boyfriend and I together. He was by no means perfect for me, but after a few months appraising the hook up culture, I was ready to settle down and Jake was the perfect break.
While he would text me some days just to see what I was up to, I could count on a text to meet up every night after 2 a.m. like clockwork. I told myself that he just wanted to take it slow and play “the game.” I was up for the challenge –it could be fun.
Social season for the frats came along and every frat threw a big party to which each brother brought a date. Eager for the invite, I couldn’t wait for my future boyfriend to ask me to be his date. Little did I know, our lunch date a few months back was our first and last date, ever. Jake did a 180 and took another girl to his event.
After spending almost every night with this guy, I thought I deserved an explanation, at the very least.
Jake’s version of an excuse went something like, “I like you, I like spending time with you, but now isn’t a good time for me to settle down.” To me this meant, “If he likes me, one day he will want to be with me romantically. I just need to continue spending time with him until he’s ready.” But little did I know at the time, all he really meant was, “You’re great to have around at 2 a.m. every night, but I just don’t see you that way.”
I know you’re thinking, what an asshole. All of my friends definitely did. Honestly, at some points I thought so, too. So, by second semester freshman year, I swore I would stop hanging out with Jake. I told my friends that I didn’t want to date him, either. But every time I saw his name pop up on my phone, some magnetic force took my hand and responded to the text. Maybe that’s exactly why he kept texting me; he knew, without a doubt, that when he wanted me to be there, I would be there.
It was easy to convince my friends (and myself) that I could continue seeing Jake and remain open to meeting other people. But meeting other people was virtually impossible if I was at Jake’s apartment every night. He was a vicious cycle that I couldn’t break.
I could count on a text every once in a while to let me know he was thinking about me. He knew all the right things to say to keep me around a little longer. So naturally, I thought I’d crack him one day. The only problem was Jake’s favorite line, “Now just isn’t the right time.” Realistically, if you want something enough, it’s always the right time.
I’ve come to realize that it wasn’t Jake’s fault. He told me he didn’t want anything serious and I continued to see him with expectations of, well, something serious. I started liking Jake, and for months I dug myself deeper into this never-ending hole. That movie ending I thought existed was no where in sight.
I wish freshman-year-me knew that if I wanted to spend quality time with a guy who isn’t indirect about what we are to each other, I needed to ditch my FWB for something more real. It took me deciding to ignore Jake’s booty call texts to have the courage to throw myself back out into the dating scene. The hook-up culture makes it tough out there, but I realized I deserve someone who thinks now is exactly the right time to call me his girlfriend.
*Name was changed to protect privacy.