Just sex isn't enough for her

Dear Amy: I am a college freshman, and I am in a "relationship" with my best friend. I am a virgin. We have known each other for six months, and I trust him more than I trust anyone. He is the kind of guy who has been hurt by relationships, so he doesn't want another person to be hurt.

Three weeks ago, we were at a party and he kissed me. Now things are moving fast -- except that we are not dating. His last relationship did not end well, so he wants to take that part of things easy for a while. I understand.

There is no commitment to our "relationship," and both of us want to have sex, but I am not sure that I can do that without having emotional security.

I don't want to pressure him into anything that he is not ready for, so how do I say to him that there will be no sex without a relationship? I don't want him to feel cornered.

CONFUSED IN COLLEGE

Amy says: Your letter and most of the questions contained within are all about your friend and his challenges and needs.

It is unfortunate that he has been so scarred by relationships that he cannot bear to get emotionally involved with you. And yet somehow he is managing to muster up the courage to become sexually involved.

Puh-leeze.

You sound like a smart girl. You realize that for you a sexual involvement will necessitate an emotional involvement. You need to stop worrying about your friend's needs and start concentrating on your own.

If you are even contemplating becoming sexually involved with him, you must also be brave enough to have a conversation about it. "I can't have sex without having a relationship" is a simple statement. Please make it.

Be forewarned. You ignore your own emotional needs at your peril.

Exes cross boundaries

Dear Amy: My husband of four years, "Bill," recently took his ex-wife to the doctor for an outpatient surgical procedure, then picked her up and took her home four hours later.

In order for Bill to do this favor for his ex-wife, he had to get up before dawn (coincidentally, on our anniversary) and take time off from work. We all live in the same city, and they have joint custody of their two teenage children. "Jane" has not remarried. They have lived apart for 12 years.

Bill and Jane are not particularly close. There is still a lot of tension between them.

After more than a decade, Jane still takes the opportunity -- often in front of the children -- to try to make him feel guilty for having initiated the dissolution of their marriage. Her attempts to inspire his guilt are often successful. Bill said he couldn't say "no" to her request without seeming heartless.

This is not the first time she's blurred boundaries.

Am I missing something?

PERPLEXED

Amy says: Some exes remain close friends, but it sounds as if your husband and his ex are still entangled with issues relating to their divorce -- otherwise there wouldn't be so much tension between them.

Your husband's first responsibility is to his current household -- his children and you. He can probably be supportive to his kids without doing this sort of favor for his ex-wife.

Until your husband decides to draw and enforce appropriate boundaries, his ex will continue to cross them.

Maybe you could interrupt this cycle and surprise both of them by offering to drive "Jane" yourself.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Av., Chicago, IL 60611.

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