Q I am a 50-year-old divorced woman with two grown sons. Recently I became good friends with my next-door neighbor who is a 38-year-old single man, never married.
We have gone places together and had a great time. He is a lot of fun and I enjoy being with him. I can tell he enjoys being with me, but I don’t know if we’re just friends or if he wants more.
I would like to move to a more physical relationship, and I am waiting for him to make the first move. I don’t know if he is just shy or is only interested in friendship, and I don’t want to screw this up.
Every night after he comes home from work, we talk on the back porch for two or three hours. Usually we do something on his days off. He is also very good with my 17-year-old son, and my son adores him.
How can I find out if he wants more from this relationship without jeopardizing our friendship?
A Bryn, from the accident of living next door, you have developed a familiarity with a neighbor. Your description of him is beyond perfunctory: 38, single, male, has a job. That’s like a very boring dating profile.
It’s almost as if you looked into a neighbor’s yard and saw something you could use, like a Swiss Army knife. It was so convenient and right next door! “I’ll just reach over the fence and borrow it.”
The first thing you saw was a single man. How fortunate. And the man has a job. Maybe he could be a role model for my son. Maybe I can connect myself to this neighbor through my son.
Bryn, here’s the problem. Your neighbor is not a Swiss Army knife to be used for you, your son, or your physical desires.
You didn’t indicate he is attracted to you that way. He is a friend. He’s not dating you. But it’s so convenient. It’s way easier than going out and meeting other people.
He might be thinking how nice it is to have a friendly neighbor, someone to talk to, like the big sister he never had.
As humans we are convenience seekers. Often we settle for what is close at hand, like a convenience store or a fast food restaurant. We settle because it doesn’t require effort. But this man is not an appliance or a tool for you to use. You have given us no indication the two of you are anything more than good neighbors.
Where is the “he asked me for a date”? Where is the “we’ve been dating now for some time”? Where is the “we are starting to talk about our feelings for one another and where this is going”?
You can’t skip dating and the who-we-are-to-one-another before having sex. Because if you skip that, then all you have is sex with a neighbor because it is convenient.
We don’t use friends for sex. If you are thinking sex will make him your boyfriend, you are desperate. This friendship is new. It needs time to develop. Give it that time.
A Swiss Army knife has many useful features: a toothpick, tweezers, nail file, scissors, screwdriver, bottler opener, ruler, saw, and pliers. Your neighbor has many useful features, too. But none of those things make him yours.
You are concerned about jeopardizing a friendship. We are too. We get many letters from people who want to turn a friend into a lover. Often they end up with neither.
Wayne & Tamara
Invade – to enter as if to take possession, to intrude upon.