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I just started actually dating a female friend of mine who is friends with someone that I used to have no-strings sex with last year. We hadn’t had any contact for a while when I started seeing the friend of hers. Out of the blue, the other girl calls me and tells me she had all these feelings for me the whole time and she wants to be with me. When I told her I didn’t want to be with her like that, she said I had used her for sex. I feel like this is a trap because we had a few conversations about what our relationship was supposed to be, and we had many times come to the conclusion that we were “friends with benefits.” Part of me wants to run, run away from her and just enjoy my new relationship, but I know we’ll run into her at some point in the future and I want to smooth things over so there isn’t a big fallout when we see each other. What should I do?

— Anonymous, from Tumblr

Sarah: The worst part about fucking other people is that they have all these thoughts and feelings, but you can’t know about them unless they tell you. Here’s my general rule about these kinds of situations: cross intentions once, you might be okay. But if you’re having the “what are we” talk multiple times, it’s obvious that there’s an emotional imbalance and one or both parties should just cut it off. It’s my personal opinion, backed by zero data or hard science, that a long-term friends-n-bennies situation rarely works out for any party involved, save for a handful of particular circumstances. And no, it’s not really a gendered thing either. Even then, relationship desires shift faster than Katy Perry switches candy-shaped bustiers, so you can’t tell at the beginning of something how it’s going to turn out at the end. Of course you know this now, reader. What you do now depends on how badly you want to maintain this friendship. If you can’t imagine not ever being around this person again, tell her you’ll get back in contact after a set period. If the friendship isn’t that important to you, it’s probably more kind to back slowly out of the room and never return to this relationship in any capacity.

Debby: Try to remain calm, civil and kind and essentially say - in your own words - something like “I’m sorry you feel like I used you for sex. That wasn’t my intention at all especially because I respect you and think you’re a great person, and I thought our agreement to be friends with benefits was something we both wanted.” You might also want to talk with the girl you’re now dating and let her know about your past with her friend (if she doesn’t already know) so that she hears your side of it and so that your new dating relationship doesn’t get poisoned by gossip or jealous feelings. Just remember that the girl you’re dating is friends with your ex-FWB, so don’t say anything bad about the ex-FWB lest you seem like a jerk.

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