My Boyfriend Of Two Years Introduces Me As His “Buddy” And Has An Asexual Girlfriend

Every week, Mallory Ortberg (aka Dear Prudence), chats live with Slate’s readers and attempts to help them with their relationship woes.

This week, an unnamed man asked “Dear Prudence” for guidance on how to handle his “boyfriend” of two years who only introduces him to friends as his “buddy.”

To make matters worse, his “boyfriend” is in a relationship with an asexual girlfriend.

Oh boy!

Here’s his question:

Q. He says I’m his buddy: I’m a guy, and I have been seeing this man for almost two years now and he’s everything I have ever dreamed of. He listens to me, he remembers my birthday, he spends time with me, he takes me out, our sex life is phenomenal, and he’s introduced me to his family. The problem? He says that he isn’t gay, he has a girlfriend, and he introduces me as his “buddy.” Now, I understand not wanting to come out for safety reasons, but he claims that he’s only “gay in bed.” I’ve met his girlfriend (who is beautiful), but she is asexual so they don’t have sex. She knows that we have sex, and she’s fine with it. It just feels odd to me. I feel like I’m in a relationship, but he says we’re just friends. My friend says I’m being petty. I’m the one he takes home for the holidays, because his girlfriend spends the holidays with her own parents. I’m the one he introduces to all his friends; though he introduces me as his “buddy.” He talks to me on the phone, and we flirt, and sext, and sometimes he just sends me random messages saying that he’s thinking of me and he misses me. He even says that he loves me before he hangs up the phone. Maybe I should just be happy with what we have … but I’m not. I want him to admit that we’re dating; even if he doesn’t say it to anyone else, I just want him to say it to me. What should I do? I don’t want to break up with him because I really love him. But I also don’t want to waste my time if all I’ll ever be is his friend.

A: In no particular order: Your friends are wrong, you are not being petty; “remembering your birthday” and “having good sex” and “capable of listening” are all great things to have in a relationship, but I promise you they are not some spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime qualities you can only find in this particular man; your friends are wrong (I had to say it twice). Maybe “only gay in bed” is a thing, but all the conversations and birthday-celebrating and family-meeting and loving texting that’s going on are hardly bedroom-exclusive activities. Your boyfriend isn’t just “gay in bed,” he’s gay (or bisexual) with, and at, and on, and near you, an awful lot. You’d like to be in a relationship with someone who’s willing to admit you’re dating. That’s neither petty nor unreasonable. If he’s not able to admit you two are going out, even just to you, you need to ask yourself whether you’re willing to go through another two (or four, or six, or 10) years of being his “buddy” in public and his boyfriend in everything but name. It sounds like the status quo is making him pretty happy, and I don’t see any signs that he’s likely to change them. You might not want to break up, but I promise you, there are other men in the world who are capable of remembering your birthday, introducing you to their families, listening to you when you speak, and having great sex, all while calling themselves your boyfriend. Go find one.