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I had a friend with benefits for almost one year who eventually became my girlfriend even though I didn't see her as so, I could say it was just by routine, we were seeing just each her and doing "couple" things so we started dating, even though we never talked about it. Let's call her Jennifer.

Jennifer's family situation is not good. Her brother is a drug addict and her father abandoned them and her mother. Moreover her family is poor. And she has little to no friends, I am the closest friend she has.

Even if we were dating, I didn't have strong feelings for her, I was not even in love and I was embarrassed to be seen with her as she is not beautiful. I know this is a stupid thing and I shouldn't care about what others say but I do.

Also, at that time (and still) I liked another girl who lives far away from me (different continents) so I can't have any kind of relationship with her. I have liked this girl for 2 years and a half now, but still I am not sure if I am in love with her or not, distance is such a big obstacle to me and she has a boyfriend. Let's call her Sophie. Sophie is my best friend. And the 3 of us are in our 20s.

The thing is that at the beginning, when I was seeing Jennifer as friends with benefits everything was fine as I could still see other girls at discos and so on, but Jennifer was not happy with that and we started an exclusive relationship. Some time after it, I met with one friend and we decided to go to the beach, so I cheated on her but I didn't say anything to her at that time. I know it's not good.

Also, I went on a trip with Sophie and I really wanted to be with her (physically talking) because I really find her so attractive and I like her personality lot, even more than Jennifer, Sophie asked me if I wouldn't feel bad about Jennifer and honestly I wouldn't have regretted it. Talking with her she told me I should tell Jennifer about me cheating on her and I completely agree, my family also told me I should.

When I came from the trip I told Jennifer about cheating on her and that I didn't see her as a girlfriend, she was so upset and I thought we would not even be friends but eventually we are going out every weekend to the cinema as friends and I am even sleeping at her home from time to time. Now, I don't have any problem with that, I have my feelings for her clear and I just see her as a friend or a friend with benefits, nothing else. I still like Sophie most, both her personality and physique.

But from this time on, I am starting to be worried of this behavior as could be a sign of her having a dependence relationship with me. As I have said she doesn't have many friends and her situation is difficult. But, at the same time, it feels weird for me that she wants to have contact after cheating on her and telling her that I don't like her as a girlfriend.

My question and goal is how can I gently ask her about it without breaking the friendship we have now? I don't want her to be in love with me again or something because it is not going to be the same way with me, and I wouldn't like to hurt her again. How could I approach her?

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I'm going to be extremely blunt with this answer.

My question and goal is how can I gently ask her about it without breaking the friendship we have now.

You can't.

That might not be what you want to hear, but let me explain.

I think you are right in saying that she may be emotionally dependent on you. Judging from what you said about her family, it seems that she views you as a source of emotional comfort and support. This may be why, to you, you never thought that both of you were dating, but to her, it is the first time she has been showered with attention and she misconstrued that as romantic interest.

However, in my experience, breaking dependency often requires introspection, time and a change in environment, primarily by limiting contact with whatever you were dependent on - you.

I do think it is in her best interests to bring this up to her. Don't tell her that you think she is dependent on you straight out; phrase it such that you worry for her and that you think she may be relying on you too much emotionally. Most importantly, give her alternatives. Look up therapists or support groups that she can join. Tell her that although you are her friend and are willing to support her, she should seek a healthy social life aside from you. In doing so, you not only address her problem, but you also provide her with a way to solve it.

Sometimes, caring for her means being able to let go. If she chooses to cut contact with you, respect her decision to do so. Allow her to heal. Give her time.

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In general, I think fysh's answer is very good, I'd just like to add a few things.

From what you are telling us about her, she is and has always been in a bad situation. You are something that helps her keep going. You give her attention and care about her.

One big thing, I want to point out:

Friends with benefits includes being a friend

And you should be honest with your friends. If you did not talk about what you wanted from the relationship in the first place, it is a major issue. Communication is key, not only in romantic relationships, but among friends, too.

It is perfectly fine to have open relationships, hookups, friends with benefits or a hardcore BDSM Dom/sub relationship. But what each partner wants from the relationship and what they expect has to be communicated. Or emotional problems are just a matter of time.


You should have a talk about everything with her. Including all the things fysh mentioned.

Assure her that you are her friend first and foremost. It really sounds like she is dependent on you emotionally. Encourage her in everything that could help her loosen the dependency.

As an example, in one of my relationships the girl I wanted to be with was really crushed, because her boyfriend left her. She has a very strong fear of being alone and was more than welcoming that I was there for her and after a short time she wanted to be with me, too.
I feared that I might just help her fight off the loneliness, but it was not specifically me she wanted, but just anyone and since we were very close I was the first to come up.
So I prioritised being her friend and supporting her, even encouraging her to meet other people. I gave her whatever support she needed, but refused to be a rebound. After a while, we actually became a couple, but not as quick as she wanted.

Though the goal was basically opposite to yours, the same base idea applies. Encourage her to get rid off her dependency and when she has freed herself of that she will be better at doing the right thing for her.

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