Hello, wanted to tell you guys you do an awesome podcast, keep up the good work! I apologize if this is long and ramble-y. My question is this: I sort of entered the ""dating"" phase of an IRL furry relationship. The other person, let's call him John, is less experienced with relationships than me, although we're both nowhere near experts. John is a bit clingy and is self aware of that. We've only been talking for about a week and we already went on our first date. I kind of want to take things a bit slowly emotionally, but I have almost no boundaries physically. We cuddled in the theater while watching Moana for our first date, and I had fun with that. But while we share lots of common interests, I don't really feel a strong emotional attraction, aside from getting super flustered when he says cute things. I would totally have sex with him, but I know he would probably get even clingier, as he gets attached to people very easily. I feel like I'm very close to becoming the jerk that "uses" people, which I have done before and deeply regret. I don't want to hurt him, but this is a rare opportunity for me since I won't be able to have more freedom to search for IRL furry mates until a year and a half from now thanks to my parents. I don't want to end the relationship, but I don't want to hurt John. What should I do so I don't become a jerk that just uses people for an opportunity to have gay cuddles again?
Received via email (name withheld)
Thanks for the compliments! I'm glad that you're concerned for your dating partner's emotional wellbeing as you consider whether to deepen the relationship and make it a physical one; that already puts you ahead of the pack in terms of ensuring a positive outcome for you both. However, I do think you're correct in that this situation could easily result in John (as you call him) getting hurt.
The trick in this situation is to make sure that you communicate very clearly with John so that he knows exactly what he is getting himself into. Under absolutely no circumstances should you lead him to believe that you are romantically interested in him or that you love him.
Instead, the next time the two of you hang out, explain your situation and what you are looking for openly and honestly. You can be upbeat about it, but make sure he understands exactly what you're offering. Tell him you're really enjoying his company, and that you are eager to go to bed with him, but that you really aren't looking for a romantic relationship right now, and you'll be leavingin a year and a half. Tell him you'd really enjoy a friends-with-benefits arrangement with him, but that dating is off the table.
If he ends up agreeing to proceed and you get the sense he's telling you what you want to hear, and isn't really being honest about what he is okay with (likely on the off chance that you end up returning his feelings later), you may need to make a judgement call and choose not to proceed.
Many inexperienced furries will agree to a friends-with-benefits arrangement when what they actually want is a romantic relationship, after feelings have already developed, because they are desperate and will take what they can get. They may even rationalize to themselves that you'll fall in love with them if only you give them the chance.
Although it's certainly possible for a friends-with-benefits relationship to deepen into a romantic relationship, that is the exception and not the rule. Far more common is that the friend who develops feelings gets their heart broken once the other moves on or enters a romantic relationship with someone else.
In your case, the relationship may be time limited, and that's on top of the fact that you don't have romantic feelings for John, even if you do appreciate his friendship and are sexually attracted to him, so there's very little potential for the relationship to grow. As long as you make John understand this, and he consents to move forward, you are conducting yourself ethically. However, do use your intuition to determine if John's consent is sincere or begrudging in the hopes of it turning into more. If you do get a sense of the latter, the kind thing to do is to spare him the pain of a later rejection once he's become even more emotionally invested by rejecting him now.
Hope that helps! If you have any follow-up questions or comments, you can get in touch with us using the comments section below or by using the contact information available here.
Happy New Year!