Should I write this guy off- too emotionally scarred for a serious relationship?

Brief history of me and Tommy-

We’ve known each other for about 10 years, since high school. He got involved with a girl, Ashley, who he dated for the rest of high school and a year or two after. That was his longest, and AFAIK only, serious relationship. Ashley royally screwed him over- when they were having problems she started cheating on him. She played Tommy, letting him think they were still together, and told Jack, the new guy, they had broken up. Tommy hates Jack to this day because he thinks Jack is the one that screwed him, but having heard all 3 sides of the story it’s obvious to me who was screwing who [pun intended].

Maybe a year or or so after Tommy and Ashley broke up we started fooling around. Nothing serious, no talk of commitment, but for whatever reason we’re ridiculously attracted to one another. He also briefly dated a couple of other girls in between our… whatever it was we were doing. I ended up getting hurt, because I really wanted a serious relationship and he obviously wasn’t interested. After that point things got rather… adversarial between us. He’s since moved a few hours away for college, and we’ve been keeping in touch rather sporadically. I saw him last night and flatly said, “You should take me out to dinner.” We ended up back at my place and I decided to finally, after years of lying, confess my true feelings for him. Basically, it went something like this:

Me: You know I really like you.
Him: Yeah, I really like you too. And…?
Me: What do you mean and…?
Him: There was a definite and implied in that statement.
Me: Ok, fine, and I want to be with you. I’ve been pretending I don’t for years, but that’s what I think every time I see you.
Him: Yeah, I think about that a lot too. You don’t even know how fast my blood started pumping when I ran into you tonight. But now I live 4 hours away…
Me: Whatever, you had the opportunity when I lived 20 minutes away and you didn’t want me.
Him: That was a long time ago, I didn’t want to date you back then. A lot of things have changed…

The conversation effectively ended there, because we were both naked by this point.

I have been trying, and failing, for years to get this guy out of my head. We don’t hang out a lot, so I don’t sit in my bedroom and pine for him all the time. It’s just, when I see him, I am reminded of how good we are together. He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s spectacular in bed. He’s a real smartass, but even though he puts up this tough front he’s a total cupcake underneath.

It’s been about 6 years now, and neither one of us is capable of moving on. Usually when we see each other, it’s like a silly little dance we do. One, or both, pretends to not be interested in and/or despise the other. Usually there’s some sort of political debate (he somewhere along the lines morphed into a conservative Republican), which serves as foreplay, and after a heated argument we end up having Really Hot Sex[sup]TM[/sup]. Even without the debate on US foreign policy, we still try to act disinterested and rag on each other- it’s like he pulls my pigtails so I trip him while he’s passing in the hallway. Totally second-grade style.

I’m just afraid he’s still too hung up on his ex that he can’t get involved in a serious relationship. He actually cancelled our first and last real date because Ashley had heard about it through the grapevine and got really upset. The two girls he dated a few years back were totally wrong for him- I don’t doubt he found them attractive, but intellectually he was waaaay out of their league (drooling nincompoops, both of them). My little theory about this is he purposely dated girls he had no chance of getting seriously involved in, because he was afraid of getting hurt. He also admitted to my best friend that the only reason he used to be such an asshole to me was that he liked me so much- a simple yet effective defense mechanism.

Things are different now, we’ve both grown up a lot, but I still remember how incredibly deluded he was even 3 years after breaking up with this girl. It would take several pages to get into how she used to screw with his head. I don’t often broach the subject, but the last time Ashley came up (about a year ago) he told me he’d been talking to her and she was pregnant and excited about it and had finally managed to get clean. Yeah, well, last I heard she had dropped the baby off with her parents and moved back to NY to be a freaking junkie again. AFAIK he never realized what a lying, manipulative bitch this girl was, and has gotten repeatedly screwed because of her.

So, it used to be that he tried to push me away by being a dick all the time, now, even though he’s for the most part, a sweetheart (if a bit sarcastic), I do act like a bitch sometimes because I remember getting hurt rather regularly in the past. I dunno- it’d take too long to go into a lot of detail, but we actually do manage to have a somewhat normal friendship. If we’re on the phone or whatever, it’s usually a very normal, thoughtful conversation, with the occasional jab at one another. Put us in the same room together, and the ensuing sexual tension guarantees at the very least a couple of snide remarks, usually about the other’s political beliefs, if not a downright argument, and usually some naughty business afterwards. You’ve seen in movies or TV the couple who’s screaming in one another’s faces, then one suddenly grabs the other and starts kissing them? Yeah, that’s us. We’re nothing if not passionate.

This is just a whole new development in our ongoing soap opera. Neither one of us has ever actually admitted how head over heels we are before, we’ve always tried to play it off like ,“Well, you’re hot and you’re good in bed.” But, of course he has to live 4 hours away, so maybe he finally feels safe admitting it because there’s, once again, no possibility this could go anywhere without some serious work. I used to take it at face value- he didn’t want a relationship so he was good for the occasional booty call, and other than that he’s fun to talk to/argue with. I’m the type of person that doesn’t want a submissive partner, so someone who will call me on my shit and argue with me is incredibly attractive. I assume he’s the same way, otherwise he would have gotten sick of this whole song and dance a long time ago. Now things are weird, I don’t know if I should change my thoughts about this and pursue something more serious, or what. 4 hours isn’t a huge distance, he’s already invited me up there for the weekend but changed his mind because I made some snarky comments. Now all the cards are on the table, I’d like to talk to him a little more and see if he’s interested some sort of relationship, but we both have too much pride (that’s why it took so long to get to this point) and I really hate being the one to admit just how incredibly hard I’ve fallen for him. It’s been like a battle of wills between us, neither one wanting to admit that they actually liked the other, and now I feel weak for finally giving in.

Ack. Advice?

You are not too emotionally scarred to acheive a serious relationship. You have control over what you say and if you feel the need to be snarky, you have the means to control it. Admitting your feelings and outlining your desires to yourself is very helpful. All relationships take continuous work, nurturing and adjustment. Knowing what you want from this man is very important. Be clear. Asking for something and then being refused can hurt, but it is the only way to be clear. Be brave. Be frank. I assume you mean, by the words “serious relationship”, being in love. People who love each other should be nice, not snarky, respecting each others’ political and other views. People in love are far from disinterested in each other and shouldn’t act disinterested. You can state that he needs to be over his ex if you and he are to be in love. You can state that this means not blowing you off because she gets upset that he’s moved on. You can state that he has the week to discover in himself if he wants to do this, without booty calls or other friends with benefits stuff, because you want a serious relationship with him, but you need him to seriously want that with you. Then you need to either move on or move foward with him. This is not weak—it is very brave and strong. You only lose your pride when you are miserable, not when you stand for what youwant.

Serious relationships are hard enough without drama and baggage. They require a great deal more than explosive chemistry and sexual compatibility. You need to feel secure in your relationship, and be genuinely happy with the kind of person your SO is. This is especially so in long-distance relationships. But this is missing from your relationship with Tommy.

You said you don’t hang out a lot, and I get the impression most of your conversations are so laced with sexual tension that they’re really only preludes to sex. Do you really know him? Is he the kind of person who would make a good friend? Could you count on him to make you happy in non-phyiscal ways? The answers to these questions need to be, “Yes, absolutely.” Chemistry and sexual aptitude will compensate for little if he’s lacking in other areas.

In all honesty, based on your post, I don’t think he’s good dating material, or that you two are ready to consider having a serious relationship. He might make a magnificent fuckbuddy, but you should look elsewhere for anything more substantial than that.

Well, I knew it would come across this way in my OP. The conversations we have when we are in close physical proximity to each other are pretty much just preludes to sex.

We hung out a lot when we were about 16, then saw each other every few months through our mutual friends for a few years. After he broke up with Ashley, I saw him on a regular basis because his best friend was dating one of my friends. That’s when the initial tension (both sexual and otherwise) started. I had a boyfriend for a couple years after that, so we didn’t talk much, but like I said we do keep in touch via email and phone calls.

I know him pretty well, met his family, and have a lot of respect for his opinions. We just both turn into 8 year olds in each other’s presence, and politics being the one area we see eye to eye on the least, usually turns into some sort of “Oh yeah? Why don’t you just go reread the Communist Manifesto you dirty pinko.” (read: Go eat worms, poopyhead)

I like the political debates. I like the jokes, I like what he’s going to school for (Middle Eastern Studies), I like his ridiculous quirks. In short, I like him, and the explosive sexual chemistry is only a bonus. The funny thing is, I’m not particularly physically atrracted to him, it was the conversations we’d have that attracted me. So I do think we’re compatible in other ways besides sex, I just don’t know if it’s worth the risk of getting hurt considering our past and his issues with his ex.