Dear Miss Emily:

My boyfriend and I had been dating for a little over 3 years.  I'm 20 and he’s 23. Our relationship was fine and pretty serious. We've lived together before, we did the long distance for almost a year, and I was staying at his house every night. It was a very strong relationship. We argued about things here and there but never anything serious that would break us up until he got a job at a restaurant/bar. He started staying at the bar pretty much every day. Most days he would only have a few beers, but some weekends he would go in there and get wasted. We started fighting about him being at the bar too much.  I realize, now, that there was nothing wrong with him being there and it was just my insecurities that led me to be the jealous and possessive girlfriend, but I realized it too late.  He ended up breaking things off 3 months ago.  He said it wasn’t just the fights about the bar but that he felt that he just wanted to be by himself for a while, to be independent and that he wanted me to be, too. We live in a very small town and have all the same friends. The first few weeks we didn’t really see each other, but he would still call me to say hi and see how I was doing. The first time we ran into each other at our friends place, we ended up being alone and having sex.. That was almost 2 months ago, now, and we're still technically "friends with benefits."  It’s never been established that this is what we are but it is! Some days we're flirtatious and I stay the night and, other days, we just kinda keep to ourselves. We've talked about getting back together and we both agreed that right now probably isn’t the best time, yet we keep calling, texting, and seeing each other.  I love him and I really want to work things out. I shouldn’t have said that I didn’t want to get back together and, now, I’m stuck in the middle and don’t know what to do. Do I say lets just be friends and stop calling, texting, and seeing him for a while and hope for the best?  Or do I keep things the way they are and hope that in the future we'll end up back together? I’m really confused.
To Be or Not To Be

-------------------------------Miss Emily’s advice-------------------------

Dear To Be:

I think your boyfriend liked to hang out at the bar because he liked the atmosphere, the alcohol and the company.  In other words, the buds, the booze and the babes were a big temptation. It's understandable that you felt hurt by it,
but  it was representative of the freedom he wanted and he was smart to let you know that, in essence,  the bar was a symptom of that need rather than the cause.  I believe you should leave things as they are, for now.  There’s nothing written that you have to jump back into what you had before just because you can’t let go of the past rituals. You do not  need to adhere to the standard boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.  It seems to me that you two are getting along fine and, in a way, the unpredictability of your relationship seems to add the spice that was missing at the end of your three-year stint together.  Don’t blame yourself for things that unfolded because it was the natural course that the relationship was bound to take, one way or the other.  Text, call, see him and be friends/lovers.  What’s the harm?  Again, keep away from thinking that your relationship has to be one thing or another.  There are no set rules.  At your age, you should be enjoying life without the complications that those in their thirties and forties know all too well.  Don’t become a shining example of the old saying “Youth is wasted on the young!”