Dudefile #68 – The Study Abroad Dude

Dear DW,

You are the shit.  Seriously.  I know you have a life and a job and everything, but if you had more time to write, I’d be right there to read it.

On to our story…it started a little over two years ago. The guy and I met in a study abroad program. We slept together early in the program, but became friends after that. The kind of friends who talk to each other until 5 am.  We came back home, kept fooling around now and then, and still talked on a pretty regular basis.

I lost track of the guy maybe a few months later, found out he kind of had a breakdown of sorts involving a crazy ex-girlfriend–like bipolar self-medicating with copious amounts of alcohol crazy–and was back in town.  Not long after that, we started sleeping together on a regular basis.  Every time we were together, one of us would end up at the other’s apartment.  Then it started to get less sex-centric; it was like there had to pretense all of a sudden.  Come over and watch a movie; come over and have dinner; come over and hang out with my friends…but then we inevitably had sex later.  It didn’t bother me either way, I just didn’t understand why, a year and a half or so after having what started as a fairly anonymous hookup, we had to have any pretense as to why we were getting together.  He did a lot of talking about not wanting to give me the wrong idea or not wanting to lead me on, to which I replied no worries, we were clear on where we stood, and that he was overthinking things.

Then last February, after being at his apartment for nearly a day and a half of lovin’, I left sort of angry because the lovin’ was getting one-sided–I was doing all the work and getting empty promises of reciprocation in return.  I didn’t hear from him for a while after that, which is understandable, but I still texted him every so often just to check in, make sure he hadn’t gone insane, etc.  This semester he showed up in one of my classes, we fooled around maybe two months ago, and reciprocation was had…but then nothing, not even a word, since.  I’ve admittedly drunk-texted him asking for sex now and then since then, and he’s shot me down every time.  I’ve gone from confidante worthy of hours-long conversations to seemingly nothing.

Any insight on this one?

Thanks, DW.

–Just Plain Confused



The DW had the good fortune to study abroad once, too. Fifteen students, nobody knew anybody, but by the second night we were all up til dawn drinking beers and talking politics and wondering how we’d managed to trudge through this hard, cold life without each other. Three hip to hip couples formed instantaneously and non-stop groped and boned and we all just figured it would be fun to go to their weddings some day and talk about the good old days. There were lots of tears when the semester ended and cabs came to take us to the airport.

Fast forward past the Holidays and a few weeks into Spring semester and the three couples were totally and unceremoniously kaput and the rest of us said hello when we passed on the Quad or whatever, but had more or less gone right back to our own friends and our own worlds. And that’s the way it stayed.

Now, the DW supposes you could look at this story and think, “How painfully sad that even the crazy deep bonding fun experience of traipsing across Europe at 20 years old can’t shake a person out of his routines.” Or you could say, “It’s the most beautiful tale I’ve ever heard that fifteen utter strangers found a way to bone and laugh and love and cry and make some of the best memories of their lives out of nothing.”

The truth is, though, that people are who they are, and they revert, by and large, to their normal selves under normal circumstances. In the moment, abroad, it was you and your dude soaking in everything together and you needed each other in ways that accelerated intimacy. Just figuring out what weird foreign brand of toothpaste to buy put you in cahoots and offered a fun little secret and a story to tell at a party. Figuring out how to get the bus to the next town over was a Dan Brown style follow the clues caper that lead to laughing and teasing and a quick afternoon sheet tangler. You were free of obligations and judgements from friends and family. Time almost seemed not to exist because every time you checked your phone it said that back home it was the middle of the night or yesterday. Basically, it was you and the dude against the world, only “against” isn’t even the right word because it’s not like you were fighting anything. Study abroad is fucking fantasyland super awesometime with sprinkles on top if you do it the least bit effectively.

Then you get home. You go back to your own grocery store, your own campus, your own car. You watch familiar TV and experience familiar weather. The glow of your foreign experience sticks around for a while and you feel like you’re observing your American life from outside, but one day that perspective fades just a hair and you find you’re annoyed by traffic just like you were before you left. Then it fades a little more and you’ve accidentally memorized, from sheer media exposure, the same four things that come out of the mouths of the same seven politicians. Then it fades some more and you’re watching RuPaul’s Drag Race with a girlfriend and a bag of Cheetos and it’s suddenly hard to picture that it really was you, in Spain, who walked to the market every morning in the town square with a 500-year-old church and bought cheese from a dude who milked his own goats. That happened?

And that’s the decline back to reality relationships like yours take, too. Can they work out? Sure. But when circumstances largely determine who you start a relationship with, circumstances are also likely to determine when the relationship ends. Back here in America, the answer for you and this dude is probably just a really boring and unsatisfying situation where, as a match, even as fuckbuddies, you’re close, but no cigar.

One final thought that the DW hopes you believe is not an attempt to have it both ways. What you and the dude had on your foreign adventure of lusty confidante action is not to be discounted just because it didn’t make the plane flight home. The DW really does believe that this dude was acting sincerely over there and meant all the nice and secret things he said while he was unzipping your skirt. Nothing about his American behavior afterwards seems to be callous enough to indicate otherwise. Imperfect, sure. But not malicious. So, yes, in a sense, you’ve been downgraded from confidante to out of his life, but in a benign Things Change kinda way rather than a I Will Now Take A Poop In Your Lap kind of way.

Here’s to a foreign experience right here.


the DW

PS- The Wifey just read a draft of this post and said, in essence, “I like your answer and everything, but it really could have been summed up in three words. The Breakfast Club.” So there’s that, too.


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2 Responses to Dudefile #68 – The Study Abroad Dude

  1. Wait, didn’t she say that they were boning for over a year after they got back?
    To me, it sounds like maybe he just lost interest or was with someone else during his lamer moments. And now he probably shoots her down because he has a GF. I think. Confusing behavior for sure, but at least he’s not still sleeping with her. Maybe he feels like they’re in that grey area where he’s not sure if he owes her an explanation?

  2. jess says:

    I really like this response, DW

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