An old woman was walking down the road when she saw a gang of thugs beating a poisonous snake. She rescued the snake and carried it back to her home, where she nursed it back to health. They became friends and lived together for many months. One day they were going into town, and the old woman picked him up and the snake bit her. Repeatedly. “O God,” she screamed, “I am dying! Why? I was your friend. I saved your life! I trusted you! Why did you bite me?”
The snake looked up at her and said, “Lady, you knew I was a snake when you first picked me up.”
-Hunter S. Thompson, Better Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie
I have to confess something. I hate the term “friends with benefits” with a passion.
It sounds like you’re adding value to a business deal or buying a car. It’s like the friendship wasn’t that valuable in the first place, and you’re just hanging around, mouth breathing, waiting and hoping to get more.
First.. what is a friends with benefits relationship?
Friends with benefits (often abbreviated fwb) is having sex with someone you are friends with but don’t have an exclusive, committed relationship with.
Whether that ‘more’ is from your “friend” or with someone else, the whole idea of ‘friends with benefits’ is that your emotional needs aren’t fulfilled with this particular person, so you’re going to laugh a little with them (maybe) and bone a lot, while you wait for your real prince charming. After which, the friendship is usually completely ruined.
While browsing around, I found this article, where the author describes how to maintain a successful “friends with benefits” relationship. It is totally centered on not prioritizing your “friend”, because you could accidentally slip into creating expectations that will lead to something more committed.
OMG, expectations.. to which I want to yell “GROW UP”.
If you’re having sex with someone, you should be prepared for some basic “expectations.”
Why are you just practicing scratching the itch with someone who doesn’t measure up to whatever you think your real standards for a partner are?
Also, if you’re using a fwb relationship with someone and silently hoping that it will eventually turn into more, why keep lying to yourself and them?
Unfortunately, a friends with benefits (fwb) relationship usually goes like this:
Two people meet.
They have a good enough time together, sometimes for days or years before they eventually fall in bed together.
One of them mentions that they aren’t looking for a serious relationship right now.
Then they agree that they don’t need a relationship with each other so they decide to keep knocking boots with the understanding that there won’t be any romantic, committed relationship.
The sex continues.
This starts out fine for the most part. Everything goes along peachy until one of the friends develops feelings for the other one (or always harbored them).
Usually it doesn’t stop there.
The person who caught the feelings either denies they have feelings completely (and starts hoping) or comes out with a big loud admission that they have fallen in love and want the relationship to be something more.
The silent hoper goes back and forth on whether they should wait around and see if things change or actually admit to their feelings. While this internal dilemma occurs, they are silently crushed when their “friend” sees other people, goes on dates and generally doesn’t prioritize them outside the bedroom.
If they DO choose to admit they want more, the other person who was carefree and happy-go-lucky about the lack of commitment now feels bait and switched.
At this point I get a question along these lines:
We had sex every week for the last year. Why doesn’t she/he want to be my girlfriend/boyfriend?
I was hoping s/he would change her/his mind.
What should I do now to make them fall in love with me?”
And… I just want to bang my head on my desk.
My response usually sounds like this:
“When you had the “we’re friends with benefits, this is all we’re doing” talk, did you think your “friend” would eventually want to change the rules if you hung around long enough? Why are you doing this silently hoping that it will magically change?”
To which, their sheepish reply is usually,
“well… I started to really like her/him.”
The problem is that the person who develops feelings probably didn’t go into this fwb situation with the intention that their feelings would change.
It’s easy to develop a friendship and think that you’d never have romantic intentions for that person, but with enough chemistry, things change fast.
Saying someone is your friend with benefits is like saying to yourself, “if I HAD the relationship I really wanted, I wouldn’t even be doing this.”
Too often people settle for this fwb situation while they search for someone/something better, but it eats up a great deal of time, attention and emotional energy in the meantime.
For the person whose feelings are being shredded since they’re totally in love, the damage is obvious.
And, the happy-go-lucky participant who hasn’t caught feelings doesn’t change their mind very often.
Mainly because whatever was wrong with a romantic relationship with their good friend from the start is still wrong. They haven’t magically changed into someone worth dating.
Basically, “friends with benefits” is most often a road directly to heartbreak (yours or someone else’s). Save yourself the pain in the ass and either date them or don’t.
Don’t settle for a friends with benefits relationship situation if you’re really looking for long term love.