Friends with Benefits?
June 24, 2011 4:59 AM   Subscribe

Am I coming out of the left field here? No strings attached with the commitment-phobe I met a few weeks ago = bad idea?

Okay, long story short met someone a month or so ago on an internet dating site, we clicked right away and had a few great dates which ended up with hooking up. Then, he revealed himself as a commitment phobe who "doesn't want a relationship right now," and wanted to somehow save me from being hurt. Said he hadn't been out with anyone for a while where it went really well, that even so he wasn't looking for anything serious right now, that things were moving too fast and that he had had things that moved fast in the past end badly so he was going to tell me this now to stop things from ending badly a few months down the line.

Convoluted logic to my way of thinking (at least as regards not having been out with someone where it went really well for a while and this being part of the reason he was flaking out), but whatever. I was kind of pissed off about it (since this whole speech came from out of the blue at a point where he had been making some "I like you a lot" noises that had me worried that he was more into me than I was into him even as I was starting to be a fair amount into him) for a while after. But I did tell him that I wanted something longer-term with someone generally speaking (which is true) and that maybe I didn't want him fucking with my mind. So we called whatever it was off.

Flash forward a couple of weeks. I've been out on a couple of other dates (one of which went quite well though I'm not sure that it's really going to develop into anything) and have been trying to be social, get on with things. Still generally looking for something long-termish.

However, I've been thinking about the whole situation a few weeks ago and lamenting the lost possible sexual relationship, since it's been a while for me and I'm not that experienced in general. It occurred to me last night - friends with benefits/no strings attached with the commitment phobe? I think whatever romantic feelings I had for him died in the past few weeks after our whole discussion. I am thinking of contacting him and just putting the idea out there. This is way more forward than I've been with someone before though I have had a casual meet up for hooking up type thing before and it worked out okay for the most part.

Okay - what do you think? Bad idea?
posted by Rinoia to Human Relations (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sounds fine to me, I would go for it. Especially since you say you don't really have feelings for him. However awkwardly it might have occurred, at least he did have the decency to tell you he wasn't looking for anything serious before it became too late. So why not?
posted by guessthis at 5:14 AM on June 24, 2011

As long as you're being honest with yourself about what you want out of this, I say go for it.
posted by amro at 5:15 AM on June 24, 2011

Okay - what do you think? Bad idea?

Yes. Bad idea. Here's why:

This guy does not know how to set appropriate boundaries. He acted like you guys were getting into a relationship and went to the point of hooking up with you (though you don't say if it went to full-on sex or just making out) and then afterwards sprung the whole "I don't want a relationship right now" thing on you. He probably knew you were looking for an LTR. Dick move, there.

If you start being FWB with him, he'll probably continue to give mixed signals. It sounds like that's just his personality. You may end up thinking it's moving toward more than FWB, and as soon as you get comfortable with that idea, he'll create distance from you, possibly by devaluing you or treating you badly. Sex creates attachment, and when he starts feeling attached, he'll bail.

Also, you'll be spending time and energy on him that you could be spending getting to know guys who are looking for LTRs.

If you find a guy who's looking for an LTR, and he finds out you have an FWB, he might consider it a dealbreaker. Wouldn't you rather start a possible LTR without having things you have to hide?

Bad, bad idea. This guy sounds like a major tool.
posted by sucky_poppet at 5:15 AM on June 24, 2011 [33 favorites]

Nah, you can do FWB with anyone. He burned his bridge when he pooh-poohed the even slightest possibility of being with you long term.

So if you want to do FWB, fine. Just don't do it with premature break-up guy.
posted by inturnaround at 5:24 AM on June 24, 2011 [6 favorites]

Some people just don't know how to hook up. Especially, though not exclusively, people who have recently / only been in fairly long term relationships. What they are comfortable with, and what they know how to do, comes across as being quite serious (you worried he was more into you than you were into him), even if they are really not after anything serious. Not telling you his intentions beforehand was a bit of a dick move, but at least it means he recognizes the problem.

What you should do is dependent on whether you think you can be happy taking him at his word about not being serious, or if you think you will get caught in the trap of responding to the mixed signals.
posted by Nothing at 5:40 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

This sounds like the kind of thing that will probably end badly because we already know that ol' intimacy-phobe has some problems with boundaries and communication and this is a situation where it's very easy to deceive yourself about what you feel and want.

How would you feel about this guy if you had another FWB possibility handy? Is his allure mostly the fact that he's there?

Also, can you balance your search for a serious partner with an FWB relationship?
posted by Frowner at 5:54 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Things like "I'm a commitment-phobe", "I'm not looking for a relationship right now", and "I don't want you to get hurt," when they come very early on with someone you've met via an online dating site typically mean "I'm not interested in you", in my experience.

I mean, unless you were both looking for a casual thing and had established that from the get-go. But in that situation usually the above stock sentences aren't used.

The length and tone of your question imply that you are not looking for a casual thing and did not expect to have that arrangement with this guy.
posted by Sara C. at 6:09 AM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Follow-up alternate answer (sorry).

After a recent bad experience, I'm very leery of FWB or "casual" non-relationships with people who are bad at setting boundaries and especially people who aren't good at spelling out exactly what they want in mature rational terms. They always turn out to be... messy... despite your best intentions.
posted by Sara C. at 6:15 AM on June 24, 2011

I agree with almost everyone else - this isn't a bad idea in principle, but it is a bad idea with this guy. The main thing that's required for a FWB situation to work is that both parties are honest and upfront. But this guy is neither of those things - he led you on and then sprung the commitmentphobe thing on you. That is precisely the sort of thing that should disqualify him from being your FWB. Even for casual sex, you can do better.
posted by Ragged Richard at 6:53 AM on June 24, 2011

Meh. Do what you want. You know he's a flake. So yeah, he might flake. But if you can handle that then go for it. Just bail when you know you need to bail and keep your feelings in check. And just because the guy doesn't know what he wants, doesn't mean he's a dick (in response to some comments upthread).
posted by greta simone at 6:55 AM on June 24, 2011

This guy does not know how to set appropriate boundaries. He acted like you guys were getting into a relationship and went to the point of hooking up with you (though you don't say if it went to full-on sex or just making out) and then afterwards sprung the whole "I don't want a relationship right now" thing on you. He probably knew you were looking for an LTR. Dick move, there.


The main thing that's required for a FWB situation to work is that both parties are honest and upfront. But this guy is neither of those things - he led you on and then sprung the commitmentphobe thing on you.

Huh? What are you people talking about? This could have been their first conversation about this subject, and it sounds like it was from the description. The OP may have been pissed because he said he liked her, but it's possible to be of two minds about something without it being deceitful or malicious, and again if it was their first serious conversation about commitment then, sorry, tough luck. And it's not like they were going out for six months or a year or more here—this sounds like it was less than a month at the most, based on the timeline laid out in the OP's post. I don't see how any of this makes it a "dick move" for him to back off or why this guy is a "major tool." Frankly, it sounds like he's being pretty damn straightforward—things moved more quickly than he had intended, he got scared, he had an honest conversation with the OP about what he realized he wanted: not commitment right now. This actually makes him a stand-up guy who does know how to set boundaries, in my opinion. Guys who are real dicks would have just kept stringing her along.

All that said, I would still come to the same conclusion as most folks in this thread so far, which is to stay away. Why? Because you (the OP) want something long-term:

But I did tell him that I wanted something longer-term with someone generally speaking (which is true)

...and this guy has been honest with you in that he doesn't. I'm reading between the lines here, but it sounds to me like you are hoping to get something from this guy that he may not be able to give, despite your claims of proposing a no-strings-attached friends-with-benefits situation.

In other words, don't chase after something you don't want if you know what you want. There are other guys out there who do want the same thing that you want.
posted by dubitable at 6:59 AM on June 24, 2011

Bad idea. He will give you just enough to keep you thinking maybe there's a long term chance and that will keep you from really pursuing what you want with someone else.

FWBs are good sometimes, but not here. This dude is going to manipulate and mindfuck you. Just keep getting out there and move on forward.
posted by mrs. taters at 7:01 AM on June 24, 2011

Don't do this to yourself. When he told you he's a commitment-phobe who doesn't want a relationship right now, he meant that he doesn't want a relationship with you. He knows exactly what you have to offer and he's already rejected you (his loss, of this I'm sure). I'm sorry. I know it hurts. But please don't do this. I liked very much how you held your head up high and walked away from him before. Don't go slinking back now, willing to accept whatever scraps he'll toss your way. When he meets someone he's really into, he and his phobia will disappear in a snap and you'll be left standing there with a knife in your heart.

And a fwb thing with someone you've had feelings for will mess up your radar as you look for the kind of relationship you want - one based on mutual affection, respect and shared goals. It's only been a few weeks. Just wait and keep looking, OK? The best is yet to come.
posted by Kangaroo at 7:13 AM on June 24, 2011 [11 favorites]

From personal experience: Those romantic feelings will resurface if you start having sex with him again, especially if it's great sex and you two have a lot of chemistry.

Save yourself a lot of heartache and wasted brain energy.
posted by Clotilde at 7:35 AM on June 24, 2011

People are really quick to leave the "friends" part out of the "friends with benefits" arrangement, as if it was just an afterthought. Really the reason why FWB works, when it does work, is because you like someone and have enough respect for them to be open and honest. This guy doesn't sound like a very good friend. This would be hooking up with someone for whom you don't have a lot of positive non-sexual feelings, and is confused/confusing about his own needs. Hook up with him if you want, but he doesn't sound like a viable source of steady, safe, fun sex.
posted by hermitosis at 7:47 AM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Very, very bad idea.

It's so hard to keep dating and meeting non-interesting people when you are lonely, but stay the course and hold out for a LTR if that's what you want. Don't feel bad about wanting that, and don't let any supposedly commitment-phobe guys make you think that's not OK.

Just focus on what you want - exactly - not some pale imitation.
posted by rainydayfilms at 7:50 AM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

If you think it's something to be concerned about it, you'll keep thinking that.
And someone who maintains a profile on a dating site, but doesn't specifically say he's just looking to get laid strikes me as a creep.
posted by gally99 at 8:22 AM on June 24, 2011

I say don't do it, just because where you ARE looking for something long termish eventually, and even though your feelings are dead to him, you might find yourself having so much fun with him that you might just reawaken those feelings. I'd say let it go.

FWIW, I was involved with a committmentophobe for 8 months, fell in love with him, and then got entirely burned when he just up and told me one day that he wasn't that into me. Yeah, this was after what appeared to be a serious relationship - sex, travel, meeting parents, leaving stuff at each other's places - the whole deal. It stung.
posted by floweredfish at 8:34 AM on June 24, 2011

Thanks for the feedback . . . I think I'll still stew over it a bit. The overwhelming response seems to be he'll fuck with my brain, and I could get what I want somewhere else. Which makes sense.

I guess I was just thinking about it last night and in retrospect of the whole situation, I kind of feel like why couldn't I get to some place where it's okay just to have fun? What would be the big deal if I had an honest, open relationship with someone that was just based on sex or whatever. I have had situations in the past where I was really invested in the person and they just weren't that into me, and I feel like I learned the lesson of not mooning over someone who has clearly or not so clearly stated that hey you're okay but you don't inspire me to enter into a relationship. Isn't it possible to learn that lesson?

I had a friend once who I had a conversation with about unrequited feelings for someone and he said that when someone has stated that they're just not that into him, that kind of turns off his feelings for them. And I guess I was thinking last night, why couldn't that be me? After a few weeks of no contact with this person, I am pretty fairly disillusioned about him and I don't think I would get back to some place of being seriously into him. And yes, maybe his commitment-phobe speech means that he's just not that into me and maybe sometime he would meet someone he was into for something serious and want to cut it off with me. But really, so what? I'd get over it. It wouldn't be the end of the world. And at least I would have had lots of sex in the meantime.

I guess one thing I've learned about myself generally is that when it comes to relationships in any way, the most important thing for me is to keep my self-respect. But if you go into something knowing it's not going to be something long-term at the same time as continuing to look elsewhere for something long-term, I don't see what the big deal would be about fooling around.
posted by Rinoia at 8:58 AM on June 24, 2011

a few weeks of no contact with this person, I am pretty fairly disillusioned about him and I don't think I would get back to some place of being seriously into him.

As hermitosis pointed out, friends-with-benefits starts with a friend. Are you friends with this guy? Do you even want to be? You don't need to have long term relationships if you don't want to, but why are you focusing on this dude? Things would be potentially less messy if you just decided to get casual with the next person you meet. Your focus on this previous person makes it seem like you're rationalizing a way to get with him in spite of his rejections. Only you know for sure if that's true, but that's why so many people are saying to think twice about this.

Anyway, I think you should do whatever you want. He'll either say yes or not. Just don't call it FWB if he's not your friend, so that you remain more clear-headed about the situation.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:14 AM on June 24, 2011

This has been suggested by some of the other comments, but that little talk he had with you likely means that he was rejecting you specifically and did not want a relationship with you. (I don't know whether this means he'd be open to sex with you on a fuckbuddy basis.)

Here's the rub: it's possible, maybe even likely, that he's going to meet someone he does want to be with. How are you going to feel when it turns out he was looking for a relationship and just didn't want a relationship with you? I don't think your feelings died, and I think this is going to hurt you when it happens.

If you just want casual sex, why not go find someone to hook up with who isn't this guy?
posted by J. Wilson at 9:20 AM on June 24, 2011

>And at least I would have had lots of sex in the meantime.

How do you envision this working? There's a lot of self-contradictory stuff in your post and follow-up comment, which makes me think you're way too conflicted for this to work; also, your comment frames everything as how you wish you would feel, rather than actually feel.

On the point about having lots and lots of sex with him now, though, you have to be proposing a random, occasional booty call situation. At least, that's what makes sense based on your suggestion that you casually meet up sometimes for sex, especially since he's told you and you're taking at face value that he is terrified of commitment and doesn't want things to get too heavy or move too fast with you. But "lots of sex" makes it sound like you envision a frequent, regular thing -- in other words, a relationship, but confined to the bedroom and without dinner dates and such. This is going to be a problem.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:32 AM on June 24, 2011

Look, I'm sorry to have to emphasize this, but he dumped you. Hairsplitting about what that means won't change that.

Also, he really doesn't sound particularly friendly. As others have pointed out, the guy isn't friend material, so you won't benefit.

I just don't see how it's worth your pride to go back to this. It sounds dismal.

There must be plenty of people on that dating site who are looking for fwb arrangements, why not pick one of them, if that's what you want?
posted by tel3path at 10:36 AM on June 24, 2011

Hm, well okay maybe you all are right. Just because I've been feeling a bit more detached from the whole situation doesn't mean I should try to go back to it. I think I just have bad date fatigue or something . . .
posted by Rinoia at 10:43 AM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

You can get some tail elsewhere without this lovely side helping of potential drama! And it could even turn into something long term, stranger things have happened! :)
posted by floweredfish at 11:22 AM on June 24, 2011

Dating sites are full of guys who are just there for sex. His explanation of his commitment-phobia seems really bullshitty; as you point out, it doesn't even make sense. My sense is that he's a manipulator, he's on that site primarily for sex, until he meets a woman who meets some super-high set of standards. Don't let this loser use you.
posted by jayder at 5:29 PM on June 24, 2011

I actually went through something like this recently, twice with the same guy! The first time he actually entered into a relationship with me knowing that he didn't want one, then disappeared. He came back a few months later talking about how he wanted to "date" me. We were starting to get very close and he was sending a lot of relationship-y signals, then called me as he was leaving for a two-week-long trip and wanted to emphasize that he didn't want a relationship, but asked if we could be "friends." I'm not an idiot; I know what that means.

Throughout the times that we were not "in a relationship," we were sleeping together, and I wanted more. It was nice at the time, but honestly, once he "dumped" me the second time, I realized how indifferent I was about him. My self-esteem had apparently been on the fritz, but it sounds like you're coming to realize that while this guy might be lovely, he doesn't want you, for whatever reason, and there is a guy out there he does. Don't compromise your principles and what you want for cheap sex with someone who's hurt you.
posted by anotheraccount at 5:10 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

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