Need help building relationships with plutonic friends and f--kbuddies
November 15, 2004 12:05 PM   Subscribe

"I can't seem to meet a man that fits my life. I have three kids, a career and hobbies that I love. Pretty much a full plate. I still have needs though. Rather than jumping into unworkable relationships for all the wrong reasons, which I have done repetitively, I am considering looking for both plutonic friends to meet the companionship needs, and f--kbuddies for the other needs. I would love to know any experiences you may have and tips for making it work."

Posted for a female friend, obviously.
posted by five fresh fish to Human Relations (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
isn't the platonic part the hard bit? if she can find a man good enough to be a platonic friend, wouldn't a roll in the hay be icing on the cake, so to speak?
(incidentally i emailed you earlier today about the p-word)
posted by andrew cooke at 12:13 PM on November 15, 2004

posted by luriete at 12:24 PM on November 15, 2004

I've had good luck with craigslist for finding friends.

I'll also add that I'm always interested in corresponding with interesting people (I know that's not the same as in-person, but it can still be fun). I am happily married and ONLY interested in platonic relationships. My email address is in my profile.
posted by grumblebee at 12:46 PM on November 15, 2004

Join the Society for Creative Anachronism. While officially it may be a group researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe, the motivation for many members is fulfilling the needs you describe. Plus a few other activities polite society objects to.

The SCA is a weird bunch, but good folk really.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:58 PM on November 15, 2004

if she can find a man good enough to be a platonic friend, wouldn't a roll in the hay be icing on the cake

It might be icing, and damn tasty icing at that, but if the man in question is one of them homer-sexuals, she's got to go elsewhere for it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:04 PM on November 15, 2004

My admittedly limited but personal experience: in many cases where two people are alleged fuckbuddies, only one of them actually believes this; the other is waiting for number one to wake up and realise what a beautiful thing they could have. It's a very unstable dynamic; be careful. You may not be as tough as you think you are, and the same goes for your friends.

I personally would stick to the making friends part. Your new friends will have friends, and as your social world grows, you are more likely to meet someone who rocks your boat.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:10 PM on November 15, 2004

true, ROU, i did assume otherwise. sorry. but more generally, i was thinking that without sex too, i don't see how you get the long-term commitment. in other words, if it was a gay man, what happens when he finds a partner elsewhere? the same applies to married heterosexuals - presumably they don't have enough time for the commitment required.

i guess it comes down to, she's looking for some kind of relationship that's not based on mongamy (straight or gay). which is kind of stating the obvious, i guess.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:18 PM on November 15, 2004

Plutonic friends are friends you can take for granite.

That made me laugh. Now you all know how autistic I am.

As for the question, my theory is that the way to stop getting into bad relationships and find a good relationship isn't to come up with some Rube Goldberg workaround, but to do the hard work of figuring out why you've been getting into bad relationships, working to change those patterns, and then getting out into the world and meeting as many people as possible until you find someone with whom you can have a good relationship.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:49 PM on November 15, 2004

I find that my best male platonic friends are gay. My f-buddies (not that I have any, but a girl can hope, right?) are straight. All of my so-called platonic straight male friends are really just biding their time 'til they can figure out how to get into my pants. I only know this because they've all told me so in one way or another.

Most of my gay friends have partners and it in no way intrudes on our friendships. In many ways gay men are the perfect friends. I get to spend time with men, but I don't have to deal with the sexual undertones that I get from straight men.

I'm not sure how you "make it work" with a f-buddy. The thing is that f-buddies eventually find other relationships and there you are back out there looking. In other words, those relationships tend to not be long-lasting.

SERIOUS DISCLAIMER: I AM IN NO WAY CONDONING THIS, but I'm told that married men often make good f-buddies because they have their own lives and don't really want more than a physical relationship.
posted by Juicylicious at 1:57 PM on November 15, 2004

find an ENFP, a Pisces, or someone just like ME!

Seriously, what's so magic about Craig's List?
posted by ParisParamus at 1:59 PM on November 15, 2004

juicylicious - do your platonic relationships have the depth expected here? do they help raise your three kids?
maybe i'm just not getting it.
posted by andrew cooke at 2:01 PM on November 15, 2004

That made me laugh. Now you all know how autistic I am.

I laughed too, which of course means I am not autistic.

I get where your friend is coming from fff, she just wants some sometimes companionship, not a real deep-into it commitment. If she's got hobbies and kids, good companionship without extra hassle would seem to mean working off of those things already. Finding a hobby group and offering to meet someone for some extra work, or finding a parent with kids her age and finding interests in common. Of course, she may have grown kids in which case the equation changes considerably. If that is the case, consider getting her a copy of Jane Huska's A Round Heeled Woman which talks about one woman's attempt to find a good f*ckb*ddy as she was approaching her 67th birthday. It's a fascinating if somewhat annoying read that outlines one older woman's attempt to figure out what she was really looking for and how curiously difficult it was to get, for a number of reasons I would not have predicted.

The good news is, there are lots of single men who are looking for the same sorts of things. If you're in a big city, there are often very informal "what's going on" mailing lists that can dump events into your inbox, or craigslist, or there are a variety of "singles groups" on yahoo that are much more geared towards companionship and doing fun stuff together than on dating. My Mom belongs to one of them and it's a good way to find folks to go to a movie or cultural event with, and if you find someone to be a special friend with, so much the better. Otherwise you've still gone out and met some people and gotten out of the house, etc.

I have some platonic relationships that approach the level of committment -- though not the level of contact -- that I have with my boyfriend. In many cases there's geographic or personality differences that make a permanent you+me relationship unworkable but they still occupy a familial-like part of my life. I used to call it my "distributed boyfriend network" where the parts of a relationship I'd get from one single relationship I assembled from a variety of different sources [p2p boyfriend] which really worked pretty well most of the time, sometimes better than having one boyfriend, sometimes not.
posted by jessamyn at 2:08 PM on November 15, 2004

A. Cooke - was she asking for someone to help raise her kids? Did I miss that? I thought that she is looking for plutonic companionship. Perhaps I missed something.

I am considering looking for both plutonic friends to meet the companionship needs

What depth? She wants friends, male friends. I can totally relate.

I have a great appreciation for the male friends that I have. It's really nice to talk to men openly without the sex agenda.
posted by Juicylicious at 2:33 PM on November 15, 2004

Both the question and Jessamyn's answer made me think of the Sweet Potato Queens lady, who wrote that you need five kinds of men in your life at all times: a man who can fix things, a man you can dance with, a man who can pay for things, a man you can talk to, and a man to have great sex with. And of course, four out of those five men can be gay if you like: gay male friends are a benefit. Her rationale is that you're not going to fulfill all these needs with one man; in fact, you would be lucky to get two out of the five in one, so you'll have to find five separate men.

Now I'm using that quote just as a joke (no, I don't agree with it, but she has a point). I do think it's workable to distribute your needs like that. If you don't have the time or the energy right now to hold out for a companion that fits, by all means compartmentalize: most people do this, they have work friends, hobby friends, school friends, whatever, and a variety of friends can fill the gap in companionship. Having a stable network to meet your social needs makes you less likely to jump into a relationship that won't work just because you're lonely.

Finding a fuckbuddy is trickier work, but doable, especially as people grow older and get a little more cynical/practical about finding "the one and only perfect person". Friendships that turn into mutual itch-scratching work fine in my experience. If you can handle polyamorous relationships, functioning as someone's secondary works too - the level of honesty required is a necessity to a good fuckbuddy pairing.

And Sidhedevil's brought up a good point - why not use this "non-partnered" time to work through why you're repetitively getting into bad relationships, while you don't have pressure of a current relationship hanging over you? Then when you feel ready to start looking again, you'll know what you want for sure, what you can compromise on, and what to avoid outright.
posted by Melinika at 2:45 PM on November 15, 2004

It's okay to talk with the F-buddies about how emotionally close you are to the to the friends, but please, don't talk with the friends about how HAWT the F-buddies are. By their very nature, "just friends" tend to be less the perfect specimens of masculinity, so even if you don't see each other in "that way", it's still likely a sore spot.
posted by 4easypayments at 3:00 PM on November 15, 2004

I'm going to give the answers I presume are true. Corrections will be forthcoming if I'm wrong!

The kids are in elementary and junior high school. I believe one of the goals here is to not put a "mom's boyfriend" into their lives, and particularly not one that expects to spend much time in their home, ie. no overnighters.

"In many cases where two people are alleged fuckbuddies, only one of them actually believes this" -- this is one of the concerns.

"Do the hard work of figuring out why you've been getting into bad relationships" is the theme of my friend's life. She's a remarkable woman who has done amazing healing over the years, and will continue to do so.

In the meantime, she'd like to have some good sex. I don't see that she necessarily need remain celibate until she's figured her head out and/or found a compatible permanent relationship.

One of the bigger challenges here, IMO, is time. As in she keeps herself so freakin' busy with work and stuff that there's no time for doing the social networking thing. Myself, I believe it's a function of making time for it, and not distracting herself with busywork. Which goes back to the self-growth thing.

Other possibly pertinent details: mid-thirties, small town, conservative-ish area (as many churches as pubs), fiercely strong-willed, strongly left-wing, new-agey, adventurous.

Seems to me that she should have no problems hooking up, but I'm a clueless innocent. Frankly, other than pure blind dumb luck, I have no idea how anyone meets someone to love.

I expect I'll have an email from her to CC: y'all some time tonight. Thanks for the help so far!
posted by five fresh fish at 3:07 PM on November 15, 2004

In that case, I think that the simplest thing is for her to do about the sex part is to place a personals ad saying she's looking for an occasional fuckbuddy to have no-strings fun with and then sift through the jillions of responses very carefully.

And as for the friends part, she should think about joining organizations/taking classes/all the other stuff that people do to make friends.

However, I don't think that the two options are "celibacy" and "a compatible permanent relationship". There's such a thing as a "compatible short-term relationship", after all. I know that it is more complicated when you have kids, but, frankly, I don't know how simple it is to arrange for times with a fuckbuddy when you have kids, either.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:44 PM on November 15, 2004

Sounds like taking a couple of long lunches at work would be ideal.
posted by onlyconnect at 6:00 PM on November 15, 2004

And her response to the thread so far:
What responses... wow.... here is some of what is going through my head after reading all the responses.

thanks for all the well thought out responses. My friend is right that my making time is key here but being that it has never worked out I'm a little gun shy and I guess breaking down types of relationships is one way to make it safer.

I love the information on the five types of men. I wanted them all in one man up till now. Along the lines of building relationships of companionship with men and filling in some of those five, it might make it easier to find a meaningful partnership with someone that meets the core need along with one or if I'm really lucky, two of the other needs.

Getting out there to meet men is hard, and how do you broach the big question of "do you wanna ...?" It's the meeting that is time consuming. Once there is a connection it is easier. I'm going kayaking with Tom... be home this afternoon..... (kayaking or f*cking) kids don't have to be a barrier but getting out to meet people is not so easy.

On the gun shy issue, most of the men in their mid thirties to early forties that I have met or know in the community, seem to have a really hard time growing up or they are simply resisting it. I have three kids that I have been raising for years and I cannot relate to where they are coming from at all. I still like to get out and have fun and I am relatively active but I feel like I am in another generation than them.

Are men in that age range really like what I have experienced or am I just attracting that type? The natural thing to do from this point of view was to date older men, and while I love them for many reasons, :), I am in a totally different place in my life than them and it simply does not work either. I'm running around working at my career and scuba diving, and skiing with my kids and they are having a nap on the couch after work. :(

Do men actually hear women when they say sex only.... no commitment.....

What words do you use to get a man to hear that?

Are men actually open to women asking them if they want to be f*ckb*ddies?

How can you gage if a man can keep something like this type of relationship relatively quiet... I do work in this

Will you guys come and interview men for me? You seem like a great bunch. Thanks for all the tips.
I've just opened an anon account for her over at OperaMail, for those who wish to take this to EMail:
Sorry, I couldn't resist the username. :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 7:37 PM on November 15, 2004

I sent an email, but to reiterate slightly for the masses -- try some younger men. Older isn't necessarily the answer when you want maturity, energy, sex drive, and discreetness all in one package.

I have two friends right now who are dating men at least a decade younger than you are ... one is 40, and is dating a wonderful buddy of mine who's 30. They met at work. Work doesn't know at all, and it wouldn't matter because everyone likes the two of them. They have a lot of hobbies (including anime and comic books!) in common. The 40-year old woman went through a messy divorce a year or two ago when she caught her husband sleeping with her best friend. She has a teenaged (high-school) daugher, and the two of them plus the daughter and her boyfriend are often seen double dating ... !

The other is 32 and her boyfriend 21. She cuts my hair and got out of a very bad relationship that she'd moved cross-country for just after I met her. She's dating a younger man because men her age can't keep up with her ... she's very nocturnal, and very goth. She's most certainly a grownup, owns a house and all that good stuff, but isn't likely ever to settle down. She said that dating her boyfriend has been one of the most revitalizing things she's done in her life in years.
posted by SpecialK at 9:54 PM on November 15, 2004

I'm told that married men often make good f-buddies because they have their own lives and don't really want more than a physical relationship.

At least, until the physical infidelity potentially intrudes on and destroys their marriage.

There's too much dynamite present to go there, even in the rarer situations where everyone is aware of what's going on and thinks they can all handle it.
posted by weston at 10:09 PM on November 15, 2004

juicylicious - i got the impression the idea was to split her "perfect partner" into two halves, kind of jekyl + hyde. obviously, given her later comments i was wrong. sorry.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:20 AM on November 16, 2004

I was reporting this story about Craigslist last year (SO last year) and I met this woman in the Bay Area. She was going through a divorce, going to school, and working -- she was busy as hell. She posted the longest, longest, LONGEST solicitation on Craigslist, in which she spelled out exactly who she was, exactly what she liked, and the terms under which she'd accept partners. (It was like, three pages, seriously.) The end result? She had a fuckbuddy stable of five men who she saw regularly one-on-one, each of which provided her with a slightly different sort of companionship and sexual fulfillment, and each of who knew ABSOLUTELY that she wasn't available for anything more. It was really quite astounding -- but I think they were all happy, particularly her -- although one of the guys was hankering for a bit more, and they were going to negotiate a termination of their agreement. I know it sounds unhot and difficult, but it was QUITE the opposite, and what I learned from her is this: overcommunication counts. She gave them none of the mixed messages that we usually give, none of the "well we'll see where we end up..." stuff. They had romantic times, sleep-overs, movie dates, but their relationships were strictly defined.

And, most importantly? All of the men knew about the other men. The key is assertiveness, and that's really hard and alien for most of us. Practice.

To go along with Jessamyn's book suggestion, may I suggest The Ethical Slut? Invaluable.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:30 AM on November 16, 2004

I think the best way to ensure a relationship will stay in the "fuckbuddy" zone is to make sure that it starts in the "fuckbuddy" zone.

Asking someone you know from the neighborhood if they want to be your fuckbuddy is unlikely to work out happily. Posting a personals ad saying that you're looking for a fuckbuddy (cf. RJR's story above) gets it all out into the open right from the beginning.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:01 AM on November 16, 2004

After a conversation and some thought, I think the "five men" idea can be rounded out a little better.

Most everyone needs:

- someone for public activities (dance, sport, movies, etc).
- someone for private activities (cuddle, sex, etc).
- someone for talking about private things.
- someone who can help (fix things, cover for you, etc).
- someone who will spoil them (pay for things, surprise you, etc).

I think there are certainly three important categories (the first three); I think the latter two are nice, will probably be covered by the first three anyway, and might not be entirely necessary.
A list of Internet-based resources, and especially ones that aren't time-consuming, would probably be of great help.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:30 PM on November 16, 2004

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