How to get from attraction to sleeping together without dating?
January 18, 2010 9:29 AM   Subscribe

I seem to find myself in the same situation all the time - I'm friendly with a girl, and there seems to be a pretty clear sense of mutual attraction. But for whatever reason, I'm not really interested in dating them. Sometimes it's a shared interests thing - maybe there's one thing we have in common but share pretty much nothing else. Or maybe they're just really immature about some things. Or maybe they're someone I work tangentially with that it would be sorta inappropriate for me to date. Anyway, for me it seems like the attracted-to scale and the want-to-date scale are kind of independent. It's great when they line up, but often they don't. So how do I go about telling them that I'm attracted to them but don't really want to date? Or is that just totally unwanted?

It's been a while since I was last dating someone, and I really miss the intimacy. I would really love to bring it up with some of these people with whom I have a physical chemistry, but I'm perpetually afraid that they really want a full scale relationship. I'm fine asking people out for dinner or whatever and going from there, but the language of that process is all very dating. What do I do with people I just want to cuddle with and maybe sleep with? I don't want to send the wrong signals and make them think I'm asking them out. My neurosis on this point is exacerbated by a history of having women around me who want to date me but whom I'm not interested in, so by nature I've gotten really sensitive to people in that situation and am trying to head that kind of thing off early. Plus, I know there are people in my past who I would definitely have wanted to date and would have jumped at the chance to sleep with them hoping something else would happen. I don't want to be that asshole who takes advantage of people in that situation. At the same time, I wonder if the people I'm interested in feel the same way - lord knows there are plenty of reasons why someone might not want to date me, either.

For whatever reason, the people I end up being attracted to tend not to be very up-front and kind of naive about relationships. They would pretty much never in a million years make a move, and certainly not propose a friends with benefits kind of thing. So how do I bring this kind of thing up without making it seem like I want to start dating? It seems like just saying "look, I don't really want to date, but I'm super attracted to you" is insulting and mean. But all my non-verbal/non-explicit ways of showing that I want to be with someone come across as dating, so I don't know how to ease into it that way. Is it just that if I'm not close enough with these people to bring it up directly and not worry about hurting their feelings that I shouldn't ask at all?

Any advice? How should I bring this kind of thing up without hurting feelings?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You phrased your question as though you are looking for the natural way for a friends-with-benefits situation to evolve. People who are not very up-front and naive are not likely to have the skills to handle what you propose. If you press the issue, it might be worse than insulting and mean - the person might imagine that, eventually, it will lead to dating.

Here's what you do with people you just want to cuddle with and maybe sleep with - decide if you want to be frank about your desire and explore what kind of romantic/sexual relationship you might have or else keep those thoughts to yourself and keep them as friends.

You might want to try talking about those kind of relationship with one of these people - in a very public setting such as while making fun on "The Real World" on a bar TV or something and see if the indicate an interest. But frankly I'm not hopeful. Casual sex is for sexually experienced people - the not up-front and naive are easily hurt.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:42 AM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Why is it insulting and mean? It's honest, and it's better to tell them up front and give them the choice rather than leading them on and having them find out afterwards: "Oh you wanted to a boyfriend? Sorry, no." Your fear of taking advantage can be completely neutralized by words.

Consider that the "history of having women around who want to date you" may have actually been a history of having women around who want to fuck you.

You don't have to make a proposal on these terms, you just say something like, "I don't really want a girlfriend right now, but we should hang out some time." Nothing too dry.
posted by rhizome at 9:46 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Dating is not for you. There are women who would be ok with that, but probably not a lot of them, because society tells us to go down a particular path of romance and intrigue. But people are all different and dealing with their unique situations. I guarantee that there are women out there who are into the very situation you're looking for. They would not be offended one bit by you saying "Look, I don't really want to date, but I'm super attracted to you." The rest won't be able to handle/deal/process that information. That's how you'll know.

Besides dating costs a lot of money, time, and emotional energy. Cuddling and sex are free...and for some people, free of those additional hidden costs too. Go find them, they're out there. But also be prepared to find a lot of the other. Be upfront, gentle and kind, but don't soften or compromise your standards or sharing of information to spare someone else's feelings.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:46 AM on January 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

If you're good enough friends with someone, you can have a casual conversation about your preferences without making it about them. If they say "Oh my, I could never do that!" you have your answer. If they say "Oh yes, and do you want to come over to my place later?" ditto.

People who are naive about relationships, however, should stay a million miles away from you. You would do them a kindness by staying out of their pants. Your message (explicit or otherwise) is "I'd like to bone you but I don't actually LIKE you all that much", and it takes a very grounded person to be OK with that. Plus, anyone in a no-strings "relationship" needs the skills to spot when it isn't working for them and bow out before it turns into a giant meltdown of drama.
posted by emilyw at 10:00 AM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

OP, everybody who has responded so far has given good input, but I think I can add something.

If you want something, you have to ask for it. In fact, in my experience an incredibly direct approach, as in "You are so hot, I really want to sleep with you, but I can't have a relationship," has really good odds of working. It's not PC, but it works, because it plays the badass card, and people, whether they like to admit it, are attracted to badasses. Yes, you risk alienating someone, but you also might free them. If THEY just want to get laid, it gives them permission to have what they want.

So you very well might get what you are asking for -- but there might be unexpected emotional consequences, like the other posters were saying, because lust feeds love.

The mistake is to assume that it will be the other person who gets bitten with love. It could happen to you, too. :) And (pure speculation) I wonder if that might have something to do with your quandary?
posted by martin2000 at 10:46 AM on January 18, 2010

What do I do with people I just want to cuddle with and maybe sleep with? I don't want to send the wrong signals and make them think I'm asking them out.

You are asking them out. You're asking them out on casual sex dates.

Saying that you're looking for a "friends with benefits" or "fuckbuddy" thing is not insulting, because it's about you not them. Figure out how to say this in a sexy, friendly way, and they can decide whether that's something they're into or not.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:04 AM on January 18, 2010

Say it right away, and say it clearly! I did this for a while, only once or twice, but there was a good year or two where I didn't feel comfortable dating, but as a 19 year old, I wanted the physical attention. It's awkward to be really blunt about it, but it is so much better than surprising someone after the fact. I messed that one up once, and then was on the other end a few months later, and it's awful from both ends.

Female here, for the record. There are definitely as many women as men who want this, but there are some well-known social stigmas attached to casual sex that sometimes makes women a little more careful or private about this matter.
posted by supernaturelle at 11:31 AM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Aren't there websites for this?
posted by mandrake at 1:32 PM on January 18, 2010

I'm going to come at this with a slightly different perspective. I would first feel out whether the girl is ever interested in a friends with benefits situation in any context. Maybe talk about how you had a fwb in the past and wish you had something fun like that now even though you aren't interested in a relationship. See how she responds. If she comes back with yeah me too, well then it might be ok to outright ask her, but if she just sort of nods and doesn't say much you have your answer.

While I will concede that I would rather a guy come out and say he just wanted to have sex with me than lead me on, I've actually had that happen more than once with guys I was really interested in and I was really insulted. Maybe not rightly so, but it isn't exactly news that men will happily have no strings attached sex with just about any woman and it's not really a compliment. It can be pretty gutting to feel like you have this great connection with a guy and attraction, to have them turn around and go you're really attractive and I'd love to have sex with you, but yeah as far as dating you, yeah no.... You are pretty much being offered a consolation prize. I guess you can sugar coat it a little by saying you don't want to date anyone right now, but everyone knows that's just basically code for I don't want to date you right now. Just proceed with caution.
posted by whoaali at 1:44 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I dunno, I've been in that situation plenty of times. I don't usually bring it up early on because it seems very awkward and kinda skeezy. I let things progress and if we start making out I just stop long enough to say "I don't want a boyfriend, ok?" Usually, it's ok. If it weren't, we'd stop and that would be it. I know it may be different if it were a naive girl, but then I've had sex with girls who didn't want to be my girlfriend and they never told me anything. I just had to infer from their behavior. I guess that felt shitty enough that I made sure my intentions were clear whenever I was hooking up with someone.
posted by stinker at 2:41 PM on January 18, 2010

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