I only want a partial enchilada, thank you
March 12, 2012 11:41 PM   Subscribe

I have too much of a good thing. A lot of people want to date me. I am not interested in most of them beyond friendship, though, and I'm in a really comfortable FWB situation and don't want "the whole enchilada" of commitment, yet I only want this one person.

I am a mid-40s bi woman who just got out of an LTR a year ago. (Forgive my naivete about dating at my age; last time I was with someone new, neither Facebook nor OKCupid had been invented yet!) I've been in a very close FWB arrangement with someone for about eight months. We are best friends and lovers, but we are both reluctant to define what we have as "a relationship" and are free to hook up with/date others. We don't even make a big deal of the benefits and most people assume we're just friends. I love this person very much and we spend most of our free time together. However, for various reasons too complicated to go into (he plans to leave the country in a year or two, for one thing) we don't see each other as compatible for an LTR. That's actually OK. It is what it is and I'm grateful for our closeness.

I've tried dating and platonically befriending other people, but it seems like there is always a point where someone wants more. Either they drift away when they realize I'm spending most of my time with my friend, or they confront me about me being not that into them. I don't want to hurt anyone, but the truth is that I have a rapport with my friend that I haven't had with anyone else since my most recent ex, and these other people are awesome but I'm just not that attracted to them. I don't know if it's that my FWB is edging them out or if I wouldn't be feeling it for them in any case. I did think of myself as poly for a while...but maybe I'm not. All I know is that I hate hurting people and it's hard to turn them down for a non-relationship that isn't even monogamous.

Maybe it's that my last LTR was super-intense and all-consuming, and my best friend/lover isn't at all demanding, yet is always there for me and it's so comfortable. I don't really know.

I already know that if I approached my FWB with a request for a short-term monogamous relationship he'd say no. We've already discussed this. (At this point I am pretty sure he feels much the same as I do, though -- he hasn't really "felt it" for anyone besides me since we got together). And I don't think that's really what I want. I do want to keep my options open. I just don't know how to turn people down and keep them as friends -- I've always had being "taken" as an excuse before. The people I turn down are going to see it as they are being rejected for someone I don't even have a commitment with...and I can't really say that they are wrong. I prefer the company of my best friend to anyone else. That's why he's my best friend. I felt this way back when I regarded him as a surrogate brother, too. I just don't have a strong connection like this to anyone else at the moment and because he is leaving I want to spend as much time as possible with him.

Don't know how to think about this, don't know how to explain it to others who might offer more of a committed relationship to me and who might seem much more compatible. I'd use the Miko guidelines, but the people I'm not feeling it for know all about my FWB and have pointed out that I'm more into him. They are jealous and see him as standing in the way. And I'm not sure they are wrong.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You can be monogamous to your FWB, even if he is not monogamous to you. Sounds like you think you ought to be dating, but haven't found anyone you really want to date. You don't owe it to anyone to date them if you're not attracted to them. Maybe this low pressure situation is all the romantic/sexual entanglement you want or need right now. THAT IS PERFECTLY FINE. Sounds like you're getting your needs met with just your involvement with him. Enjoy the time you have with him.
posted by mollymayhem at 12:06 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why are you dating other people at this time?
posted by jbenben at 12:09 AM on March 13, 2012

Not to be obnoxious - sorry! Just wondering why you are putting yourself in this position of having to turn down other suitors if that's not where you want to be right now.


On a related -or- unrelated note... I've never seen anyone meet someone significant while they are with someone else significant. If your goal is not as stated (to stay with the FWB guy until he moves) than you should re-think your actions. Otherwise, you are doing fine where you are. Stop rocking the boat.

Is you FWB guy actively dating? That's the only reason I can see for you continuing to date others. And I'm not saying that is a good plan, just that it is a reason for you to have ended up in this weird spot.
posted by jbenben at 12:14 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

I am not interested in most of them beyond friendship, though, and I'm in a really comfortable FWB situation and don't want "the whole enchilada" of commitment, yet I only want this one person.

There are so many contradictions here, I don't know where to begin. And it only gets worse as it goes on.

It seems you may be caught up with labels and how things look to others, rather than doing what you want because it makes you happy. I think you just need to figure out what YOU want and not worry about what it would be labeled as, what others think, or how it may not be consistent with what you thought you wanted.
posted by karathrace at 12:20 AM on March 13, 2012 [6 favorites]

Yes, I'm confused as well. You say you love the person you're with, you want to spend as much time with him as possible, you're very happy with the relationship, etc. So why are you dating other people? It sounds like you're getting what you want from your friend. And with everything you've got going on with your friend, it doesn't sound like you have any time or energy to give to someone else.

It also sounds like you've got more of a relationship going than you want to admit; why not just be open with people that you're involved with someone, and then they won't expect any more from you than you're willing to give. You say you don't have the label "taken" any more, but you sound pretty "taken" to me.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 12:51 AM on March 13, 2012 [8 favorites]

Yes, I think you should just be dating your FWB only for the time being. Once he goes away, you know that's it and that's all you're interested in for now so things shouldn't be complicated further. If you don't care what he's up to, why does anything need to be defined? Cross the bridge of seeing other people once he actually leaves.
posted by mleigh at 1:14 AM on March 13, 2012

I would add as a point for discussion that having someone with you can make you appear more attractive to other possible romantic partners (countering what jbenben said above). But you've clearly said you don't want to date anyone else.

Are you really okay with your FWB situation? The fact that you've brought up going monogamous, even for a short-term, suggests that you want more from this than the FWB does, even though he is effectively giving you what you want anyway... he's just not committing to continuing to provide it, nor will he promise to be exclusive.

Been there! In many relationships there's one who wants more, and I think that's you.
posted by Cathy from Encino at 3:02 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

You can't date other people, then turn them down, but keep them as friends and make them feel as if they're not being rejected. They are being rejected. That's what turning them down means.

Do those people think you want a relationship with your friend with benefits? I don't know, but it does sound to me like that is what you want. You're telling us you only want that one person. Apparently you're not jealous of his other partners. So why not be monogamous on your end?
posted by J. Wilson at 3:27 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is there an actual question here?

Otherwise, if you don't want to date, then don't. Tell people you are taken and just looking for friends. Set their expectations early, so that they know chances of relationship are zilch. You can always change your mind later.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:52 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes, confusing. You are taken, and I don't think it's just as a "best friend". It sounds like you are going through the dating-around motions in order to front the FWB mantle, while actually most happy (you sound in love, frankly) as his girlfriend. As my fellow MeFites have said, just go with being monogamous on your side if you're cool with him dating others. Or maybe you aren't quite so ok with it?
posted by thinkpiece at 4:11 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

don't know how to explain it to others who might offer more of a committed relationship to me and who might seem much more compatible

You don't have to explain your FWB situation and the innermost workings of your heart to your other dates. If they ask for more, just tell them it's not what you want or can provide right now. You do not owe them a rundown of exactly what your FWB means to you and how that impacts your ability to have other relationships - it seems to me that sharing that information just hurts them and infringes on your boundaries.

The important thing is not that they understand exactly why, it's that they know where they / you stand and have the information they need to make a decision to move on or adjust their expectations. Be clear and firm, but limit the details. The solid fact is that you aren't open to a serious relationship with, for example, DudeX right now. Let him know that.

If you keep dating it might be good to figure out what you do want from your dates and let them know that sooner rather than later. "I just got out of an LTR and I'm enjoying going on lots of dates and I don't see myself settling down right away."
posted by bunderful at 4:42 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

You might not be "taken" but you'e "not available" and that can be a nicer (and in this case probably often more true) way to say that you'e not available to a particular person because there isn't quite the spark.

Since you'e not looking for a permanent partner and you're not feeling lonely, I also don't see a reason to date for the sake of dating.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:50 AM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Dude, you have a non-monogamous boyfriend. Does that help you to understand why you don't want to date other people right now? My educated guess is that you're in love with him, and he's not in love with you. Which is fine, because as you point out, this relationship has a natural end date when your NMBF moves over seas. Stop dating other people and your problem will go away until that natural end date.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:02 AM on March 13, 2012 [12 favorites]

The people I turn down are going to see it as they are being rejected for someone I don't even have a commitment with...and I can't really say that they are wrong.

Okay — they aren't wrong. But how is that a problem? You don't owe them a date! It isn't your job to protect them from frustration or resentment. Let them feel rejected! They'll live!

Strictly speaking you don't even owe them an explanation. You could just say "no" and leave it at that. In practice, it's polite and friendly to say something. But that something could be "I'm not feeling any chemistry" or "I'm too busy for this" or "I'm not looking for a boyfriend right now" or "I don't feel that way about you" or whatever happens to be the truth.

I did think of myself as poly for a while...but maybe I'm not. All I know is that I hate hurting people and it's hard to turn them down for a non-relationship that isn't even monogamous.

The poly version of "Sorry, I'm taken" is "Sorry, I don't have room for that in my life right now." And you hear it so often in poly circles. Everyone, monogamous or not, gets to set boundaries and define what they're looking for. And that includes the right to say "Back up! Too much!" — even in situations where they'd be "allowed" to go farther if they wanted.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:21 AM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

I confused myself just trying to respond to this question. How do all these interested people know about your FWB that you're so low-key about that most people think you're just friends? Why do you care so much about explaining what you're doing and why to them, when you clearly don't quite understand it for yourself? I'm not trying to be obnoxious, but there's a lot of contradiction here. FWBs usually don't have a longish-term shelf life, and if he's not leaving the country for a year or two, that's kind of a long time to be calling what you do "an arrangement." But if you don't want to or can't be "dating," and you're okay with that, then that's absolutely fine. You don't have to explain to anyone else why you don't want to pursue a relationship with them, even if they are aware of your FWB relationship, just that you don't.

You can keep on pursuing dates and hookups with others if you want, but I think the person who is most likely to potentially going to be hurt and confused here is you. Physically "keeping my options open" [by dating because your FWB and you think you are not compatible enough for a committed, monogamous relationship] and emotionally "preferring the company of just one person" [by turning people down who want to be with you and wanting to spend all of your time with him] is inconsistent and clearly not working for you. It's not so much that you need to pick one, but it's probably confusing the other suitors that you sound rather confused yourself.
posted by sm1tten at 7:34 AM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

You're rejecting people. It's ok to reject people. It's necessary to reject people. Especially in the two perfectly reasonable rejection-situations you describe: not wanting more than you have, and not being attracted to what's on offer anyways. You are certainly not obliged to date more than you want (and with people you're not attracted to!) just because your boyfriend is. You don't need a reason. If you don't feel like it, don't do it.

That said, you do not get to decide if you will keep a person as a friend after you reject them sexually or romantically. They may be disappointed, or only want you as more-than-a-friend. That's their choice. Your responsibility is to be clear with the rejection. Polite as you can, but clear. Do not get into the habit of keeping people guessing in order to squeeze friendly behavior out of them. That's a way to build poisoned friendships.
posted by ead at 7:45 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just because you can date other people doesn't mean you have to date other people.

You are not rejecting the people just the date, you don't have to give them a reason why, just a thank you I'm flattered but I'm not looking to date right now kind of excuse. If you and your friend with benefits are as low key as you say they are not going to feel you chose him over them, and if they do what's the big deal, you have chosen him over them. Once you say no to a few dates the word will get around your social circle that you are not looking at this time and people will slow down on asking you out.

Again if they work out that you are saying no to them because you have a friend with benefits what's the big deal you are a 40yo woman you can date however you want, the jealousy is their problem and not one you can fix for them.
posted by wwax at 8:20 AM on March 13, 2012

From a plain facts standpoint, how you deal with people you don't want to date is by not dating them. I'd they want to be friends, that's an option. There is only one thing people you date need to know, and it's a simple yes or no: "Yes, I am committed to you" or "No, I like being single." The who and why and how and how often of who else you may or may not be seeing is nobody's business.

As most of the answers have noted - it sounds like this seems complicated to you because you have a scenario in your head that's at odds with reality.

Maybe spend some time alone and think about what he situation with the friend really is.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:33 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

The thing about being poly is that you don't have to date everyone who wants to date you, and you don't have to fuck everyone you date. (Of course this is true of being mono, too.)

Now, count me among the people who are wondering why you're dating if you're not looking for additional romantic or sexual partners, but even so, you don't owe anyone anything. "I'm just not feeling any chemistry" is a polite response, as is "I'm not looking for any additional partners right now."

If your social circle is such that the only "acceptable" reason not to date or fuck someone is that you're in a monogamous or otherwise committed relationship, I would question whether that social circle is worth your time in the first place.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:59 AM on March 13, 2012

Certainly the OP doesn't owe anyone a date, or even an explanation about why they aren't going to be dating. But the mention of OkCupid makes me wonder if the OP is actively putting herself out as date-able when she really isn't, by virtue of whatever her relationship with her best friend is, thereby having to reject everyone who seeks to date her.

Maybe I'm reading too much into the OkCupid reference, but if I'm not, it would make sense to get off dating sites, or make it explicit that you are only looking for friends not relationships, as well as avoid other explicitly date-oriented events/activities. Things like speed dating or singles mixers come to mind.
posted by 6550 at 11:47 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Maybe I'm reading too much into the OkCupid reference

I don't think you are. I fear the OP is doing a what's-good-for-the-goose defensive dating strategy. Only because I recognize it. I've said previously, FWBs = tricky. Very tricky.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:20 PM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Right now you aren't emotionally available for a new official SO. You are emotionally occupied with the FWB, even if it doesn't have lasting potential. Which is fine, but doesn't work well for dating other people when you don't really want or need them or care much as long as FWB is grilling your cheese.

Either you give up dating and play it out with FWB for as long as it lasts, or you break up with him and date as an officially single and available person. Those are the inevitable solutions I see to this problem. It sounds like you'd be super awkward and kind of pointless right now to date anyway!
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:52 PM on March 13, 2012

Somewhat echoing Sidhedevil & 6550 above, this part of your post:

the people I'm not feeling it for know all about my FWB and have pointed out that I'm more into him. They are jealous and see him as standing in the way.

really kind of bothered me.

I mean, maybe I'm reading too much into this, but it sounds like you've got more than one person regularly telling you, "Hey, you SHOULD be dating ME!!! Dump that loser, it's not going anywhere, if you were free from HIM, you'd realize that I'M the better choice."

Which is pushy and controlling and generally Not Cool, y'know?

If that's what's happening, then I'm seconding Sidhedevil re: your social circle and 6550 re: OKCupid or however it is that you're meeting & interacting with the people you're "not feeling it for."
posted by soundguy99 at 4:17 PM on March 13, 2012

« Older Can I Legally Bet on March Madness?   |   Movies set on a single ship Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.