Are we friends with benefits?
July 16, 2012 1:49 AM   Subscribe

Are we friends with benefits?

So me and an "old friend" started talking again last week. I messaged him on facebook and he gave me his number. He asked if I wanted to come over and I figured sure why not. I didn't really know what was going to happen, since he was a bit of a man-whore a couple of years back.

When we got to his place after he picked me up, who he shares with a couple of friends, he turned on a movie and we hooked up. He wanted to cuddle afterwards, which surprised me because I was under the impression that it was just sex and nothing else. But, I told myself, "Maybe he just likes to cuddle". I thought that it was just a one-night stand, and I was okay with that.

A couple of days later, however, he invited me over again. It was around six when he wanted me to come. This time a bunch of his friends were over and we all hung out and had some beer. There was a point in the night where I was in the kitchen looking for a glass when one of his friends who lives with him took a dirty one and washed it for me. He laughed and said "Yeah that's how it is around here. You'd better get used to it" That kinda took me aback because I wasn't aware that I'd be coming back that often. There was sex later, but afterwards, we cuddled and talked for a good hour.

Last night, he invited me over a third time and all the same friends were there. When we were standing, he'd put his arm around me sometimes. When we were sitting, he wanted to cuddle. He also kissed me in the kitchen-this is all in front of his friends.

He also texted me in the middle of the week, just to chat. My friend thinks he's possibly into me, but I'm more skeptical just because I'm not really looking for a relationship and for him to like me it would complicate things. And like I said, he at one time was a man-whore. What do you think? Is this normal for friends with benefits (are we even that??)
posted by xopaigexo to Human Relations (28 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm not sure why you would think this 'is' fwb. How is it determinedly that rather than a burgeoning relationship or casual sex or dating...? I get the impression from others with experience that fwb is the one that is most likely to be explicitly defined, so I'd say that's not what you are.

I mean, you're barely friends by the sounds of it! Old friends in inverted commas?

Anyway, whilei think your interpretation is a little odd, it really wouldn't matter if I found it entirely plausible. Because the resolution is still only going to come from a conversation between the two of you.
posted by jojobobo at 1:57 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like there is a lot of detail missing from this, so it's hard to say, but it seems to me that:

1) This guy does sound like he's into you
2) This is a question for him, not us

If it's just sex, you both need to be on the same page. If it's not just sex, you still need to both be on the same page. S talk to him about it.
posted by man down under at 2:02 AM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


i cuddled and hung out and put my arms around my casual sex/fwb hook ups. but we explicitly had discussions about where we were at and what we expected. you need to have that talk. you should probably find a way to discuss it that doesn't repeatedly call him a man-whore.
posted by nadawi at 2:23 AM on July 16, 2012 [25 favorites]


I agree with man down under that this is a question for him. However, and maybe I'm out of touch, but I don't know where the line is between "man-whore" (which you write twice to describe him) and "FWB" but you should probably lose the judgment when you ask him this question, especially since there's a pretty fine line there (if there is any difference) and you are interested in a FWB relationship.

In fact, I wonder if you've had a relationship with him before, or you wanted one and were spurned? "Whore" in any variation is a pretty harsh word.

Having said that, I would assume that people do what they want to do. He spends time with you -- he likes to spend time with you. He cuddles -- he likes to cuddle with you. He has sex with you -- he likes to have sex with you. I would put a lot less (like, no) stock in what his friends say, what they may or may not observe, what they may or may not think.
posted by Houstonian at 2:27 AM on July 16, 2012


This is one of those - you have to ask him - questions.
posted by heyjude at 2:37 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


He likes you. He's introduced you to his friends, he's asked you out several times, enjoys your company and is affectionate. Whether he's looking for a relationship or a casual dating thing is a question for him but, so far, he's treating you like a woman he likes, respects and wants in his life.
posted by fshgrl at 2:39 AM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


2nd fshgrl. Ask him what you've asked us. Every relationship requires boundaries.
Set em up. Be ready for anything.
posted by Pudhoho at 3:08 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'll give you a data point that when I was in my "man-whore" days, inviting you to hang out with my friends or putting my arm around you in public would be standard-fare. I generally liked/crushed on the girls I was dating or sleeping with, so I enjoyed their company enough to text them occasionally.

You really need to just talk with him. Let him know you're not looking for anything serious but that you're having fun...maybe you'll find he wants that too, and you're set.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 4:07 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a relationship where you follow his lead and take his cues, are reluctant to ask him to define it, and don't have the authority to set the terms yourself.
posted by tel3path at 4:13 AM on July 16, 2012 [16 favorites]


I don't see any behavior here that would be inconsistent with this being simply a FWB thing. FWB doesn't have to be emotionally cold; in fact, most of the time sex generates warm feelings of affection.

On the other hand, I don't see any behavior here that would be inconsistant with this developing into a relationship, other than your somewhat sensationalist claim that he was a man-whore (which is not particularly helpful unless you provide data-points to justify it).
posted by wolfdreams01 at 5:11 AM on July 16, 2012


Yes, it's FWB because it's FWB to you...but for it to remain FWB, you have to be clear with him that you only want FWB.

And yeah, this sounds very FWB to me. You're coming over to his place. There's no wooing. That he's texting you to chat means nothing...that's the friends part of the FWB.

Talk to him. You've everything to gain from it.
posted by inturnaround at 5:14 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think "friends with benefits" is actually just a flailing attempt to come up with a term for that nebulous "we're not, like, in a relationship relationship, but we are fucking, so...what does that mean" state, and that state can take a lot of different forms. Your definition of "friends with benefits" may be totally different from his, his may be different from his buddy's, his buddy's may be different from the coffee barista's you go to, etc.

I'd talk to him about the what of what you're doing rather than trying to figure out what to call it. Figure out what you want and what he wants and see if they're compatible. If they are, then great - and you can come up with your own name for it later. (I kind of dig "boyfling" or "girlfling" for these situations, myself.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:45 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


My friend thinks he's possibly into me, but I'm more skeptical just because I'm not really looking for a relationship and for him to like me it would complicate things.

You realize that's not a reason to be skeptical, right? Your not looking for a relationship tells you something about what you want, but it doesn't tell you anything about what he wants.

I bring this up not to pick on you, but to highlight, as others have noted, the lack of agency on display in your post. You are an equal partner in setting the terms of this relationship. If you know what you want, you should have a conversation with him where you ask for that. If he wants something different, you should stop sleeping with him.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:05 AM on July 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


Maybe you're FWB and he doesn't care if all his friends know it.

Are you happy with what you've got going on? Then keep it going on. Beanplate later.
posted by mibo at 7:30 AM on July 16, 2012


If you think he's looking for a relationship and you're not, you should say so. There are two ways to do this.

My approach would be something like "Hey, I'm having a really good time with you but I think I should make it clear that I'm not interested in a relationship, so if you are I think we should back off and stop sleeping together. I don't want to lead you on because I value your friendship."

If that's too cheesy a lot of people get away with "It's nice to have someone to hook up with no strings attached, don't you agree? I'm so not looking for a relationship." Try not to do this while you're cuddling.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:41 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would do without the greek chorus that seems to surround you while inside his apartment. That's not totally conducive to a friends with benefits situation, and it sounds like it can get weird really fast.
posted by moammargaret at 8:08 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am wondering why you need to define it with a specific label at this point. The universe doesn't ask itself what labels and categories humans will come up with when it creates things. That's why we have the platypus, which mother nature is fine with, never mind how crosseyed humans get over an egg-laying mammal.

Why don't you just decide whether or not you feel like going to his place the next time he asks and leave any serious talks for some later date? This relationship can be whatever the two of you choose to make it, even if that means making up a new label.

Just my 2 cents and similar disclaimers.
posted by Michele in California at 8:32 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


How old are you guys?

Now that I'm in my thirties (holy shit I just wrote that), my general assumption is that if someone only wants to hang out with me privately, and our relationship is mostly based around "hanging out" and sex, that's definitely a casual sex type thing.

If I'm in a fledgling relationship, we will actually go out and do things together, meet each others' friends who are not roommates, and act like a couple outwardly to the general public.

That said, when I was in my early 20's, everyone was broke so dating was mostly hanging out at home. Also back then my social life mainly revolved around roommates and roommates' friends and a big posse of folks who were always hanging around my place or we were all hanging around someone else's place. If you're living in that world, it might be harder to tell whether this is a FWB or a baby relationship.
posted by Sara C. at 8:40 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


What do YOU want?

Yes, this sounds like a pleasant, cordial fuckbuddy or friends with benefits thing. It sounds like this guy is being friendly and kind.

It doesn't sound, from anything you've told us, like he's secretly angling for a more committed relationship than that. But as everyone has said, you get to talk about that, and to say no to anything that makes you uncomfortable.

And lose the whole "man whore" garbage. It's sex negative in general, stigmatizing of sex workers, and makes you sound super judgmental.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:51 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


It sounds like he's thinking of this as a burgeoning relationship. If you don't think of it that way, you need to tell him that. You need to tell him that anyway, actually, because you're not sure that you're both on the same page as far as What You Are, and you need to be sure and you need to be on the same page. That might be a difficult conversation but it needs to happen.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:59 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


You'll have to ask or feel it out. Nobody's said anything.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:02 AM on July 16, 2012


How old are you guys?

And you are both guys, right?
posted by Rash at 10:22 AM on July 16, 2012


fshgrl: "He likes you. He's introduced you to his friends, he's asked you out several times, enjoys your company and is affectionate. Whether he's looking for a relationship or a casual dating thing is a question for him but, so far, he's treating you like a woman he likes, respects and wants in his life."

Well, mostly. Sounds like you have only ever gone to his place and slept over, right? Which is fine if you are both just looking to hook up and keep it casual.

Also, I think it would show a little more respect if he wasn't calling you up to do something that same night. I usually think of that being more of a booty call-- but maybe I'm just old-fashioned?

Maybe the next step is to see if he is into actually planning ahead a bit to go out somewhere, like to grab a bite to eat or see a movie, rather than just hanging out at his place last-minute all the time.
posted by misha at 10:25 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yup. My general understanding is that FWB usually don't come with PDA in front of other friends. But everyone has slightly different understandings of what does and does not come with FWB.

Nthing the suggestion to talk to him about what you both want. The two people in a relationship of any kind are always the two most qualified to define the relationship. Much more so than internet strangers.

Also, my guiding principle in early relationships goes something like...If I don't feel comfortable talking to the person I'm sleeping with about our relationship, I shouldn't sleep with them. Talk to the dude. If he wants a relationship and is hoping you're in when you're not, the kindest thing to do is to talk now and try to avoid hurt feelings later.

The universe doesn't ask itself what labels and categories humans will come up with when it creates things.

Well yeah. The universe doesn't ask itself or anyone else anything. It doesn't label itself the universe, either. Humans label things because humans need to, not because the "universe" needs us to.

The "why do we need a label?" argument drives me nuts. I can't fathom a relationship conversation about labels that isn't essentially about relationship meaning, wants, needs, desires, behavior, feelings for the other, expectations etc. Ideally, when folks agree on a relationships label, they are also agreeing on everything that the label represents. We need to label things because we need a common language to understand what we're doing and talking about. If you're a FWB, you need some common and agreeable understanding of what FWB means, why it's different from a committed relationship or a let's see where this goes relationship.

My friend thinks he's possibly into me, but I'm more skeptical just because I'm not really looking for a relationship and for him to like me it would complicate things. And like I said, he at one time was a man-whore.

So yeah, just sit down and have it out with him. Get as clear as you can with yourself. Are you not looking for a relationship or flat out don't want one? There's a difference. Would you like a relationship with the dude and are skittish because he has a slutty past or do you just not want a relationship with him? Don't kid yourself that FWB won't have its own set of complications.
Good Luck. Have Fun.
posted by space_cookie at 11:25 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


booty calls can be respectful.
posted by nadawi at 11:56 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The "why do we need a label?" argument drives me nuts. I can't fathom a relationship conversation about labels that isn't essentially about relationship meaning, wants, needs, desires, behavior, feelings for the other, expectations etc.


That is a good point, but then again, sometimes getting too hung up on defining something in its very very early stages can get in the way of simply enjoying it, and letting it define itself with a bit more time spent together.

And if it's something that only started a week ago, it can be really too early to have any such conversation. Especially as in this case it sounds the poster is pretty much okay with the specific actions being mentioned - not bothered by them, just surprised or confused because of a different idea of what casual sex entails.

I personally don't think those actions themselves signal anything so far other than he's more affectionate than what the poster expects from the situation. But it is still very casual for now - he hasn't even suggested going out on dates not involving sex. If he was already sure he wants more than that, oh there are a ton of clearer signs than just a few cuddles and an arm flung around a shoulder around flatmates. He may want something more later as this goes on, but for now, sounds like he's taking it as it comes. Only one week!

So I don't know, as long as you are enjoying it, I wouldn't worry about defining it yet, give it a bit of time. This is a big "YMMV" thing but since we're having a survey then that's my take.
posted by bitteschoen at 1:54 PM on July 16, 2012


Some folks here have suggested you are acting without agency, though your description sounds to me like you initiated contact with a guy you view as sexually "easy" and then apparently fell into bed with him readily enough the first evening. Perhaps you got exactly what you were looking for.

You can decide what you think it is. Or you can decide what you want it to be. You can also ask how he sees it. But even if you agree on some label, romantic comedies are filled with the cliche that men and women frequently have different expectations and that relationships in bloom (or in death throes) routinely fail to be what we expect them to be.

A Player I have known was a habitual liar who said whatever got a lady in bed. His friends knew and said nothing to me about it. What his friends say may not be anything to put much stock in. I think you are reading way too much into the remark about "That's how it is. Get used to it." He probably wasn't trying to tell you anything about your future or your relationship. He was merely telling you to accept that they aren't neatniks, too bad, so sad, it isn't changing any time soon. What your friends think may be equally useless feedback.

Actions speak louder than words. You both seem to be willing enough to have sex for now. It sounds like you are okay with that. If he intros you as the gf, that might be the time to say "Gee, no. FWB, at best. Maybe we need to talk?" But certainly if you want a definition, you can talk sooner than that. It's totally up to you. (Though romantic comedies are also filled with awkward scenes where one party has become smitten and is trying to tell their "just dating" partner they want something more, they want to use The L Word and all that.)

I am reminded of this nsfw comic: QC strip.
posted by Michele in California at 3:58 PM on July 16, 2012


~ How old are you guys?

~ And you are both guys, right?

The OP is apparently a lady (a previous question mentions concerns about pregnancy with a prior male partner) and someone who graduated from high school in the past few years (per another previous question).

This informed my answer. xopaigexo, I don't think you have to worry that this guy will be super clingy or that it will be awkward if you decide to stop hooking up with him.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:45 PM on July 16, 2012


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