Figuring out guidelines for friends with benefits situation
January 27, 2013 4:33 PM   Subscribe

I am starting a casual relationship/FWB situation. Previously, I'd only had sex in a relationship or a one night stand. What should I be thinking about ahead of time? What are some guidelines/general expectations that you've used in this situation?

A few days ago, I had sex with a friend. We know each other through a mutual friend and while I like him, he's not a close friend and our main friend groups are very separate. (I'm female and mid twenties, he's a few years older)

It was just the two of us hanging out together, and after a movie, I said that I'd like to have sex with him but if I was reading the situation wrong or he didn't want to, I was totally okay with just watching another movie or heading out or whatever. He said essentially the same thing and we had some really good sex. Afterwards, while we were cuddling, I said that I did not want any kind of serious relationship with anyone right now, but did want to have sex with him again if he wanted to. If he didn't want to have sex again, we could return to our very low key friend situation. He immediately agreed that he didn't want a serious relationship either but was definitely okay with repeating the sex. I slept over, we had a second round in the morning and left it open as to when we'd meet up next.

I am fairly good at separating out actual feelings from lust and I will be traveling in a few months and then almost certainly living in a totally different country, so there is a clear cut ending. I'm good at being honest and blunt when I need to be and at least in terms of physical sex, we didn't have any problems communicating what we did and didn't want.

Before anything happens again, I want to make sure we're on the same page because right now, I see it as a non-exclusive, FWB situation. However, I'm not sure if by saying very casual relationship rather than FWB, he could possibly have interpreted it as exclusive? (A little worried about this because he mentioned that he really hates condoms and would prefer it if I was on the pill instead, but I see that as a exclusive thing b/c of STDs). Stuff like cuddling and making me breakfast is a little ambiguous.

What I'm looking for is what other people have considered normal boundaries and guidelines in this situation. Is staying the night normal? How much, if any, texting/calling is too much for FWB? Where's the line being low-key date and hook-up? When does exclusivity come in to it?

I realize this is all going to vary and I need to talk about this with him, but I want to hear what other people have done and how it worked and any advice you might have.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

You say you have a low-key relationship now so keep doing that. Keep him on the backburner, basically. Make plans with your other friends, date other people, don't make your week revolve around hanging out with him. Don't make date-y plans, don't call or text him often, just do things you would normally do with him. Spell out what you want again and have fun.
posted by bradbane at 4:39 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

So you have a friend/acquaintance, and all of a sudden you have a reason to start spending more time with him. In this case it's for sex, but maybe as a thought experiment pretend you're working on an art project or something together...

You don't need to go out to dinner prior to heading home to work on the project. If someone has to cancel plans to work on it, nobody gets butthurt. If your schedules don't coincide for a few weeks, there's no flurry of texts to assure each other that you're still interested. If you like hanging out with him, you might take the opportunity to get to know him better -- but as bradbane says, don't prioritize that over other activities/friendships the way you would a budding romance. And if you work late at someone's house and the other sleeps over... probably you'd offer simple breakfast food to any friend, but then you have your own plans for the day, right?
posted by ecsh at 5:11 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would insist on condoms, even if he claims it's exclusive. Any guy who is willing to skip condoms with a woman he is in a FWB situation with, who's "not a close friend," will have (and has had) unsafe sex with other women. Better safe than sorry. If he likes having sex with you more than he hates condoms, he'll acquiesce.
posted by fruitopia at 5:28 PM on January 27, 2013 [21 favorites]

Seconding insisting on condoms.
posted by luckynerd at 5:34 PM on January 27, 2013

I don't know if I'd read anything into the breakfast and cuddling thing just yet, a lot of guys have manners and that is usually a polite thing to do for someone you've spent the night with. I'd also nth insisting on condoms. Going out and doing friends stuff with an FWB is perfectly fine in my book as the idea is it's a friend too but I'd avoid romantic walks dinners etc and stick to movie nights and casual stuff or most likely the stuff you've been doing up until now. Texting is Ok too though keep it low key as in to exchange info and not just to chat and flirt unless you are really sure he's 100% on the boundaries as texts get so easily misread.
posted by wwax at 5:42 PM on January 27, 2013

I would recommend having another talk with him where you specifically use the words "non-exclusive." I say this as somebody who has made the mistake in the past of using the phrase "casual dating" (assuming that non-exclusivity was implicit to that) only to realize too late that it was misinterpreted as "We are exclusive but not serious about each other." Communication is important, and you can never be too clear.

Also, thirding that you always insist on condoms.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 5:48 PM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

An alternative to condoms: hand-jobs until he shows you an STD screening that includes syphilis, at which point oral sex goes on the menu. (Nb such sex will be low-risk rather than no-risk, especially since y'all still won't be fluid-bonded.) To be polite, you should also show him (rather than merely report) the results of a recent STD screening.

I'm not saying no one should ever just take their FWB's word for it -- but in this case, (a) older men who hate condoms are not necessarily conscientious about their status, plus (b) the comradely exchange of paperwork helps foster a certain polite pragmatic detachment that will be a feature, rather than a bug, for your desired situation.
posted by feral_goldfish at 4:46 PM on January 28, 2013

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