Can I still take you up on that offer? From friends to FWB...
June 6, 2015 5:03 PM   Subscribe

A friend and I once discussed an exclusive FWB arrangement, which I declined since I was only looking for a serious relationship at the time. Two years later, my situation has changed and I'd like to test the waters. Should I bring up the subject again? If so, how?

Two years ago I met a wonderful guy in a class, and we hit it off instantly. I was very attracted to him, and after spending some time together both inside and outside of class, I proposed we go on a date. He replied "does that indicate interest in a potential relationship, or just a romantic evening with a friend?" and explained that he had recently on a few dates looking for a relationship, and found that he wasn't as ready for something serious as he thought, since his previous relationship had ended rather badly and had really messed with his head. He found himself getting defensive as people got close, and said that although he really is more of a serious relationship kind of person, he had been considering looking for something more casual. That he cannot just sleep around with strangers, or have one night stands, but was looking for more of an "exclusive friends with benefits" sort of arrangement.

At that time, I was only looking for a serious relationship, and did not like the idea of sex outside of a relationship, so I declined. He told me he had been considering asking me on a date, but did not want to give me a false sense of what he wanted or what he could handle, and that he would like to get to know the next potential girlfriend as friends first anyway.

So we decided to remain friends and continue getting to know each other. I have found that he is a very honest, supportive, caring person, and we have made great friends. We have been there for each other through some hard things, and have had a lot of fun hanging out. He eventually started seeing somebody, although it only lasted 1.5 months, and I entered a relationship of my own which recently ended in February.

Now, two years after this initial conversation, we are both single and I find myself thinking about this FWB option again. I have been looking at starting to date again, and do not think I am ready for a serious relationship at this point, but I do find myself missing the physical closeness with another person, and am starting to consider looking for something casual myself. I am definitely not one for super casual sex or one night stands, but thinking back to our conversations, I think I am looking for something like he was suggesting originally - having the trust and support and foundation of a friendship, while being able to be physically intimate with someone, without being serious about the long term.

I find myself wanting to explore this option, and he feels like a safe way to go about doing so. The idea of being able to have some fun with someone who I trust and already know, until I am ready to find something more serious, is intriguing.

Important things to note:
After getting to know him better, I know we would not work out in a serious relationship due to a few compatibility issues. While he is an amazing friend and I am also very attracted to him, I just don't see potential for relationship compatibility, so I do not think that would be an issue that seems to arise so often in FWB situations of one side wanting more.

I very much value my friendship with him, as he has always been very supportive and caring and just all around a great friend. I realize there is some risk in considering a FWB situation, but I would hope that our friendship would remain in tact afterwards.

So my questions are:
1) Is this a workable idea or a terrible one?
2) If not a terrible idea, how do I test the waters to see if he would still be receptive to something like this? I honestly have no idea if he just sees me as a platonic friend now and nothing more, or if he would still be interested in this sort of arrangement if I were to bring it up. I feel like just bringing it up out of the blue would be a little blunt.

Throwaway email:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It reads to me like you are kind of trying to convince yourself that it is a good idea. And in theory, it's not a bad one. However, have you really changed to become the kind of person who can do FWB, specifically with this guy? Just because you know intellectually that the two of you are not a good match does not mean you would not develop feelings. I note that you say you know that you two are not compatible, not that you don't have feelings for him. Do you? The fact that you are hesitant makes me think you might develop feelings (or already have), and know that.
posted by bearette at 5:50 PM on June 6, 2015 [11 favorites]

He's two years further on-- you said the reason he only wanted a FWB relationship 2 years ago was that he was just coming out of a bad relationship. Why would he want a FWB relationship now? Do you have reason to believe he'd still be open to it?

How important the friendship as it is now? My experience is no matter what people say, things take a funny bounce when sex enters the picture. Are you willing to risk the friendship entirely?
posted by frumiousb at 6:00 PM on June 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

You should ask him "Is your FWB offer still something you're open to discussing or have you moved your position on that?" or something. Seriously.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:13 PM on June 6, 2015 [16 favorites]

i would totally just ask him. he gave you the respect to ask you and then take it in stride when it wasn't what you were looking for. it seems to me he should be able to give you and honest answer and you can both take it in stride no matter what the answer is. i wouldn't be coy or test the waters - i'd just ask straight up - "hey, 2 years ago you proposed an arrangement and it wasn't something i was looking for at the time, but you know, life moves on and changes and i find myself at a point where i'd like a fwb situation, especially with someone like you who i feel safe with. what do you think?" and then go from there.
posted by nadawi at 6:26 PM on June 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

I think I am looking for something like he was suggesting originally - having the trust and support and foundation of a friendship, while being able to be physically intimate with someone, without being serious about the long term.

Sure sounds good on paper, doesn't it?

Too bad it doesn't work. Or rather, it doesn't work for very long and usually ends painfully for one or both parties.

Look, there's a reason they make romantic comedies about this -- everybody wants it, but deep down, we all recognize that nobody gets it. And then the script goes, aww, look, they really did love each other after all! Or, aww, look, after she wasted all that time with that loser that wouldn't commit, she found someone she really loves!

If you want to reach out to him, reach out to him. Ask him point blank, as nadawi suggests.

But it's a bad hand. Throw your cards away and move to a new table.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:54 PM on June 6, 2015 [13 favorites]

Go for it.

Just bring it up next time you're hanging out with him. If he says "no" then shrug and get on with doing whatever you were gonna do with him.

(I am currently in a pretty good ex-with-benefits relationship. We're there for each other when we really need emotional support, but for the most part we take care of our own happiness. We live apart and have totally separate finances, and can give each other thoughtfully merciless critique on each others' creative work. He comes over once a week on average, we hang out, maybe just get stoned in front of the screen, maybe go out to do something. Maybe sex, maybe not. It's great.)

The monogamous FWB thing sounds a little weird to my casually poly self, but whatever works for you.
posted by egypturnash at 7:29 PM on June 6, 2015

The fact that this whole thing sounds like a business negotiation is depressing to me.

Don't you want to be with someone who really wants to be with you, who feels passionate about you and about whom you feel passionate? You've hung out as friends for two years, I feel like if there were real passion and attraction here it would have already happened. The fact that you're on here asking people if it's a good idea instead of just going for it also really doesn't bode well. I agree that it sounds like you are trying to convince yourself.

I have a very strong feeling that even if he said yes, it would be awkward at this point, and not very fulfilling.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 8:51 PM on June 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't really get how exclusive fwb is not a relationship. Is it because you don't like each other that much? If you are friends, you will have the relationship, and if you are having sex then you will have that side, and if you are exclusive anyway....

So- do you want to ask this person out? Do that. As for how serious it becomes, that will depend on how it all goes. I suppose the question to me, is, do you like this person enough to risk losing the friendly relationship in favour of a romantic one that might fail?
posted by jojobobo at 9:57 PM on June 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Also- this is definitely all to be treated on its own merits now. Any convo you had two years ago is not worth anything, imo.
posted by jojobobo at 9:58 PM on June 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

i've had lots of successful friends with benefits situations. it doesn't require passion or some secret desire to be with each other. it doesn't have to be full of drama. i find the best ones are where the two people agree it will be mutually beneficial and also agree that a traditional relationship won't work. exclusive fwb is a bit more difficult, but not impossible - it just puts a quicker expiration date on the proceedings.
posted by nadawi at 6:03 AM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

This questions rings a lot of bells for me. I am pretty monogamous, but sometimes I feel like I *should* have had some more fun back in my single days. Your paragraphs sound just like things I would tell myself back when I was single, wanting to have this more adventurous sex life. To be really honest, I am super glad that I didn't ever go through with any of my hare-brained schemes to sleep with my friends because it really isn't me. Like Cool Papa Bell says, we all want it, and no one gets it. It's like wishing for superpowers.

To answer your stated question, you should go out for drinks or coffee with him and ask him, referencing only that you want to sleep with him now, not what was said in a conversation 2 years ago.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:55 AM on June 7, 2015

"Exclusive friends with benefits" is nearly the exact same thing as having a boyfriend or girlfriend, at least in my mind. You have no idea whether or not the person you are dating is going to be the person you want to be dating in a year or two years or five. That's the purpose of dating.

I would actually either try to date this guy, or I would find another person to date. The phrase "exclusive friends with benefits" sounds to me like he wants a girlfriend without doing any of the work of actually having a girlfriend (as in, you can't ask him to drive you to the airport or to go to dinner with your parents because he's not your boyfriend! But also you're not free to forge intimate relationships with other men!). You deserve better.
posted by sockermom at 9:10 AM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just steer clear of boys who insist on 'friends with benefits'. It's creepy, irresponsible, infantile bullshit; don't play their game.
posted by Rash at 10:20 AM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

What egypturnash said. I think FWB is actually easier on the back side of a relationship instead of the front side. You are heading in hip deep in sexual bonding, then calling it FWB. Get real, can you actually do that? Cya, call next week we'll hang out. Sounds okay.

If you've already bonded, flamed out, renewed your friendship and what the heck, let's do the monkey thing and have some fun, no rules except be caring and occasionally available, then go for it. Starting out that way? Why not ask him out on a date and float this concept, see how he feels? Might not be what he wants now either.
posted by diode at 8:30 PM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

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