“It is necessary, and even vital, to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it.”
~ Mandy Hale
For every person you might know who has made the transition from friends-with-benefits to being in a committed, romantic relationship, there are just as many who don’t ever get there, despite their best efforts. It’s important to remember, no matter what, that you are only one half of this equation – you can do everything “right” and it still doesn’t mean the two of you will get there if he’s not wanting it, too.
With that in mind, let me give you some tips to help set you up for the best chances of success:
1. Talk, talk, talk.
While there’s no need to have everything figured out all at once as the two of you are exploring this potential relationship, the worst thing you can do is not communicate. This is how ghosting happens. This is how the waters get very muddy and lines get blurred.
If you’re sensing tension or discomfort from either one of you, name it.
It’s a clear sign that there’s very little potential for a future if the only thing he wants to talk with you about is when the two of you can get together for sex. If he is not open to hearing how you’re feeling about things or sharing how he’s feeling about things, there might not be hope for this becoming a relationship in the future.
2. Know when you’ve reached your breaking point.
It’s important to be honest with yourself and him about what you ultimately want. There’s nothing wrong with just hooking up, but if what you truly want is a relationship, then hooking up with no end in sight isn’t going to work for you. If you find yourself feeling more stressed out than excited about seeing him, because of the uncertainty about where things are going, it’s truly time to decide at a certain point if this arrangement is what’s best for you.
Have an honest conversation where you tell him you want the two of you to shift from being friends with benefits to being a couple and see what he says.
Yes, this is scary, but it’s better to get answers at some point than to start feeling resentful. Fingers crossed he says he wants this with you, too!
3. Check your sources moving forward.
Yes, I do know someone who met their wife on Tinder. It happens. But it is definitely the exception, not the rule.
If you follow the above steps and it doesn’t work out with this current guy, look at where you’re finding potential partners in the future.
If this starts becoming a pattern for you where you’re only finding hook-up partners instead of relationship partners, you may need to switch things up with where you’re meeting people and talk about this with your therapist (if you have one). This will decrease the likelihood of this continuing to happen.
Michelle Henderson, MA, LMHC – www.nextchapter-counseling.com
So, you want a commitment!
It is natural for women to want some type of assurance or pledge to be the only sexual and intimate partner in a man’s life. It is one of the first steps in a committed relationship and if often expected to lead to marriage.
This is why the “friends with benefits” set up usually fails.
Women like commitment! But let’s say you find yourself in this situation. The relationship started out casual with an understanding that the two of you could see other people as well as one another. Or the relationship began as friends and as a matter of convenience, you both decided to add sex into the mix. How can you make the shift to a monogamous intimate relationship if it didn’t start out as one?
Great questions and this might not be very easy.
We want to look at why the “relationship” was set up this way to begin with. Which one of you struggles with exclusivity and committing to one person? Maybe you both do. We also want to explore what types of thoughts and feelings go with the idea of a one-to-one relationship. Some people avoid that type of intimacy and connection because they fear vulnerability and pain.
Perhaps neither of you is truly what the other is looking for or wanting but just settled for the time being until someone better comes along. Or maybe, what started out as a more physical attraction and friendship has blossomed and evolved, as you have grown and learned more about one another, and this person seems like a good choice for planting roots with.
Once you have examined these areas, and you decide it is time to make the transition to a long term committed relationship, share this with your guy.
It would not be healthy to have one person wanting more and the other person wanting less, and this could also lead to jealousies, resentments, and hurt feelings.
Once you have crossed that threshold of wanting a long-term commitment, it is almost impossible to go back and settle for friends with benefits.
Share with your guy that your feelings have deepened, and you are hoping to turn this arrangement into something more significant. If you do not convey your feelings and thoughts about your change of heart, you risk developing feelings of frustration and disappointment with unmet expectations you have placed on your “friend.”
It is not unusual for women to have a more difficult time with the friends with benefits dynamic.
Women tend to develop the “feels” more quickly and sex, feelings, and emotions are not easily separated. However, be prepared that your guy might not be at the same place and once you have shared you want more and he doesn’t, this relationship as it was, will most likely suffer.
On the other hand, perhaps your guy feels the same way and you can authentically and honestly move forward together in a new direction.
Dr. Tracy S. Kelly, LMFT – www.DrTracyKelly.com
So you’re catching feelings and ready to DTR (define the relationship) with your FWB?
The best place to start is to be clear with yourself about what you’re looking for.
You know you want something more serious, but what does that actually mean? Do you want to be exclusive? Move in together? Meet each other’s families? You don’t have to have every step of the way figured out now, but knowing what you want next will help you figure out how to communicate it.
You’ll also want to consider what you want to do if your partner isn’t ready for commitment.
Are you okay continuing being FWB? Or are you ready for a more serious relationship, even if that means it’s with a different person?
As intimidating as it may be, the next step is to get vulnerable and communicate with your FWB. Let them know how you’ve been feeling and what you’re looking for.
You might start a conversation with, “I feel really connected when we’re together and I enjoy spending time with you. I’d like to make this exclusive. Can we talk about that?”
No matter what happens, stick to your boundaries!
If they aren’t ready to commit, that’s likely going to hurt, but it’s also good that they’re being honest. If you’re okay continuing with the casual hookups, great! But if what you really want is to be exclusive and that’s not what they’re looking for, this relationship isn’t a good fit.
And if they’re ready for a stronger commitment too, that’s awesome! You both made the first (of hopefully many) relationship-defining decisions.
Now that you’re official, don’t stop dating your partner.
That may seem obvious, but most couples start to get comfortable with each decision that further establishes their relationship. Remember, whatever it was you were doing before was what made them desire you in the first place. Continuing to put in effort will ensure a healthy, growing relationship. Congrats!
Samantha Ricard, MS, MFTC – www.ricardcounseling.com
Can your relationship move from friends with benefits to a more serious relationship?
Most of the time, relationships do start out as friendships. It takes about a year to get to know someone, even to just form a friendship. It takes even more time to develop trust and to form the type of bond that is the basis of a long-term relationship.
If both people feel the same way and want to keep the relationship at a friendship level, but also have benefits, this can work very well.
However, if there is an imbalance or if one person wants the relationship to grow into something more serious than the other, conflict and hurt can ensue.
Take the time to communicate with your partner about what you are both doing, and what you want.
It is OK if you want different things, as many relationships are meant to last for a while, but not forever. As long as you are honest and open to hearing your partners feelings and needs, you can both come to a resolution.
You cannot force someone to want what you want, but you can state your own feelings and needs, and then turn over the results to the universe.
The right thing will work out. If this is not the relationship that you ultimately want, do what works for you and trust the unfolding of the plan for your life.
Anita Gadhia-Smith, PsyD, LCSW-C, LICSW – www.drgadhiasmith.com
Ever had a friends with benefits relationship? It is a tricky one.
Maybe you just ended an old relationship, maybe you are focusing on your career or your health, and a relationship just doesn’t seem to be something you have time for. And then someone you find appealing turns up. A great opportunity for friends with benefits arises. Someone you click with, have a little spark, and allows you to meet your sexual desires in a safe and trusted relationship. Seems perfect.
Until some time passes and you come to realize that perhaps you do want to be in a committed relationship with this man. What do you do?
You certainly need to talk to this friend.
But first, notice where your relationship is. Is he dating other women? Is he just engaging in the benefits side of the relationship? Or do you two end up having dates or long talks about life? Do you spend time with each other’s friends?
Stopping to assess where he might be may help you figure out what to do next.
If you find it to be the former, maybe it helps you to start by pushing the boundaries of your relationship. Suggest dinner out, or maybe meeting up with your friends, or coffee during the day. See if he seems open to these changes in how you interact.
If you two are already at this point, it may just be time to be honest and let him know that your feelings have changed.
It’s time to reassess your arrangement if you’re no longer getting your needs met. Hopefully with the good chemistry and connection, there is more to build on that can become the committed relationship you are hoping for.
Rachel Armstrong, Psy.D.- www.rachelarmstrongpsyd.com
As you know, casual sex without emotional ties is not easy for everyone.
Yet, some people enjoy the physical connection and simple camaraderie, more than the intensity of a romantic, emotionally intimate relationship. FWB is a relationship with no strings attached.
But what happens when your attitude changes and you want more.
How do you shift a casual physical relationship into a real relationship with commitment, trust and real feelings?
- Start sharing more of yourself, so your friend gets to know who you really are.
- Invite him to social gatherings, where he meets your girlfriends and even family.
- Watch to see if he includes you in other aspects of his life, a sure sign that he may want something more, too.
- Don’t always be 100% available, keeping him intrigued and interested in what you’re doing and with whom.
- If you start using affectionate terms of endearment, like “hon” or “babe”, he may get the hint and do the same, indicating he feels a stronger connection to you.
- Show your uniqueness. He’ll believe he’s the luckiest guy in the world to know you.
- Perhaps, reveal to him how you truly feel. Once you tell him, the relationship will move on to a committed one or dissolve, but at least you know where you’re at.
If your desire is to be his girlfriend, it will be extremely difficult to keep the relationship as it is indefinitely.
After all, you want more and you deserve to have all your needs met. Your goal is to not have another failed relationship, but one that has chemistry, a strong foundation, is filled with romance and excitement and your feelings are mutual.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
I think it can be great if you can redefine a friend’s with benefits relationship as an actual committed relationship.
Having a friendship as a foundation for a romantic committed relationship is probably the best start you can hope for. Most of the time, you begin with an attraction and then begin the process of really getting to know if someone is right for you. In this case you more or less already know.
There are a couple of caveats.
Obviously you both have to want to intensify the relationship for it to work. If he is fine with it being casual, that’s probably how it’s going to stay. That will be very difficult if not impossible for you. It’s hard to hold back your feelings in order to keep him comfortable. I think eventually you will feel hurt and probably rejected as his message is essentially, “You’re great for fun and sex”, but not for love and commitment.
Even it you are both ready to take this step, understand that this will be a different relationship.
Romantic, committed relationships typically bring up much stronger emotions than friendships. You are each much more vulnerable because there is now so much more to lose.
Any childhood or past relationship issues concerning trust, or abandonment will likely surface. It really is a different relationship, not just an intensification of your friendship.
While it may be difficult to broach the subject, you need to tell him that your feelings are growing.
I just don’t think you can just stuff them away and continue on as usual. Hopefully he will feel the same and you will be ready to start this new journey. Even though you are already friends, remember that this is different.
Don’t rush it or make assumptions.
Like any relationship, keeping the lines of communication open and talking to each other about your thoughts, feelings and needs is the best way to insure your growth as a couple.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
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