How do I tell my FWB that I don't want a relationship but still want the sex?
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After three years of writing for Miss Information, I’m moving on to other projects.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks kicking around this letter in my head, then giving up and stress-eating. In the end, I decided to just cut to the chase and drown you all with a fire hose of thanks. It has been a genuine pleasure writing this column, and I want to especially thank everyone who read, wrote in, and contributed insightful comments. Nerve readers as a whole are a literate, sassy people who can punctuate like nobody’s business, which makes you the top .002% of the internet. Go get yourselves a cake on your lunch break. You all deserve it.
You can follow my post-Nerve thought bubbles at http://rubyspurflower.tumblr.com, or my largely neglected Twitter @CaitlinCR. Again, thank you for the last three years. Til next time our paths cross, I wish each of you long, satisfying relationships (or short, dramatic ones—whatever floats your boat, man.)
There will be a new Miss Info replacing me—You’ll be in good hands.
Without further ado, Caitlin’s last question:
Dear Miss Information,
To make a long story short—I’m a thirty-three year old lesbian, and four years ago, I had the most horrible breakup. I know it sounds totally cliché, but I was in a relationship for three years with a bi woman I was totally in love with, and she left me for a man. I was planning to spend the rest of my life with her, Miss Info, and she married him two months after we broke up and ASKED ME TO BE HER BRIDESMAID.
I couldn’t stand the thought of ever seeing her again, so I threw myself into a job that required lots and lots of travel. At first it was really nice—seeing the world, nothing to tie me down—but I was never in the same place long enough to even make friends, and I was desperate. Six months ago, I took a different job and cannonballed back into the dating pool. I found a friends-with-benefits situation with someone, another lesbian this time. The sex is mind-blowingly awesome, and the friendship really took off. We hang out all the time.
She’s starting to fall for me, and I was hoping for an actual relationship anyway, but I'm not really that attracted to her. She wants me to stick around in the hopes that I’ll eventually become more attracted to her. What do I do? We’ve talked about it, and we’re both enjoying what we have and don’t want to end things, but I was really hoping my first foray back into relationships would be more satisfying.
—Little Lost Lesbian
Dear Little Lost Lesbian,
There are basically two types of “friends with benefits” situations. 1: Both parties like each other, but don’t quite “like-like” each other. They manage to keep their egos largely out of it, and let things ebb and flow until everything concludes on its own. 2: One or both parties seek out a “FWB” situation to avoid something (intimacy, time expenditure, whatever), because it seems simpler. For the authoritative voice on this phenomenon, I refer you to Ashton Kutcher and two hours of my life I will never get back.
While the first scenario does exist, it’s more or less the relationship equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster. Some people believe in it wholeheartedly, some people vocally oppose its existence, and the rest roll their eyes when the topic comes up. Of course, sex without responsibility seems like a win-win on paper, but it’s either callous or naïve to assume you can divorce sex from emotion. Despite everyone’s best efforts, usually feelings creep in. Curse you, emotional literacy!
In summary, LLL, it sounds like you’ve got a pretty solid case of the garden-variety FWB blues. If you’re not attracted to her, you’re not likely to somehow “grow” those feelings later. The longer this dynamic continues, the starker the power disparity will be: she’ll be in a place of trying to cater to you and win your approval, and you’ll be in the position of holding all of the power but likely wishing you didn’t. That’s not a very friendly dynamic, is it?
You do a greater service to both of you by being honest about what you can and can’t provide. Maybe the “benefits” don’t work out, but the “friendship” can be salvaged. Besides, LLL, you’re new to the dating and friendship pool; let yourself settle in. By dialing down a so-so relationship, you free up energy to seek out a better fit. Work on sharpening that inner compass, and you should be un-lost in no time.