Friends with benefits — yes or no?

FWBA DG reader, who wished not to be named, wrote:

An attractive, charming and very-much-younger out-of-town male friend with whom I talk on the phone every few months for hours recently realized I have been celibate since deciding to divorce a few years ago.

He was profoundly shocked and decided that on his next visit to my city he was taking me ‘out on the town’ rather than just dinner and talking, as we usually do on his visits. He implied strongly that he was perfectly willing to step up to friends with benefits (FWB) with no weirdness.

A big part of me views sex as a commitment thing. Another part is starting to climb walls and have trouble sleeping.

We have known each other for years, have always gotten along well and have many traits in common, and he is a real knight-in-shining-armor type.

So, why not? One reason — he’s a lot younger than me — as in old enough to drink but only by a bit!

Is this a bad idea to accept the invite? Is it too likely to damage the friendship? Or him?

I am in DEEP water here, and would like some outside counsel. I need another female level head to make sense. My personal experience is just TOO limited in the dating arena (let alone the FWB one!) to have practical experience in this regard, and I knew you would be able to offer some perspective on the pros and cons based on the REAL world.

Friends with benefitsDear Benefit-less Friend:

As you are wise enough to know, sex nearly always changes the dynamics, no matter how hard you try to make it not. Women let loose with that cuddling hormone, so get more attached, even if intellectually we know it’s just FWB.

My mantra is, “Don’t use someone else’s body to satisfy your own sexual needs.” It just complicates life. So, like you, my bias is for some kind of commitment, even if it’s just a commitment to be exclusive while you’re sexual. Not that I’ve stuck to my own guns about this!

So, my suggestion is to thank him but not take him up on his offer. With the exception of male DG readers, generally men have less emotional investment in sex than we do.

What do you think? Should she go for it or pass? Have you had experience with FWB and if so, was it worth it?

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20 responses to “Friends with benefits — yes or no?”

  1. Elena Avatar

    If she values the friendship, she should say “thanks but no thanks” and not take him up on his offer. Both she and her male friend should get their sexual needs met elsewhere if their current friendship is what really matters to both of them.

  2. Susan Avatar

    I’ve had “friends with benefits” before my marriage and during my post-divorced period where I’m currently navigating. I think you have to be willing to cut-off the friendship when you find someone you’re seriously interested in. I’m not sure it would be possible to revert back to the “just friends” status. It will certainly forever change the nature of the relationship.

  3. Ellen Avatar

    For me, FWB is one of those things that sounds good and then leaves a bad feeling after I do it. Equate this to eating that amazing-looking jelly donut and then feeling sick and bloated or buying that expensive dress and then feeling broke and not liking the dress. When I come across something to do that makes me spend a lot of time thinking whether I should do (or buy or eat, etc) it, then I shouldn’t. If I have to convince myself or find someone to convince me something is OK, it means that I really think it’s not. I haven’t met a woman in my life who can have casual sex and feel OK afterward. I say we should ‘go with our gut’ and trust that inner voice that says not to do it. For most women, sex needs to be physically AND emotionally satisfying and that’s not something that can happen with a ‘friend.’

    Xo Ellen

  4. Sandra Avatar

    I personally don’t believe there is “Friends With Benefits” because you aren’t really friends, it’s just a get together to satisfy your sexual needs. If you were “friends” and only friends, you wouldn’t be intimate, to me it just doesn’t make sense. In this situation where you’ve known each other for so long but he is much younger, I think it would destroy the friendship or at least it wouldnt be the same. I have passed people by when men have asked me if I were interested in FWB because I know in my heart that once we were intimate, I would never see him again, they only say Friends because they want you to think you’re going to be friends.

  5. Tildy Avatar

    IMO, men and women have different definitions of FWB. When a man says it, he’s thinking BOOTY-CALL!, when it’s convienient for him. When a woman says it, she’s usually looking to establish/continue a connection with the friend even though she’s not interested in a full blown relationship with said person, and, secondarily, to satisfy her physical needs. If you find yourself thinking that it will be anything more than an extended one-night-stand, don’t bother. You’ll just end up feeling like a used blowup doll.

  6. Susan Avatar

    I never felt like a “used blowup doll” in my FWB relationships. I genuinely liked the guys and still do. There were reasons why the relationships didn’t progress: one was in medical school, the other was just not long-term material (perhaps a “bad-boy”). We went out together, talked frequently, had mutual friends. I put them in the FWB category because I knew they weren’t what I wanted long-term, but short-term, they were a lot of fun. In both of my previous FWB relationships, I was the one who ended them because of getting involved in more serious relationships. I’m in another FWB relationship now and am completely satisfied with it. He’s way too involved in his job for a serious relationship, but when he’s around, we have a great time together. But, it is not going to lead to a serious relationship. Men do this all the time. C’mon ladies!

  7. Mitsy Avatar

    I’m glad to see a number of people writing and saying the same things I would on this subject. Interesting, because I’ve been “blasted” in the past for my posts on “casual sex” which I believe degrades women as I still believe that women (majority of them anyway) want a relationship ATTACHED to the sex and not just a FWB or one-night stand type of thing.

    Women can kid themselves and say otherwise, but the posters who preach about casual sex being looked upon as “classy and OK” are in the minority provided that those women deep down do want a stable and long-term relationship.

  8. Susan Avatar

    Well, I think we all could learn a lesson from Samantha Jones of “Sex and the City.” Why can’t we have sex like men without feeling used? What’s wrong with having a “filler” man?

    However, in the original poster’s case, it sounds more like “servicing,” a very much younger man with an older woman solely for the purpose of sex. Sounds more like a “cougar” relationship. I can’t see the possible advantages of being friends with someone who is barely over the legal drinking age. I don’t t hink I would have anything in common with him. Yet, the FWB guys DO have their place.

  9. PreviouslyQueenofE Avatar

    Aren’t we looking for friends with benefits when we look for a relationship? My perfect relationship would be with a man with whom I am friends (as in relaxed, be myself, confide most if not all things, yet don’t need him to hold my purse while I shop) who also really tickles my fancy sex-wise. I may be thinking wishfully, but I’ve seen too many relationships where the two people involved are, basically, extremely good friends with the benefit of sexual attraction…or maybe they are sexually attracted with the benefit of friendship? in any event, that’s what I want. In my mind, the current definition of friends with benefits is more along the lines of “acquaintances that you like to screw”.

  10. Tim Avatar

    Yes, there are often differences in expectations and desired outcomes between men and women. But they have been driven to stereotypical levels. And they don’t have to exist at all with any given two people. Just know yourself, see through any self deception born of “need”, then do what you want. Sex can be casual, filler, healing, an inextricable
    extension of love – whatever you want it to be. Be on the same page with your partner. Or don’t do sleep with them.

  11. Sassy Avatar

    Tim, I love the thought of being on the “same page” with your partner. It truly sums up my thought about being physically intimate with someone. Thanks for this.

  12. Avery Avatar

    NO, I wouldn’t do it. Me and this guy just ended a FWB relationship last week. We are still friends though. We had been together about 5 times over the last month. Women get emotionally attached any time there is sex involved…and kissing. He did step up to the plate and said it can’t happen anymore because he realized I was getting emotionally involved. He said he didn’t want to be that guy that did that to me which I really respect him for. We both went into it thinking it was going to be just sex which I think a lot of people do but the woman usually falls. Be careful because there is a good chance you will start to develop feelings for him if it happens so I would probably avoid doing it.

  13. Christina Avatar

    You have to ask yourself a couple of questions. Are both of you emotionally stable? Do you value this relationship on a friendship level? Because if either one of you are not stable then it can get crazy quickly. If you feel lonely and one of you gets emotionally attached, then it can really mess up a good friendship and I would say don’t do it . If you are willing to take that chance and you feel like both of you can handle it then I say go for it. The rewards are indeed great.

  14. Barry Avatar

    Some people can handle the FWB and some can’t. That is my experience and I have been both the one who gets too attached and the one who is detached. So, I guess even the same person sometimes can handle it and sometimes can’t. But then, this starts to sound the same as LTR or marriage and people either feel hurt or they rationalize the dissolution of the *relationship* painlessly. In the end, all this relationship business sounds like any project: sometimes it works, sometimes not, and if you can be kind, gentle, and loving to yourself while taking the ride so much the better.

  15. nysharon Avatar

    Dosen’t matter how it starts, it will always change thing between you and someone will feel bad/rejected when it ends. Especially if he is younger and starts seeing someone his age.

  16. hunter Avatar

    ….I know a married woman that had a FWB, this went on for 9 years, according to her…

  17. Maya Avatar

    I’ve had a FWB for the past 10 months (with a 3 month summer break in between). It wasn’t my choice to become FWB in the first place, I wanted a relationship, or at least exclusivity. But, I also wanted him, so I agreed to be FWB. For the first 5 months, we weren’t having sex, but we were still doing sexual acts. I was a wreck because I was always wanting more from him. In my head, I have tried so many times to stop, but I keep going back. After summer, I thought I could keep myself detached and be happy with just FWB. However, we started having sex recently and I’ve gotten attached again. I am falling for him. I know things need to stop before I get really hurt. What should I say to him? How honest should I be? And what can I do to make sure this ends for good?

  18. nysharon Avatar

    If you are falling for him you are in troubled waters Maya. Think how you feel when he starts dating someone else and she has what you really want from him. The whole idea of FWB is that you don’t want a “relationship” with that person. You should tell him how you feel and that may be all you need to end it. I wd suggest to him, no contact for 60 days to see how it goes. You may feel different then. If you work with him this is tougher.

  19. hunter Avatar

    to nysharon,

    women get into FWB’s thinking, they can handle it…..however, approximately, 90 days into it, they, wake up, or come to their senses, and say,…wait a minute!……I have been told this is very, very, common….

  20. Adrian Avatar

    Doesn’t it sound so absolutely wonderful? FWB. On Call. So convenient. But I am sure it is not so simple. You already know this, but let’s spell it out, anyway.
    One night stands work because they are so simple. One or both is selfishly seeking satisfaction. One or both has a restriction on his/her emotion and each has little, if any, caring of the other after the romp. There is an alignment of attitude and emotion.
    A sexual encounter which leads to a long-term-relationship/marriage also works because it is so simple. Yes, it is only a sex romp at first but, possibly because of a certain spark, a common interest or whatever, each is seeking mutual satisfaction. With no definate plans each has no restriction on his/her emotion and if the night is a success both would like to do it again. Once again, there is an alignment of attitude and emotion.
    It is rare for an affair to succeed once lovers are free of the complications. Something to do with ‘the added excitement of being caught’ not existing anymore.
    What you are contemplating is (because he is a friend) temporary, mutual sexual satisfaction with permanent partial restrictions on your emotion (he is a friend now but you won’t allow your feelings to progress). Yeah, right!!! The best minds in the world couldn’t cope with that … and they would be smart enough not to try.
    Have a few quick affairs with strangers. No one will judge you for it.