Friends with benefits can be a spectrum. It can be two close friends who also have sex, or it can be two people who barely know each other but have sex regularly. It can also be anywhere in between. Many times, one or both people aren?t interested in a committed relationship. Since neither is tied down by the friends with benefits situation, they?re both free to date other people.
Sometimes one person starts thinking about more. Stereotypically, it?s the woman, but men are just as likely to start wanting more from their friend. The no-commitment nature of the relationship often makes people hesitate to ask for it, though. They worry about being shot down, losing what they have, or even being laughed at.
Some people will say you can?t turn a friends with benefits situation into a real relationship. They claim that if it starts out with sex, that?s all it can ever be. They?ll also say you knew what you were agreeing to, so asking for more is unreasonable.
But it?s not unreasonable. Feelings change, people change, and situations change. It?s not unreasonable to develop feelings for someone as you get to know them and spend more time with them ? even if that time is generally spent in the sheets.
It?s also not unreasonable to approach your friend about turning the situation into something more. But before you do, it?s a good idea to consider a few things first.
If your friend isn?t interested in turning your benefits into a real relationship, things might get too awkward to go back to a physical relationship. It might also get awkward enough that a purely platonic friendship can?t survive, either.
Before you ask for more, ask yourself if you?re okay with ending up with nothing? If you?re not okay with potentially losing your friend completely ? even if only temporarily ? then you should probably reconsider bringing it up.
Of course, the flip side to this is that once you start wanting more, it can be difficult to be happy with a benefits situation. If you have feelings for your friend, keeping your mouth shut about it might not be the greatest idea either. You may end up building resentment because you want more and aren?t getting it.
You also might blurt out something that you?ll wish you hadn?t later.
Think carefully about all the potential outcomes before you make any decisions.
Are they on the same page with you?
If you?ve decided it?s worth the risk, the next thing to figure out is if they?re on the same page as you.
Some people do the friends with benefits thing specifically because they want to avoid the entanglements of commitment. They have no desire for anything that ties them down, and they?re very clear about that. If this is your friend, it?s probably a good idea to accept that they?re likely to turn you down. While feelings can change, if someone has been very clear about how they feel about commitment, you can?t expect that to change.
On the other hand, some people are open to whatever happens, from one night stands to a lasting marriage and anything in between. In this case, even if they hadn?t considered a real relationship with you before, they might at least be open to the idea when you bring it up. They may ultimately say no, but they might think about it first.
The best situation is when you know that they?re thinking the same thing you are. Of course, this isn?t always the case and often, it?s hard to tell. Most of us don?t have a flashing neon sign on our forehead indicating our desire for a relationship.
You might have to feel them out a little or look for little clues. Have they started lingering longer after sex? Maybe they talk about spending more time together? While you might misread the situation, if you pay attention, you should be able to get a decent idea of whether they?d be open to the discussion.
Photo by Ali Pazani on Unsplash
Do they share similar values with you?
Sex creates a sense of connection and closeness that can be pretty intense. It can also cause us to think we?re feeling things we aren?t ? and seeing things we aren?t. We can start to imagine a happy future that couldn?t possibly exist because this person isn?t who we think they are.
If you?re feeling like you want more from your friend with benefits, it?s a good idea to take a step back and try to assess your friend without sex-fogged glasses. Do you have similar values?
Do they prioritize work over family, while you put family before everything? How do they feel about kids and marriage? Are they always honest or does their ability to laugh at lying to others bug you a bit? Are you saving for retirement and they?re flitting from one job to the next and borrowing gas money from you?
Real relationships require more involvement than one that?s purely physical. Before you invest yourself that heavily, it?s good to know that you both value the same things. It will save you the heartbreak later after you?ve spent months or years trying to force a relationship that was never meant to be.
Do you have shared nonsexual interests?
You already know you?re both into the same things in the bedroom (or whichever rooms you have sex in), but what about elsewhere? Do you like the same movies, TV shows, books, or hobbies? Is there anything you two have ever talked about that you felt the same way about, other than sex?
Sex alone is not enough to build a real relationship on. While you don?t need to be exact mirrors of each other (and in fact, that would be a red flag itself), you do need to have some things in common. Do you have the same favorite sport, or root for the same team? Like the same music? Had the same college major?
If you struggle to find things that you have in common outside of sex, there might not be enough to build a real relationship.
If you?ve never talked about the things you might have in common, that should be your first step before you start trying to turn a physical relationship into something bigger.
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It?s ?Yes? to all four; now what?
You?re confident they?re on the same page, you know you share values and interests beyond sex, and you?ve decided you?re okay with losing it all if they turn you down. Now what?
Now you be honest. You sit down with your friend and you tell the truth about how you?re feeling. The key here is to do this without putting any pressure on them and without expectation of the outcome.
It?s hard to do this without expecting a certain outcome. You wouldn?t be asking if you weren?t hoping your friend would be receptive and this would result in the two of you being in a relationship together. But there are many reasons your friend might say no, some of which have nothing to do with you personally or with not liking you enough.
Be open to whatever the outcome is. If you can be open to the possibility of being told no, you may be able to keep the friendship intact, and who knows what the future might hold if you remain in each other?s lives?
It?s not impossible for a friends with benefits situation to become a real relationship. Just make sure you?re truly ready before you make that leap.
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