The topics for most of my blog entries usually come to me in the guise of dates I go on myself, occasionally through a story a friend tells me. Today’s post is inspired by not one, but two friends, who told me virtually identical, and in any case similarly frustrating stories.
Casual relationships, fuckbuddies or friends with benefits are a common occurrence in the realm of modern dating. This form of relationship offers people who don’t want a romantic relationship, or who haven’t met a suitable candidate, the opportunity of stability, familiarity and regularity while dispensing with the need for intense emotional involvement and romantic commitment. At its very best, a casual relationship can tick all the boxes. The prerequisite is that this level of involvement is what both parties want – a casual relationships makes a rubbish consolation prize when you’re madly in love with someone.
However, all too often you’ll find that after a few dates you have two people with different levels of emotion and expectations. Person A is happy to keep dating casually, is open to a sexual relationship, but doesn’t want to become more involved romantically. Person B however is falling in love, would prefer to make the relationship more committed and exclusive, and wants to bind person A to them.
This outset can lead to the following scenario.
B: I really like you – I think we should consider a serious relationship!
A: Hm, this is fun, but I don’t want a serious relationship (right now/with you, etc.). If you’re interested in more, we should probably stop seeing each other, otherwise you’ll get hurt!
B: Oh, don’t worry, I promise I won’t get hurt. Let’s just continue to see each other casually.
A: Sounds good to me!
We have two people, two different demands, two different emotional perspectives. Yet almost invariably, B will step down and through some sort of jedi mindtrick absolve A from the guilt of hurting them, while continuing the relationship to A’s specifications. In both of my friends’ stories, this was the case.
Let me make this really clear: I’m all for friends with benefits. Being FWB can be absolutely wonderful, giving two people exactly what they need. But in this scenario, only A gets what they need, whereas B ends up making unreasonable concessions, out of fear of losing what little affection A is prepared to give them. Surely that can’t be right?
But how can you avoid this situation? What if you’ve fallen for your friend with benefits?
Oh, honey. Yes, it’s tempting to think that things between you and A are going to be complicated either way, and that being fuckbuddies is a good way of keeping them in your life. However, if what you really want is a proper monogamous doves-balloons-and-heartshaped-lollipops relationship, you’re setting yourself up for heartache. If A is willing to risk that just so they can still sleep with you, they’re not really worth your love, and they certainly don’t make a good friend.
Step away, please.
And what if you’re on the other side? What to do when you find yourself in A’s shoes?
What is the appropriate response when you realise your friends with benefits is way more into you?
The usual answer from A to this is: Surely it’s not just my responsibility to deal with this. B is a grown-up who is responsible for their own emotional well-being, and I should be able to trust them when they ensure me that they won’t get hurt.
That sounds nice, but somehow the resulting scenario feels all wrong. I’d therefore like to offer the following caveat: As the less involved party you have a certain responsibility to protect the more vulnerable B. If you’re indeed friends, this might be the moment to look out for your friend. As previously mentioned on this blog, it’s unreasonable to expect someone in a state of mental delusion to make a responsible choice. Tell B that you don’t think its a good idea for you two to hang out anymore and then stick to it!
If you’re not friends, just fuck them over and enjoy your ride. But please don’t complain to your other friends afterwards about how you didn’t see it coming, and really wish B would get over things and you could still be friends.