I recently engaged in a long-distance, friends-with-benefits relationship with an acquaintance. After contacting him regarding a business question, he poured his heart out about ending his relationship, and I consciously decided to support him in his time of need (he was also dealing with frustrations and stress at work). He eventually proposed visiting me and we decided to take it to the next level (physically) but agreed to stay casual and friends only. From that first day, we were in contact daily for six months. We traveled across the country to visit each other multiple times and we talked about everything in our lives. And then it just stopped. I tried to talk to him about it but he said we agreed to be “just friends” and that he just got busy with life and it didn’t occur to him that I would be upset by his sudden withdrawal. He volunteered that he had been selfish and said he was sorry. Then — and this is where I’m really confused — he said he considers me one of his closest friends and didn’t want that to end just because he pulled away.
What does the male mind think about this? I don’t want to be his girlfriend because I’m not into long-distance and we are not compatible in the long-term. But I don’t want to invest any more time or emotion into supporting him and caring about his well-being if he is just being cruel and playing with my feelings. Should I cut my losses and discontinue contact? — Friend with No More Benefits
JMagic: The Male mind thinks like this: 1. She’s a cool girl; 2. Very cool girl, might be compatible physically; 3. Yep, physically it’s there and she doesn’t want anything serious. Score; 4. Plus she lives in a different city, makes the friends with benefits part easier; 5. I like talking to her on the phone regularly and there’s no pressure. This is good; 6. Things are bit hectic, can’t call her like I used to. That’s cool though because it’s just casual; 7. Oh snap. This seems to be more than “just friends” for her. Let’s salvage something. “Oh, you’re one of my closest friends, sorry I neglected you.” 8. Whew. Dodged a bullet. I’ll keep in contact, but on a limited basis since she wants this to be all formal and serious now.
Your mind: 1. Yeah, this is fine, he’s a good guy; 2. Oh, I’m so happy we’re talking all the time; 3. I mean, not like a boyfriend, because I swear I’m not into long distance; 4. But, if he were to propose something more serious, I would consider it; 5. He’s not calling any more. What the hell?; 6. “Closest friend”? What does that mean? Why is this so weird?; 7. Ugh. Whatever, I wasn’t really into him anyway.
Cliff’s Notes: He was serious about being casual. Maybe you weren’t as into it as you initially thought and in the back of your mind were hoping/expecting something more to develop. When it didn’t you reacted with your “Oh, I don’t do long distance and besides we aren’t even compatible long term.” I think if you’re as ‘over it’ as you want to portray, simply drop it and move on. If not, be honest with yourself and don’t lay all the blame at his feet.
Jarek: Men, and by men I mean at least me, tend to act on what we know, and he was likely just acting based on his perception of the relationship. As such, I do not think he was playing with your feelings on purpose and I do think he was being genuine when he said he sees you as a close friend and did not want that to end. In all fairness, you did take a relatively passive approach in setting the boundaries since you let him determine the level of contact. If you never pay attention to how much gas is in your car, you can’t get upset if it runs out one day.
Who knows why he stopped calling. He really could have been busy at work or he may have met someone else. The more likely reason is he just ran out of things to say and since you two are not exclusive, he didn’t really feel obligated to keep calling. But whatever the reason, as long as the ball is in his court he is going to act how he wants to for reasons of his own. If you want that to change, take the ball to your side every so often. If, after equal effort on your part he still gets more distant, than you may want to reevaluate whether or not this is something you still want.
JOE: There are many possible explanations. I’m going to pick one and run with it. I think that he was and is truthful with you about his feelings of friendship but that he has found someone else (probably closer to him) for the romantic/physical side of things. That would explain the loss of contact — he probably stopped contacting you when he got involved with her, then you didn’t reply much or at all (because you were letting him set the pace), and then he became more focused on her and neglected to call or write to you. I’m sure he intended to at first, then it became less and less prominent in his list of things to do. Since you both considered it a “friends with benefits” relationship, he was free to decide to remove the benefits without assuming he’d lost the friend, but he absolutely should have been more communicative about things. I don’t think he’s intentionally being cruel, just very self-centered. I think that you should stop thinking of him as anything other than a friend, and not a close one at that. A close friend — a good friend — would have been more responsive.
* If you’d like to ask the guys a question, simply email me at [email protected] with “His Take” in the subject line and I’ll pass your question along to them.
Crazymary March 24, 2011, 12:08 pm
JMagic – you nailed this. I dig seeing how the male brain breaks this type of thing down. And I also agree with Elias – I think the FWB found a new girl and didn’t know how to say that… And Jarek is a cutie. Just sayin’.
TheOtherMe March 24, 2011, 12:13 pm
….”And Jarek is a cutie. Just sayin’.” …
sarolabelle March 24, 2011, 12:10 pm
This is a confusing letter. Let me be Wendy for a second:
“What is it that you want from this man? Be honest with yourself. If you want a relationship you aren’t going to get it and it’s time to MOA. If you want it to be casual then accept the fact that he has no reason to call everyday and don’t get mad at him if it suddenly ends.”
TheOtherMe March 24, 2011, 12:11 pm
Girl take here : He found someone that he has actual romantic feelings for.
Is it only me that doesn’t get it ( because I have never done the FWB thing ) but do you actually TRAVEL ACROSS THE COUNTRY many times a year if it’s just supposed to remain casual ?
_jsw_ March 24, 2011, 12:22 pm
If you’re interested enough in sex and don’t have better options, you do. 😉
maynard March 24, 2011, 1:22 pm
Travelling across the country would absolutely be too high maintenance for a casual FWB for me. That kind of time and money would not be spent on someone I didn’t actually care about on a higher level. But like Joe said, maybe they didn’t have other options close by (and have a ton of disposable income)
TheGirl March 24, 2011, 12:27 pm
JMagic totally nailed it. If it was just friends with benefits, why is she so upset? Friends get busy and forget to call. Although, friends also don’t generally talk to each other EVERY DAY for six months… that seems a bit too relationshipy. Perhaps he realized that it was getting over the top, didn’t know how to broach the subject and subsequently did the traditional disappearing act?
ArtsyGirl March 24, 2011, 12:28 pm
LW – Were you leaving voice mail for him or had he said specifically “I’ll call you tomorrow”? If yes, then yep he is a bit of a self centered douche, but at the same time you are not in a committed relationship and he is under no obligation to call you. Chances are he is pursuing other options and might have found someone who interested him, and he is keeping you on the back burner for some sexyfuntime just in case.
Also I translate “you are one of my closest friends” to “you are one of my closest friends I enjoy getting naked with”. IMO I think I would end the physical aspect of your friendship since it sounds like it is stressing you out – and anyway the way you start this letter makes it sounds like it began as a pity fuck. Good luck finding someone who is more in line with what you want.
spaceboy761 March 24, 2011, 12:32 pm
When you accept your status as a FWB, you also accept the fact that you can be replaced by a real girlfriend at any moment. Basically, never look the beyond the rendezvous you’re having right now. If the thought of losing this guy upset you that much, you probably should have had the talk about being exclusive.
spaceboy761 March 24, 2011, 12:34 pm
And yes, daily communication kind of blurs the FWB status. One of you had to grow a set and ask the other what they really thought they had in this relationship. Neither of you did, so this.
elisabeth March 24, 2011, 12:44 pm
I like this. I think the daily communication is why the LW is having trouble letting go. The point of FWB is the “no strings attached” idea, but it’s so easy to let your mind slip and all of a sudden you’re emotionally attached – and then you continue a less-than-ideal situation in order to keep the partner around, but in the end you’re only hurting yourself.
I think the LW needs to MOA. This guy doesn’t seem to want this to progress any further, and the LW.
I’m also struggling with the idea of “dumping” an FWB. Again, “no strings attached,” there shouldn’t be dumping if there’s no attachment in the first place. But it seems obvious that there is. =/
TheOtherMe March 24, 2011, 12:52 pm
@elisabeth: my first thought was also about the word “dumping” not being very FWB -friendly but then I thought that it might be Wendy that gives titles to the letters?
bagge72 March 24, 2011, 1:42 pm
Yeah, it actually seemed a lot more like a long distance relationship than it did a FWB! Actually with the amount of talking they had going on, that is exactly what the relationship sounded like! Maybe the letter writer was just fooling herself into thinking it was something different, because she didn’t think she was able to do the long distance thing.
maynard March 24, 2011, 1:26 pm
Agreed. I get that there would be a bit of saddness over getting “replaced” even if she actually didn’t have strong feelings for the guy, but I think that’s kind of a “man that sucks he doesn’t want to bang me anymore. but oh well I suppose” thing, and not as big of a deal as it seems to be to the LW
SpaceySteph March 24, 2011, 12:47 pm
Totally agree he probably found someone to actually date. At the beginning of a relationship, alot of people spend a bit of time ignoring their friends and focusing on their new boy/girlfriend. In this case she was fulfilling two different roles- fuckbuddy and good friend/shoulder to cry on. If he’s in a relationship now, obviously that first role had to stop. But also if he’s in a new relationship, its not so unheard of for that second role to fall off, too. And that can happen whether you were 4 houses down or 4,000 miles away and whether you are NSA lover or not.
Elle March 24, 2011, 12:57 pm
To an outsider, it looks like you were his rebound girl. Someone he knew he could count on to be there emotionally for him – you said so in your letter.
The tone of your letter gives me the impression that you are a very rational and calculated person. And you knew what you were getting yourself into, right from the beginning.
What I don’t like about this situation is the fact that you helped him getting over his breakup, and you didn’t get anything in return – it’s not fair to you… he pulled out this disappearing act as soon as he was emotionally together again; I agree with Joe on this one – your FWB probably started dating again.
Again, you sound like a rational woman, and he probably thought you didn’t need an explanation. In his mind, you’re a big girl, and you can handle it.
If you want things to be more than they are now, maybe it’s time to bring it up? Oh, wait, you don’t do LDRs. But you are hurt when your FWB stops communicating with you daily…
Elle March 24, 2011, 1:11 pm
This is going to sound harsh…
Lw, you said that “I consciously decided to support him in his time of need”. Maybe he no longer needs you, and didn’t even bother to let you know?
My point is, you were more of a friend to him than he is to you. It looks like a one-way relationship – he’s the taker, you’re the giver of emotional support.
And to answer your letter, yes – dump the benefits, keep the friend. If he still needs you.
_jsw_ March 24, 2011, 12:59 pm
One of the things that continues to confuse me is if the LW was ever emotionally involved (in a relationship way) or if she is upset purely because he essentially withdrew his friendship without warning. I think it’s a little of both.
I agree that fuck buddies never should expect anything beyond the moment. But they weren’t FBs. I think friends – with benefits or not – who have been communicating daily for half a year have some right to expect the other friend to not vanish off the face of the Earth and then claim to still consider them a close friend.
However, I remain confused by what exactly is causing the LW to be upset and what she’d want to happen in order to resolve that. Is it a continued FWB relationship, or is it simply to stay in contact with a friend?
RoyalEagle0408 March 24, 2011, 1:08 pm
Apparently you hit submit first.
TheOtherMe March 24, 2011, 1:29 pm
I say she’s more upset because – “he essentially withdrew his friendship without warning.”
RoyalEagle0408 March 24, 2011, 1:00 pm
What Joe said. It’s a crappy thing to do, but at the same time, that’s the risk you take with being an FWB. Then again, I would never travel across the country for an FWB, so it seems like maybe, potentially the LW has some feelings that even she may not be aware of?
Maracuya March 24, 2011, 2:33 pm
Yeah, frequent cross-country travel seems so expensive…
Tracey March 24, 2011, 2:40 pm
Exactly. Does she live in a town with an FWB prohibition on the books? I can see the sign posts on the highway: “Last Booty Call for 40 Miles, Next Exit”….
Katie March 24, 2011, 1:21 pm
hey lady no you cant “dump” him. sorry to say he already dumped you! LOL
Wendy March 24, 2011, 12:25 pm
Hey, just wanted to apologize to Joe for initially crediting his answer to another guy. It’s edited now, but just wanted to clarify that the mistake was mine. Sorry for the confusion!
_jsw_ March 24, 2011, 12:32 pm
I thank you on behalf of Elias, since he will no longer be held accountable for my reply. 🙂
Stephanie March 24, 2011, 1:48 pm
This is eerily similar to what just happened to me lol. Although in my case, we weren’t friends first and things didn’t start out as FWB. There was just a lack of communication and I wish someone had told me what spaceboy said about growing a set and asking – insecurities about what we were really affected how I acted around him (and I think him too).
I know in my case, I’m having a hard time letting go because I got emotionally attached and it seemed to me that he had too, and the break-up came out of nowhere from my perspective. At first, I told myself all those things about not wanting long-distance and how we’re not compatible, but that’s just my pride talking. Maybe that’s how it is for the LW too – saying she never wanted the relationship while hoping for it and wondering if things would have turned out differently if you’d spoken up about how you felt
WatersEdge March 24, 2011, 2:23 pm
1) I don’t think you were REALLY FWB, I think you were dating
2) You can’t dump him because he already dumped you
3) I think he met someone locally
4) Given the fact that you were dating, not FWB, he should have been up front with you instead of dropping off the face of the earth
5) Him dropping off the face of the earth is reason enough to shut down the booty. Given your history, I doubt that a platonic friendship would really work out, so in answer to your question, yes- “dump him”.
Tracey March 24, 2011, 2:37 pm
From the way I’m reading this letter, there’s nothing for LW to dump here, except her feelings about the FWB. When he pulled the disappearing act, that was a clear signal that things were done on his end. Why would you want to continue being involved with someone who doesn’t care enough to say, “It’s been fun, but I’m moving on now….”?
It also sounds like he wants an insurance policy – someone to be there as back up when the current (and more preferred) relationship falls through. Do you really want to be someone’s fall back plan?
Keep moving, and accept that this friendship is a wrap. Tell him you are moving on, then do it. And, by the way, think about what you really want. I think you wanted more than an FWB from this guy and it shook you when, with his vanishing act, he showed you he didn’t want that with you. If you want an FWB, say so. If you want a relationship with someone, say so. Then go for it. Drifting along at the whim of someone else will leave you very disappointed.
Girafe March 24, 2011, 4:27 pm
Once upon a time, I was this girl. In fact, up until not that long ago, I was still this girl. I’ve been through exactly this with a guy who also lived somewhere else and got caught in the same emotional tango. On one side, you want to be the tough girl and pretend it doesn’t bother you, but then when he shows attention, fall back into it.
JMagic describes the process flawlessly. I’m sad it took me a long time to really accept it. My story goes: It’s only when I was in the same city as the guy in my situation, and we met up, that I understood that it would never happen. We went out platonically in a group, and then he ended up making out with me when everybody was out of sight. I was single, and he was in a long term relationship. That’s when I understood where his priorities were – hardly BF material.
So, she is totally free to move on – no dumping required! Seems like he did without dumping her!
fast eddie March 24, 2011, 8:20 pm
Friendship is one thing but as she herself put it:
“I don’t want to be his girlfriend because I’m not into long-distance and we are not compatible in the long-term.”
If the benefits of friendship without sex is satisfying then be a friend. If it’s only the sex that binds you then MOA.