“How Do You Nicely End a FWB Situation?”

New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), or submit a question for advice.

It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in three sentences or less, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go. Today we discuss ending a FWB relationship, what to do when your new guy is still active on Match.com, and when to tell an ex to MOA!

I went into this friends with benefits situation knowing precisely what the score was. He was out of a divorce and I was out of a bad break-up, both by about a year. He uttered those eight, charming little words: “I’m not looking for a relationship right now” when it was clear sex was going to enter into the equation, and I wasn’t phased. Fast forward to a few months later, and I realize I have made a horrible mistake. This sex without giving ALL of myself is hurting me. Deeply. I am miserable, more lonely than I was before him, and I know absolutely that I need to end this for the sake of my own self worth.

But there is no advice for my situation on the internet. There is advice on what to do if you fall for a FWB and vice versa, but nothing about how to break the sexy, sexy ties with a man whom I do not love, do not completely trust, and is in my circle of friends. My initial thought is to simply stop responding to his texts and avoid him at the frequent group events, but he’s a good guy. I actually want to keep him as a friend, maybe even become good friends some day. I need to know how to do this with dignity, to spare his ego and keep my head held high. – Probably Over-thinking Things

Yes, you are over-thinking things. Try this: “Hey, it’s been fun, but I’ve realized that it’s too difficult for me to have sex outside a relationship and I’d rather go back to being just friends without the benefits before our friendship is adversely affected.

Match.com is making me question my relationship, and I don’t even use the site. My boyfriend of four months started using the site months before I met him. He moved a few states from home and didn’t know anyone which is why he started using it. He also divorced his high school sweetheart a year before meeting me. I have no problem there, even though I would never choose online dating for myself. He said he doesn’t use it and only logs on to check and read the compliments and emails he gets (ego, much?). He wasn’t going to renew the subscription but due to being delayed on canceling it, he was automatically renewed. I don’t have much problem there either, but when we talk about it he low-balls his usage. I’m not naive; I check to see how “active” he is. (You can make a username for free without having a profile). He’s usually always active within a day or two and even recently updated his profile with a photo I took of him while on vacation!! The way I see it he’s still actively looking for dates while dating me. He’s very sweet and kind and we’re most comfortable when with each other. He just introduced me to his entire family and it went great. So why is he still checking around on Match and updating his profile to make it more appealing? — Mad at Match

He may really like you and you may have a wonderful connection and a good time together, but make no bones about it: he’s definitely keeping his options open and will probably “OBO” (or best offer) your butt the minute he thinks he’s snagged someone better. Give him the ultimatum to get off Match immediately or you’re moving on. Thinking he’s losing you may be the nudge he needs to get his priorities straight (let’s just hope you’re actually a priority…).

My ex-boyfriend and I dated about a year. We’ve been broken up almost a year now. While together, we saw each other through multiple challenges. For example, he had to step in (on multiple occasions) to break up domestic abuse situations in his family, usually induced by alcohol.

We broke up, but after another ‘domestic abuse-and-runaway’ situation a couple months ago, we tried to get back together. As you might be able to guess, that didn’t work out so well. Basically, I’ve recently found my feet and am really happy being single. I’m seeing other guys and have fun going out and meeting new people. Last night I got a call and desperate text from my ex saying that he was in trouble again, and he’d really appreciate me being there for him. Same as before, he jumped his dad and fled from home. Only this time, apparently he had gotten caught stealing or something as equally inappropriate.

I’ve just gotten over him, we haven’t talked in months, and I’m not sure if I even have the power to help him. Where do I draw the line? I want to see that he’s okay, because I really still do care for him. But at the same time, I can’t allow myself to be emotionally dragged under again (especially since I’m finally in a good place). How can I help him without hurting myself? — Can’t Find the Line

It’s not your job to help him and it’s time for you to draw very clear boundaries. Tell him that while you will always care for him, you are no longer his girlfriend — nor interested in being his girlfriend again — and you can’t take an active role in his support system. It may seem brutal to kick him while he’s down, but honesty can often be kindness cloaked in a darker robe.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.


  1. LW2: I would definitely draw the line with your boyfriend about match.com. I agree with Wendy that he’s still looking, and he conveniently “forgot” to cancel his subscription. Your boyfriend is basically doing the equivalent of not mentioning that he has a girlfriend when he’s out in public or accepting girl’s phone numbers. The only problem with throwing down an ultimatum, which Wendy alluded to, is that you may not get the response you were hoping for. You may find out that you are not a priority and you need to be prepared for that. Same goes for women he say “propose or we break up”. The man may call your bluff and leave you!

    1. GertietheDino says:

      I had a BF who kept his Match account for the “ego boost.” I found out later it was to keep tabs on a ex and send her drunken messages. Pathetic, I know and I put up with it. He then used it to cheat on me. So…yeah…put ythe kibosh on this habit now!

    2. I agree 100% with what you say, but I would like to add that LW 100% needs to throw down this ultimatum. How could you be with someone who still has a dating site profile that he checks on a regular basis? Have some self respect. I am all for guys/girls having friends and interests outside a relationship but a current profile on a dating website? He is defiantly keeping his options open.

  2. AliceInDairyland says:

    LW1: I think Wendy is right on with the advice that you just have to rip the band-aid off yourself and tell him as frankly as possibly why this isn’t working. Who knows, maybe he has felt similarly and also didn’t want to make the move. Regardless, he should not be upset or take it personally BECAUSE it was not a relationship. If he does, then give him a little space and he should come to his senses and you can start your friends w/o benefits relationship again.

    LW2: Oh hun, I know if that was me it would be driving me insane. You don’t say whether or not you guys have had the “are we exclusive” conversation. If you have, and you are, (which it seems you would be if you are meeting the family and going on vacations) then you have to tell him how you feel. Say, “I feel like I’m not important when I know you are answering emails from other girls on a dating site.” If he defends his Match.com addiction even after you tell him how it makes you feel, then you probably don’t want to date the egotistical dude anyways.

    IF, you guys have not decided through a conversation to be exclusive… then maybe he is just super clueless. Sit him down and talk about being in an exclusive relationship, and say that to YOU that implies not being on any dating sites. My boyfriend and I met on OKCupid, and for about the first two months of dating he was still on there (I deactivated mine, but did creep when my best friend was checking her profile…Naughty!) After we had the exclusivity talk his profile disappeared a few days later and I didn’t even mention that he still had his profile up.

    LW3: You do not owe him anything, you are not his Mother, or his girlfriend, or his sister, or at this point even a normal friend. He comes to you only when he is emotionally down and at this point in your lives it is not a two way street. Don’t get sucked in.

  3. TheOtherMe says:

    1) What Wendy says
    2) MOA
    3) Don’t answer his texts anymore

  4. caitie_didn't says:

    LW2: Yeah, your boyfriend is still actively shopping around. It’s time to draw the line.

  5. It seems like a very common thread in a lot of these letters lately is that people are afraid to tell other people what they really think/feel.
    LW1- If it’s not working for you anymore, just tell him!!
    LW2- If you don’t want him on match.com anymore, JUST TELL HIM
    LW3- He’s not your bf anymore- If you want him to stop expecting you to be at his beck and call like a gf would, JUST TELL HIM!!!

    If you can’t tell someone what you want/need, how do you ever expect to get it?!

    1. lemongrass says:

      Most problems that end up on advice columns are simply a lack of healthy communication.

    2. I think once I’m exclusive with a guy, I shouldn’t need to ask him to stop looking for other people. Its kind of a given. Move on!! You deserve better!!

      1. We don’t know that they’re exclusive though- she didn’t say in the letter.

      2. Yeah, but she says her “boyfriend” in my world that means exclusive. (however he may not know he is a boyfriend)

  6. LW2 I have a story that might be relevant to your situation.

    When I was 19, I had met my boyfriend on okcupid.com. Things were really wonderful for a little while although my mom did not like him. After a while, we would start having fights over nothing that lasted a couple days and we would break up. Then blinded by lust, I would “convince” him to take me back. It turned out that every time we broke up was when he decided to meet another girl off the site for a date. Different girl every time mind you; he was obviously still looking for someone to be with.

    The story ends in a weird way I guess. One of those times he broke up with me, he didn’t take me back and that ended thing. Why? He met someone else as loony as him who was and they were engaged 3 days after they met, married after a month, and trying for kids within 6 months. Glad I dodged that bullet.

  7. LW#1: If he really doesn’t want a commitment with you, he will not mind you ending the FWB situation. Tell him what Wendy suggested & be done w/ it. Focus on yourself.

    LW#2: You’ve been dating a guy for 4 months who uses his Match.com profile every 1-2days, & “forgot” to cancel it. Come on now, I know you’re smarter than that…At least I hope.

    LW#3: It’s time to be a little selfish. No good will come out of you helping your ex bf. He can find other ways to seek the help he needs. Do not dig yourself any further into this situation esp since you just got over it. Think about you & that is all. You are no longer attached to this man & you have the right to be free from his issues.

  8. silver_dragon_girl says:

    LW2: I say you fully fill out your “fake” Match.com profile (just pay for one month or something), upload the other half of the photo he uploaded, and tell him you’re just looking for an ego boost. See how he likes it.

    -this Friday’s edition of “The Immature, but Gratifying, Response”

    1. TheOtherMe says:

      -this Friday’s edition of “The Immature, but Gratifying, Response”

      ˆˆ C.O.T.W. ^^

    2. Aggressive-aggressive behavior…I like it.

      1. TheOtherMe says:

        Does Wendy even post “Comments of the Week” anymore ? I’m lost. shipwrecked.

      2. Shipwrecked, huh? I don’t know…I do miss the CotW though…I got it once and it was like getting a gold star – really set my weekend up nicely.

      3. TheOtherMe says:

        Actually, It’s a song I am desperately trying to find after I lost 4000 songs on my ipod this week.

        ++ gold star… that’s cute

  9. MissChievous says:

    To LW1, why not flip the “I’m not looking for a relationship right now” with “Thanks, but I’m not looking for a friends-with-benefits relationship anymore”. Easy-peasy. Therefore, he knows its not him, its just not for you anymore. No need to discuss the loneliness or the pain it causes.

  10. LW3: Definitely do what Wendy says. But reframe it in your head — don’t think of it as you’re being cruel and selfish because you can’t be there for him, but realize that he’s being selfish by trying to drag you down. What does he really expect you to do? You can’t fix his family, you can’t prevent him from stealing (or whatever that line meant), you can’t get everyone to stay sober or stop being violent. He just wants you to listen to him whine and make him feel better, without any regard for what you need. It pulls you down and messes you up, but he doesn’t care about that. You need to have the spine and self-respect to stand up and walk away because this guy does not care for you.

  11. Skyblossom says:

    LW2 You know he hasn’t been honest with you and that says a lot about his character. The fact that he is purposely misleading you about the site tells you he knows his behavior is unacceptable to you. When he feels the need to lie and hide he knows he’s doing the wrong thing but he’s going ahead and doing it anyway. At this time I’d have to ask if you can trust him? Deception is a huge killer of relationships.

  12. ForeverYoung says:

    LW1 – You do.not.need.an.excuse.to.quit.boning.him. That is a conversation you would have to have in a relationship, but you have no commitment. I understand you might want to address it just so it’s not weird when you see him, but there are many non-emotional excuses for why you need to stop hooking up. Maybe that you’re not planning on shaving your legs for the forseeable future, and it’s just a courtesy to him. Maybe you are going to try the other side for awhile. Maybe you are going to quit boning altogether because you read that if you take enough time off you start aging backwards. Doesn’t matter what you tell him, he doesn’t need to know the intimate feelings involved into why you don’t want to bone him anymore.

    I have a feeling you are asking this and making it a big deal about how to break the news to him because you secretly want to talk to him about it in the chance that he feels the same and wants a relationship out of the situation. This is possible, but highly unlikely. So if you really want to give him a reason (that’s real) then go for it, but make sure it won’t cause you more stress/depression than you’re already in, because he might not feel the same way….at all.

    LW2 – Call him out on it. If he agrees to take it down, then great, no more worries for you. If he doesn’t then you can thank him for saving you the months of wasted time it might have taken you to find out that he’s untrust-worthy/not what you’re looking for/ just not that into you. Talking to him about it is a win-win.

  13. LW#1: From my personal experience, I think I know how you should end it while still keeping him from getting weird about it. Tell him you’re starting to get feelings for him and you think the feelings will stop if you stop having sex together (you can pretty much make up what you want about your woman feelings, men tend to assume anything just because they’re sure they wont understand it anyway. You could probably tell a guy that having your period on a Wednesday will lead you to the entrance to Narnia if you wanted.). That way, he’ll get to feel awesome and wanted while also being fine with, you know, running like hell from your FWB sitch :).

    LW#2: Your boyfriend is still trolling online for poon/love/probably poon. He may not go the whole way to actually get it, but he wants to know he still can, because he’s a very manly tiger and all the ladies want him. But if a better one than you comes along, he wont hesitate to get her to stoke his ego a little more (ego is code for penis). You put your fishing pole in the river, eventually there’s going to be a fish too big not to catch. Oh, and you know who says their Match.com profile “automatically” renewed him (He can’t cancel that sh*t? Did he make a motherf*cking blood bond? Is Match.com the Russian Mafia?) and that he doesn’t really go on except to receive compliments, accept he does go on all the time but is totally not cyber sexing any of these ladies but just receiving platonic compliments over and over in a very high volume? Cheater as*holes do.

    LW#3: Give him a number to a local counseling center and back off from the situation like its a Raccoon with rabies.

    1. Since it automatically renewed his account, I’m assuming it’s also automatically logging him in? 😉

    2. I’d be REALLY careful about the whole “I’m starting to get feelings for you” thing. You don’t want this to blow up in your face and either have him be awkward around you all the time OR have him tell you he’s getting feelings too! It might be safer to say you’re developing feelings for someone else and you don’t feel like the FWB thing is fair to the other guy.

      1. I think I would just say “I’m less comfortable having sex in this situation than I thought I would be, I DON’T care about you enough for this and emotional connection is important to me with sex, let’s be friends.”

  14. Sarah, you are my girl-crush. Love love love your responses!

  15. As someone who’s had a match.com account, I’d like to put in my 2cents. When you subscribe with them, it’s usually for 3, 6 months. If you meet the love of your life two weeks in, even if you cancel your subscription, your account will still be valid until the end of the period you initially subscribed for. Just because you have an account though, doesn’t mean you have to check it every other day. Even worse, he didn’t disable his account when he could have. In my case, I realized pretty quickly that there’s no one in my area, so I changed my description to “my account will be disabled on…”, and I took down my pictures, and I paid for two months in which I didn’t use the service, because they don’t give you a refund. I did this without having introduced anybody to my parents… LW2, he doesn’t seem to be all in yet. Another passive-aggressive way would be to tell him that as long as he keeps his options open, it would only be fair to the both of you that you keep your options open too. It doesn’t seem that you’re ready or want to MOA, so you might try this one.

    If his excuse that he’s only checking his account to get compliments is 100% true, be careful – he might be an attention whore, who will constantly need validation, and getting it from just one person will never be enough for him… that’s a dealbreaker in my book.

    1. silver_dragon_girl says:

      I had one too. When I met my ex-bf on it, I just stopped checking, and when we went exclusive I took it down, even though I had like a month left.

      I also know a girl who met her fiance on Match. He actually kept popping up as one of MY “matches,” so I’m well aware that when they went exclusive he added a line to his description: “Actually, I recently met someone and am no longer looking for dates. But thanks for stopping by!”

      So there’s no real excuse for his continued use of the site.

  16. I have had a fwb for 8 years, and I have had feelings for 8 years although I know this is all that is for him. He started invited me to outings and then stopped but still the benefits go on. I need to end this but its so hard, because it is stopping me from finding someone good for me. How is the best way so no one gets hurt.

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