“I’ve Fallen for My FWB”

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 what to do when you fall for an FWB, dating an ex’s friend, and loaning a significant other money.

After a hurtful break-up with my ex, I decided to gather myself and have some fun. Last month I met this guy in a bar and we had a one night stand, which was amazing. The experience was so fun that we decided to develop this friends-with-benefit situation on a regular basis. So we met every other week just for sex, sometimes dinner too. The thing is that other than sex I find him really my cup of tea. I think of him often, however, I can tell that he is not emotionally into me. Do I want to go on a date with him? Yes. Do I just wanna fuck him? YES. I’m wondering if I should keep this feeling to myself in order to keep the FWB status or if I should go ahead tell him even if I will definitely scare him away? Or should I just disappear because I am pretty sure he doesn’t like me? Or should I wait to tell him until it’s too hard to hide? Meanwhile, we are both busy so a relationship sounds really unpractical. — Fallen for my FWB

You’ve seen this guy, like, three times, and you’re already feeling this much anxiety over him? On top of still healing from a “hurtful breakup”? Girl, you are not emotionally prepared for a FWB situation, so tell the guy you’d love to go on a real date with him and get to know him better, and if he’s not interested in that, you need to MOA before you really screw up your head and heart.

I broke up with a boyfriend of three years over the summer and instantly knew I made the correct choice. In the short time after, I began spending a lot of time with a close mutual friend of ours. We began dating, and though I felt guilty for dating my ex’s friend so soon, my new relationship just felt right. I was honest with my ex from the beginning and told him I had feelings for his friend. Eventually, he questioned my new boyfriend about our relationship, and they basically agreed to disagree, and realized their friendship would probably not work anymore. My new boyfriend and I have been dating about six months, but he won’t tell our other friends about us. Some very close people know, but outside of that I’m supposed to act like there is nothing going on. He says that he doesn’t wanna seem like a bad person and doesn’t want mutual friends to have to choose sides between him and my ex. I understand his uneasiness, but my feelings are hurt, and I hate going out places and seeing other girls sit next to him without them knowing that I am his girlfriend. Am I crazy for feeling upset that he doesn’t want everyone to know? Or is it still too soon like he says? — Secret Girlfriend

So, basically, your boyfriend is choosing the approval and respect of your mutual friends over the approval and respect from you. Hmm … doesn’t sound like much of a boyfriend if you ask me. I’d tell him that you’re tired of being disrespected and if he’s so ashamed of dating you that he won’t come clean to his friends about your relationship, you’re going to MOA.

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for just over a year now and everything is going well. The only thing that has been bothering me lately is the amount of time we spend together, or should I say the lack of time we’re spending together. We’re both very busy with graduate school and we talk daily, so I’m totally fine with not getting to see him all the time. The only thing is when the weekends roll around we’ll hang out for a few hours one evening — maybe watch a movie or some TV — and that’s about it. He spend the rest of his free time with his friend. He’s with this friend all day and night at least one day out of each weekend. I have NO problem with him spending time with his friends, but I guess I’m sort of jealous that his friend gets so much time with him while I only get a few measly hours a week. I don’t want him to think I’m some kind of crazy jealous girlfriend, because I’m not! I just can’t figure out how to bring up this issue, or if I should even mention it at all! Maybe it would be better to just let it go and hope things change? — Tired of His Leftovers

The way to bring this up is to say, “Hey, as your girlfriend of over a year, it hurts my feelings that you don’t want to spend more than a few hours with me each week, especially when you seem to have much more time for others. I need to know I’m important enough for you to spend quality time with or I’m going to have to re-think whether this relationship is working.” Asking for what you (very reasonably) want is NOT being crazy; it’s practicing self-respect.

My boyfriend and I have been in a long distance relationship for about a year now. We were friends for a few years before we began dating, so it feels like we’ve been together a lot longer now. I’m very much in love with him, and I’m moving to be with him and start fresh in May. In the last few months, he has borrowed about $500 from me. Most of this has been towards extending visits (paying extra to stay a day late). Two out of three times, it has been to keep me in his city with him. He doesn’t have a credit card so he asked me if I could make the payment on my card and he would eventually transfer the money to my bank account. He assured me he would pay me back, and I told him to take his time. He’s in a salaried management position, so I figured it wouldn’t take that long. Meanwhile, I make minimum wage and I’m afraid I won’t be able to pay my rent next month. I don’t want to ask my parents for help, and I don’t know how to ask my boyfriend for some of the money he owes me in a polite way. — Giving Girlfriend

Try this: “Honey, I’m sure you didn’t mean to forget, but my rent’s due in a few days and I’m really struggling to pay it this month after I loaned you $500 dollars over the last few months. When do you think you’ll be able to pay me back?” And if he doesn’t pay you back ASAP, or give you a very good reason why he’s taking so long, for God’s sake think long and hard before uprooting your life to go be with him.

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.


  1. ReginaRey says:

    LW#3 – I’ve been in this situation before, and it usually is a sign of some bigger underlying problem going on in the relationship. As your partner, your boyfriend should WANT to spend as much time together as both of your schedules can reasonably allow, and he should want to see you (the majority of the time, anyway) before he spends all of that time with his friend(s). I would think about any recent developments or issues that could be causing his absenteeism, and have a serious discussion with him about it. If you keep letting it go unspoken, the next step could very well be a breakup. This very recently happened to one of my best friends, as well. Her boyfriend kept spending less and less time with her, and more and more time with friends. She hoped that he was just “really busy” but he ended up breaking up with her after a few months of this. In hindsight, it was pretty clear to everyone that he was doing the slow breakup, because he was too afraid to discuss their problems. Don’t let that happen to you girl!

    1. ReginaRey says:

      Also – a very wise commenter said recently on another DW post “Don’t settle for the crumbs of a relationship”…I said I was going to start using it, and I am! Because that’s kind of what’s happening here, and for some of the other LWs in this post. Don’t settle for the couple of measly hours he decides to spend with you…those are crumbs! And he seems to be giving his friends the whole dang LOAF! ….too corny?? 🙂

  2. LW1 – Here’s the conversation you’ll have in a few months if you keep your feelings to yourself:

    you: (laying in bed post-booty call) Why don’t you ever buy me flowers?
    him: huh?
    you: Or take me to the movies? Or text me in the middle of the day for no reason to see how I’m doing?
    him: Well, uh….
    you: It’s like you don’t even care.
    him: Look, I…
    you: You can’t just call me whenever you feel like getting some, it’s sending the wrong signals!
    him: Did I miss somethin…
    you: Forget it. I’m just gonna go.
    him: ……..
    you: I’m not sure this relationship is working.
    him: RELATIONSH….
    you: Call me when you grow up.
    him: What…just happened?

    Trust me, he would much rather lose his booty call than have this conversation down the road. It may or may not have been verbatim of a personal experience. Please tell him.

  3. Painted_lady says:

    LW2 – Maybe point out to him that people who ask other people to subjugate their own feelings and lie to friends so that their partner can save face is also what most people might consider making moves that point to them being A BAD PERSON. Ask him how exactly he thinks in this abstract day in the far-flung future telling your mutual friends that you’ve been dating all along is going to make them feel better. And then tell him he’s going to look so much worse when you dump his ass for making it clear he considers you embarrassing and then telling everyone how he dated you for months on the DL and made you lie about it. Also, there’s a couple I hang out with – acquaintances more than friends – and they’ve been “not-dating” for a couple of years now because he was technically her boss when they hooked up, so it was sort of weird to openly date. Now it’s weird because they’ve been dating so long they can’t admit they’ve been dating this whole time. So a couple of years down the road, they’re not fooling anyone, and yet they still won’t admit to it – deny it flat-out, actually – so they look like fools. The funny thing is, they look like fools not because of the semi-shady way they hooked up – we all would have gotten over that looping ago – but for trying to fool anyone.

    1. Painted_lady says:

      Loooooong ago, not looping. Yay autocorrect.

      Also, LW3 – I fall into the exact same trap of feeling like, when a boyfriend so blatantly puts me at the bottom of the priority list, I’m being a controlling shrew for asking that he consider me more – not exclusively, ever, but hey, quit throwing me a bone just whenever it’s convenient as opposed to actively seeking time with me. However, if he shows resistance to your request or doesn’t change his actions, I hate to say it, but it isn’t going to improve. MOA with good grace, before you do become that controlling shrew. I speak from experience here, and I wish I’d left with my pride intact rather than begging for more than scraps for months before it ended.

  4. ArtsyGirly says:

    LW2 – OH HELLS NO!! Grow some self respect – if you are hanging out in a group with him and he refuses to acknowledge your relationship then he IS a ‘bad person’. In fact I bet if you polled all the people here, he is showing much shittier behavior by treating you this way than dating his friend’s ex – especially since he was not the CAUSE of the relationship ending. My take is he wants a booty call without having to actually be in a relationship.

    LW3 – Have you broached the subject of hanging out with him and his friend? That would allow you as a couple to do something social but still be able to spend time together.

  5. Skyblossom says:

    LW4 Being able to talk finances is a vital part of any commited relationship. If you can’t ask him to pay you the money he owes you and which he didn’t seem to have trouble asking you to lend I’m wondering if you should really move closer to him. This relationship doesn’t sound commited or close. If moving to be with him includes living together you definitely must be able to talk finances in all their details. If you can’t do that then you aren’t ready to live together.

  6. Skyblossom says:

    LW2 As your boyfriend he should be proud to tell everyone that he’s with you and that your’re with him. If he won’t do that then your relationship has no future.

  7. Skyblossom says:

    LW3 Everything isn’t going well. Your boyfriend has his priorities and you’ve come out way behind his friend. The fact that he’s spending a night every week with his friend but doesn’t sound like he’s spending any nights with you is a red flag. If you have to demand or beg time with him I think you’re already through. If he was really into you he would be spending far more time with you. His friend would be the one grumbling about how little time he had for him.

    1. phoenix28 says:

      So true! This happened to me too, he had no time for me but had time for literally everything else. When I brought it up, he chose to break up with me. Please don’t wait till things come to a head!

  8. LW1 – the way I see it, you’re trying to replace the feelings you had for your ex (which is good) with feelings for the new guy (not so good, but not bad either). Maybe you’re one of those people who can’t separate feelings from sex? I mean, what is it about you that makes you have feelings for the person you have sex with? I’m one of those people too.

    You can try to tell him about your feelings. He might feel the same way too. And if he doesn’t, well, it’s good for you to find out about it sooner rather than later, before your feelings get too strong.

    A mental image – if he only sees you every other week, he’s probably having sex with someone else in the meantime. It’s a truism that guys can’t have sex once every two weeks, they need sex more often than that. If you’re ok with this thought, then maybe your feelings are not that strong, and you can continue with the FWB. If this thought bothers you… see my previous paragraph.

    1. plasticepoxy says:

      I know when I’ve gone from a relationship to casual sex, it was challenging at first to remember that it casual. For me, sex in a relationship is a meaningful, emotion-filled act, in addition to being something that’s fun and feels good. It took a while for casual sex to feel okay emotionally. Because it was hard for me to do casual sex, I decided I wouldn’t sleep with someone I didn’t already have some feelings for, and that I knew reciprocated those feelings. That worked out for me.

      I think if she’s sure that he doesn’t share her feelings, she should put the brakes on with the fucking until she has her head in a place that can take it, or push herself to ask for what she really wants instead of trying to play a game and come out the winner.

      I disagree with your statement, “It’s a truism that guys can’t have sex once every two weeks, they need sex more often than that.” I don’t disagree that her FWB may be hooking up with other women, but I don’t believe that’s a given just because men “need sex more often than that”.

      Some guys have lower libidos, maybe their mutual schedules allow for EOW at most so they’re doing it as often as possible, there are so many things we don’t know.

      Wendy had some great advice here.

    2. Plasticepoxy – I can’t have casual sex either. I tried, and couldn’t orgasm. But as soon as I fell for the guy, wow, the orgasms wouldn’t stop coming haha! So that’s why I brought that up. And instead of playing around with my emotions, I decided to stop having casual sex, and have sex only in a relationship. It’s like my vagina and my brain are synchronized somehow… And my brain won’t let my vajajay have fun if he’s not in on it.

      And about your disagreement – I’m curious how many guys agree with you.

      About LW1 – I wonder which one of you suggested the FWB (you said ‘we decided’, but someone must have articulated it first). I mean, it could have been a one-night stand, but one of you wanted it to last longer. If he suggested it, maybe he knows that he can get away with FWB with girls just coming out of a relationship. Maybe this is his MO.

      (I think my experience made me very cynical, but the next guy who wants to have a FWB with me is going to get punched! The first few times I was made this proposal, I took it as a compliment. Now I’m past the tipping point – what is it with guys that only want to have sex with me, but not a relationship? Is there something wrong with me? Do I attract only emotionally unavailable guys??? Hmmm, maybe I should get a cat.)

  9. absurdfiction says:

    Regarding Wendy’s advice to LW1, if she isn’t emotionally prepared for a FWB situation, is she emotionally prepared for dating at all? I understand the difference between casual schtupping, where you may have to consciously keep an emotional distance, and dating, where you can more reasonably fall for someone with abandon… but if she’s still getting over a break-up and is falling so hard for this guy so quickly, can she really be ready for either? Maybe she ought to go out on dates with some other guys too so she can effectively dilute her intense focus on this one guy, or stop dating/screwing around altogether for a couple of months until she’s in a better place mentally.

  10. caitie_didn't says:

    LW2: I second Artsygirl’s “oh HELLS no”. Him being embarrassed about dating you is just.not.cool.

    LW3: I’m going to have to agree with at least one previous commenter that everything is not okay in your relationship. Based on past personal experience, I would guess that your boyfriend is planning to break up with you. In fact, he seems to be doing the “slow fade” so that you will get fed up and break up with him first. I would urge to leave with your dignity intact and tell him that you don’t want to waste any more time with someone who can’t make time for you.

  11. Can I add my quick advice, too?

    Ahem, here it is:

    Oxytocin. Effects on women. Look it up.

  12. spanishdoll says:

    LW3: I see my own situation somewhat echoed here…though not as drastic! I’ve actually been struggling with this issue for the entire 1 year of my current relationship, and just don’t know what to do. I get to see my wonderful boyfriend 3-4 nights a week, but I always feel like that time is on his terms only…I would love to be able to see him whenever the mood strikes, but we have negotiated a “schedule” of nights and even though we live very close to one another, the schedule almost never changes.

    Our lifestyles and work styles are very different (I work 9-5, he’s a grad student with a wacky schedule) and it helps him to be able to have certain nights free for personal and school projects. I understand that he is busy, but I feel like I constantly have to pretend that I don’t want to hang out with him every night, and I can’t show him that I am disappointed when I don’t get to see him four nights out of the week. I try so hard to be a “chill” girlfriend and let him have space, but I never feel like I get to see him enough. 🙁

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