I don’t know if you’ve read it yet but there was an article that came out about The End of Courtship and while it clearly confused dating with casual relationships, which a lot of people do, it also did not tell you how to make them work. Sure, it tells you how dating is supposed to work (Actual dates, putting in effort, etc.) but not how to have a successful casual relationship.
First of all lets just put it out there: This is not a new concept. “Hanging”, “Friends with benefits” or “fuck buddies” was preceded by the Booty Call(90s) and the Zipless fuck(70s). We’ve been doing it for a very long time and I doubt we as a species will stop entering into casual relationships.
No judgement if you’re into casual relationships, let’s just make sure you’re doing it the right way.
The key to any good relationship, casual or otherwise, is effective communication and managing expectations. There is always the reasonable fear that maybe you’re communicating too much or not communicating effectively but it’s better to end things because of this and remain on good terms with a friend than to not communicate and inadvertently lead people on.
Here are two examples of how to effectively communicate with a FWB and how not to communicate.
At two different points in my past I had casual relationships with Girl L and Girl J.
Girl L was an existing friend who turned into a Friend with Benefits, Girl J was someone I met off of OkCupid who became a FWB.
Girl L transitioned into a FWB because of a mutual attraction and an understanding that even though we’re FWBs we are also friends and not sleeping with anyone else at the time. Once I started seeing someone who I thought I might get serious with, Girl L and I spoke about it and stopped sleeping together and went back to being friends.
We’re still friends to this day because we communicated.
The Girl J situation did not end well, at all. We met and I made it clear that I was looking for a relationship but we eventually became FWBs. We didn’t ever discuss if this was what we both wanted and 3 months in I brought it up. Problem solved right?
No, no it wasn’t.
I brought it up in a way that was confrontational, accomplished nothing, and was incredibly antagonizing. 3 months after that things ended for good in an even more antagonizing and insulting way. The problem here was that I didn’t communicate effectively (or at all really).
What I should have said was “ I maybe want a relationship but I’m still undecided. Seeing me isn’t exactly a guarantee that this will become a relationship“. Not only that, but I should have done this way before month 3 and month 6. Oh and she didn’t even want a relationship to begin with, just the option maybe. Things ended and we’re friendly but we aren’t exactly friends and it’s a big regret because she was a great friend to me and she deserved a lot better.
(Sorry J, you know who you are)
I’m not saying you need to have a relationship defining talk, just put your cards on the table.
At another point in my life I hooked up with someone I dated 6 month prior and in bed I said “You don’t want to date, I don’t want to date. Let’s hookup once in awhile while we’re both single”.
This lays out the fact that I am single and that I want something casual. It wasn’t a talk, just an effective statement that manages expectations.
If you want something casual, for now, just say that too. Chances are if you’re a woman, you want things to progress and if they wont you’re just wasting your time.
If they aren’t into it, just be indifferent to it and move on.
The thing to remember is that the benefits are nice, but the friendship is (or should be) more important.
Good Luck out there