“Friends with benefits” (FWB) is a term used to describe a type of relationship in which two people are friends who also engage in sexual activities without being in a committed romantic relationship. In other words, they are friends who have a physical or sexual component to their friendship. This arrangement can work for some people who are looking for a more casual and non-committal way to satisfy their sexual desires while maintaining a friendship.
Sometimes though, something that has started as a casual FWB relationship can spark a deeper connection that may lead one to want more. This is perfectly normal as we cannot always contain our feelings, especially if we genuinely like the person we are sleeping with.
Moving from a friend with benefits situation into something more serious, such as a committed romantic relationship, can be challenging but not impossible. The transition is a delicate process that one should approach with care. Let’s talk about how to express your feelings to your FWB in a way that’s respectful, honest, and easy going. Read on for guidance on how to approach this transformation in a thoughtful and considerate manner.
Step 1: Open and Honest Communication: The key to any successful relationship, whether it’s casual or serious, is communication. Talk to your FWB openly about your feelings and intentions. Ask them how they feel about the situation and if they have any interest in taking things to the next level. Find a suitable time and place to have this conversation where both of you can talk privately without distractions or interruptions. It’s best to have this discussion face-to-face, if possible, as it allows for a more personal and direct connection.
Imagine you’re planning a fun evening, just like any other time you meet your FWB. But this time, you’ve got something more significant on your mind.
Step 2: Reflect on Your Feelings– Be Honest with yourself: Take a moment before the conversation to check in with yourself. Are you truly interested in something more profound, or is it just a fleeting desire? Being self-aware of your feelings will help you express them more clearly.
Step 3: Assess Compatibility: Consider whether you and your FWB are compatible in terms of values, life goals, and interests beyond just the physical aspect of your relationship. Compatibility is important for a long-term commitment.
Step 4: Express Your Feelings Clearly: Start the conversation by expressing your feelings honestly and directly. You can say something like, “I’ve really enjoyed our time together, and I’ve developed deeper feelings for you beyond just the physical aspect of our relationship.”
Step 5: Use “I” Statements: Frame your conversation using “I” statements to avoid making your FWB feel defensive or blamed. This will help you convey your feelings and intentions, and it will also give the other person space to express themselves in a similar way. For example, say, “I’ve been thinking about what I want in a relationship, and I’ve realized that I’m looking for something more meaningful.”
Step 6: Active Listening: Following your expression of feelings, provide your FWB with the space and opportunity to respond. Understand that their reaction may range from surprise to uncertainty, and active listening is crucial in fostering mutual understanding. Be prepared for their response, whether it may be enthusiasm, hesitation or even rejection. Regardless of their reaction, listen actively and acknowledge their feelings. Avoid pressuring or coercing them into a different type of relationship if they’re not interested.
It is very crucial to be patient with your FWB, what took you some time to process and realize has just caught them by surprise, therefore, they may have never thought about it before.
Step 7: Share Your Vision: Paint a picture of what you envision for your future together. Describe how a deeper connection might look and why you believe it could work. Explain what you envision for the future of your relationship. Describe the type of commitment or seriousness you’re seeking and why you believe it could work between you two.
Step 6: Be Prepared for the possible. Outcomes and Respect Their Decision: Understand that not all FWB situations will lead to a serious relationship. Be prepared for the possibility that your FWB may not want to move to a more committed stage. Acknowledge and respect your FWB’s autonomy and choices. They may require time to reflect and make decisions in alignment with their own desires and circumstances. Be patient with them, most probably you have hit them with a time bomb, and they need their time to process the possibility and reframe the relationship, if the desire to do so.
Regardless of the outcome, it’s essential to respect each other’s decisions. If one person does not want to pursue a serious relationship, it’s important to honour their choice and decide if you’re comfortable continuing as friends with benefits or if it’s best to part ways.
Step 7: The Next Steps: If both of you are on board for something more serious, discuss the practicalities. Setting boundaries, commitments, timelines, and expectations can be vital to ensuring your transition goes smoothly. Discuss what you want from the relationship, what you’re willing to commit to, and what changes need to be made.
Discuss the possibility of being exclusive with each other if that’s what you both desire. This means committing to only seeing each other romantically.
Step 8: Keeping Communication Open: Transparency is the key here. Stress the importance of an ongoing open and honest communication in your relationship, whether it becomes more serious or not. Continue discussing feelings, expectations, and any shifts in the dynamic of your relationship. This will help you both navigate any changes.
Step 9: Seek Relationship Advice: If you’re struggling with the transition or facing challenges, consider seeking advice from a therapist or counsellor who can help you navigate the process.
Finally, expressing your desire for more in a FWB relationship can be a courageous step toward finding deeper connection and fulfillment. Remember that there is no guarantee that your FWB will want the same things as you do, and they have the right to their own feelings and decisions Outcomes can vary, and it’s crucial to honour each other’s choices. Once you decided to change the rules of a FWB relationship, there might be no turning back. In such cases, it’s crucial to respect their boundaries and make choices that align with your own well-being and happiness. Whatever happens, this conversation can be a milestone in your journey toward self-understanding and growth.
Good luck and remember that life’s adventures often come from honest and heartfelt conversations!
Psychologist and Psychotherapist