Friends With Benefits Enough?

My ‘Ask Amy’ column as seen on the 24 Hours Newspaper.

Dear Amy,

I am 30 and I am looking for a serious partner. A male friend of mine seems to really like me. He frequently sends me texts/facebook messages, calls occasionaly, spends time with me and we’ve been intimate. I am getting mixed signals from him though. He has made it clear that he doesn’t want a girlfriend although he still expresses interest in me.

I don’t think its fair that he is getting what he wants (company and cuddles with no strings attached), meanwhile I am not getting the connection and serious relationship I want. I feel kind “used”. What I should do?

-Wanting Commitment

Dear Wanting Commitment,

It appears you have met a guy who likes you enough to hang out with you and get physical with you, but not enough to commit to you (whether it be a timing thing, preference or interest level thing). You have made it very clear that what you want is a committed relationship, and not a friends-with-benefits sort of deal.

If you know that is what you want, my question is, why would you settle for something less? You have stated that you feel “used” which I think stems from you not having integrity with your boundaries. You are allowing this person to cross the boundaries you have set for yourself, and that is causing an internal conflict. It doesn’t feel right, and that is something I advise you to listen to.

I understand how it feels to like someone who hangs around just enough to keep you interested, even addicted to the excitement/withdrawal of the game of push/pull. The brain’s reward center is sparked because the frequency and consistency of interaction and attention is unpredictable. Watch out for this – as it can create habits of lusting and longing for a feeling that in the bigger picture of things – is not healthy.

This guy is not worth your energy – not because he’s not a nice guy, I’m sure he is. But because he is not willing and able to give you the type of relationship you want. The more you feed this “non” relationship, the more hooked and disappointed you will be, which may lead to an eroding of your self-esteem and sense of self-worth. This can lead to a vicious cycle where you give more to try to get the love you want, investing more, and you end up liking the guy even more because of all the investing you’ve done.

As long as you expend energy with this guy, the guy out there who will want to commit to you and be proud to call you his girlfriend won’t appear. Close this door, and another one will open.

Photo credit: Rita M.

4 Comments

  • Reply January 14, 2013

    Kay D

    I agreee with Amy on this. Don’t get in any deeper with this guy, or you are the one who will be hurt. Most men seem to have an easier time with this stuff. Your actions have to be consistent with your desires or you’ll be confusing the universe.

    If you want commitment, then don’t get involved in an obvious FWB arrangement. Being single is not a disease as some seem to think. It should be the time when you work on realizing your dreams and becoming the person you want to be. Use your spare time to volunteer or get involved in activities to better yourself (if you aren’t already), and take your time. Don’t spend all of your time trying to find someone. Sometimes, while you’re busy doing other things, that’s when love finds you. Finding love is a process that should be carefully invested in. It’s not a sprint.

    Good luck.

    • Amy
      Reply January 14, 2013

      Amy

      Wise words Kay!

  • Reply July 18, 2013

    Laurie

    I have to say that, usually i dont comment ever on anything im ever reading, but this exception exists because i really feel that you speak so much of the truth. The topics you have written about are so real, and its great to know that there is someone out there that can give constructive criticism while also understanding the pains of being a naive girl transitioning to a (so called) mature adult. Thank you for your wise words, because they have really helped.

  • Reply December 11, 2013

    Dil

    Hi Amy,

    I stumbled upon your blog and more specifically this article by chance and I must say that it feels almost “God-sent” that I discovered it, albeit it was written some time ago.

    I am in the very same predicament that “Wanting Commitment” is/ was in and I must say that after reading your response today, I have a more clear indication of what I SHOULD be doing going forward (as opposed to what I HAVE been doing).

    It is the same with the guy that I had met a few months ago… I really like him, to the point that a FWB feels like its the only option to being with him in the hope that a miracle will take place and he will develop feelings towards me.

    He has made it clear on a number of occasions that he doesn’t seek a relationship (or as he puts it “I’m not in the space where I want to be in a relationship”) and has brought it down to a somewhat “mechanical” process of us spending time together whilst I want the intimacy that should go with it.

    Nevertheless, I will be taking your advice, and surely will not allow myself to be clouded by my feelings for him AND not sell myself short. I just want to THANK YOU for this post. It makes so much sense and has finally given me a reason to end this FWB.

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