Confession: I Had a Friend with Benefits…and Drawbacks

kiss_at_nightphoto by rileyroxx

Our contributor Ryan, who blogs at Student Loans for Beer Money, has a confession to make:

I learned a lot of tough lessons my first year of college. For instance, cucumbers aren’t the only things that can be pickled (thanks to maniacal levels of on-campus alcohol consumption). And, more importantly, having a friend with benefits isn’t always like having your cake and eating it too.

Coming from an all-boys high school, my interaction with girls was limited to three serious yet brief romantic relationships before college. So dealing with girls on a casual level — or even simply on a level that included them as peers — was a foreign concept to me. This made me wholly unprepared and unqualified for my first “fuck buddy” relationship.

I bumped into her at a party — literally and, ultimately, figuratively. Looking back on it we had almost nothing in common besides a love of being “mad wasted, yo.” In spite of that fact (or probably because of it), we had sex that night. If we’d had any sense, that would have been the end of it; we would have just gone about our daily academic lives, awkwardly passing each other on campus, until we forgot to be embarrassed anymore, until we forgot we’d even had sex once. But we didn’t have sense, and we didn’t stop. Instead, it became a ritual. She was my midnight phone call and 2 o’clock goodnight; I was the boy she didn’t tell her roommates about…

Over the 3 or 4 months this little naked dance took place, I continually looked for some kind of connection between us, for something I was attracted to besides her body. While the casual sex relationship is almost always considered a construct of selfish, insensitive men (and admittedly, I was one of them at the time), that’s not to say I didn’t hope every time we hooked up that she would offer me some small opportunity to help transition us out of our hormonal quagmire.

Eventually, it all came to a head: I couldn’t get mine up. And she finally broke her silence. I’ll never forget it: she looked at me and said, “If you’re just gonna have sex with me you could at least actually have sex with me.” That led to an incredibly uncomfortable two-hour conversation about the months that we had fucked away with each other. It was only then that I realized she too had hoped that each time we got together I’d find a reason to stay. We both secretly wanted something more from one another even though, deep down, we knew we had nothing else to give.

In the months that followed that conversation there were the occasional late night phone calls on both sides, but they never led to a hook up again. But not because we weren’t tempted: it was like cigarettes — we wanted to quit, we knew that was the best thing for us, but the habit was so easy and comforting that it made quitting really tough.  And as anyone who’s tried to kick a smoking habit knows, when you’re drunk it’s even tougher.

A year and a half later, we still blush a little when we pass each other on campus. But I haven’t forgotten what happened between us — because I want to remember how important it is to ask early on where a relationship is going. Even if…especially if I suspect the answer is “nowhere.”


  1. I’m one of those who are the side that’s okay with FWB’s. I’ve had one that’s been off/on for almost 5 years. When we first met, we had established boundaries right away, and we’ve always respected each other’s relationships whenever the other one is in one. So I think as long as there is a dialogue about the nature of the arrangement, and you are honest with each other throughout, then there is no harm with having a FWB.

  2. Unfortunately, I learned this at a young age. I was fourteen, and stupid. It was a bad “first love” experience, because in reality, there was no love there. And me, being my fourteen year old girl self, craved that love more than anything. It potentially ruined my outlook on men, sex, and love. Friends with benefits is an all around, bad idea… Unless you’re an Ice Queen or have no soul.

  3. When you are a girl… who cares about what other people think, it is tough to ask, “where is this going?” You don’t want to seem too eager to put a label on anything for fear of scaring the other person away. Although I had to learn that I would much rather be comfortable and “knowing” rather than having someone else be comfy and having all of the answers. I have lost too much sleep over stuff like this.

  4. Why should it be necessary to end up having the two hour-talk? I have had a few FWB-s, one of them is still one phone call away. Or maybe it’s two? 😛

    It’s the best thing one can do if you don’t feel like falling in love with the person you’re having sex with. It’s the best thing for those who just had a bad break up or simply don’t feel like a relationship.

    And grownup people don’t start hoping for a wedding whenever they wake up in somebody else’s bed. Ryan, this will pass with your college years.

    There has to be something between ‘no sex life’ and ‘long term relationship’ – long live the FWB-s!

  5. Wow…either I’m a giant bitch or I throughly luv having a FWB. I might be one of the few women out there that are okay having a FWB and not having to be tied into a ‘relationship.’ And they can last. I had one for a year. And we have recently re-hooked back up. We have busy, active lives, but need the good sex- so why not? And it’s HOT every time we hook up. Now the story above was in college… I don’t think I could have handled it then- I was young and naive…but now, in my 30’s- I say: HECK YEAH! If you can find one who fits what you need and is on the same page as you- go for it!! 🙂

  6. OK, point #1: as far as I am concerned there is a big difference between fwb and a booty call. Let’s get our terminology right.

    point #2: There are times when a fwb relationship will last. I had one that lasted for 2-3 years. It stopped when I got married. We didn’t see each other regularly all the time, but we had our periods when we called each other. We were good friends who also had excellent chemistry and really, really good sex. To this day, I remember him with fondness and I hear he does too. I moved abroad more than 10 years so I haven’t seen him for a very long time.
    I don’t know if we would have worked out as a couple couple. Perhaps we would, but it was never really an issue that we weren’t. We were fine just being friends when either one of us was in a relationship, but when we weren’t and we ran in to each other… well, that was a different story, a great and steamy one.

  7. am I the only one here who will admit when I don’t want fwb to turn into something more? I tried that once-we went from a one night stand to a relationship. the relationship was awful, the sex was good. from then on I learned to listen to my gut and say “fwb only, take it or leave it” when appropriate. Maybe I’m just secretly a man, in that I do in fact have guys that could be a boyfriend and guys that could be nothing but fwb? but seriously. It’s not that hard.

  8. unforunately, i’m there right now except we both know the reason why we can’t date is because he’s leaving for good. he always says “if i wasn’t leaving we’d be together” we’re both young and if it was different, if we met sooner, we would’ve been together. it’s sad though, his mom loves me, knows about me from him, my friends who were skeptical at first loves us together, his friends base everything that happened in the past based on when we first started our fwb. everybody knows about us, it’s no secret, unlike my ex who was started off as a boyfriend for a week and then ended up as a fwb, i spend the night at my now fwb’s room, we lounge around in bed, watch movies, youtube clips and we have inside jokes. we’re pretty much dating without the title and i’m pretty sure i’m the only girl he’s been with who he hasn’t “cheated” on and probably the longest he’s been with one girl. it’s a hectic ride.

    i did have that one fwb, my ex, who i wished it’d turn into something more but now that i look back on it, i had nothing in common with him, we’re too different, he was boring to me while my now fwb is interesting and we can talk about anything, everything, life, work blah. hmm… unfortunately he’s leaving or i’d have one of the best relationships i’ve ever had. i don’t believe in long distance relationships either, he’s young and i believe if we’re meant to be then we’ll meet up one day soon.

  9. haha I’ve totally been there… I think we, too, hoped that the sex would turn into something, but it never did. we never had anything to talk about!!! and actually, it started off as something we did when drinking, but once we began hooking up sober on weekdays, i realized that the sex wasn’t even good! so it was like, what’s the point? I guess everyone has to learn that lesson sometime.

  10. I’m really impressed that you’ve learned the lesson the first time. Those conversations are hard, but oh-so-necessary.

  11. *sigh* I’ve been there before. The first time around, it was crazy, drunk, high sex. Then a couple of weeks after that we met up again and that’s when I saw that maybe we could hang out more often because he was a smart guy. But then he got jealous that I had so many guy friends, and kept on suggesting I was a slut.

    I don’t think the turning-someone-you-sleep-with-into-your-boyfriend thing works, at all.

  12. I’m happy to see it took you one girl to realize this…as it took me many men…..Now we know….

  13. FWB’s never last long. Either one person or both want something more, a relationship, etc. It always plays on one another’s feelings too, which is destructive.

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