Your Call: Is This a FWB Situation or Something More?

We get a lot of advice questions coming in at EMandLO.com, but sadly, we just can’t answer them all. Which is why, once a week, we turn to you to decide how best to advise a reader. Make your call on the letter below by leaving your advice in the comments section. 

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Dear Em & Lo,

I’m currently in a FWB relationship. We both broke up with long term partners about 3/4 weeks ago. After chatting on a night out, he asked me back to his place, he called me beautiful etc, and we got intimate. I know the alcohol helped, but he said he was glad I was single and that he was really attracted to me.

Anyway, a few days later he said he wasn’t looking for a relationship, which is understandable — the same was true for me. However, after work a few days later, I drove him home and instead of sleeping together we just chatted for nearly four hours in my car. Nothing happened, he just gave me a hug (not typical of a FWB relationship).

I then went on a night out with some friends where he was working, and he seemed to watch me from behind the bar for most of the night. I ended up back at his place. We had a cup of tea and watched telly, chatted and hugged. This then led to intimacy, after which he again spooned with me and kissed the back of my neck and held me all night.

We have chatted about our personal lives and childhood stories. He has accidentally met my mum and he thinks she’s lovely blah blah. He originally said he wasn’t going to tell anybody but then yesterday I found out he had told his flatmate about whats going on.

Basically does he want more than a FWB relationship? I don’t want to ask him and ruin a FWB situation or a friendship.

— FWB?

What should FWB do? Leave advice for her in the comments section below.




  1. Yes! What Nikki said above. I had a wonderful FWB thing with a guy for 2 1/2 years. He and I were both in open relationships (which is why it ended–his fiancee decided to change the rules which, fair enough though sad). But when we were first talking about the possibility, he was very nervous because he’d had an FWB thing in the recent past that went very, very badly–basically with a woman who wanted sex and sex only and was just weird and mean to him, didn’t respect his boundaries, etc. I told him that “friends with benefits” starts with “friends” as far as I’m concerned.

    We had a lot of great sex but we also went snowboarding, did geeky gaming together, lunch in the park, shopping at Target, etc. He really did become one of my best friends, and blessedly, after some awkwardness and readjustment, that seems to be holding. We already have our ski passes for this winter!

  2. Isn’t this the way the world tends to operate? You meet people when you least wish to. Then you either deal with it and grab the opportunity or you pass on it. Sure, when someone says ‘ I don’t want a relationship ‘ you might wanna take them at their words to spare yourself some potential heart break. Or maybe not. People generally talk a lot of shit and act the opposite. Do we really know what we want? Is shit we say true-true? Usually there’s a massive contrast between who you want to be and who you are. I wouldn’t focus on what the guy is saying but rather on what he is doing. Right now this guy says he doesn’t want a relationship but is currently enjoying the plus side of one without having to deal with the mundane cons. It’s possible because you two just met and are enjoying each other. Soon enough you’ll know where this is going. You can ask him if you have the balls, but he probably doesn’t know what to tell you – you just met. Get to know the person. And don’t pretend you don’t want a relationship if you do, just to keep him in your life.

  3. Agree with above. Many people forget the “friends” part of FWB. My former FWB used to have sleepovers, spoon, play video games, and listen to each other’s problems. Why? Because we were friends and generally cared about each other. And we’re still friends – the benefits just went away.

  4. +1 to J’s response; when someone tells you they don’t want a relationship, believe them.

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking that experiencing intimacy with someone (like cuddling and talking for hours) necessarily means they want a relationship. People who want sex but don’t want relationships can crave intimacy like that just as much as anyone else. Especially if they were recently in a long-term relationship where sex and intimacy often went hand-in-hand. It could be nothing more than habit.

    But his actions aren’t the real question here. The question is, what do YOU want? You don’t say that you want a relationship with him, you just sound hopeful that he wants one. If you’re looking for a relationship, be honest with yourself and him and don’t waste your time on someone not interested in that.

    If that’s what you want, tell him. If he “doesn’t want to put a label on it” (a common way to continue an FWB relationship when the other party wants something more), you have your answer. Move on and find someone who wants to really be with you. Don’t keep sleeping with him and using him as a surrogate boyfriend if you want a real commitment.

  5. In my experience, when someone says they don’t want a relationship, they usually mean it despite any actions to the contrary.

    The term “friends with benefits” can mean that you are friends, you do really care about each other, maybe even love each other, are physically intimate, but just lack any commitment. This explains the conversation, romantic moments, etc but still doesn’t equal a relationship. Plus, he may be treating you as sort of a surrogate for the intimacy he lost when he broke up with his gf.

    The only way to know for sure is to talk about it. But, I would only bring it up if it’s really bothering you. Otherwise, just let it roll.

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