DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I am not currently in the mental state to be in a long term, committed relationship, but I would like to be intimate with a woman/women. But I have no idea how this even happens. How does it start? And especially, how does a guy even bring up this idea without being labelled a douchebag/creeper/f- -kboy?
I’ve asked similar questions to this online on multiple sites, just simply asking how a guy looks for this without being creepy, and have had answers along the lines of “it’s impossible, because FWB is creepy”, or “you’re basically asking how do I do this creepy thing without being creepy”, or “you don’t think she’s good enough to date but you’d still f--k her, you don’t see her as a person”. I don’t think I said anything to warrant this kind of reaction, so it seems to just be that they don’t like the idea. It would be one thing if this was just a matter of personal preference, but they seem to carry the implication (or in some cases, explicitly remark) that any guy who would want this or look for this is creepy, predatory, misogynistic, and awful.
So it seems like, when finding someone, that I have to be lucky enough to:
1. Not have any hangups about the idea, not think that it’s inherently creepy,
2. Not have any hangups about me in particular asking
and that’s in addition to
3. The whole thing with approaching in general, that she has to be fine with both my approach and the venue.
And of course, there’s no way of truly knowing any of this without asking in the first place. And these three things are just what I need to not be seen as a reprehensible creep for this, not even to actually FIND a FWB. At this point, it seems less like finding someone and more like playing the lottery.
So, how does this happen, and how does a man do it without being seen as evil?
DEAR BENEFITS PACKAGE: The way you find a friend with benefits is pretty simple, BP: you put yourself out there and make it clear that you’re looking for a casual relationship, rather than something committed or long-term. The easiest and most reliable way to do this is through dating apps. After all: the people on dating apps are there specifically to find potential partners, including women who’re down for something casual and non-committed.
Different dating apps offer you different ways of indicating what kind of relationships you’re looking for. OKCupid, for example, offers a number of “looking for” options, including “short term relationships” and “casual sex”. On an app like Tinder or Hinge, you might point out that you’re not looking for a committed relationship, that you’re not in the market for anything long-term or that you’re not “The One” but lots of fun… there’re a lot of ways to be creative while still making it clear that you’re not offering anything more serious than a casual relationship.
The apps also let you filter for folks who are also looking for what you’re looking for, or who might be open to it. This is far easier than, say, rolling into the club and saying “hey, I’m looking for a FWB, you down?”
Now I have to admit: I would be very curious to see where and how, exactly, you posed this question, BP. I suspect that has far more to do with the responses you got than a universal truth that “all women think dudes looking for FWBs are creepazoids”. The truth is that, far from being a hive-mind, LOTS of women would be down for casual sex. The problem is that a) women face a disproportionate amount of physical and emotional risk when it comes to finding sex partners than men do, b) the sex is very rarely worth the risk and c) dudes have a tendency to immediately turn around and call women sluts afterwards.
But the way you framed this hypothetical search makes me think that you’ve got a fairly fundamental disconnect between what you want and what a friends-with-benefits relationship is. You seem to be coming to this from the angle that you propose an FWB relationship to someone you’ve just met which… isn’t really how it works. Especially if you’re trying to meet people off a cold approach, and doubly so if you’re meeting them some place outside of, say, a bar, club or dating app.
Because here’s the thing: the key word in “friends with benefits” isn’t “benefits”. It’s “Friends”.
To be clear: I’m a big believer in establishing the kind of relationship you’re looking for early on, especially when it comes to casual or no-strings relationships. But dropping the “so yeah, I don’t really want to date, mostly I wanna hang out, drink beers and f--k” right from the start is… not a great look. What you’re going to want to do is actually go on a date or two, see if you two are even compatible at all, and then — if there’s chemistry and mutual interest — discuss the kind of relationship you actually want. Like I’ve said elsewhere, the script is fairly simple:
“Look, I’m going to be straight with you: I’m not looking for/ do not want/ am not interested in having a girlfriend/boyfriend relationship. I’m a good friend and a good lover, but I’m not available for commitment beyond that. If that’s what you’re looking for, that’s not a problem, but I’m not the person who can give it to you.
Here’s what I want from this relationship and here’s what I have to offer.
How about you?”
That “How about you” is important. A lot of people feel awkward discussing the exact nature of what they’re looking for when it comes to dates and relationships. In fact, a mistake a lot of people make is that they never explicitly say what they’re looking for and hope that everyone just happens to be on the same page. This… works about as well as you might think. Which is to day, disastrously. By stating exactly what you want, what you’re able to give and THEN saying “and how about you?”, you’re modeling the type of communication that you want and giving them permission to be as open and forthright about what they want from a partner.
And if they say no — which they very well might — then you thank them for taking care of themselves, wish them all the best and move on; you’ve discovered that you and they weren’t right for one another.
But I want to highlight another issue I think you’re gonna run into BP: I think you don’t quite get what’s involved in a friends with benefits relationship. You aren’t interested in relationships right now, just sex. That in and of itself is fine. The problem is that I think you’re assuming that an FWB relationship is sex-on-tap, and it’s really not. Like I said: the key word in there is “friends”. These are — or should be — people you are friends with, who you enjoy spending time with and, in an ideal world, you would still want to hang with if sex weren’t on the table. They’re not people you just call up whenever you decide that yes, some oral sex WOULD be nice tonight. Nobody, even women who’re down for hooking up with a guy they met that night, likes to be treated like an ambulatory Fleshlight.
Unfortunately, that attitude is really common. The reason why a lot of folks, especially women, are down on FWB or casual relationships is because a lot of dudes tend to use the label “causal” as a reason to treat their PARTNERS casually. I can’t count the number of women I’ve heard from who’ve had casual relationships with dudes who were cold to them or felt like they had to keep reminding them that this was just a sex thing… as though they had to be assholes to keep those “soft-hearted ladies” from catching a bad case of feels.
(I’ve run into far more dudes who’ve caught feels for their casual partners than women, for the record…)
You mention not being in a mental state for something long term. While an FWB relationship doesn’t come with the expectations of monogamy or long-term commitment, it’s still a relationship, and one that requires care and maintenance. If what you’re looking for is more about casual sex, possibly even one-night stands, you’d be better off focusing on that. An FWB isn’t someone you can bang and ignore until you’ve got the itch again.
If you’re looking for a friend who you also occasionally bump uglies with… well, just realize that friendships come with obligations and responsibilities too.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com