Am I Wasting My Time With a FWB Relationship?

Dear Dating Coach,

I'm a single female in my early 40's who finds it difficult to meet available, compatible men who are interested in a committed relationship. My friends are all in relationships, but they don't seem to know any men they can introduce me to. I have avoided dating sites as I am just not comfortable with them. I plan to continue trying to meet men through my normal activities and interests, church and community. My question is regarding the impact a "friends with benefits" relationship could have on my finding that right guy. I presently have men friends who have suggested this, and I have engaged in this kind of relationship in the past. Is there any potential for hurting my chances for finding a real relationship as long as we are honest and open about our intentions and are careful to have safe sex? --Wants to Keep all Options Open

Dear Wants to Keep all Options Open--

If my mail is a true indicator, the Friends with Benefits relationship seems to be fairly common. Sex between two consenting friends happens regularly after a night at the movies or bar, dinner in, or in response to a late night "booty call." We could debate extensively about the rightness or wrongness of this practice, and offer reasons on both sides for why it should be allowed or avoided. Depending upon who you ask, the experiences and their end results would vary greatly.

Therefore, it comes down to this. How do you feel now about your past FWB relationships? Did they meet some need in you and/or help you to understand your needs, wants and self better? Do you have any regrets? If so, what are they? As you contemplate entering one of these relationships again, do you have any specific concerns? How do you feel about the man (men) proposing this? Is there any chance you are hoping it could lead to something more, even though he has made it clear it will not?

The problem with any sexual relationship is that it brings us into intimate contact with another person. For even that brief time, you are open and vulnerable. This physical intimacy makes it difficult to set boundaries because feelings cannot be contained--they just continue to grow and change as though completely separate from the rest of you. You are the only one who can decide if this kind of place holding arrangement will not only offer you something worthwhile, but will also not leave you with an even greater feeling of loneliness.

(from January 2009)

Want to read other columns on this subject?

"In Search of the Real Thing"
List of more
"Help With Dating"

"Tired of Feeling like Every Woman's Brother"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


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