Illustration by Jonathan Rodriguez
Dear Audrey, Me (a guy) and a close female friend have been each others’ FWB on and off for a few years. Whenever one of us is in a relationship we stop, and then when we’re both single, we pick it back up. The sex is great, and I love spending time with her; she’s the best. I was moaning to a work friend about how hard it’s been for me to find someone I click with, because all the women I’ve been out with lately were just not a good fit. And that made me realize that I should be with my FWB friend. I mean, I already know we’re compatible and have great sex. How do I broach this topic with her? Should I just ask her out “for real”? Is this transition hard to make?
I’m afraid that you may have fallen prey to a classic romcom fallacy—that true love was there all along, right under your nose. I don’t blame you. Unlike the “nobody noticed a gorgeous woman was gorgeous because glasses” or “impulsive, borderline-scary behavior is a great quality in a partner” fallacies, this one actually seems to make sense. Like you say, here is a lady with whom you are compatible in terms of having sex and hanging out, one who knows your quirks and seems not to mind them. Why wouldn’t she be the ideal mate?
Unfortunately for you, real life is not so simple. The kinds of quirks a person would put up with in a guy she fucks every once in a while and also meets for a beer are not necessarily tolerable in a long-term partner. Horniness does not equal romantic chemistry.
On the other hand, this does work sometimes! I absolutely know couples who started out as booty calls and morphed into romantic partners. But I know way, way more people who tried this and failed. And what you have to realize going in is that whatever happens—if she rejects the idea out of hand, if you try it for a while and it doesn’t work, or if you are in love forever and die gently stroking each others’ paper-thin skin in a shared hospital bed—that once you go forward with this plan, you almost certainly can’t go back to the way things were. If you’re going to approach her with this idea, you’ve got to be willing to gamble your cozy, uncomplicated situation.
And trust me, what you’ve got is actually pretty special and cool. It’s not so easy to find a benefits friend that works seamlessly and long-term. Like, if you’re looking to settle down, which it looks like you maybe are, I guess you won’t necessarily want a casual sex partner. But if you guys go for it and it’s a total nightmare crash and burn, you could lose her as a friend, too. Some of my closest friends are people I had a nice FWB going with at some point.
So think it through. Are you interested in her just because it’s easy? Because it makes sense on paper? Or are you genuinely starting to feel the heartstring tugs of something more? Has she given you any indication that she wants a monogamous relationship, or that she views you with anything more than occasional lust and friendly regard? If you feel like it’s worth a shot, doing it is simple. Just ask her—and be prepared to graciously accept whatever decision she makes.
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