Ask Ciiku: I need to define boundaries with my friend with benefits

Dear Ciiku,

I have a FWB who is also a very close friend. I would like to ensure that it remains that way without feelings getting caught in the process but to also not treat them poorly in order to maintain this. How do I/we build the boundaries this relationship needs?

Anon

Dear Anon,

A dilemma of the ages if ever there was one. A close friend, a sexual relationship and boundaries. Will your friendship exist after the sexual relationship ends? That’s what the boundaries are supposed to ensure? From your letter I’m reading that you don’t want this to develop into a romantic relationship, that it remains a friendship plus sex. Is it possible that feelings can be caught by one party? Yes. Is it possible that the friendship might not exist once either of you get different sexual partners (on the assumption that it is monogamous)? Probably.

I’m glad that you acknowledge that one doesn’t and shouldn’t treat a FWB poorly. A FWB is like any other relationship in the sense that communication is key. And when I say communication I mean that conversations need to happen about what is happening, what is wanted, what isn’t. From your short note I see that you are clear about what you want, something you have thought about and this must be expressed to your FWB. Relationships work when the people in it are on the same page and have the same understanding of the expectations of each other. Not when we make assumptions of what the other person must be thinking or feeling. I must stress that this is achieved through honest, open communication. Talk with your friend. Lay your cards on the table. Soon. And remain true to yourself. Always.

All the best,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: Will our friendship survive?

Hi Ciiku,

I am friends with a girl and I think I’m developing feelings for her. We hang out a lot and enjoy each other’s company. I haven’t yet told her how I feel yet, but this is because I think it might ruin what we have. I am not sure my feelings are reciprocated. Should I tell her and risk our really good friendship?

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

I feel like I keep repeating myself when I say this but it is also apt for your scenario…. “the greatest predictor of love is proximity.” Do you know why this is so? Once you spend time with someone, talk a lot, share etc, it seems to only make sense that the relationship should turn romantic. Why is this so? I think that it is because a romantic relationship is seen as the pinnacle, the relationship above all other relationships. Therefore if there is a person in your life who makes you feel things, it makes sense in your head that it must be romantic feelings. Is that the case with you?

A couple of scenarios : She reciprocates your feelings and then you become a couple and live happily ever after. Second, she doesn’t reciprocate your feelings and you stop being in each other’s lives due to the tension. Three, you decide not to tell her and every time she gets into a relationship you are jealous and unreasonable. Four, you decide to not tell her and realise that the feelings that you felt were really related to a platonic intimate friendship and you realise that the relationship is a deep friendship and that only.

How do you then figure out what to do? For one, spend time with yourself figuring out what exactly you feel for your friend and if indeed it turns out to be romantic feelings, then you must decide what to do about that. And if she doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, you have to be willing to accept that the friendship will probably not exist after. Make the right choice because the only person you can control here is you.

All the best,

Ciiku