After three and a half years, my boyfriend and I finally decided a breakup was best for us. Yesterday, we met up for the first time since the split (which was five or six days ago) to check in on how the other was doing, discuss what we wanted in the future, and just pore over what worked and what didn't work between us. We still love each other dearly; we just know that our original plan - to get married and have kids - just wasn't a good fit for us, due to huge clashes in opinions and attitudes around "the big stuff" (money, religion, politics, even kids) that generally need to be in place for the sort of relationship we had in mind.
Both of us seem to be taking the transition generally well, and I think he had also taken some time during the relationship to process the idea of breaking up (I know I did). I was hoping that we'd be able to continue our solid friendship without the romantic connotations, and right now it seems we will. While we were talking yesterday, the conversation turned to future partners, and he brought up the idea of us continuing our sexual relationship - a friends with benefits relationship.
Now, I am not particularly adverse to a friends with benefits setup - several of my friendships have in the past involved casual sexual activity, and they all turned out fine (I realize I am in the minority when I say that.), and I know that he is able to separate sex from romance. We were also pretty compatible sexually, and he was always very diligent about making sure I was okay during sex (he is also reminding me that he doesn't want to push me into a FWB arrangement if I don't want it - I do, but I've held off on telling him so far), so I am not worried about that, either.
What I am worried about, however, is not giving ourselves enough time to fully accept this shift - he did propose this arrangement less than a week after breaking up with me, after all. I have a solid army of support from friends on my side, but I know that my dear ex's friends aren't interested in hearing him get out his feelings, (he and his friends subscribe to that "macho" stereotype, especially when it comes to guys and feelings) so much as they are interested in trash-talking me. I don't think that's terribly helpful for him, especially in this time. I'm worried he might be asking this so he won't have to deal with the idea of losing me. I'm also worried he might be secretly hoping this will resuscitate our relationship - how can I tell? This is my first serious relationship. I don't know how to tell when I myself would be ready to pursue a FWB setup following a breakup. My friends have been saying they're impressed with how well I have been handling myself through the breakup (and honestly, I'm impressed with myself, too) but how do I know when I am fully resolved?
I just want to keep us both safe, and make sure we don't inadvertently hurt ourselves or each other emotionally. If it means anything, I am cisfemale, just turned 24 three weeks ago, and he is cismale, 22. We started dating when he was 19 and I was 20, and we've been completely monogamous.
TL;DR: Boyfriend and I just ended a long-term relationship. He and I would like to pursue a FWB relationship, but I am worried 1.) it's too soon, and 2.) he wants it for the wrong reasons.
Posts: 43 | From: Canada | Registered: Jun 2009
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This is one of those situations where there's no hard-and-fast rule to judge when and if both of you are ready to try a FWB setup to see how that will work for you. It sounds like you have experience with this in the past and that you have a good sense of how to handle these sorts of relationships in a way that
In general, though, I think it's a good idea to give the two of you some more time apart to process the breakup itself. Even if your initial reaction has been pretty calm and you both feel like you're handling it well, that could change for either of you in the near future and it's probably good to give you both space to handle that when you aren't being sexual with each other. Of course there's no way to guarantee that won't happen even if you hold off for a bit, but I think it's reasonable to take some extra time here. I've certainly had breakups where I felt nothing but relief for a week or two and then moved into a sadder period of mourning the relationship after that.
Also, since you sound a little worried that your ex might be seeing this as a way to get back together, taking some extra time will help you assess that facet of the situation a little better. How is he acting towards you as time goes on? How have things changed in a month or two? That might give you a better picture of how it might work for you to try a FWB relationship.
One other thing I'd suggest - which maybe you were planning to do anyway - is have a conversation about exactly what this relationship would look like and how it would be different from the relationship you had before. Would you structure your time together differently? Still have room to date other people? Avoid conversation topics that caused stress before? Since you're already used to dating him, it could be that you fall back into old patterns that didn't work if you don't sit down and talk about them beforehand.
Posts: 1125 | From: San Francisco | Registered: Jan 2013
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