FWBs with someone in an open relationship

Kolibro

New member
Hi!

I am not sure if this is the right place to post. I used to consider myself monogamous and have recently begun to explore the idea of polyamory.

I (34F) have been in a FWB situation with a poly man (35M) for three years. It was never a romantic connection, despite us both admitting that we care for each other and helping each other through dark periods in our lives. I always thought that I was ultimately looking for a long-term, committed relationship (with someone else, not him). He was open from the beginning about looking for an open relationship.

During the past year and a half he has also been in an open relationship with another girl and is quite content with it. We spent a rocky period, because he wasn’t sure if we should continue our relationship, since it wasn’t purely sexual, but he confirmed that it was okay, as long as I didn’t act like a girlfriend. I never intended to do that, so everything seemed to work out.

Right now I am casually dating a couple of guys, but I am not interested in committing to any of them.

I communicate with him quite often (every 2-3 days) mainly by text. We see each other every two months or so, despite not being long-distance. That was the situation even before he got with his girlfriend, and has more or less remained the same. It has always been a sore point for me, because I wanted to see him more often (once or twice a month), but he kept brushing it off.

Now I can’t stop feeling abandoned and inadequate, even though I would never consider being his girlfriend. I am not jealous of her and I don’t want to replace her. I am a bit jealous of him, because he has found the emotional security that I am still searching for. He says that he cares for me and that he is open to discussion, but he has never changed his behaviour to accommodate me, not even briefly.

I often wonder why he keeps me around, since he has a girlfriend and multiple other sexual partners. He says that it’s a bit like having a lot of friends that you enjoy spending time with. But he hardly ever spends time with me! We typically schedule on a whim and that makes me feel like I am the last of his priorities. He says that scheduling far in advance makes him feel anxious. I would prefer it if we had a “designated time” for us every month or so.

Is that too much to ask, since I am not his partner? I would like my platonic friends to make time for me (they do), so is it that strange that I want to see him on a more regular basis? I know I sound needy, but I am not normally so. It’s the first time I've been involved with someone in a poly relationship and I don’t know how to navigate the situation. I judge based on my experience in monogamous relationships, but this seems like another world entirely. How do I know if he’s dragging me along just to boost his ego or to alleviate his boredom?
 
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So, he currently gives you X.
You want Y.

You can ask him for Y but be prepared to hear "no".

If he says "no," you can stop settling for X and part ways with him. Or you can continue to accept X because those were the original agreements and he wants to keep them.

You mentioned you're jealous (although I'd call it envious) of him and that he has something you don't have. Perhaps it would be easier to stop looking at him having this for a while, take a break from the fwb thing, even the friend part, while you go spend time with other friends who can plan to make time for you.

A lot of adult friendships take breaks. It's okay to do so.
 
Hello Kolibro,

I hear your frustration. You are not doing anything wrong. You simply have a different need than he has. You need him once or twice per month. He needs you once every two or more months. Right now, he is getting what he needs, but you aren't getting what you need.

A fair compromise would be for the two of you to have a set date to see each other once a month. Have you asked him for this compromise? Have you explained your needs to him? If you have, how did he respond?

If he's not willing to compromise, maybe he's less great of a friend than you used to think he was. Or maybe the two of you are a less great fit for each other, and are just now starting to realize it. You said things were like this before he met his girlfriend, so I'm thinking that she isn't the problem. Maybe she's the light that's being trained on this crack in your relationship.

Sure it's "just" a friendship. But friendships have wants and needs too. It's not just romantic relationships that have that. You have been frustrated in this friendship for some time. Now it's up to you to decide whether once every two or more months is a dealbreaker for you.

Sympathetically,
Kevin T.
 
You said things were like this before he met his girlfriend, so I'm thinking that she isn't the problem. Maybe she's the light that's being trained on this crack in your relationship.
Thank you for your reply! I also think that his gf is NOT the problem. Even before her, he had expressed that scheduling makes him anxious in any situation. However, scheduling meet-ups with people I care about makes me feel reassured that my feelings are reciprocated. Him getting a girlfriend “proved” that he was capable of committing to a schedule when he wanted to.
A fair compromise would be for the two of you to have a set date to see each other once a month. Have you asked him for this compromise? Have you explained your needs to him? If you have, how did he respond?
I haven’t explicitly asked for a compromise, even though that’s what I think I should do now, and probably should have done long ago. When he got more serious about his gf, we had a long discussion, and I admitted that I might need time to process things and also I that I might need him to be more understanding and tender towards me. He said he was glad I felt safe enough to bring it up and that he would try to meet those needs. However, we never laid out exactly how we were going to proceed, and eventually fell back into our old pattern.
He currently gives you X. You want Y. You can ask him for Y, but be prepared to hear "no."

If he says "no," you can stop settling for X and part ways with him. Or you can continue to accept X because those were the original agreements and he wants to keep them.

You mentioned you're jealous (although I'd call it envious) of him and that he has something you don't have. Perhaps it would be easier to stop looking at him having this for a while, take a break from the FWB thing, even the friend part, while you go spend time with other friends who can plan to make time for you.

A lot of adult friendships take breaks. It's okay to do so.
Thank you for your answer, as well! I'd thought of fading away, in order to not be reminded that he has something I don’t and to avoid a difficult discussion. However, it seems unfair to both of us not to discuss it first. On the other hand, I dread the possibility of realising that he doesn’t care for me.

To me, it feels more like losing a friend than losing a lover, even though sex complicates things. I don’t want “girlfriend privileges," I just don’t want to feel neglected and pushed around. Every time I play possible discussions and outcomes in my head, I imagine him saying that I am not his girlfriend and that I shouldn’t demand time. I, on the other hand, think that asking for more time and attention is a valid point to make. Is that normal, when someone is in a poly relationship? Should I just cut my losses and disappear?
 
I also think that his gf is NOT the problem. Even before her, he had expressed that scheduling makes him anxious in any situation. However, scheduling meet-ups with people I care about makes me feel reassured that my feelings are reciprocated. Him getting a girlfriend “proved” that he was capable of committing to a schedule when he wanted to.

I haven’t explicitly asked for a compromise, even though that’s what I think I should do now, and probably should have done long ago. When he got more serious about his gf, we had a long discussion, and I admitted that I might need time to process things, and also I that I might need him to be more understanding and tender towards me. He said he was glad I felt safe enough to bring it up and that he would try to meet those needs. However, we never laid out exactly how we were going to proceed, and eventually fell back into our old pattern.
Let me be straight with you. It seems to me like you avoid slightly tough situations and then flounder in a no-man's land, not knowing what's going on. I suggest you lean into unclear situations and set things straight. What's the worst that could happen? An undependable man leaves your life, making way for more dependable people who more value your time.
I'd thought of fading away, in order to not be reminded that he has something I don’t and to avoid a difficult discussion. However, it seems unfair to both of us not to discuss it first. On the other hand, I dread the possibility of realising that he doesn’t care for me.
Lean in, get your answers. Be direct. Define what you want and state your desires. Accept the answer to your clear requests and decide if it's a dealbreaker. You don't need to live at his whim if that's frustrating or even unbearable.
To me, it feels more like losing a friend than losing a lover, even though sex complicates things. I don’t want “girlfriend privileges," I just don’t want to feel neglected and pushed around. Every time I play possible discussions and outcomes in my head, I imagine him saying that I am not his girlfriend and that I shouldn’t demand time. I, on the other hand, think that asking for more time and attention is a valid point to make. Is that normal, when someone is in a poly relationship? Should I just cut my losses and disappear?
This is a board for polyamory, not for casual hookups, FWBs, FBs and the like. You're asking about a "poly relationship," but you're selling yourself short.

You say you are afraid of "commitment." I think you're afraid of showing up for yourself. You say he isn't reliable, and won't make enough plans, but he IS capable of scheduling dates with his "gf." You don't have to try and define what makes you a "girlfriend" and what makes you a mere "friend with benefits." Friends treat friends right, whether it is a fun hangout, or a full-on romantic thing. You have a right to state what you want to anyone you choose to be with, no matter who they are.

It doesn't have to be a big drawn-out thing. Just tell him what you want. If he can't give you what you want or need, decide if what he can give is worth it, and take it or leave it, as the case may be.

Don't compare yourself to his "gf." Define who you are and what you want, and go get it.
 
I get where you're coming from. I have previously been happy in long-term FWB arrangements where I did not want to be a girlfriend, and I believe philosophically that there is such a thing as sexual friendships, that work they way friendships normally do except that what you share as friends is sex. Like you, I am wary of commitment and am pretty happy on my own so I don't ask for much in dating.

However. Like your current situation, I did not find any guy who met my needs (my VERY LIMITED needs!!) for such a FWB arrangement. They would claim they valued me as a friend, but would not show up emotionally the way one would for an actual friend. They would often refuse to schedule dates in advance, even when I said it makes ME anxious not to be able to plan ahead around my jobs, friends, family, and other commitments. They would act like they were worried I wanted to escalate to being a girlfriend if I dare ask for any little need or request (such as scheduling a date more than at the last minute, or eating a meal together).

I prided myself on being as low-commitment, low-maintenance, and independent as possible. Indeed, I was quite happy with myself and my life at the time. But somehow those relationships were always on the guy's terms.

Ultimately, they were always the ones who ended the relationship (sometimes just dropping me without even a conversation about it). Often, I believe, dropping me in favor of a woman who actually demanded a serious relationship and spoke up about her needs.

Which at the time left me puzzled because I honestly did not want that kind of serious relationship with anyone and I did not understand why the freedom I offered wasn't valued more.

In an ideal world, I would still love to have a sexual friendship with someone I see every couple months and am not deeply involved with. But in reality I never found someone who was on the same page as me about it, or who would value that type of connection for what it is.

Well, actually, I did begin my long-term serious poly relationship that way. What I liked about Elijah when I met him 12 years ago was that we both valued sexual friendships and started seeing each other casually, slowly becoming friends. I liked that he had a number of FWBs that he really treated as friends and valued, and kept in his life as friends if the sex ended. But then he and I fell deeply in love! Partly because of our shared philosophy of freedom-based poly dating and our mutual appreciation for FWBs.

I hadn't actually been wanting "more" from him or hoping we would fall in love...it just happened. And in many ways, it complicated my life a lot and we are now finding ourselves, over a decade later, faced with the fact that we are not really compatible as life partners. (That's a different story though).

Anyway. My new partner, Rick, I also initially liked and connected with because of our mutual appreciation for relationships that occupy the space between casual and serious girlfriend/boyfriend. Due to us both being independent and valuing time to ourselves. But we have a lot in common and are connecting deeply and not feeling "casual" at all.

So, I guess what I've learned is that the ideal FWB arrangement I wanted was hard to find, and when I found it, ironically, that very shared appreciation for FWBs laid the foundation for serious feelings. And if someone values me as a FWB, I guess that also means they value me enough to fall in love with me?

Which in some ways is a little...disappointing, almost? I'm not sure how to describe it. I am happy with the understanding that the way I fall in love is by beginning as FWB or casually, but I would still like a FWB that I DON'T fall in love with yet who still values me. LOL. If that makes sense.

Enough about me. For your situation...honestly, I'm with Magdlyn. What if you end things with him, and focus your energy elsewhere? Either on seeking out the serious partner you want, or seeking a FWB who values you more?
 
In an ideal world, I would still love to have a sexual friendship with someone I see every couple months and am not deeply involved with. But in reality I never found someone who was on the same page as me about it, or who would value that type of connection for what it is.

My arrangement with MrClean fits the bill from my end. Sexual friendship, not deeply involved. We usually schedule last minute because I have a break in my day and he lives near where I work.

...
I communicate with him quite often (every 2-3 days) mainly by text. We see each other every two months or so, despite not being long-distance. That was the situation even before he got with his girlfriend, and has more or less remained the same. It has always been a sore point for me, because I wanted to see him more often (once or twice a month), but he kept brushing it off.

Now I can’t stop feeling abandoned and inadequate, even though I would never consider being his girlfriend. I am not jealous of her and I don’t want to replace her. I am a bit jealous of him, because he has found the emotional security that I am still searching for. He says that he cares for me and that he is open to discussion, but he has never changed his behaviour to accommodate me, not even briefly.

I often wonder why he keeps me around, since he has a girlfriend and multiple other sexual partners. He says that it’s a bit like having a lot of friends that you enjoy spending time with. But he hardly ever spends time with me! We typically schedule on a whim and that makes me feel like I am the last of his priorities. He says that scheduling far in advance makes him feel anxious. I would prefer it if we had a “designated time” for us every month or so.

Is that too much to ask, since I am not his partner? I would like my platonic friends to make time for me (they do), so is it that strange that I want to see him on a more regular basis? I know I sound needy, but I am not normally so. It’s the first time I've been involved with someone in a poly relationship and I don’t know how to navigate the situation. I judge based on my experience in monogamous relationships, but this seems like another world entirely. How do I know if he’s dragging me along just to boost his ego or to alleviate his boredom?
MrClean and I don't text as often as you and your FWB do, but we see each other a bit more. I am the one who doesn't really like to schedule things more than a day or two in advance, as my schedule changes day-to-day. MrClean has never asked for more firm scheduling, but I could easily imagine him feeling as you do but, also not asking directly.

For those of us who don't desire X for ourselves (whether it is scheduled plans, or frequent text check-ins, or whatever) it is sometimes hard to remember that some other people DO appreciate these sorts of reassurances and structure in their lives, friendships, and relationships. I think it is useful to remember that other people can't read your mind. They won't know what you need or prefer unless you tell them. If someone wants to spend time with me, or talk to me, they can ask.

I wonder why YOU wonder why "he keeps you around." Isn't enjoying someone's company (sexually, romantically, fraternally, or any-otherly) reason enough?

When I see my therapist, we set up the next appointment at the end of the current appointment. Would that work for you and him?
 
Girl. I am WITH you. Similar situation in my life-- I have a casual sex partner I've been seeing for 3 years. It started out very heavy and has trickled to now seeing him a couple times a year, if we are lucky, and he's the closest of all my long-term casual boyfriends. But he prioritizes me NOT AT ALL.

The weird thing is that he doesn't have another girlFRIEND. He casually fucks everyone he sleeps with and isn't sleeping with many women at all these days. Every time we are together he comments that we "should do this more often" and then it doesn't happen. I've told him multiple times I want more of him in my life. We've both agreed that dating is an annoying grind. AND YET.

For a long time I just felt sort of strung along or unimportant. I kept wondering why he would see me at all. I didn't love it and wondered why I put up with it. But recently I've been coming to peace with it. For better or worse, here's where I'm at: I'm matching his energy. I'm not initiating contact (unless I am truly NEARBY and could make it easily work, which is rare). I'm not reminding him I miss him. I'm not checking in anymore. And I've always been on the hunt for something with someone who is not him that makes me feel like he did (or better). When I've got something like that, he is easy to forget. And when a good thing ends, he's the phone call on my fingertips. I just don't do it anymore.

I can't answer why he doesn't want to see me as much as I want to see him. I have a dozen theories, but none of them really matter. What currently matters is protecting my energy and putting boundaries on myself so that I don't pine for him and feel hurt and rejected.

I'm not saying I'm winning at this all the time. It's hard sometimes, and then other times it's good, and easy. When he does check in (which he does-- very infrequently), I can just take it as a sweet reminder that an old friend still has a place for me somewhere. Haha.

I think the really true solution, though, is to have something else to occupy that part of my psyche.
 
I can’t stop feeling abandoned and inadequate, even though
Hi, from a guys perspective, please, please don't do that. Some things work, some things don't. I hear what you say, and it reminds me of times past where I was with someone who was an amazing friend, but it didn't work for me, partly due to baggage, but ruined a good friendship. It seems life tends to throw lots of things all at the same time, while a mature conversation is what is needed, it is not always the easiest thing to have.
Look in your wardrobe. Some things go with just about anything, but knee high boots and a tracksuit? Doesn't mean there is anything wrong with either. A tasseled suede jacket + jeans needs cowboy boots, an evening gown, not so much.
 
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