not-quite-poly: lovers & friends w/ benefits

LoveBunny

Active member
@kdt26417 It just so happens I was contemplating my personal relationship continuum yesterday, then today I noticed this thread. Mine is fairly close to the one you listed. Here is how I define my relationships when a definition is helpful:

One Night Stand=a one-time sexual encounter, intentionally no-strings-attached or if you just never hear from or see them again due to circumstances.

Fuckbuddies=Booty calls. You get together primarily to have sex. Maybe you have a drink or meal together once in a while, but you do not go out much together, nor do you spend the night together. There's not much, if any, hand-holding or cuddling. You wouldn't call your fb to pick you up at the airport or expect him/her to help you move.

FWB=Caring, friendship, you hang out together socially and in public, you have conversations, you might spend the night with a FWB. But you rarely pine for a FWB when they're not around. If the sexual aspect of your FWB relationship ended, you'd probably remain platonic friends with no hard feelings.

Lover=This is someone for whom you feel romantically. You are more than friends, though the relationship may or may not be headed for long-term. You want to hold and be held by a lover. Touch is a big part of this relationship, and talking. Lovers require some quality time and emotional investment.

Girlfriend/Boyfriend=Someone who has been around in your life for a while and generally knows your day-to-day comings and goings. They tend to you when you're sick, they help you move into a new house/apartment. You have some sort of commitment, spoken or unspoken, to consider them when making major decisions about your life. You spend nights together, take trips, are involved on some level in each other's social and family lives.

Life Partners/Primaries=This is who you share a home with, care of children, parents, or pets, you might share financial aspects of your lives. This person/people is your family. Your emergency contact. You are committed, legally or informally, and breaking up or losing this bond constitutes a major life change.

This continuum works for me when I'm trying to negotiate/figure out my relationships. Of course, there can be some overlap, I've had someone who stood resolutely between being my lover and my girlfriend, and I feel my current secondary could potentially evolve from FWB to lover if I choose to start spending the night with him.
 

icesong

Moderator
Staff member
@LoveBunny: I really like your definitions, TheKnight and I spent some time talking about them last night in the "trying to figure out what we wanted out of future relationships" sense, since things are very much in flux with our lives right now.
 

LoveBunny

Active member
Thanks, @Icesong! Glad it helped.
 

GreenMom

New member
Lately I've had to do a lot of thinking and discussion with partners about labels and semantics. I've decided I really, really dislike them. But I guess I can see how they are necessary.

I have two fwb's. Both are very different relationships. One is a man I was in a relationship with for 9 months who decided he wasn't comfortable labeling what we had as a secondary relationship anymore. The other is a man that I see maybe once a month, we hang out a bit as friends and sleep together. They are very different dynamics but I have to use the same label since I'm not "dating" either of them. Confusing and frustrating to me! I wish I could throw out labels altogether.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Ah, but every word (in every language) is a label of sorts -- a symbol of something. And, language tends to be squishy and organic. A particular word can mean various things depending on point of view and context. It's kind of a pain to sort that out, but, languages (words) do also perform amazing services for us in the way of making (much more) communication possible. We put up with the misunderstandings that can crop up for the sake of the understandings that can evolve in the end.

Poly/non-monogamous jargon is especially hard to pin down. There's a lot of disagreement about what this or that word means (as well as when and why). Labels can serve as convenient shortcuts, but they must be used wisely and appropriately, at times when they will clarify rather than add a layer of mystery (sometimes even contention) to what we're saying.

It's interesting to hear an example of how wide a range of possible meanings there can be for "friends with benefits." Things that make you go hmmm ...
 

nycindie

Active member
Last night, I was talking with a man I'd just met and things got flirty. Eventually, we acknowledged our attraction to each other and I told him I want "a lover, not a boyfriend." I then asked him if he knew what the difference is, and he said no. We wound up having a good conversation about relationships and expectations. So, the labels did serve as a starting point toward understanding each other.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Right; labels do serve their purpose (in the right setting).
 

nycindie

Active member
Dear Meera, and anyone else who enjoys having FWBs, I would like an opinion.

I was contacted recently by someone on OKC who is in an open marriage. I asked him if there are any rules his wife and he have that would affect me. In his reply, he told me:

  • They don't have rules about what either one of them can say or do with others.

  • They do have rules about how frequently they can see their lovers, which amounts to approximately once every couple of weeks or so;

  • They don't allow each other to have overnight stays with anyone, but don't have restrictions on how late they can stay out (which kind of seems a bit of a contradiction to me);

  • They only see their lovers on weeknights, as weekends are reserved for each other and their family (they have kids at home); and

  • They consider themselves open, not poly, so they also try to limit any "emotional intensity" that could arise.

He told me that he is not interested in casual, meaningless sex, but he does not want to fall in love with anyone else. He basically said that, although he dislikes the term, a "friend with benefits" is really what he's looking for, and he described that as someone he genuinely likes as a person, with whom he enjoys conversing, spending time together, and having sex.

I don't exactly like that they try hard to keep deeper feelings at bay. However, possibly more annoying is the "no overnights" and "no weekends" rules. Yet, if I really take a look at what I want in my solo poly life and how much time I actually have to spend with any lover, the way in which he and his wife conduct their open marriage isn't completely far off from what I am okay with. I've never felt like having limited time with someone due to his familial obligations is necessarily a problem, as long as I am not ignored or shuffled aside, but my only requirement would be that his wife doesn't attempt to control my relationship with him.

I'm interested in meeting him to see if there is a spark. I feel that, as long as I have other lovers with whom I can enjoy a deeper connection, and I feel respected and valued in his life, I think that it could possibly work to be in this kind of FWB arrangement, but I would like some opinions to see if I am missing something. Thanks.
 
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kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
I would just ask for clarification on that one rule, "They don't allow each other to have overnight stays with anyone, but don't have restrictions on how late they can stay out."

And you'd have to be prepared to back out of the relationship if either of you started falling in love. Which isn't necessarily a deal breaker but for some people it might be.
 

FallenAngelina

Well-known member
He told me that he is not interested in casual, meaningless sex, but he does not want to fall in love with anyone else. He basically said that, although he dislikes the term, a "friend with benefits" is really what he's looking for, and he described that as someone he genuinely likes as a person, with whom he enjoys conversing, spending time together, and having sex.

What this man is offering sounds exactly what you were expressing interest in when this thread began.

I have a FWB who I met on OKC last July and am really enjoying how easy and un-intense it is compared to a BF type of relationship. We don't have a rule about feelings, but I don't get the sense that either of us is going to "fall" into anything here. We just enjoy and let it go at that. I had never experienced a true FWB relationship until him and now I get what all of the fuss is about - I really like this kind of relationship.

You say it perfectly that, "as long as I have other lovers with whom I can enjoy a deeper connection, and I feel respected and valued in his life, I think that it could possibly work to be in this kind of FWB arrangement..." In my experience, when I feel respected and valued (not just by my FWB but by myself, as well) there is no lurking danger. I say - go forward, meet him, enjoy.
 
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nycindie

Active member
Thanks for the feedback so far. I do like a lot of things he wrote about in his profile and in his messages to me. He is very, very smart, which is always a turn-on for me, and good-looking, and he didn't hesitate in answering my questions, and I feel he was being forthright. I do think there is potential here for something enjoyable. And well, having a cocktail and conversation together is just a cocktail and conversation. I just haven't been interested in anyone on OKC in such a long time, but I think it could be worth an evening out to see if we click.
 

Cleo

New member
I don't exactly like that they try hard to keep deeper feelings at bay. However, possibly more annoying is the "no overnights" and "no weekends" rules. Yet, if I really take a look at what I want in my solo poly life and how much time I actually have to spend with any lover, the way in which he and his wife conduct their open marriage isn't completely far off from what I am okay with. I've never felt like having limited time with someone due to his familial obligations is necessarily a problem, as long as I am not ignored or shuffled aside, but my only requirement would be that his wife doesn't attempt to control my relationship with him.

For me there would be a difference between me saying "I only have time to see a new lover once every 2 weeks, so hey new lover if you are okay with that, let that be the schedule" and the fact that it is the rules of the marriage of new lover which dictates that I can only see new lover once every 2 weeks. The outcome is the same, but there is less room for change and renegotiation, because you are not just dealing with new lover but with his partner, too.

Other than that, my advice would be to just meet him, because in a real life conversation you will get a much better feel for how much he is his own person despite of the rules.
And if he starts complaining about his wife or about the rules, run as fast as you can :)
 

nycindie

Active member
For me there would be a difference between me saying "I only have time to see a new lover once every 2 weeks, so hey new lover if you are okay with that, let that be the schedule" and the fact that it is the rules of the marriage of new lover which dictates that I can only see new lover once every 2 weeks.
Yeah, you know, I kept thinking about this and really don't like the idea that it isn't about just availability and scheduling but that he and his wife have this as a rule to prevent any "intense" emotional connections from happening. Gosh, that's so fake. I wouldn't care if the reason I couldn't see someone very often was a demanding job or family stuff, but to limit time with a lover solely for the sake of limiting feelings? Nuh-uh, that is couple privilege. And it does amount to the wife having control over my relationship and I just would hate that.

And I played some scenarios in my head. Such as, what if deeper feelings did develop between us? He would either have to end it with me, hide how he feels from his wife, or try to avoid and deny what he feels and pretend it isn't happening. I don't like any of those options. And I wouldn't want to try and stuff down my feelings. Although I would want more casual parameters to my relationships, I wouldn't want those parameters based on fear. If I only wanted to keep him as just a fuck buddy, I probably would be okay with it, though. I just prefer friendship and affection to go along with the sex.

He does still hold a lot of appeal for me, so I might just meet him for a drink anyway. Nothing wrong with going out to meet someone cool and having a talk. I'd probably pose these questions to him, and see how he reacts. After all, I have boundaries, too, so it wouldn't just be about abiding by his. He'd have to abide by mine as well.
 
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MightyMax

Banned
Before now, I've had a similar rule for myself. The reason I had that rule was because as much as I desired an additional relationship, there were a lot of reasons that I probably shouldn't embark on one. Basically, I didn't have the energy to maintain another relationship and having one would ultimately add to the already stressful circumstances I was in at the time.

I saw limiting how often I saw a person as a way of ensuring things didn't move so fast that before I knew it I had another full-time partner to consider. Relationships do tend to do that when I'm involved. Or they did, I'm a bit more reserved now. Anyway, that rule was important to me at that time. I needed it. It wasn't a rule set as part of a coupleship I was already in but it undoubtedly did help maintain that relationship during a rough time. It was about limiting the feelings shared in other relationships, but it wasn't because anyone was jealous or insecure. It was what I needed and wanted at the time.
 

nycindie

Active member
I saw limiting how often I saw a person as a way of ensuring things didn't move so fast that before I knew it I had another full-time partner to consider . . . It was about limiting the feelings shared in other relationships, but it wasn't because anyone was jealous or insecure. It was what I needed and wanted at the time.

Hi and thanks for the feedback. What you wrote makes sense to me. If one has a lot on their plate and needs to avoid over-committing themselves, sure, it makes sense to go at a pace that is manageable and to see someone at a frequency that won't add to the stress. In fact, that viewpoint does align with my own. I want my connections and liaisons to be lighthearted and easygoing, as well as full of hot sex! And I don't want any full-time partners.

In general, I don't really have the energy to see someone more than once or twice a week, if it is an emotionally invested relationship, and that would seem like a lot to me if it were regularly that frequent. I like to skip a week here and there, mix it up a little. I think that frequency would be easier to handle if it was a FWB who didn't stay the night every time we hooked up. "Fuck me and then go." If a pattern emerges where we see each other a lot, like twice or more a week, it becomes a challenge for me to not get all clingy and attached. I don't avoid loving someone, I just prefer not to cling on to them and become too dependent. My goals are always to love without attachment.

In this case, though, this man straight-up told me that he and his wife are avoiding intense emotions that might develop, and to avoid those messy feelings from coming up, they limit how often each of them can be with someone else, as well as having no overnights or weekends. I don't really like the sound of that, but like I said, I still think the parameters can work as long as I feel there isn't a third party trying to steer how my relationship is going. And as long as the sex is good and satisfying, and I have other lovers where I feel I can call the shots as much as they do. Besides, I really won't know if this is something that will work for me until I meet him and we talk a little more in-depth, face-to-face - but I am looking at him as a potential FWB.
 
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Bluebird

Well-known member
Oooh! I'm excited for you. I hope you can talk through it and he works out!
 

hislittlekitten

New member
Can you have a FWB that you are actually friends with? How do you make sure a FWB feels valued and cared for, even while both are clear that it will not progress to a relationship?

OK, monogamous female here dating a poly guy. This will be unpopular, but this is my unfiltered, honest perspective.

I struggle a lot with the man I'm dating not wanting to call me a "girlfriend." Treating me like everything a girlfriend is, but not being able to identify me like that. To him it means something specific. I'm mostly over it... I don't see the big deal over labels like that. But apparently he does.

When I first met him and learned his situation, I learned he had a "girlfriend" who is married and that the married woman's husband has a "girlfriend." He says he regrets using that language because really, I can't let go of the fact that he so comfortably called her his girlfriend. Yet he retracts it now.

I have not figured out how to have this kind of arrangement, where I am not something he can describe.

I find that it's the definitions that trip me up a lot. It's how people use these words, or how you think these words should be used. It's what people think of these words. Me, I don't see the words "girlfriend" or "boyfriend" as serious. I don't see the word "relationship" as serious; because what is it really, if you're close to someone and also sleep with them? How isn't that a relationship?

Just because you use the word "boyfriend" and "relationship," why can't it be to your own terms? I have never viewed "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" as possessive words. I have never viewed myself as being a possession of someone because he calls me his girlfriend, nor have I ever viewed a boyfriend as being a possession of mine because I call him my boyfriend. It means he receives the special attention I wish to give him.

I think it's hard to have this, difficult to have this. I think it's pretty difficult for the other person to understand what you want and to know how to conduct themselves. I don't know how to conduct myself in this place. I don't know how to handle the fact that I have feelings, and he is very significant to me, and he says I'm significant to him.... but what do I do with that? Why can't I shower him with the love and attention I would a boyfriend or a "significant other"?

It takes a very special person to be able to have the ability to deal with this. They should be open to poly, sure. But they also need to have incredibly strong relationship skills. Sounds counter-intuitive, right? I think that's the problem I have with my beau. He doesn't want serious relationships because he lacks the skills... but the kinds of relationships he pursues, especially in that they're multiple (poly), requires such strong skills that it is not possible to just float around in something that is sort of a relationship but isn't.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
I think all words/labels are squishy.

Re:
"What is it really, if you're close to someone and also sleep with them? How isn't that a relationship?"

Heh, sounds like a relationship to me.

Re:
"Why can't I shower him with the love and attention I would a boyfriend or a 'significant other?'"

Well, why don'tcha? Doesn't he want you to?

Re:
"It takes a very special person to be able to have the ability to deal with this. They should be open to poly, sure. But they also need to have incredibly strong relationship skills. Sounds counterintuitive, right?"

Well, I had always heard that poly people need to have strong relationship skills.

I don't think "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" are "big-deal words," but I suppose everyone has their own unique experience with various words (especially relationship words).
 

MeeraReed

Well-known member
Hi NYCindie, I was meaning to post on this but did not have time.

I echo what others have said...I would be fine with someone who has limited free time to see me, but I would be very hesitant with someone whose marriage puts such limits on a relationship.

It's not because I think it's wrong for people to have that kind of open marriage, and it's not even because I would feel at risk of falling in love and getting hurt (of course that could happen, it's just not a high risk with my emotional makeup)...the problem for me would be that I simply don't click well with people who don't value autonomy.

I'm curious if you met him and how it went?? I'm always glad to see your posts!
 
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