The Illusion of a FWB

So, do you have a FWB? If you are like me (i.e. married), you may not know what a FWB is. I had seen the acronym around though. A simple Wikipedia Search quickly satisfied my curiosity.

A FWB is a “Friend with Benefits”. He or she is a person of the gender you are attracted to whom, in addition to being a “friend” (a rather amorphous term) also puts out for you. I have to admit, at first blush having my own FWB sounded great to this old married dude. Providing my wife went along with it (“It’s just sex dear, it’s not like I am in love with her. We are just good friends.”), it could be very convenient. If my wife is having another one of her interminable migraines and I am feeling a bit randy, I could just call up Judy, or Ashley or Kim, and, good friends that they are, would say, “Sure come on over for a quick roll in the hay.” Afterwards (since I do not smoke) we could play cards or talk about Lindsay Lohan’s latest adventures in rehab. Oh, by the way, shall we pencil in going to the art show a week from Saturday?

I suspect the number of married people with FWBs is tiny. It seems to be the single folks out there, usually recovering from the complications of a failed relationship that are drawn to finding a FWB. After all, a FWB relationship has many of the positive sides of a relationship without any of its downsides, like the emotional wreckage. Just as having sex with a condom (hopefully) protects you from sexually transmitted diseases, having sex with a friend protects you from all those nasty relationship issues. At least that is how the FWB theory goes. It is not like having sex with a bunch of strangers at an orgy. You are having sex with your friend, and since he or she is your friend, well, they would not lie to you about anything like having herpes or AIDS would they? In addition, since they are your friend, and they care for you, well, they will be circumspect and avoid becoming intertwined into a deeper emotional relationship with you.

Meanwhile, while you recover from your latest failed relationship, you are not left high and dry. There is no need to resort to your vibrator, or your right hand or the love doll in the closet to respond to Mother Nature’s urgings. While your emotional wounds heal, you can get the sex you need with your FWB. Since you are just friends, when you do not need him or her anymore and find that next special someone then everything is cool. Their feelings will not be hurt when you drop them as your sexual partner. Moreover, in the event your next relationship implodes, your FWB will be there. Well, maybe.

That, as best I can decipher it, is the lure and logic of a FWB. A casual search of Washington Craiglist personals today shows that women in particularly are looking for FWBs. (Men often say they want a FWB, but from their postings it appears they just want a woman who will act like their whore.) Oddly enough though, they do not have one already, so they have to advertise for one. Just some guy or gal to “chill” with. This seems to involve have a few beers in a sports bar, maybe seeing a movie together and then going back to your pad for some harmless conjugal sex.

Even though I am married, one of the reasons a FWB appeals to me is because I think it would be great to have someone into casual sex who liked me as a person and who (here’s the amazing part) is not struggling with their own personal issues. I do not know about you but here I am, age 50, and I struggle with personal issues every day. So does my wife. So does every person I know beyond a surface level, i.e. my friends. We are all embroiled in a certain amount of toxic crap. But not my FWB. She would be special. She would have her head together. That is why, if I need a FWB, I expect that she will be a psychologist or social worker. In my mind, only psychologists and social workers truly have their stuff together. So I am thinking if I need a FWB I will go around town and leave my card at the office of each female social worker and psychologists in my area between, say, age 40 and 50. Do you want a FWB? Call Mark at 703-555-1212. Let’s meet for drinks at the local sports bar. According to my wife, I give great back scratches. Also, I like blogging, classical music and politics. We can have great sex when we both feel like it and no commitment! And we can keep meeting at a sports bar occasionally just to chat. That should intrigue them!

It is just that the more I think about it the more I suspect that psychologists and social workers are in some crucial aspect of their lives also messed up. In fact, the only human beings who (allegedly) were not messed up were messengers from God. Unfortunately, both Jesus and Mohammad are long dead. Moreover, I seem to be attracted to women. Finding my FWB is going to be tough.

I have not had much casual sex. It is probably just me, but I am not very successful divorcing sex from having human feelings for the person I am making love to. The couple of times I tried casual sex left me feeling empty and a bit dehumanized. For me it was like drinking soda that had gone flat. I was left to conclude that those people who tried casual sex had not gotten the real thing: sex within a caring relationship, which if you can get it is amazing. However, if you are having sex with your friend, isn’t that a caring relationship? Well, maybe. When I think of myself having sex with some of my female friends what I suspect would happen is: (a) even if I were single, there is no way I could convince them to have sex with me in the first place; (b) if we did have sex then our relationship would change fundamentally, and probably not for the better; (c) it would be significantly inferior compared with having sex with someone I love; and (d) both of us would likely end up more screwed up than we were before we became FWBs.

If you are in a FWB relationship feel free to leave me a comment telling me that I am all wet. I would particularly like to hear, not about the FWB you coupled with last week, but the one that you coupled with five years ago. Are you still friends? Or has your friendship been reduced to sending Christmas cards once a year? Do you still feel the same about your friend as you did before you made love with him or her? Overall, was your FWB relationship healthy or hurtful?

I will leap to a conclusion and suggest that for the vast majority of you the answers will be no, no and yes. And I will also bet that for about 10% of you, one of your “friends” left a calling card that, if it can be cured, required a trip to a doctor or health clinic. If they did not, I will bet that another 20% of you are or have worked through this issue with a therapist, or wish you had the money to do so.

I believe that sex and the relationship between two people cannot be divorced, as much as at times we might want to be. If they were, perhaps we could better deal with the wacky stuff life throws at us. We might be able to fool ourselves for a while, just as we can pretend that there are no dusty bunnies in our house even though we have not dusted in a year. I suspect if you have a FWB then you have merely sold yourself on its illusion, rather than acknowledge its less than perfect reality.

Perhaps rather than posting that ad on Craigslist for your FWB, maybe you should be finding a therapist instead and discover why you want a FWB in the first place.

5 responses to “The Illusion of a FWB”

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only person who is married and wondering about this FWB since a lot of the articles out there are for single people. The majority rules FWB while married as cheating.

    I am married and so is my FWB, our spouses do not know. We’ve had this relationship for 8 months now, we just recently had a cooling off period of a month and we are back together again.

    Yes – we are still friends – better than ever, it’s hard because he and my husband are best friends.
    Yes – I feel the same about him before we made love.
    Healthy and Hurtful – the answer is both. We were in such a blissful whirlwind of physical attraction and release that we were getting involved emotionally, we knew it, but never really said anything about it. We both decided to cool it off, we both needed time to think and decide what was important to us. I was able to hold my promise of not instigating or contacting him so that he could get his space and get things sorted in his head. He continued to email me everyday. Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore, I asked him if he made up his mind and he said yes. He was in my doorstep at lunch the next day. He didn’t want to lose the friendship and he didn’t want to lose his benefits. This time we set ground rules which we didn’t before and we need to keep each other in check about our emotions and feeling, and when it comes that we have to reassess our marriages and what is important then we’ll cross that bridge when it happens. Right now, we know it is cheating – the sex part. Time will tell where this will lead – we fell for each other short of saying I love you, we know that if we did say it, everything would change.


  2. I will leap to a conclusion and suggest that for the vast majority of you the answers will be no, no and yes. And I will also bet that for about 10% of you, one of your “friends” left a calling card that, if it can be cured, required a trip to a doctor or health clinic. If they did not, I will bet that another 20% of you are or have worked through this issue with a therapist, or wish you had the money to do so.

    With all due respect you have no knowledge of the subject matter and no way to measure your conclusions. Both my FWBs are divorced. I’m not. They both appreciate my service and I appreciate their generosity. No boyfriends. No girlfriends. No expectations. Nobody gets hurt.
    One golden rule I do have: no FWBs with self esteem issues. Ever. Period.


  3. For sure its an illusion. A FWB would be okay if it lasted, it’s very one sided for the male.
    I thought it meant, since you were friends, it was safe, you did it once in awhile, didn’t think about them moving on without telling you.
    Men have all the advantage over this type thing.
    And normally it becomes very hurtful to the woman. So why settle for anything like this.
    Whatever happened to no sex before marriage? Like a bunch of dogs out there now.
    Men want sex let them commit. Ladies, hold out.


  4. I came across this post/blog today, while googling the web for fwb relationships, rules of engagement, and perceived pitfalls. I’ve acquired an fwb very recently, and although I realize quite distinctly that it’s cheating on my part since I’m married (have been for almost 20yrs.), and of course do not have permission to go outside of the marriage, I also cannot discount the fact that so far, it’s been quite an educational & exhilarating experience. My fwb is attached as well, having a long-time gf, whom he continues to date. They don’t live together, but eventually will end up marrying. My fwb and I (this is my first and only fwb, and indiscretion outside of my marriage) set the ground rules at the beginning, no commitments or obligations, simply a series of mutually beneficial exchanges that involve physical intimacy, emails, texts, phone calls, and any activity we feel comfortable engaging in, i.e., dinner, walks, etc. Our highest priority is discretion, and maintaining respectful boundaries. Neither foresee anything beyond what is in front of us now, and this is what we constantly remind each other of. Although my marriage is lacking the physical intimacy, and intellectual stimulation I crave, I will never leave
    it to be with any one specific person. I believe each of us, based on upbringing, beliefs, and experience, has a valid preconceived notion of what a relationship is; the only thing constant is change, and learning to adapt (or not)… This is
    the choice we have, and we make our choices based on what we believe to be the best at that time. We’re all smarter in hindsight, and second guessing one’s self can drive one to the loony bin, so I say, to each his/her own, and to thine own self be true. If my choice to have an fwb becomes a detriment later on, then I will make the choice to adapt and move forward (or remain miserable). Understand that I’m not professing to be an expert or proposing the fwb arrangement is for everyone, it’s simply like with all other choices we make – we enjoy it for what it is in the time it’s allowed to us, and adapt to whatever comes next. Peace.


  5. I have had an on-off FWB for 4 years now. I married last September to a man I am in love with and whom I love deeply. I had not seen my FWB since 5 months before the marriage until the other day. We arranged to meet and had a great night talking about life and books and lots of interesting stuff. No sex. But we met again two days ago and had sex. I am not confused about my feelings for any of the two. The FWB experience seemed natural. I do not feel guilty about it and I do not want it to become a habit. So basically nothing has changed. EVerything has kept its status quo. Some people do not understand this but to me it is crystal clear. We feel different things for different people. ANd those feelings do not have to be incompatible. Society constantly dictates how to behave and uses labels to put us in boxes (married, single, FWB, … ). BUt I believe as long as you are not hurting anyone (and that includes yourself) then do never stop being your true self


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