Love and Relationships

[Two Pronged] Does being ‘friends with benefits’ mean seeing each other regularly?

Margarita Holmes, Jeremy Baer
[Two Pronged] Does being ‘friends with benefits’ mean seeing each other regularly?
'I wish he just told me that all he wanted was a one-night stand'

Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr. Margarita Holmes.

Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in three continents, he has been training with Dr. Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives

Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.


Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer:

Thank you po for your honest response to my love problem.

To give you an update: we still haven’t met since I wrote to you. We agreed to meet on Sunday, but before Sunday, he texted me that he couldn’t make it because he needed to fix a problem. 

I don’t understand his actions. Does he want me to give up first? Maybe he just can’t directly say that it is over between us. I am deeply in pain right now.

There is no effort on his part. He seems not to care, even as a friend. From the start he knew I wanted a serious relationship. We dated four times. I asked him if he wanted exclusive dating. 

Maybe thats where he saw an opportunity to convince me, if its okay with me, that we would be exclusive FWB – but we could still meet others. Pure sex, NO EXPECTATION. I had agreed. 

I mentioned to him last time, if we are seriously dating someone, we should inform each other. No ghosting kasi I value him as a friend. Even if we’d just met on a dating app. He agreed. But hes all talk lang pala. Its clear that sex was what he wanted, but I am still hurt about his actions. I am deeply in pain right now and I find it so hard to let him go, Doc.  

Both my brothers are already married. I’m 34 already. I wish he just told me that all he wanted was a one-night stand. Because what I know about FWB is that they should see each other regularly, isn’t that so? I want him with me every time, for sexual/companionship reasons. 

Do I need to send him a final message about my feelings before blocking him in Bumble? Or better to just ghost him?  

Bella

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Dear Bella,

Thank you for your update.

Your account seems to suggest confusion on two major issues. The first is the nature of an FWB relationship. Definitions of these relationships differ for a reason, namely there are many versions and it is up to those involved to decide what each expects and reach an agreement. A simple internet search will illustrate the multiplicity of choices (just Google “friends with benefits contract”).

Part of the reason for your confusion and disappointment may stem from the fact that you and Joe never really agreed on the parameters of your contract, verbal or written. He appears to want to limit your encounters to merely sex, yet you say he was aware you wanted a serious relationship. This divergence is the root of your problem and the relationship, such as it is, seems doomed unless you can both sort it out. After all, if you and Joe have wildly different objectives and you cannot reach a joint compromise together, it will be impossible to achieve a positive outcome.

Another cause for concern is the undue influence your brothers’ marriages and your age might be having on your view of this relationship. There is no doubt whatsoever that you are totally entitled to aspire to a positive and fruitful partnership (liaison, hookup, whatever) with a man but that man doesn’t have to be Joe. Do you really want to persist with someone who exhibits so many negative traits, especially the way he is treating you? There are better candidates out there and you don’t need to waste any more time pursuing the unattainable with Joe.

Best of luck,
JAFBaer

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Dear Bella:

Thank you very much for your letter, though I am afraid I might hurt you more with my take on things. 

YOU: “From the start he knew I wanted a serious relationship.” 

ME: Oh, Bella, even if people know what you wanted, this is no guarantee that they will try to give it to you. They may PRETEND to be able to — or even just PRETEND they want to — but knowing what you want is no guarantee others will do what they can to get it. In fact, they may even use this knowledge to get what they want…like you said Joe did, though I feel he didn’t.  

YOU: I asked him if he wants exclusive dating. Maybe thats where he saw an opportunity, to convince me…we would be exclusive FWB; but we could still meet others. Pure sex, NO EXPECTATION. I had agreed.

ME:  He corrected you that it was NOT a question of exclusive dating, but of exclusive sex: neither of you would have sex with anybody else. It seems you both honored that agreement.

YOU:  I want him with me every time, for sexual/companionship reasons.

I find it so hard to let him go, Doc. Its clear that sex was what he wanted, but I am still hurt about his actions. I am deeply in pain right now and I find it so hard to let him go, Doc.  

ME:  Oh, my dearest Bella, It hurts so much to want someone so badly, and yet not get it. It’s hard when someone you deeply care for does not feel the same about you. It does not mean he’s a cad; it just means it wasn’t in the cards, for whatever reason.  

You knew he wanted “Pure sex, NO EXPECTATION.” He was steadfast about what he wanted from you, not because he disliked or didn’t respect you, but because from the very start he told you that was all he was willing to give. 

Please do not denigrate your pact, and/or even yourself, by ascribing motives that neither of you had.

In a relationship, it is always the one who is less invested who sets the terms for the relationship — how close you will be, how much you give to the other without seeming desperate, how much you can expect from the other. In this case, Joe was the less invested. Perhaps in the future, you will be the less invested one.

BUT, in the best of all worlds, I hope that in time, you will have a relationship/s where you and the other (or others, should you be polyamorous) will be as fully invested in each other/s.  

All the very best,
MG Holmes – Rappler.com

Please send any comments, questions, or requests for advice to twopronged@rappler.com.

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