Going From Friends With Benefits To Exclusive Is Possible, & Here's How 6 Women Did It
In today's dating climate, it's easy to feel like no one wants to be in an exclusive relationship. It's also totally normal to feel intimidated by the idea of broaching the subject with someone you like, especially if you currently find yourself in a friends with benefits situation and you want to turn it into something more serious. But the thing is, going from from friends with benefits to exclusive with someone is totally possible. So possible, that I heard from six real women who did the d*mn thing.
Whether you're currently in a FWB relationship and are looking to take things to the next level, you know someone who is, or you just love to read sweet stories of people in love, look no further. These six ladies got themselves exactly the kind of relationships they wanted, and you can too.
Remember: You should be in the kind of relationship that you want to be in. If that means you're totally content in your FWB situation and you love having no strings attached, then you do you, girlfriend! No matter what your ideal relationship looks like, everyone is different, and everyone deserves exactly the kind of love they want. Read on for stories from women who got just that.
1. You never know unless you try.
We started "hooking up" at a time when it just didn't make sense for us to pursue anything serious. We were both going to be moving to new places in a few months, so we agreed to keep it casual and, ideally, free of feelings. A few months go by, we say goodbye to each other thinking we'll probably never see each other again, and we move to our new homes. But by then, even if we tried to ignore or deny it, we had definitely developed feelings for each other. So we kept talking - like pretty much every day.
After about 6 months of this - during which we were not exclusive - I got to a point where I came to terms with the fact that I was definitely emotionally invested in him and I was pretty positive he felt the same about me. I decided we either needed to start taking our relationship more seriously, or we needed to stop talking entirely so I could move on. First, I said we should visit each other to see where that goes, and he agreed. He came to me, and then I went to him, and at the end of that second visit, I gave him that ultimatum — either we really give our relationship a try and start dating long distance, or we needed to stop entirely so we could move on.
And I think he really felt the same way, so that turned into a productive conversation that ended with us deciding to date long distance. We realized that we'd rather try and fail than not try at all. Now, our three-year anniversary is coming up in January.
— Kelly, 26
2. Safe sex is a great starting place.
I started casually dating a friend-of-a-friend, and because he was busy with grad school and I had a demanding job, we decided to limit things to FWB. I continued to see other people, though he was only hooking up with me.
We actually went from FWB to exclusive over a conversation about contraception, where he brought up relying on my IUD and no longer using condoms. Safe sex is important to me, so doing this meant we'd need to be exclusive. During the convo, I realized I only wanted to be dating him, so we decided to make things official!
— Angela*, 25
3. Sometimes it happens gradually.
We were in the same oceanography class my freshman year of college, but we didn't really talk until my sorority's date function that semester. I brought the guy I was kind of seeing; my now-boyfriend was invited by another girl in my sorority. We drunkenly made out, but went home with our respective dates. As it turns out, the following semester, I became close with the girl who brought him to the date function (she later became my roommate and is now one of my best friends). I then became part of her friend group, and thus started seeing him more often. After nights hanging out with that friend group, the two of us would continue "hanging out" alone.
We never labeled it "friends with benefits," but then again, we never labeled it anything at all! We were both having fun just living it up in college and partying with our friends. I don't think either of us were looking for a relationship — especially not with each other, considering how we first became acquainted. We just knew that we had fun together.
For us, it was so gradual and so natural, I can't say when our mindset shifted, or who initiated the shift. I think I realized I liked him as an actual person (and not just a guy to hit up when I was bored) pretty early on, but I didn't know whether I should voice those feelings — or if I even wanted to; I was having fun being a single gal with my single gal pals! But it wasn't long until I was not just sleeping over his place, but hanging around the following day. A few months in, though, when he asked to take me out to dinner and held my hand as we walked around in public, I think we both realized we had somehow become more than what we thought we were. Not long after that, he told me he loved me, and that is the day we now celebrate as our "dating" anniversary.
— Alexis, 24
4. They spent all their time together.
We met in grad school. He was in the PhD program and I was in the MS. We were instantly best friends in our program and spent almost every single day together studying or reading. I noticed him really caring about my well-being during finals, which I found super sweet because I was having a rough go of it. The day after finals, I had everyone in the program over to my new trendy loft apartment that I found on Craiglist *steal* and Ryan stayed after everyone left.
A few glasses of wine later we were making out on the couch. He stayed with me for a few days before leaving for a month in Peru for Christmas. I spent Christmas in Mexico, so we talked some but not much since we were both in foreign countries. When we got back, we instantly fell back into spending every day — and now night — together but we never had a conversation about what we were. To him, I'm positive it was just a good friendship with some added benefits. He was very opposed to monogamy and anything serious when it came to his love life.
I was the exact opposite. I wasn't satisfied by a friends with benefits situation so I started feeling out the boundaries of our relationship by calling him my boyfriend, planning dinner dates, etc. And it worked! We dated for almost two years and even talked about marriage. In the end the fear of commitment came back around, though, and we went our separate ways romantically. We are still good friends and talk everyday. I have no regrets about any part of the relationship because our original friendship remained intact even when we experimented with the romantic feelings we had.
— Paige*, 24
5. Dating your best friend is the best!
My current partner and I have been dating for a little over two years. We had been friends for about three years, but tangentially. We had a lot of close mutual friends. We both worked in NYC the summer between junior and senior year of college, and got very close then — but totally platonically. I had honestly never thought of him that way before because he dated one of my coworkers at an on-campus bodega I had worked at. (Although to be fair, I had met her through him.)
When we started hooking up, we both tried to talk ourselves out of it a bunch of times. Partially because we didn't want to ruin our friendship, partially because we both didn't want to hurt his ex (and my co-worker). But we just couldn't stay away from each other I guess!
It started to shift in November, about three months in. I think FWB is tough because when you have an emotional connection with someone you're sleeping with, it can be difficult not to emotionally invest in them (at least for me). He initiated it by asking me out to dinner. That was the beginning of our IRL relationship.
Love will catch you off guard when you least expect it! And FWB can be a great arrangement if you're both into it, but in my experience, dating your friend (or best friend) is even better.
— Iman, 23
6. Dreams brought them together.
My BF and I started seeing each other as friends with benefits sometime around the end of 2011, and originally, I was the one who wanted things to get more serious, but he was coming out of a really bad relationship, plus he’d just left for college, and he told me he felt like he just needed to be single. I respected that, but I had to respect my own feelings, too, and I couldn’t keep doing the whole friends-with-benefits thing when I knew deep down that I wanted more, so we mutually decided to stop seeing each other.
Not long after that, he started dating — like, Facebook official dating — a girl who went to college with him, and I was pretty devastated about that. I definitely felt like he’d lied to me about why we couldn’t be in a relationship together, but I’d also met someone else at the time and was moving on with that person.
Fast forward to the summer of 2012, and we’d both broken up with these different people we’d started seeing, so we were both single. This next part sounds cheesy as all hell, but I swear it’s true: Despite the fact that we never really talked or saw each other anymore, we both had dreams about each other around the exact same time, if not the exact same night. We didn’t realize this until after the fact, but he wound up calling me one day that summer out of nowhere (literally the day after I’d had my dream about him, BTW), he asked me to hang out, and that was pretty much that. Once we reconnected, we both mentioned the dreams we’d had about one another, and things just sort of clicked from there. He admitted how confused he was about what he really wanted when we’d been together the first time around, and even though I braced myself for yet another rejection with him, he wound up asking me to be his girlfriend just a couple weeks later, and we’ve been dating now for almost six-and-a-half years.
— Allie, 24
Being in a FWB situation doesn't have to be permanent if you don't want it to be. Maybe you'll both develop feelings over time, or maybe one of you will initiate a conversation about becoming exclusive. Whatever you need to do, shoot your shot! You deserve to be happy, whatever your ideal situation may be. Don't be afraid to pursue it. You never know what might come of it!
*Names have been changed.