≡ Menu

FWB – Does It Really Work? Don’t Relationships Need Clear Definitions?

Friends Benefits Laying Down

"What about when a guy is not ignoring you, but is making NO effort to initiate?

I hooked up with a guy from work. He messaged me suggesting a FWB, and we got together. During the night, he told me that actually he really likes me, and he’s ok with FWB but would like to take it further. I told him I wasn’t sure, would need to think about it, but am happy to keep going with what we have in the meantime.

Since then (10 days), he’s barely spoken to me.

When I see him at work he’s still very flirtatious.

When I text him, he texts straight back, but he’s not made any effort.

I know he’s not shy, because he messaged me the first time!

I did drunk text him one night to ask why he hasn’t contacted me. He apologized, and the next morning sent me a good morning text, which I replied to.

But since then, nothing. No contact at all for 3 days now.

If he doesn’t like me, why is he flirting and responding to my texts? If he does like me, why isn’t he making an effort?!"

Hello Amy, he certainly did try to initiate something more when he told he really likes you and wants something more. That was him putting himself out there which you must admit takes a lot for a guy to do.

You told him that you needed to think about it but you're not against continuing with your current arrangement of the FWB.

So he did what would be expected from a guy who is not all needy and desperate to push things unnaturally forward... (which is a good thing, right?)

He gave you space and acted like a "scarce" friend.

Since he's looking for more and you're not - he's refraining from acting as more than just a friend to avoid coming off as trying to be your boyfriend - because you told him you're not sure if that's what you want.

I don't see where him not liking you comes into play here. He obviously does. Just because he's not making a huge EFFORT when you in a way told him to back off - at least that's how a guy would see it. A guy might even feel rejected after hearing that.


Let me get this out because I feel very passionately about what I'm about to say. I believe it's something you should take to heart because it sounds like you're going to want something more with this guy and there's going to be a big problem.

A FWB doesn't work or even exist in the world of dating and relationships.

It's a made up thing used in two circumstances:

One - by a guy who wants to get laid but does not like the women enough to commit or want something more - he wants to keep her "on the hook" and get some sex on the side.

Two - by a woman who wants a guy and is using the sex angle to lure him into something more when he's again - just not into her all that much and she knows it or assumes it.

Here's the deal:

You're either casually dating, sleeping with each other or just having sex OR you're platonic friends.

There's no middle ground here.

You're just beginning to see why this lack of real definition of what is going on with you is going to be a bigger problem in the future and why it's setting up miscommunication:

If or when he starts to act like more than a friend - you'll begin to feel he's pushing the boyfriend thing on you when you're clearly not ready or convinced you want to be his girlfriend.

If he pulls back - suddenly it's like he's ignoring you or acting as less than a friend would or is supposed to do BUT you're not really friends, are you?

You're two co-workers sleeping with each other.

There's no real definition of your relationship beyond that.

Friends With Benefits is a state of limbo.

Dating implies an exploration, a possibility, a defined "relationship" where both are free to date and see other people.

Dating is NOT a commitment.

Sure it may be semantics - just a choice of words - but again, dating is a clear understanding between two people which allows them to act more freely.

"Friends With Benefits" becomes a problem because there's no real clear line drawn and it often causes confusion on how to act, when to act, how to proceed, how not to proceed, etc...

There's no real pressure on friends or a timetable to see each other or respond to an absence.

If a friend doesn't contact you for a while it's much easier to say, "Hey - jerkoff!!! Where have you been?"

In your case.

He wants to date - you don't - but you want to act like you're dating by just being friends with the added benefit of intimacy.

But as far as I'm concerned or firmly believe...

Intimacy is not a benefit of a relationship - it's an integral and very important part of it.

When friends start seeing each other intimately - they're dating - committed or not, it doesn't matter.

Your guy is confused and does not know how to act because of the vague often confused definition of what a "friends with benefits".

He's afraid of crossing the line and losing the connection entirely.

He's giving you the space he thinks YOU want.

He's not taking the effort you want him to take because you're just co-workers who sleep together and not casually dating.

I COMPLETELY understand and hear you - He's the one who suggested the FWB.

This is typical for a guy who is not sure how a certain woman would react to an open dating arrangement.

Some people are not into that - or assume women are not okay with it - and so suggesting the FWB might have been his way of feeling you out.

You'll find some guys, unless there's intimacy or a real physical connection are not really sure what they want until it happens. They can then get all mushy and realize after the fact that, "Wow! I want more! I don't want to lose this one!"

Or something along those lines.

We (once more) might be talking semantics but clearer definitions where both of the sexes agree or are at least understand has much less of a potential to create problems than just having to guess how the other person defines something where an emotional connection is involved.

This includes all areas up to the definition of cheating and the different definition of love men and women have.

Guessing doesn't work in going from meeting to dating to intimacy to a committed relationship.

Guessing creates communication breakdowns and loosely defined "relationships" are hard or entirely impossible to know where they are, where they're going, and HOW they're supposed to move forward or stop altogether.

Here's how I define things:

Friends - A Platonic relationship which may or may not develop into something more. You're not sleeping with each other and you treat each other according to how you treat your friends.

When more happens, it becomes...

Dating - A Non-committal exploration to figure out compatibility on a deeper level.

In the dating mode you're not pressured or required to see each other that often. You're exploring other options. You're feeling each other out.

In dating you;re also not opt to rely on the other person for full support on issues or problems.

Intimacy is certainly a part of dating which can shared or explored deeper which includes everything and anything up to having sex and sleeping with each other.

Girlfriend and Boyfriend - A committed relationship unless otherwise specified with a vocally agreed on open relationship, is meant to explore an even deeper level of compatibility.

You see each other more often. You might commit to living together. You;re relying on your partner for more support. You're there for each other and are in a relatively constant but healthy contact.

Casual Sex - You're sleeping with each other for sexual gratification with no strings attached. You're NOT friends because you're not really doing things that friends do. It's just SEX.

Once you start hanging out and doing things together you're now casually dating each other and those rules apply.

If you remove the sex or intimacy and you still do things together - you're now just FRIENDS.

If you sleep with each other occasionally for whatever reason you each give - you're actually very loosely DATING without a commitment and that's unfortunately where and when the miscommunication or lack of definition becomes a severe problem.

It's quite clear an FWB doesn't exist anywhere in that list in a manageable relationship.

You're either dating or your just friends, or you're screwing each other, or you're committed to each other.

By following those definitions precisely you'll have less problems - less miscommunication - less questions - more confidence with the added BENEFIT that each relationship comes with which includes a MEANING to it all.

Lastly - notice the order and how casual sex is last.

This was done purposely because moving from friends to dating to relationship is natural and is a quite normal and easy progression to follow. You probably should start at dating and develop an intimate relationship (which is not the same as being just friends) but beginning as friends is normally okay.

However - going from casual sex or just sleeping with each other into a relationship typically causes a lot of problems and makes the progression much more difficult.

Since most call or confuse FWB's with casual sex I'd say it's even MORE difficult and NOT recommended for lots of reasons which you'll find listed here:

Before You Sleep With Him, Make Sure You Read This

I'm a big advocate of clearly defined relationships.

It's not something I just suggest to women to stop them from sleeping with guys too early - I also advise men to follow the same as you can read about on my "man" site: There Are No Friends With Benefits, Real Men Don’t Sleep With Their Friends.

In conclusion...

Thank you Amy for allowing me to take your question as far as I did. I feel VERY strongly about this subject and have yet to find anyone who could change my mind - I'm open to hearing your opinion or argument - just haven't been convinced otherwise at the time of writing this.

I do hope however, among all the definitions, you found the answer you were looking for and a clearer understanding about why your "friend with benefits" is doing or acting like he doesn't care when I firmly believe he does like and him saying he wants something is proves.

Just because he's not getting back to you or initiating the messages or chats is sort of relevant here but not a real proof of him not being interested in you.

What happened in your situation is quite common:

Men get confused especially after they put themselves out there and either not get the answer they want, need, or expect, and will go SILENT as they think things through OR as they try to give you what they think you want.

(You do know you can learn anything and everything about a man's silence which will certainly expose situations like this and more when you buy my Silent Man Book and start reading it immediately.)

It's easy to become confused by his actions for many reasons but also because in cases like this and more - as my concept of understanding men made simple breaks down guys into two types - you'll find a man of high character AND a type one will rarely if EVER become a friends with benefits whereas a type two will more often than not... take whatever they can get when it comes to women and sex.

So LEARN the difference. Make your "dating" life simpler:

Explore both types in my free Ebook below I give you when you join me and lots of other women at why do guys.

Share It With The World!
(You can read my email policies here. No spam ever! Your information is always private. )

About the author: Understanding men does not have to be complicated anymore and I can show yow how… There are only two types of guys and if you don’t know which one he is, you could misinterpret everything he says or does as it relates to you. Your new guy friend, Peter White – Understanding Men Made Simple.

LIKE or SHARE my Facebook fan page: Why Do Guys…? OR JOIN other women discuss guys – Why Do Guys Facebook Group. Find and follow me on Twitter – Peter White.

This article was posted in Is He Interested In You? Does He Like You? Signs & Signals Of Attraction, Sex – When, Where, How Often, Fantasies & How Guys See The Sexual Side, Why Do Guys – Understanding Men and The Things They Do To Confuse You

Next post:

Previous post:

6 comments… add one
  • Amy

    Wow, I wasnt expecting a whole post reply, thank you!
    You make a lot of sense. Truly, I still think he is into me too, but was losing my confidence the longer I wait for his call. So much “advice” suggests that men who are interested will always let you know and do the chasing, but I can see why he might think I don’t want that.

    I have been unsure how to get out of this hole we are stuck in. I’m still not sure I like him all that much, so I didn’t want to initiate and risk ‘leading him on’. But you’ve made me see it with a better perspective. If I call him, I’m not promising a committed relationship, just dating. I can handle that. And although I’m still a bit worried that maybe he’s changed his mind and isn’t all that interested any more, it’s worth checking. Thank you!

    • Peter White

      You’re welcome Amy.

      Yes. It’s true – just because a guy is interested does not guarantee you’ll know about it OR that he’ll even bother chasing you. There are too many other factors which come into play.

      I will say this… I am DEFINITELY interested in finding out how it works out for you. 😀

      And thank you,


  • Amy

    Hi Pete, I hope you meant it when you said you wanted to know how it worked out, cos here I am back again!! 🙂
    Well, you were partly right and partly wrong. He definitely did like me, and was pleased to hear from me when I called. Since then we’ve caught up about once a week, and had a lot of fun, but also a lot of frustration and disappointment.
    You see, I don’t think he didn’t call me because he was confused, I think he didn’t call because he is rather flaky. He talks a really good talk, but doesn’t deliver. At first I was disappointed because I had decided I WAS interested in dating him, but we never actually dated – he just came around to my place late at night. After I told him that if he wanted to date me he needed to actually take me on dates, and he still made no effort, I realised it wasn’t going to happen. But I also realised that really, this was what I had wanted all along, and so we went back to things being casual and it was actually great for a couple of weeks. I stopped feeling let down by him because I dropped my expectations.
    However, even though my expectations are practically zero, he still manages to disappoint me. The annoying thing is, he sets himself up for failure! This week, I asked him where I could buy a part I need for my bike, and he said he’d take me there. But then on the day we were set to go, he looked at my bike and realised that I could just get the part at a store right near my house and so he didn’t have to take me after all. I told him I’d still like him to take me, but he wasn’t interested. In the end, I went to the store, and they didn’t have the part, but gave me another address across town. I texted him and asked him if he would be able to take me there on the weekend, and got no reply. I’m so annoyed because I never would have asked him, but HE OFFERED! and then let me down again. I’m actually going to cut things off with him because I’m so tired of feeling taken advantage of, and it’s a real shame because we could have had a really great fun, casual relationship. Why would he keep promising more if he wasn’t going to deliver?
    Thanks for all your great advice 🙂

    • Peter White

      Hi Amy and yes I did mean it…

      Thanks for letting me know. I do appreciate it.

      Sucks that he turned out to be too flaky. Also the fact that he’s all talk because guys are typically about action and the ones whose words mean nothing ( if they can’t back it up ) are beyond frustrating. That I know.

      I think you found your answer… all promises and no delivery. Something to look out for next time…

      And no, thank you for sharing. Okay you’re welcome too 😀


  • Katie

    Hi Pete,

    I know this column is out of date, but I could really use some advice.

    I’ve been seeing a guy for just under a month, we met on Tinder and chatted for about a month before we met. He seemed a genuinely nice guy and different to the usual clientele on tinder, he was very nice and genuinely interested in me, so after blowing him off a couple of times, due to circumstances we eventually met for a date (He waited very patiently). It went really well and I spent the night at his, we had a really good chemistry, and I ended up spending the whole weekend at his (He didn’t want me to leave, kept asking me to stay on longer) we just totally clicked and it felt really natural.

    So that week we chatted loads, the next weekend we chatted about going to the cinema, cooking dinner-so we did, it was another amazing weekend, he said he had been really looking forward to seeing me all week. When I left for work on Monday, he told me he had a really good time and that ‘we didn’t have to wait until the weekend to see each other again’. So we didn’t, and we caught up a couple of times during the week, We went out, stayed in and had another couple of full on weekends where we spent a lot of time together. (his choice, he invited me over and to do things, I met some of his best friends too.)

    Anyway one night we were hanging out and he was showing me some stuff on his phone and he scrolled past what looked like provocative pictures of his ex-girlfriend (They broke up a year ago, but it was a pretty intense/rocky/emotional rollercoaster of a relationship from what he tells me-she had some mental health issues that he had to deal with). Anyway so I saw the photos and he was like ‘shit I should really get rid of those, are you okay? are you pissed off? shit shit’ I said no (I felt a bit funny about it) but that I didn’t want to continue on a road with him if he’s not over his ex, he insists he is, and it leads us into having a conversation about a potential relationship.

    He says he’s not sure he wants anything serious, he doesn’t know that yet and he wants to let things progress naturally to see what happens, but that he really likes me and doesn’t want to let a good thing go with me out of fear of being vulnerable, but he doesn’t want to tell he he’s definitely ready. It felt like a really positive, open chat. So that was all good.

    About a week later the conversation comes up again, we were lying in bed together talking about his life abroad (he and his ex lived abroad) and we ended up having a similar chat, I had asked him some ‘what if’ questions which in hindsight were a bit silly. The conversation led to him saying again he doesn’t know if he’s ready to commit, but that he needs time to work it out and that maybe when he goes away travelling that will be a good time for us to work things out and take some time/talk less than normal (we usually speak everyday, on whatsapp, throughout the day.) He asked if I could give him time, and that he doesn’t want to be hasty to throw something away because he likes me and he didn’t expect to etc. He said his feelings for me are all there but it’s the commitment side he’s not sure he’s ready for. I mentioned that I know I didn’t have the right, I think I would be a bit upset if he got with other girls whilst he was abroad. He said ‘I know, I’ve thought about this too…I doubt I’d want to to be honest.’ Which to me felt genuine, like he was saying he liked me enough not to.

    So that weekend, we chill out with his friends, cook dinner, I stay over, and he invites me to go and meet him and his roommate and his brother on the second week of their travels abroad. (Which I find odd considering he isn’t sure about me). Anyway, It’s two weeks before they’re about to go, I have work so say ‘ I wish I could but I can’t’ All the while feeling confused/mixed signals.

    Later that week we have ANOTHER chat about us, I must admit it’s my fault. I asked if he had deleted the pictures of his ex, he said he hadn’t and I got upset, he said he doesn’t understand why it bothered me so much – he said he just forgot to and its completely insignificant to him that he has them/they aren’t nudes etc. But he seemed a bit annoyed, saying as soon as we start making demands on each other that’s when people get upset/things go wrong. I said I just worry because I can see myself falling for him in the future and I don’t think having pictures of your ex suggests that your over things. I got a bit pissed I suppose because I felt a bit disrespected. I said that I’m the one lying in bed with him and spending my time on him etc. He said again that he really doesn’t know if he’s ready to commit, but he doesn’t have all the answers right now so can I give him time etc. He said he doesn’t want to end up in another relationship with someone insecure, he was with a girl before he was ruled by her insecurities etc. I realize I shouldn’t have said anything, I pushed him away a bit I’m sure.

    I sent him a message the next day apologizing, and he replied saying it’s okay and that nothing is ruined/his feelings for me haven’t changed so we should just relax and enjoy spending time together. This was two days before he left for his trip, after sending that message he wasn’t as chatty as normal. The night before he left we went for dinner, I stayed overnight and helped him pack. The next morning I saw him off at the station (he’s away to do a bit of travelling/discover his heritage with his brother and his roommate-who I get on really well with). Everything was fine when I saw him off, when we were in the car on the way there he mentioned me on the phone to his mum, we were having a laugh and I said goodbye to him and his roommate.

    He chatted to me a bit that day, but since he’s been abroad he’s barely spoken to me, and by that I mean, I left him for three days without contact, and messaged just to see how he was doing, he replied, then when I responded, I heard NOTHING. It’s been almost a week I’ve still heard nothing and he seems to have lost interest. He’s been online every day, uploading pictures and making new friends and has seen my message, and is online all the time simply not responding. I know this is bad, but I went on tinder for the first time in weeks, and I saw that he had been online abroad, just hours before, but still hadn’t responded to me. Which hurt me because it felt like he was going LOOKING for a girl, as opposed to it just being an opportunity thing.

    I feel like I don’t know what to do, it feels like I’m sitting around with this dreadful feeling in my stomach, that he’s going to come back and either ignore me or tell me his feelings have changed. Is his silence an indication of that? I just want to know where I stand…I’m going to have to see him at some point because I have his favorite jumper and I’ve left some things at his. But I don’t know what to do, I feel so anxious about it, if he isn’t interested, why did he say he was? I have this horrible idea of him with other girls ( I know I’m not his girlfriend and it’s not my right, but it just really upsets me). He was even chatting about going out to another city when he got back for dinner (albeit this was before the last chat) I don’t know if I’ve ruined everything? Or if he’s gone away and realized he doesn’t like me? Please help 🙁 he’s away for another week and a half and I don’t know how to forget about it. This is the first time in over 2 years that I’ve actually liked someone, and I think I’ve scared him away. I never really open up like this. I just want to know what’s really going on.

    Please help 🙁

    • Katie – my columns are never out of date. 😀

      I would read and re-read what you wrote because it will become painfully obvious to you what happened and HOW you can stop it from happening again or with the next guy.

      Cool – you met a great guy on Tinder, not sure how often that happens so good for you.

      BUT you’ve only been “seeing” each other or casually dating a month. Things got heavy quickly. It’s understandable. It happens.

      However these talks you’re having with this guy pushed him far away because you can not possibly know this early on (man or woman) if you’re going to be great together. You can not expect a man to move this quickly no matter what he says or how he feels because he (or most real men) will NEVER be convinced or sure.

      I absolutely LOVE this article and the advice. It’s become something of a “go to” for exact situation like this:

      “Commitment is serious, and it’s impossible for a reasonable man with any integrity or life experience to definitively tell you that he’ll love you forever.

      That’s why he’s dating you – to figure out over the next few years whether you’re “the one” before he proposes.

      Asking – or expecting – your man to make a promise that he can’t keep is essentially asking him to do one of two things:

      1. Lie to you – “Yes, I love you and will never even think of another woman!”

      2. Leave – because the pressure is too great and it’s not worth his time to put up with someone who makes such unreasonable demands. This is not to say that you shouldn’t expect a ring after 2+ years.

      In fact, you should definitely walk away if your relationship isn’t growing and escalating and providing you with the security you desire.

      All I’m saying is that if you want to make it to 2+ years, you have to allow him to fall in love with you organically.

      You can’t protect yourself from ever being hurt by asking for answers too early.

      Do You Want to Learn the Secret to Keeping a Man Interested in You?

      It was written by a man who wrote the definitive series on why men disappear: The Real Reason a Man Will Suddenly “Disappear” from Your Life Even if He Seemed Into You or Told You He Loved You.

      Here’s the thing Katie – you knew it was wrong or as you wrote “silly” to pester him with all these question so early AND yes it’s on him too because sometimes guys get caught up in the moments and will make you feel like he’s already ready.

      This is why I first asked you to read what you wrote because I’m POSITIVE you’re smart enough to figure out when, where, and HOW it went all wrong.

      So the real problem is (or why you asked for help) is you either want to fix it with him – or stop yourself from letting it happen again.

      It appears he was interested in you. He was feeling something with you. All things considered you two hit off BUT…

      You both jumped in head first and when you came up for air – you wanted answers and he came up gasping from his own over self-indulgence and the problems that came about from you finding the pictures and him feeling not ready and knowing he took things to far too quickly.

      Honestly – I don’t have much advice for you to bring him back or get things back to the way they were. Lines were crossed and I fear the only way to erase those lines and start something new would be to take a VERY long break, gather yourself, figure out a new “man” plan for the future and then, and ONLY then, can you possibly rekindle and pick up something new with him that is more patient and filled with less doubt.

      In my book, The Silent Man I cover exactly why a guy must pull away so I’d expect it to happen EVERY time or something is wrong.

      You must learn to be comfortable with that concept because it will help to quiet your mind, stop you from thinking too far ahead, and of course pushing away a guy before he figures out what it is he’s looking for.

      Here’s an article I found that will you how it’s done:

      Three Things You Must Do When It Feels Like Your Man Is Man Pulling Away

      Give it a read when you get a chance.

      Lastly – I want you to (no matter what he says or does or how he acts) to IMMEDIATELY start dating some new guys with this new mindset and positive approach. It will help you in so many ways.

      All the best,

Leave a Comment