Dear Dr. NerdLove:
I am a 33 year old single, heterosexual female living in a large metropolitan area nearish the east coast. There’s a man who’s been in my life on and off for the past ~6 years, but in the last 3 years we’ve spent more time together, including in a romantic, sexual capacity, yet still casual. We’re very close in age, but less so in distance: we live in different states, separated by a two hour plane ride. Through traveling we intend to see each other F2F at least once a quarter and very recently met up F2Fd when he came to visit and stay with me for a short weekend.
We are settling into a budding friends with benefits relationship, a relationship archetype I only truly became comfortable with in the last 6 months as I matured emotionally and became more self-aware. I definitely had some help through your article on FWB (how the phrase still includes the word “friend” and no strings attached doesn’t equate to no respect or no consideration). It was your article which allowed me to view this relationship through a different, healthier lens—it’s fair to say I am far more open, flexible, and vulnerable in this FWB now than I was 2 years ago which has really helped this relationship flourish considerably, even in a short period of time
There is no expectation of commitment or monogamy on either side now or in the near or distant future. We’re enjoying one another as people, friends, and lovers and just seeing where things take us. My question is what happens to our relationship when one or both of us meet someone else, someone else who has expectations of commitment and monogamy which the respective person involved is willing to fulfill? Once you’ve crossed over from being friends to something more, is there anyone going back? Can the sexual/romantic/non-platonic aspects of our relationship be turned on and off like a faucet? Or excised as a foreign, inanimate, or unnecessary vessel or object? And beyond the “can” what about the “should”? If you can turn off certain aspects of a relationship, should you? Can you cherry pick and preserve the friendship in the relationship whilst leaving the romance or sex in the past? In addition, is it reasonable for anyone involved (me, my FWB, a future partner for either of us) to expect our FWB relationship to end in its entirety? Is it equally reasonable for this man and I to expect the friendship aspect of our relationship to persevere through commitment and monogamy elsewhere?
This is a relationship I value and wish to cultivate, how do I do this while still respecting and cultivating other relationships which have the potential to become committed and monogamous?
Do Not Pass Go