These Kinds of Relationships Have an Expiration Date. ~ Caitlin Hatch

Via Caitlin Hatch
on Nov 23, 2013
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I’m definitely not an expert on relationships, especially the infamous ‘friends with benefits’ situation—but I’ve had experiences in life that left me familiar with the subject.

These kinds of relationships have an expiration date.

According to experts, a ‘friends with benefits’ situation is not supposed to last more than three months. Any longer and people get feelings. Well, acting as the rebel that l am, I refused to believe this and proceeded to have an on-and-off again friend with benefits, for oh about three….years.

Yep, three years of on-and-off again sex, feelings, and ambiguity.

Of course, after sleeping with someone for a while, feelings are bound to arise—feelings I avoid with a certain expertise. Dealing with them like an adult can be…difficult.  Not being sure of how the other person feels, most people push those feelings aside, and go with the flow—become some super cool girl, so chill that she can’t be bothered by emotions.

Don’t do this. It doesn’t work.

If you are that cool person who can totally have casual sex with no emotion—teach me how?

My situation was standard in the beginning. Casual sex whenever it was convenient, no real feelings, and eventually it died out. We both moved on for about a year, dated other people and became good friends. He was there for me when my boyfriend ruined my birthday, crashed my car, and punched a hole in my wall. And I was there for him when he faced equally rough stuff.

Needless to say, we became close, and when my boyfriend and I broke up, things started up again. Except this time around it was different. We were friends first, so sleeping together again, we found ourselves in a ‘friends with benefits’ situation.

We would tell each other when we liked other people, as if it was nothing, and keep sleeping together.

It was awesome.

I felt like that cool girl for a while, so cool that I really didn’t care what he was up to or who he was seeing. But remember that three-month rule?

Suddenly I didn’t want to hear about the girls he had crushes on. I found myself becoming jealous and bitter. I kept promising myself and my poor friends, no more.

Eventually, a year after we had started sleeping together again, I decided to take a stand and tell him how I felt. First, I had to prepare myself for his response.

At the time, I was going through yoga teacher training and filling my schedule with practice, reading and friends.

The first book we read for training was, “The Four Agreements,” by Don Miguel Ruiz. It changed my life. I found two of the agreements to be critical for having a friends with benefits relationship:

1) Don’t take things personally

2) Don’t make assumptions.

I am the queen of making assumptions.

When he replied to a text message with a period instead of an exclamation, I assumed that he hated me and that we weren’t friends anymore. My life revolved around making assumptions as to what he meant when he asked if I was seeing someone else, and deciphering all of his texts, until I could barely stand being near my phone.

So, keeping these agreements in mind, I finally decided to talk to him. Honestly.

It is amazing how much better I felt,  just saying what was on my mind and asking questions. Sure, things ended and I was bummed. But, I’m much happier than I was, having to assume that he likes me because he didn’t leave in the morning, or hates me because he didn’t invite me out at night.

One of my favorite lessons from my yoga training was exploring the yama called aparigraha, or non-attachment. I had clearly attached myself to a person that was not benefiting my life, but rather pulling me back.

I’ve learned so much from this experience. I need to start respecting myself, my goals, my wants and my needs. Letting go of what no longer serves me is almost always my intention in my daily practice. Sealing in this intention and truly living it is hard, and something I hope to accomplish one day.

‘Friends with benefits’ can be fun and appealing, but there is a trade-off. It is necessary to completely shut down emotionally. Let’s be real, how often does that happen?


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About Caitlin Hatch

Caitlin Hatch is a recent college graduate living in Austin, Texas. She enjoys buying things she doesn’t need at Whole Foods, contemplating her future, and teaching yoga.


29 Responses to “These Kinds of Relationships Have an Expiration Date. ~ Caitlin Hatch”

  1. Bob Holdsworth says:

    Thanks for writing this. I am at the exact same place with someone and came to the same conclusion. I realized (finally) that I was holding back my real feelings and dancing around issues. It hit me that I want to love and live fully. I have been working on changing the patterns and behaviors in my life that do not serve me and here I was again not honoring myself or my needs. Living fully, trust, and communication are core needs and the FWB relationship did not respect those boundaries. My intention was to her and the relationship because it mattered to me. My path is to be more open, vulnerable, and to deepen the truth that I share. The on again, off again nature of the FWB did not nurture that. Yes, we had fun (great dates, weekends, sex), but I was always sad when it ended. I wanted the "full meal deal" of sharing life and love. Thanks again for sharing – it feels better to know others share my experience.

  2. Penina says:

    Your article reached me in perfect time! I have had a "friend with benefits" – which includes companionship, bailing me out and other things but nothing sexual. Unfortunately, even though I feel like I am the only one benefiting here, it leaves me feeling drained. I am trying to learn healthy boundaries (at the age of 51) – and find myself having to really push my friend away, who seems every day to have a "reason" or "need to do something for ME" that will see us get together in person. Every day is too much, my friend doesn't seem to feel the same way – and the last thing I want is a romance….life is complicated!

  3. Nancy says:

    I love this, I've been there and realized FWBs don't work for me at all. In the end, they just left me miserable, hoping that something would change and realizing they wouldn't. It was a painful but good lesson teaching me about what I really wanted, how I should be treated and learning to speak up for myself. Sadly, it's a lesson many of us have to learn.

  4. Caitlin Hatch says:

    I'm so happy that this is relatable to you all! It's nice to know that others are going through something similar and that you aren't alone in how you feel.

  5. Andrea says:

    Wow, this piece couldn't have come at a better time in my life. Thanks for writing! I want to print a copy to keep on hand as a constant reminder!

  6. whitney says:

    ‘Friends with benefits’ can be fun and appealing, but there is a trade-off. It is necessary to completely shut down emotionally. Let’s be real, how often does that happen?” ………… True that, girl! Thanks for sharing your experience and heart on the matter. Truly enlightening for those that may be meddling in this uncomfortably ambiguous terrain.

  7. Annabella says:

    I tried a fwb relationship for 6 months (at the grand old age of 49, Penina), then put my foot down so to speak and said it wasn't for me and i would prefer to be single. After a month apart, my lover was missing me so much he agreed to a fully committed relationship which has continued for another 6 months now, so be strong in what feels right or wrong for you and know how much you are worth 🙂

  8. Claudia Kuzniak says:

    There's a reason why society, religion, parents, etc. try to discourage this. It doesn't work. The costs are too high. You compromise your essence. In Eastern societies, wisdom is revered-whether it be from people or institutions. Western societies seem bent on throwing themselves against the wall again and again, to prove…what?

  9. David says:

    Every relationship has an expiration date.

  10. websterweb says:

    Remember the part where it was awesome? Would you have never had that because three months later you wanted something else? Good is good even if its not forever, and sometimes a friend in need, is just the perfect relationship. Its just people being good to each other. Simple. And simple is nice sometimes.

  11. spiritual me says:

    Great article. 🙂

    While I agree that it is hard to maintain a fwb relationship with most guys we really care about, there are a few out there that serves a great purpose of fulfillment of companionship and … Sex. I have had a FWB off and on for about 4 years now and I am forever grateful to have a great guy that I trust and am sexually attracted to have this unique relationship. The sex is great, and we are also friends, we are both super honest with one another and able to keep our feelings in check as this situation continues. We are both 33 and 35 pursuing our dreams and enjoying life, and both hoping to meet someone that could be our Open to possibilities that there is really someone else out there for us.

    Long story short….I met him right when I was getting out of a very painful breakup with someone that I loved with all of my heart and soul – as I begin my spiritual journey to who I am and what I stand for – I had little room for falling in love with anyone else but myself. And during this time – I learned to accept the beautiful people in my life that were showing up for different lessons, and to accept them just as they are, without my attachment as to who they needed to be. I have had 2 other short term relationships during the 4 years of my off and on fwb. But for now, we are really happy with our situation, and both of us are aware that we are different people on the same path, enjoying each other for what it is vs anything more.

  12. cate says:

    I had a fwb that turned into a husband. Going on 8 years 🙂

  13. solfulsoul says:

    The relentlessness of objectivity (or subjectivity) ?

  14. Me says:

    Perfect timing to see this article. I’ve been doing this for over a year and it pretty much came to a head last night but I’m still trying to hang on as friends. It’s not healthy and I need to let go of what is not serving me. Thank you.

  15. Eric says:

    Good perspective but only one side and that being in the world of attachment. I have found that such things actually open me up to share who I am even though the “stars aren’t aligned”. More of life offers more options & ways of being with others as present, sexual creatures. Attachment & cultural agreements drive most of our behaviors & beliefs but there is a world of freedom & unlimited being just beyond. And I whole hearted love this 4 agreements!

    It is necessary to completely shut down emotionally. Let’s be real, how often does that happen?

  16. Alex Proverb says:

    Ruiz's books changed my life as well, all of them. I highly recommend these books to anyone in any kind of relationship. If you do the work DAILY and practice all 4 agreements DAILY life is much easier. Relationships are easier

  17. DontKilmaVibe says:

    I am glad that you were able to learn something from your experience. It was very brave of you to share this publicly.
    I don't really understand who told men and women that sleeping around is "cool" and detaching your feeling during an intimate situation is healthy, but it's not.
    1. It teaches people that it's okay to use you for sex, with no consequences.
    2. It's dangerous. Sleeping around even with protection puts you at risk for STDs. With the "arrangements" and because it's "known" that both partners have other partners, you never really KNOW if someone catches something from another person. Even with protect you can contract STDS. It's a gamble and can change your life forever. Some STDS don't show up for up to a year while others you may not know you have and effect your ability to have babies.
    Could you imagine missing out on having children because of a "fling" you had one time. That's all it takes.And what about the game changer? Someone actually getting pregnant.

  18. Katmandu says:

    Thank you for writing this. You seemed to have been living my same life style. I know I can no longer do this type of "friends with benefits" style any longer. I want the real deal, the self respect and knowing that someone cares about me for more than just the benefits. No judgement I just know what works for me and what no longer works for me.

  19. ‘Friends with benefits’ can be fun and appealing, but there is a trade-off. It is necessary to completely shut down emotionally. Let’s be real, how often does that happen? …
    How is it that men seem to be able to do this? The man in your story seems to have managed just that? The guy in my own FWB relationship is also able to do it.

    After about 6 months I asked the question … got my answer. I know it will never go any where and having no expectations that it will has helped me. I let go of any hope and enjoy it for what it is and what it is is good. We have an arrangement that benefits us both. I'm free to meet other people, where he isn't interested in doing that, he is fine that I am.
    I agree you can't take it personally and you have to stop assuming and reading into every little gesture. Doing this drove me insane!

  20. Christina says:

    This describes my FWB to a tee! Mine was with an ex and while I still loved him dearly, he obviously didn't care for me the same. We had GREAT fun together, tons of laughs, talking after sex, cuddling, etc. I totally convinced myself that he did care for me in the same way and that we would have a future. After a year and a half, I realized things were never going to change. I want to be married and have a family, and he didn't see me in that light. So I moved across the country. I think I thought that would gain back his respect, but nope, he ended up deciding to move on once I was no long physically available. "Broke up" over text. That one hurt big time, but at least I know the truth and can hopefully find someone who does want something more long term. Great article! Thank you!!

  21. Christina says:

    Oh man….so don't want to read that! lol! Now I wonder if I did the right thing by taking it away from him physically…

  22. Christina says:

    Can I ask what makes a FWB decide to commit versus not? I can't tell if my FWB every would have., We were bf/gf, he broke up with me, then we went FWB, had great times but he said he would never marry me, etc., so I moved. And after seeing him on a recent visit back to my home state, he has decided to move on, that we were "never meant to be together" (whatever that means). I'm so confused. Should I have stayed? It seemed really good! I did send him overly emotional texts from the state I moved to due to stress, etc. Maybe he didn't want to deal with that…but isn't that a sign he only wanted me for sex/companionship and really nothing more?

  23. connie.sue says:

    Thank you for that perspective. It's how I feel as well. Someone just came into my life at the exact time I needed the attention most, and I am happy with that even if it isn't forever.

  24. xavibrenn says:

    Thanks for this eye opening article I remember my ex bf offered me this kind of set up after dating him online for 2 months . We were bf n gf in short, in relationship and decided to meet each other some time in July 2015. I don't know what came out of his mind to offer me this awful set up, maybe our distances from each other that made him feel like a freak or "maybe" he is just trying to avoid any emotional trauma from his previous exes. Thanks for my big respect to myself ,at that moment it pissed me off and at the same time I broke up with him. I felt so embarrassed, betrayed and disrespected. He tried to eat his FWB words ,tried to win me back and said Sorry many times but to late It's Over..

  25. Valaree says:

    Having a friends with benefits situation doesn't mean you ned to shut down completely emotionally. It also doesn't mean you are necessarily intimate with more than one 'friend'.
    It only requires that you shut down the emotions that are unhealthy and damaging to a relationship and to an individual anyway: possessiveness, obsession, control, insecurity and jealousy.
    When you begin to feel those feelings, I think it wiser to look within at what compels you to the unhealthy emotions rather than letting those feeling rule you and ruin a perfectly good relationship. There is no growth when you project your emotions on the other party and delude yourself into thinking they suddenly aren't doing enough, you only allow those feelings to rule you and off you go in search of someone who will abide and encourage low emotional IQ.

  26. Ashley says:

    whatever you did is the right thing!

  27. Gilly says:

    Thank you for this article, that I only saw now. It opened my eyes, looking back at the two years relationship with a man I loved with all my heart. I realize now that I just was his FWB, good for having great sex with and fun, going out to concerts and theatre, giving him consolation for the loss of his departed wife. I thought it was because of his grief that he didn’t make promises, and waited patiently, well, not really patiently, I craved and yearned for him when he wasn’t there.

    But he just never intended to let me into his life totally, there was no commitment from his side, he just used me and dumped me when he no longer did.

    And now I am afraid of falling in love again…I don’t want to be used again.

  28. tarmacman says:

    My first love of 42 years ago wanted to be friends on Facebook. She was in a relationship and I was married. We started out as casual friends chatting online till we decided to get together for dinner. We continued to chat and started to talk on the phone. We got together again this time for lunch. I was open with my wife about her. Her boyfriend got jealous. He blocked me in her Facebook and we did not talk for a month till she re-contacted me on my birthday. We resumed chatting about two months and we got together again. We went out to lunch and then for a walk. Within days we said I love you to each other. We planned another get together in a month. This time she stood me up. After a week of silence she said she was getting uncomfortable with the situation of me being married and her in a relationship. She wanted us to take a break for a week. We’ve chatted twice, now she ignores me. We never had sex, just kissed and hugged during this six month affair of the heart. It’s sad although because she provided me with much needed validation and intimacy that I don’t have in my marriage. This has opened my eyes to what I need in my life to be happy.

  29. Luke says:

    I’ve not engaged in a relationship along these lines at all (doesn’t suit my personality or emotional needs) but am trying to deal with the fallout from the current societal acceptance and encouragement of the ‘friends with benefits’ phenomenon. My current partner of over one year had a long period of her life where this was the only type of relationship she experienced. This has left her with some significant emotional scars that affect both of us to this day. She has told me she would persist in these types of relationships in the hopes they would eventually lead to a more emotionally fulfilling experience. As it stands, her hopes were never fulfilled and, at least to my perspective, she allowed these guys to use her for sexual gratification without seeing any of her needs met.

    One of her coping strategies was to disengage emotionally from the physical sexual experience to such a degree that she no longer knows how to make an emotional connection to the act of physical lovemaking. Despite my efforts, to this date she states that she feels no emotional connection during sex. We have a very emotionally fulfilling relationship in almost all other aspects but this is becoming a problem for me that I am fast becoming unable to ignore. I have never had a physical interaction with someone without a significant emotional connection and one of the aspects of sex that I most enjoy is the way it magnifies and reinforces the emotional and spiritual connection between my partner and I. Given that one of my important needs in remaining unfulfilled, I am on the verge of letting go of a near perfect relationship.

    This is to me a prime example of everything I dislike about the casual sex/ hook up/ fwb culture that seems to have developed over the past 15-20 years. Having been either faithfully married or in a monogamous relationship during the past two decades, the current dating world has caught me by surprise and is giving me significant difficulties and new challenges to overcome in the pursuit of a relationship that is fulfilling at all levels. I am starting wonder whether long term singledom may be the right path for me so I can spend more time and energy on the other important relationships in my life, especially with my rapidly growing-up nieces and nephews, my brothers and their wives and my parents.