If you’re a gay man that’s into casual sex, you probably don’t need to be told that a good FWB is worth his weight in gold. He’s definitely a friend, so you can totally be yourselves around each other. You can talk, laugh, and have a good time doing just about anything that strikes your fancy. Then when you’re horny, you get to enjoy all the benefits of sex without the drama that would usually come with it.
However, even really great friends-with-benefits relationships eventually come to an end. Maybe you’re developing feelings for the person that you’re just not comfortable with or maybe you’re just not feeling it anymore for whatever reason. Perhaps you’ve met someone else and want to explore a relationship with that person. Whatever the case may be, you know it’s time to end things, but you naturally also want to do it in a way that doesn’t actually destroy a friendship that probably means a lot to you both. The following tips can help you do exactly that.
1. Assure him you still appreciate his friendship.
If you guys are like most friends with benefits, you probably started out with a strong friendship in the first place. It makes sense that you’d want to preserve that part of the equation and that your friend might be worried about losing it too. That said, make sure you assure your FWB that you absolutely still care about your friendship and want it to continue, but – though it was fun while it lasted – the sexual part of things has run its course. Then gently explain why in a way that’s honest, but also respectful of his feelings.
Make sure you also assure him that you weren’t just using him for casual, easy sex on demand. Assure him you truly do care about him and value his friendship, but that you’re currently at a place in your life where you want to be more serious about gay sex and dating.
2. Make sure he doesn’t wind up blindsided.
The fact that the two of you were having sex without the traditional strings or commitment attached doesn’t mean there’s no need to respect your FWB’s feelings. If you’re putting an end to the arrangement you had because you’re entering into a new relationship or otherwise want to change your approach to your dating life, definitely give your friend a heads up to make sure he’s prepared for what happens next.
For instance, he probably follows you on most of your social media platforms. Don’t let him find out about a new boyfriend on Facebook because a picture of the two of you getting cozy just happened to roll through his feed. Keep in mind that even if he hasn’t actually developed feelings for you that go beyond friendship, it would still suck to be the last to know in a situation like that.
3. Take a little breather from your friendship.
If feelings were involved on either end, it makes sense to take a little time off from each other after you end your friends-with-benefits arrangement. This gives both parties the space and time they need to heal and move forward with their own lives to whatever degree is necessary. Be gentle with your friend’s feelings when you break the news to him that you think a break is best.
No, the two of you weren’t in a traditional committed relationship, but what you had was still like a relationship in certain ways. That said, it makes sense that going back to being strictly friends would feel a little bit like a break-up. Make sure the two of you are on the same page as far as what you expect of each other going forward and then take the time you both will need to mourn the way things used to be.
4. Don’t actually avoid the person though.
If you’re serious about preserving your friendship after eliminating the sex from the equation, you really need to treat your FWB the way you’d expect to be treated under the same circumstances. That means treating him with respect and dignity. Don’t ghost him or avoid him. Not only is that immature behavior unworthy of a dignified gay man like yourself, but it’s cruel as well.
Part of the point of hooking up with a friend instead of simply initiating an affair with a stranger was the opportunity to be honest and enjoy some excellent sex without the games and lies that might come with something more anonymous. Bailing on the honesty part of the equation now would be really uncool. If this is truly a good friend, he’ll understand and be more than willing to give you the space you need without your having to ghost him.
5. Be understanding if they’re upset.
Your decision to change the terms of your connection to your FWB most likely isn’t the result of a snap decision you made for no good reason. You’ve probably been thinking about doing this for a while, so you’ve had plenty of time to comes to grips with the impending change, get used to the idea, and see the benefits of moving on to something else. Make sure you keep in mind that your friend hasn’t had that same privilege.
It’s certainly possible that he sees it coming or has been thinking of proposing something similar for a while, but there’s also a good chance this will be total news to him. Even if he totally understands, he might also be upset. Do your best to be as understanding as possible. You never know when a FWB might have developed feelings neither of you knew were there.
6. Stick to your decision.
Whether you’re ending your FWB situation because you’re already dating somebody new or are simply doing it in preparation for better things to come (you hope), decide right now that you’re going to stick to your guns. Don’t expect that if your new love life doesn’t measure up to expectations that your sex buddy will be happy to go back to the way things were, no questions asked.
Expecting to start things up again as if nothing happened after you already called it quits isn’t just unfair to your friend. It’s confusing for the both of you and sex is complicated enough as it is. It’s also really not fair to anyone else you’re either currently dating or might be dating in the near future.
7. Seek support from your other friends if you need it.
It’s a common misconception that because friends-with-benefits arrangements don’t come alongside all the traditional strings, the people involved don’t ever feel anything when it’s time to move on to other things. That’s really not true. While no two people or situations are going to be exactly the same, it’s natural and normal for people to need to process any sort of transition. Even when the end of a given connection also means the end of a completely toxic situation, people still need time and space to get used to how different life is going to feel.
That said, don’t be surprised if your friend isn’t the only one that needs a minute after you officially end the “benefits” part of your relationship. If you need to, seek out another trusted friend to chat to about anything you’re dealing with. They might have been through something similar and have some helpful suggestions that could make the process easier.
8. Be prepared for whatever happens.
If you’re careful, respectful, and compassionate as far as how you end things with your FWB, there’s a really good chance that your friendship will bounce back eventually. However, it’s also important to prepare for every possibility. Sometimes you can do everything right and the friendship still doesn’t survive. Your friend may have been harboring feelings for you that you didn’t realize he had or the situation could become complicated in ways you didn’t expect.
If that turns out to be the case for your friendship, just let things be. Don’t get angry and try to get back at your friend for not being OK with what happened. If he comes around one day and feels ready to pick up where you left off with your friendship, you’ll regret not handling things with more dignity. Just accept that he has a right to choose not to be friends with you anymore if that’s his wish and move on.
At the end of the day, deciding to try a friends-with-benefits relationship on for size is always something of a risk. It can certainly turn out to be more complicated than either party expected on one level or another. However, that hardly means it can’t work or that it’s not possible to end things on a healthy, positive note. Friendships survive this transition all the time and if you handle yours with care, the chances are excellent that yours can too.