3 min

From fuck buddies to friends

Poly not the same as dating — and not for the faint of heart

Dear Dr. Ren,

I enjoyed reading your recent column, “Negotiating Sex and Friendship,” and I ask you to address the flip side of this situation — fuck buddies to friendship.

As in your last column, we share similarities and complement each other in many ways. She is poly, and I am in agreement. Our relationship (dare I use the word) has grown and is quite wonderful. I want to bring the sex back.

I see this as following a natural, progressing “poly” model — although not a primary coupling — a continuing source of limitless loving.

How do I bring it back around even better than before?

Flip side

Dear Flip side,

I must admit to being a bit confused about where you are in your present relationship and where you want it to go. At the beginning of your note you describe yourselves as fuck buddies, yet later you say you want to bring the sex back.

Let me take a stab at what I read between the lines.

If what you have is a friendship with this woman where you occasionally fall into bed and you think that sex is terribly meaningful and romantic while she thinks the two of you are enjoying a bit of recreational sex, your relationship has not grown as much as you are pretending it has. If that accurately describes your situation, you are deluding yourself about the mutuality of your “limitless loving.”

Have the two of you talked about how you define yourselves? Are you doing this planning solo?

Your wording is curious on the poly issue, Flip side. You say, “She is poly, and I am in agreement,” not “We are poly.” Hmmm. Could it be that you are wearing the poly label until she realizes what a prize you are and forsakes the others for the “real thing?” Do you embrace the concept of polyamoury but dread the work of managing your emotions when your lover loves another? If so, you are in a big club. Poly is not for the emotionally timid, nor for those in unstable relationships.

Polyamoury is also not an interchangeable term for dating, which is what monogamous people do until they find the next person with whom they want to be sexually exclusive. Poly folks never give away ownership of their sexuality to anyone else, regardless of their relationship status. Tristan Taormino has just published a great new book on this subject entitled Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships. I recommend it highly.

Regardless, I think there is something else happening for you, Flip side. Perhaps you and your friend began by being lovers and then stopped having sex. You were good friends and she, being poly, was comfortable with renegotiating the relationship on those terms. Did you go along hoping she would come around?

Or perhaps you both have watched your friendship grow and deepen over a period of time but are each reticent to express your romantic intentions. Why?

The simple answer to this is, of course, “Talk to her.” The fact that neither of you has done so indicates that this is not the natural flow the relationship is taking.

Whichever way I interpret your letter, you seem to have a different agenda than your friend does. You say you want to move from “fuck buddies to friendship” while your letter reads like you want to be lovers. Are you not already friends?

Or perhaps I’m reading too much into this and a cigar is just a cigar. You may be asking simply how to put the moves on your dear friend.

Simple. Kiss her.

That should change the course of your relationship regardless of where it is now. If she is interested in you romantically, she’ll melt into you and coo into your ear that she’s been waiting for you to give her a sign that you wanted her in this way.

If she wants you to be just fuck buddies, you’ll have a fun romp that will not be romantic, filled with caresses and eye —gazing.

You do know the difference, don’t you?

And if she says, “We have to talk,” well, then, you will have a perfect opportunity to share with your dear friend the information that you have built yourself a little fantasy that you hoped she shared and that she clearly doesn’t.

You needn’t be embarrassed, though the moment will be awkward. She’ll be flattered and, now that the fantasy is no longer being fuelled, you can recover and get back to being good pals.

I don’t know which of my possible interpretations of your letter may be correct, nor do I know how much experience you have in the dating world. I do know that forcing a relationship into a mould it doesn’t fit is asking for disaster.

When you find a woman who is as into you as you are into her, you can revel in the fire and the magic that only that type of mutuality can bring. You deserve that certainty and it is worth waiting for.

Figure this one out, and then go for the real thing.