“Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something. They’re trying to find someone who’s going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take.”
– Anthony Robbins, Author & Life Coach

Whether a woman decides to have a Friends With Benefits arrangement or drifts into having casual sex she can experience unforeseen emotional pitfalls. One of the most common clichés around today is hearing a woman claiming ‘it’s complicated’ when describing her relationship. What this usually means is she’s having regular sex with a man but is unclear about her status. In other words she is involved with a FWB by default and doesn’t even know it!

Women end up in FWB by default situations for a variety of reasons:

• Engages in sexual activity too early during the dating phase hoping this will entice a man into committing to a relationship

• Assumes by having sex with a man means she is in a serious relationship

• Low self-esteem or lack of self-respect

• Unaware or in denial about her FWB status

• Previous relationship downgraded to FWB status

• Failure to clarify a man’s intentions

• Has been lied to regarding the FWB’s status

Engages in sexual activity too quickly hoping this will entice a man into a relationship

A woman who sleeps with a man too quickly and easily will not usually be considered seriously for a long-term relationship and it doesn’t really matter how mind blowing the sex is. The majority of physically healthy people want to enjoy a great time between the sheets but a man isn’t going to commit just because a woman satisfies him sexually. Some women believe that by providing ‘good sex’ this will eventually persuade a man to give them the commitment they crave. Eventually they have to confront their true feelings, desires and relationship expectations. This is what usually happens: the man just takes whatever sex is on offer, does not consider the woman seriously and eventually just walks away. Trying to use sex in the hope of enticing a man into a relationship is an extremely misguided short-term strategy that often ends with a woman feeling used and disappointment with herself.

Assumes by having sex with a man means she is in a serious relationship

Women are usually emotionally engaged at some level when they decide to sleep with a man and a woman having regular sex with the same guy is probably going to want more after a period of time. The majority of men who are enjoying no hassle, commitment-free sex for over three months is probably going to be very reluctant to make a relationship commitment. A woman who fails to clarify a man’s intentions is setting herself up to be used because for the average male, a woman who has casual sex is just a ‘good time girl’ not a potential long-term partner. Sharing hot sex sessions doesn’t mean you’re involved in the greatest love affair of the 21st century and doesn’t mean he’s in love with you. Many men can indulge in sexual activity without feeling any real emotional content and for many men sex can have absolutely nothing to do with love or romance. While the woman gets busy behaving like she’s in a serious relationship, he just sits backs and enjoys whatever sexual and other perks are on offer until he decides it’s time to move on. The qualities that attract most men include a good personality, high self-esteem, charisma, loyalty, integrity and self-respect. Using sex in the hope the relationship will eventually start ‘going somewhere’ is just setting yourself up for disappointment.
Low self-esteem or lack of self-respect

“Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your handbrake on. ”- Maxwell Malz

Low self-esteem issues can trap a woman inside an unhealthy FWB arrangement if she believes she doesn’t deserve to be loved and respected. Rushing into sexual activity on a desperate mission to be with ‘Mr. Right’ often ends in tears; these women often sleep with men prematurely hoping to secure an agreement of commitment from the new man in their life. Of course there is no obligation for a man to commit which is very unlikely when he is receiving easy sex. Men respect women who respect themselves; women who ‘give it all away’ while desperately hoping to create a viable relationship often end up feeling cheated. A woman with low self-esteem is often highly likely to drift into a FWB by default situation.

Unaware or in denial about their FWB status

Some women become sexually involved with men but remain uncertain about their relationship status while others are not sure if the arrangement is sexually exclusive. This type of FWB by default usually happens due to:
• Failing to maintain effective personal boundaries
• Failing to clearly explain her expectations and requirements
• Having sex too quickly
• Failing to ask questions to discover his true intentions and making assumptions
Maintaining healthy boundaries while clearly expressing your expectations effectively filters out Players and timewasters. The failure to clarify intentions often occurs when sex happens too quickly without discovering what the man’s intentions are besides just having a good time. As the arrangement progresses the woman becomes increasingly emotionally involved and finds it difficult to walk away. A failure to ask pertinent questions and clarify a man’s intentions at the beginning often results in FWB by default. There are women who are in a FWB arrangement who believe they’re involved with a genuine, exclusive relationship despite very obvious clues or warning signs. This is a form of denial motivated by a desperate attempt to sustain the illusion of a relationship.
Lied to regarding FWB status

This scenario is very common: the man claims to be single and available but is actually a Player with one or several women, or possibly even married. Alternatively, he pretends to be fully committed to the relationship but is really just biding his time until he meets someone new.

With a man who is already involved but claims to be unhappy with his current partner, he will often say the relationship is not working out, he no longer has sex with his partner or if married is filing for a divorce. None of these stories are actually true but are used to give the appearance of a man who is emotionally available, which is what entices the woman to entertain the idea of having an affair. He then convinces her she is the ‘love of his life’ and everything will be different when they’re together ‘officially.’ They begin having sex which is great for a while but eventually he begins to create distance as it becomes clear he has no intention of leaving his partner or wife. After a period of time and several broken promises later it becomes apparent the woman is in fact a mistress and in a FWB by default situation. By this time she has become so emotionally invested it feels increasingly difficult to break away. This can go on for months or even years with the woman hoping the man she has fallen in love with will eventually be hers.

Downgraded to FWB status after a failed relationship

This is one of the most common FWB by default scenarios. After a break up a woman continues to have sex with her ex-partner hoping he will recommit to the relationship. This strategy is very unlikely to succeed because it’s quite easy for most men to transition from having sex within a committed relationship to having casual sex with the same woman.
If you’re in this kind of situation you will probably experience a range of emotions. There will be occasions when you feel happy because there is hope for rekindling the relationship so will accept the FWB status but at other times feel frustrated and used. Deep down inside you’re unlikely to be happy with just having sex so there will probably be feelings of frustration or resentment mixed with an underlying fear. This fear is caused by knowing that if you actually express your dissatisfaction and start making demands the man might walk away for good. Becoming caught up in this cycle can be very confusing, emotionally draining and often results in erratic behavior.

Being downgraded to a FWB and then trying to get an upgrade back to committed relationship status is possible but not very likely. If you’re in this type of situation with strong feelings for your ex-partner understand that continuing to have sex with him in the hope of persuading him to recommit to the relationship is probably a waste of time. The eventual realization you have only been used for sex may be a very painful emotional experience.

Nigel Beckles – Author