Want to be more than just friends with benefits? If you’re ready to move on from FWB to romance, proceed with caution, says Toni Coleman, a licensed psychotherapist, relationship coach and founder of Consum-mate.com. First, consider your friend's needs. Has he been sending signals that his feelings run deeper than friendship? If so, be very tactful and give him a lot of wiggle room when you bring up the topic of a deeper relationship. “Begin with a very open-ended comment or question. It can be something like, ‘You know, we’re just so great together, how come we’re not dating?’” Coleman says. Whatever you do, aim for a gradual exploration of his feelings as opposed to something that would hem him in, she says. It would be coming on too strong to cut to the chase and say, “I want more from you.” It’s best to allow both sides to explore their feelings without feeling pressured – particularly if you want to keep the friendship intact. You can watch his body language to determine if you should continue the discussion. You’ll know your FWB isn’t comfortable with the chat if he “starts to shut down, they fold their arms over, they kind of pull back in their chair, they’re kind of looking around the room, they’re not making eye contact,” Coleman says. That’s when she advises people to back down from pushing the discussion, because most people don’t want to end up losing the friendship if their romantic feelings aren’t shared. Stopping the Sex, Keeping the Friend Deciding to stop having sex with a friend isn’t difficult. The trick is phrasing things in a way so that no one has hurt feelings. Coleman advises clients to use a stroke, a kick, and another stroke. Start out by telling them how much you care about him and that you’ve had a great time together. Then give the gentle “kick” by telling him that you’re ready to move on, make some changes, and stop sleeping together. Then give another “stroke” by making it clear that while you want to leave the sexual relationship behind, you don’t want to leave his friendship behind. You may face anger from your friend, or even lose the friendship if he isn’t willing to understand your reasons for ending the FWB relationship. But you may also find that he had romantic feelings for you all along but never expressed it, Coleman said. “Somebody pulling back and talking about pulling out of the relationship in order to find real love could end up opening up a dialogue about, ‘We’re great together, why don’t we talk about that,’” she said.
|Related article: Study finds friendship, but no love, for friends with benefits.|