Relationship Advice: Turning “Friends With Benefits” Into a REAL Relationship
By: Carlos Cavallo
I recently got an interesting question from one of my readers, and I think a lot of women can relate to her situation.
But before we get into her email, I wanted to talk a bit about the amount of clichéd advice out there. Now, this is important because it’ll help you better appreciate my reader’s question from a ‘big picture’ point of view.
Anyway, what I wanted to say was that most people give out clichéd advice without really thinking too much about what they’re saying.
So, their relationship advice overlaps with just enough common sense that it works.
In effect, they kind of hijack commonly known stuff and this approach works in some cases. But the thing is, we don’t really know WHY this works, which is where the problem lies.
As a result, we sometimes misuse or abuse this particular kind of advice.
For instance, one of the most common dating tips for women about handling men and sex is to "not give it up too quickly."
Why is that, from any standpoint, good advice?
Being Empowered = Not a License For Bad Decisions
Well, here’s the deal: we live in a society that has, for the most part, promoted the idea of women becoming more like men in order for them to feel equal to guys.
Unfortunately, we promote this masculine stereotype and believe that a woman can ONLY be successful if she’s more like a man.
So in the workplace, a woman is driven to behave like men and lose her feminine edge in the process. She actually loses all of the things that make her incredibly strong and powerful as a woman.
Aside from that, we also promote that women, by virtue of “liberation”, can and SHOULD do the same things men do.
In particular, this includes indulging in reckless, purely-for-pleasure sex.
(By the way, men are perceived as doing this on a lot of levels, but this doesn’t necessarily apply to ALL guys.)
So what happens then?
Well, we have a multitude of television shows in American culture that promote a lifestyle where a woman can basically sleep with any guy with no strings attached.
And by extension, she has the same kind of sexual experience and relationship experiences that men are perceived to have ALL the time.
There are even books, I think, that talk about “How to date like a man” or “How to have sex like a man.” Is this really a good thing?
Well, I’m going to leave that a little open-ended for now because we’ve yet to fully figure out just how helpful this advice REALLY is.
Taking a Step Back and Re-evaluating Your Priorities
At some point, you have to wonder if this approach will help you get what you TRULY want out of dating and relationships. You have to think about the advice that you’re getting AND the goals that you’ve got for yourself.
You need to ask yourself, “Am I really getting what I want?”
I don’t mean to get all mercenary on you; it’s just that a lot of people date for the sake of it, like it’s their “be-all and end-all.”
For a woman sometimes, it’s about getting married or having a long-term relationship. To her, that’s all that matters, and she does everything to further herself towards that goal.
Alright, enough of going on this crazy tangent – it’s time to get into my reader’s question.
This is what Maria (from Santa Monica, California) asked me:
“Well, hello, I’m in the middle of a dilemma here. I’m in a mostly ‘friends with benefits’ relationship. The guy I’m involved with and I have a really strong connection with, but I sense he’s lost his emotional attachment. At the beginning, we would talk and text and talk very often, but after casual sex has started, it diminished greatly to the point where he doesn’t call or text anymore.
He would text me how much he missed me and how great he felt being with me and all, but lately, nothing. We work together and we’re very good friends. We talk about everything and every day while working together, but not at all on weekends or after work hours other than when he comes to sleep over.
I’m a single mom of a 4-year-old and he’s single. I have no help so we don’t go out at all. Usually, once a week we talk about getting together, and he sleeps over, we watch movies, talk, listen to music and of course, we’ll have really amazing sex, but that’s the end of it. During work hours, we go for the occasional lunch and walk and talk most of the day.
I need your advice on what to do to stop this behavior on his side. He’s a great guy and I have strong feelings for him. Shall I stop the sex, and how to do it in a way that we don’t miss the chance of having a real relationship? What should I do if I want things to move forward? Thank you very much for your help and advice. Sorry for the long message.”
Well, don’t worry about it, Maria. A lot of the questions I get from women are a LOT more detailed – even more so from the ones that guys send me.
So the more information I have about your situation, the better. Now, what to do we do about your predicament?
Most women would immediately go, “Yeah girl, stop sleeping with him obviously…duh!” - and I would have to agree with that.
On a lot of levels, that definitely covers some of the problem, but it’s doesn’t address the big picture.
Yes, the sexual connection is important. A lot of women and men don’t fully realize how important sex is to a long-term - or even short-term - relationship.
It really does make up a very fundamental part of any romantic connection with someone. Physical intimacy isn’t something you can separate from the rest of the relationship.
And I think that’s one of the mistakes we’ve made, culturally speaking.
The Danger Of Ignoring Your OTHER Needs
We think that sex can be separated from a relationship. We assume that we can have fun, sleep overnight and have casual, friends-with-benefits sex - and that’s all it has to be.
But there’s MORE to it. The human machine is much more complicated than we think, especially the emotional side of it.
In a relationship, sex is meant to be part of a greater whole and you can’t just separate it. It doesn’t work that way.
Honestly, I think that’s why after practicing a certain amount of self-satisfaction, a lot of people come to a point where it just doesn’t do it for them anymore.
I mean, it almost becomes distasteful and they’re thinking:
“Oh God, here we go again. Sure, I’m getting rid of a little stress and tension, but am I REALLY getting what I want? Am I really accomplishing the goals for the kind of relationship I truly desire?”
Not really, I say. Eventually, it becomes a mechanical function to serve a need and that’s obviously NOT the only thing you want in your life.
There’s more to a relationship than just the physical connection, and like I said, there are consequences when you remove it from the big picture.
There Are Always Strings Attached
That said, let’s hit your question point by point. You're saying that you have a strong sexual connection with your friend, but sense that he’s “lost the emotional attachment.”
Well, this is another one of those areas that we don’t really fully understand.
Can a man have sex without an emotional attachment?
Yes he can, and that’s part of the way we’re made as men.
However, we can’t CONTINUE to have sex without an emotional connection. Most women don’t realize that after a while, it will inevitably go in one of two directions.
If a man is going to continue a relationship, there has to be a point where the sexual connection turns into a very intimate and integrated part of a WHOLE relationship.
Without that real connection, he’s going to lose interest. That’s simply how he is.
In a lot of cases, a guy can live on the novelty of having sex with multiple partners.
Ultimately however, there has to be a DEEPER kind of connection to keep the relationship going – even a long-term sexual relationship.
Other women have experienced this too. Maybe they’ve been dating a guy for some time and they were the one that was a little bit hard to catch.
In a situation like that, the guy is likely to say, “Hey, you know what, I need a little more from this.”
Waiting For That Breakthrough
Maria, in your case I’d say that his guy is being a little elusive because he reached the point in the sexual relationship where he needed that emotional connection.
Something probably happened that flipped a switch in his head and made him think that he couldn’t get that.
Maybe he didn’t want to be a stepdad to a 4-year-old, or give up his single dating life – that part I can’t say for sure.
Whatever it was, he may have wanted something that he wasn’t getting from the relationship.
At the core of it, men have simple drives and reasons to be in a relationship. At some point, your friend wanted your connection to evolve into a deeper kind of relationship.
You mentioned that you’d get texts from him, saying that he missed you and how great he felt being with you. This was the point where he was actually on the cusp of falling in love; and something else needed to happen there, but didn’t.
Now, the reality is that if a man is getting regular sexual satisfaction from a relationship, he doesn’t have the same kind of drive and motivation to complete it emotionally.
But as I mentioned earlier, the relationship will move on, one way or another. He’s either going to pursue the relationship or look for something else.
There Are NO “Mixed Signals”
So a guy’s behavior is actually fairly straightforward, which can be a good or bad thing.
He isn’t using you, but he’s also not getting what he wants in the relationship.
That puts him in a position where he’s looking for more – his behavior is evidence of that.
If he isn’t spending weekends with you or doing anything other than sleeping over, well, that’s big sign right there.
Weekends are the prime time for a REAL relationship. Men and women keep that “window” open because that’s the most time they can spend with each other.
Think about it: you can spend time overnight without thinking about going to work in the morning and spend the whole day together.
This is usually the practice when you’re in a committed relationship with someone. If he’s not giving you that kind of time, there’s a reason for that.
Now, there’s another unfortunate side effect from the kind of relationship you have with him. In a situation like this, the amazing sex often acts as a substitute for a real connection.
Sadly, this is one side of sex that we don’t fully understand. Funny enough, it’s possible to share an incredible sexual spark with someone even without a deep emotional connection.
Can You Really Change Someone?
So now you’re wondering how you can change the situation you’re in. Well, part of the problem is the way you phrased your question, Maria.
You said, “What do I do to stop this behavior on his side?”
You have to realize that you might not be going about this in the best way possible. It seems to me that you’re treating him like a child, and that’s one place you can’t go.
You can’t change his behavior to your liking, or tell him what to say or think.
I know you might have just phrased it like that, but the way you stated your question does tell a lot.
If you want to know how to change his attitude, you first have to determine if he’s gone too far.
You have to ask yourself, “Has it gone too long like this?”
You didn’t really mention in your email how long this has been going on. But I do sense that your situation has been like this for a while, especially because you’re working with this guy.
Making The Hard Choice
In any case, your best bet is to de-escalate the relationship.
I’m fully aware that this is extremely difficult to do. However, I’ve still given this advice to men and women who are in the same situation as you are, Maria.
This would be the most ideal decision to make, and you could even call it the “Perfect Scenario.” In the real world though, this isn’t something most people are prepared to do.
They can’t simply dial down a relationship once they’ve started it, especially when they want more than what the other person does.
Taking an emotional break from someone we care about can put us in a state of total panic, which isn’t very healthy.
This Is Your Brain On Love…
The hardest part is that this situation is pretty much the same as a drug addiction, whether you believe it or not. Your brain is hooked on the “love chemicals” that have been released during the time you’ve spent together.
Because they’re so intermittent, you’ve been experiencing little spikes of adrenaline, serotonin, dopamine, and other chemicals that create a long-term relationship connection.
What it’s done is basically turn your brain into an addiction machine. You’re literally addicted to the rush you get from your experiences with him.
Kicking The Habit
Unfortunately, we don’t often think of it this way, but this is the process your brain goes through.
As human beings, we like to think that we’re really smart, being a highly evolved species and all.
We fall into the trap that we can think our way out of bad situations and come out on top.
Worst of all, we make the mistake of assuming we’re intellectually evolved enough to choose the people we’re attracted to.
And by extension, we think we can handle the relationships we have with them.
But the reality is quite different. Very often, our behavioral patterns seem to be in control of us – not the other way around.
In order for us to take a relationship where we want it to go, we’ve got to have some exceptionally strong discipline. Not only that, we need a really good system to make sure it happens.
Drawing The Line
So Maria, I have a suggestion right off the bat. The first thing you should do is to make a promise to be absolutely clear about what you REALLY want.
It sounds to me like you got into a kind of relationship that you really don’t want. You’re thinking that you can turn it into what you want later down the road.
Maybe you’re thinking that in time, you can sculpt it into the relationship that’s truly meant for you.
So you figured, “Well, you know what, I’ll let him slide in the side here. But once he’s in the relationship, I’ll fix things and it’ll be the way it should be.”
This approach is unfortunately all too common. That’s just not how it works in the real world.
If you don’t set the right precedent from the beginning, you’re going to have a lot of difficulty later on.
Do you see the direction you’re headed right now?
Going back to what I said, the best (and FIRST) thing to do is to consciously acknowledge what it is you really want out of your relationship with him.
More importantly, what is it that you will and won’t tolerate? Where you do you draw the line?
Take an Honest Look At Yourself
Next, I want you to retrace your steps and think about the behaviorsyou exhibited which got you into your current situation with him.
If you don’t see the choices you made for what they really are, chances are you won’t identify your other harmful behaviors.
Without a better perspective on your relationship and what men want, you’ll keep sabotaging yourself along the way.
The other step is to decrease the frequency of the sleepovers. You asked me, “Should I stop the sex?” and honestly, doing that could put the whole situation into a head spin.
You’ll definitely rock the boat by suddenly cutting off something you’ve both gotten used to. And right now, this is the only connection you have with him.
So you’ve got to ask yourself, “What effect will this have on us?”
“Would he like that and will he go along with it?”
“Will he suddenly come to me begging for the sex and go, ‘Oh, I’ll do anything you want’?”
Making The First Step Towards Change
To answer that, you’ve got to understand how men think and how their emotions work, which is kind of a big topic for all of my programs.
Maria, the bottom line here is that he won’t just turn on a dime if you don’t know how to manage a man’s way of thinking.
In order to move things in the direction you want, you’ll have to change the dynamic in the relationship.
It can no longer be a purely “Friends With Benefits” situation.
I think you knew that going in, and now it’s time to step up and take action.
As the old saying goes, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”
Unfortunately, this applies to a lot of folks because they just want the good stuff in life.
They want to reap the rewards and live in the ideal scenario, but rarely are they prepared to pay the price to get those things.
So think about it: what do you have to do to get to the next level?
1. You need to make that promise I told you about. It’s VITAL that he knows about your crystal-clear expectations and understands where you’re coming from.
2. You’ve got to commit yourself to this path. You’ve got to STOP the behaviors and habits that are working against you and REPLACE them with healthy ones instead.
3. Finally, you really need to understand how his thinking works. When the time comes to turn off the spigot and slow down the sexual contact, you’ve got to do it effectively. When you do this the right way, you’ll be able to steer your relationship into long-term territory.
Knowledge Is Power
The last item is particularly important. When you don’t understand a man’s behavioral patterns, you’ll miss the crucial signals that indicate he’s about to disconnect.
He’ll become more and more distant until he finally walks right out that door.
So, knowing what’s going through his head will keep the relationship from going in the wrong direction and salvage your current situation.
Maria, this is the key to make him feel safe and come back into you into your arms.
And anyone else in a similar situation needs to understand how men think and why they act in certain ways.
I’ve come up with a program where I’ve actually pooled together all this information into what I call a “Mancyclopedia.” What this basically does is give you the straight dope on what men really think and how their mind works.
This is game-changing stuff because learning how to read a guy will help you understand his emotional patterns. Once you’ve identified his triggers, you’ll NEVER set off those landmines that'll blow up and cause you relationship problems.
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