Knowing what you want is key to successful online dating. Sami Jankins learned that what approach you use to meet someone absolutely depends on it.
“So do you want to be FWB??” was a message I received into my online dating mailbox. This wouldn’t be the first, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. If the messages aren’t horribly offensive, I always try to send a reply. I let the person know that, no, I am not interested in FWB (friends with benefits) at the current moment. Two days later I receive another message – “Now are you interested in FWB?” Then I became confused. I thought my explanation was clear enough. I restated that FWB wasn’t what I was looking for at the current moment, and two days did not change things. I could sense from his reply that he was irked. He felt I somehow had wasted his time. Many aspects of this exchange puzzled and intrigued me, and as a result I had an extended conversation with him on this topic.
From what I understand of friends with benefits is that you are friends first. That’s the first word in the label of what is “technically” a form of a relationship – it is labeled after all. If I’ve never met you before in my life, how are we friends? These messages always come across to me as a transaction for sex. Even if I wanted a friends with benefits situation, the on-line internet stranger and I aren’t friends so no benefits are going to be happening. Maybe they should rename it to internet strangers down for whatever or ISDFW? I think that sounds kind of catchy.
I want to date. In online profiles it provides the option to list what reason you are on the website. My profile says “short term relationship” and “long term relationship”. In the message exchanges, I highlighted this portion of the profile to internet stranger and suggested that perhaps he look for women that list “casual sex” as one of their preferences. It seemed like there would be better success for him that way. After all, I’m sure there are women looking for what he is looking for. It’s the same reason I don’t message the men who say “I just want fun right now”. Priorities must match up.
A friend of his had told him that it was time for him to start looking for a relationship. He was thirty-two, and perhaps he should think about settling down. I disagreed with his friends. Some people are cut out for long-term relationships, and others aren’t. It does a disservice to the person looking for FWB to make them feel like they need to change their wants in life. If they try to seek out a relationship to appease their friends, it will end up hurting the other person who inadvertently became the “trial relationship”. It’s the same concept for monogamy versus polyamory – if it’s not what someone is comfortable with, it’s like trying to shove a foot into a too small shoe. We are not all the same, and there’s nothing wrong with having different wants and needs in sexual and romantic relationships.
However, internet stranger felt strapped by having a job that takes up a lot of his time while still not being financially stable. I’m a firm believer that there is no perfect time in life for any life step. If we keep waiting for an ideal set of circumstances, we will be waiting forever. He had found relationships to be hard and didn’t want to get into a situation where he could lose someone he cared about. FWB does not protect anyone from feelings of loss. If anything, the mindset going in has to be that it will end.
The discussion with internet stranger continued. What else was he doing that could be improved upon to meet his goal? First, the website we were both on can be used for FWB, but there are better ones out there. I listed a few of them in hopes that it may be a better place to search for prospects.He asked me if I had a lot of male friends. I do have a lot of male friends. I’d say I have a fair amount of female friends too. In his opinion, having male friends makes it easier to date and find a relationship. If this is the belief currently circulating, I can assure you that it is not the case. Lastly, internet stranger and I put together a letter writing approach for him that I hope leads him to a higher rate of success.
When searching on-line dating sites for a FWB, make sure the best matching site is being used. Look at the other person’s profile. Do they mention casual sex or looking for FWB? If not, there are always other options out there. Make sure you are getting into a FWB situation for the correct reasons. Do not go into it expecting this person will eventually fall for you. Establish rules for FWB because it will eventually end, and it could be when they move on to a relationship. Are you ok with this? When writing a message to someone on an on-line dating site, be clear with your intentions, but always be respectful. A simple four lines is a good start (we’re going to pretend the letters used represent musicians) – “Hi, how are you today? I noticed you were interested in w, x, y. Have you ever heard of z? At this point I’m not looking for anything serious, but you seem fun and I’d like to move this conversation offline if you’re interested.” This will generally go over better than any “Are you DTF?” messages.
I hope internet stranger finds what he’s looking for. It provided me with some food for thought during the afternoon, and I’m glad that instead of just deleting his message we could have a conversation about the current status of trying to find a FWB through online dating sites. I would’ve never known otherwise. It goes to show that there’s always something to learn in life.
Photo: Don Hankins/Flickr