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DrJackiePhD
DrJackiePhD, Doctor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 181
Experience:  I have been doing research in relational/interpersonal communication since 1998. My Ph.D. is in interpersonal communication.
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So I just became friends with benefits with my best friend

Resolved Question:

So I just became friends with benefits with my best friend who is also the girl I want to marry someday. We live in different states and have dated before, stopping because of distance. Our chemistry is very strong and I thought that maye being friends with benefits would enhance our relationship without some of the other strings of a traditional relationship since we are both so young and not ready to get married. Am I crazy? I am so afraid of losing her because of this. I just don;t know what to do. I'm 20 by the way.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 1 year ago.

DrJackiePhD :

Hello, I'm Dr. Jackie. Are you being helped by another expert on here? If not, I'm here to help if I can. :-)

DrJackiePhD :

I'll wait in the "que" for a few moments in case you are having connection issues. If you truly have gone offline, I'll switch to the Q&A format and offer the same availability to you.

Customer:

I am not being helped that I know of...

DrJackiePhD :

Hi there!

DrJackiePhD :

I'm Dr. Jackie

Customer:

Nice to meet you :) thank you for taking the time to help me!

Customer:

I assume you can see my question?

DrJackiePhD :

And I would like to help if possible. And by the way, no, you are not crazy at all. Research shows that people are engaging more and more in the kind of "friends with benefits" relationships for many of the reasons you have listed.

DrJackiePhD :

Yes, I see your question. Rather, I see your post. But I'm unsure of your specific question(s). Are you seeking feedback on whether or not you think you should continue in your current relationship with the current status?

Customer:

Whew, nice to hear that...this just feels a little bit out of hand at times. I guess what I am afraid of is that by pursuing this "type" of relationship now, will her respect be less for me than if I just stand up and say, "look, I love you and care about you too much to make this complicated right now". Or am I worrying too much? Eventually I would like to date this girl, when I am in a more suitable place to do so

DrJackiePhD :

It would be easy for me to say that I think you are worrying too much. And it would be too ridiculous for me to state the obvious--that no one knows the future. But the reality is that we really do not know what can or might happen. What I CAN share is what (little, unfortunately) we know from research studies on this topic. And the research is pretty new considering the whole concept of "friends with benefits" really wasn't articulated as much 10-15 years ago...

DrJackiePhD :

What (little) we do know from research studies is based on what people in relationships report in interviews and surveys to researchers. And from what we do know, there is no scientific support to show that being in a FWB relationship will negatively impact or hinder a more traditional type of relationship if factors such as geography/distance were to change. That is, there is nothing to show that if you remain friends and have a sexual aspect to your relationship now, that there will be negative implications in general should you both want to change the relationship into a more traditional kind of romantic relationship.

DrJackiePhD :

I hope that makes sense--what I have said so far. If you are worried that your current behaviors now may "jinx" you from having a more traditional relationship later, well, that worry has not been supported in the research. So what you are doing now is not linked to a statistical probability that a more serious relationship will fail.

DrJackiePhD :

I'll let you see if you can make sense of what I wrote before offering anything else...

Customer:

Interesting. I am tracking thus far :) I know that data is never 100% accurate in predicting future outcomes, but I suppose that was my biggest concern, most likely lead on by the assumption that it would hurt out chances later on. Thank you for laying that out for me. So expanding on that some, if we are going to continue this "friends with benefits" relationship, I would like her to know that I am still very much interested in spending just friend time, sans any "benefits". I would hate the idea that she might assume I only wanted sex now...if that makes sense. Thank you so much for helping me with this!

Customer:

So I guess what I'm asking is, should I/how should I lay that out to her? Is that necessary?

DrJackiePhD :

I am sharing what research shows...nothing more. :-) And I will answer this last part here if you give me a few minutes to articulate... :-)

Customer:

Certainly! Thanks :)

DrJackiePhD :

What you ask is so interesting and borders on what is attributable to some gender differences. In general although definitely not applicable to all women in relationships, women do tend to want/need reassurance that their relationship is headed somewhere. In fact, they are usually the ones who bring up the "need to talk" more often than do men. But that is not to say that men don't need assurance also. They (in general, again, not applicable to every man) tend to get more reassurance through actions and not necessarily in "having talks." So with that basic understanding at least in front of us, I would definitely say that I would let her know your feelings, your feelings for now and your feelings for what you are hoping for the future. There is definitely nothing in research that shows that hiding feelings, even to protect our own fear of rejection or fear of change, can be helpful in the long run.

DrJackiePhD :

You do mention that you are 20, and I'm assuming she is around the same age also?

Customer:

What you wrote definitely strikes a chord and I certainly agree that hiding something never helps anything! It is interesting because I would say, on a spectrum of personality types for gender, I am a more sensitive man and she is a less sensitive woman. I tend to think about things way more than she does and have found this to not always be helpful. However we do balance each other out quite nicely and it just works. Yes, she is also around the same age, a few months older.

DrJackiePhD :

(I am asking about age because as you probably already know this also, college is the most transient time for people in that they tend to date a lot more during this 4-6 year period because of meeting so many people with similar interests and ages, etc.)

Customer:

Makes sense to me :) I have heard many friends who have graduated say they wish they had dated more in college because of the availability to actually date people with similar interests ages etc...

DrJackiePhD :

From the little you have shared here, it sounds like you have a healthy relationship. And that is interesting to me because I talk to a lot of customers who write in their descriptions of unhealthy behaviors!

DrJackiePhD :

And yes, I hear also that some people do miss opportunities in college if they are in more traditional relationships, break up, and then look back. I urge people to yes, learn from the past but not look back and wish. You can change the present and future and I try to get people to focus on those since they are changeable. :-)

DrJackiePhD :

Back to your original concerns, I think you are behaving in a positive way. And it seems from what you have said that she is content with your relationship status too. You can't change the distance thing right now but it seems to me you are taking advantage of what IS available. And if you both are OK with it, I definitely wouldn't worry about jeopardizing a more serious, future traditional relationships as long as you both are open and honest with one another. :-)

Customer:

Haha well I like to take a proactive choice, or I should say, I have learned to take a proactive choice and at least think far enough ahead to be able to avoid any potential avoidable pitfalls. This has definitely helped and has eased my mind enough to be able to have a conversation with her and be more confident in our relationship. I suppose you can never know if you don't try sometimes? It's that risk that is scary. We open ourselves up to either wonderful times and memories or heartache. Focusing on the future and the present has been key in my development over the years :)

DrJackiePhD :

I am almost shocked that you are 20. I'm also a university professor so I am surrounded by young men and women, and it strikes me that you seem to really have a mature AND positive outlook on all of this! Kudos!!!

Customer:

Well thank you :) I can't take all credit, my mother is a psychologist and I don't think it would be fair to say that I would be where I am today without her support and guidance growing up. Thank you for answering my questions and for such thoughtful responses at that!

Customer:

I can't think of anything else to ask so I don;t want to take up any more of your time...

DrJackiePhD :

You are fine and I'm here to help if you want to talk further.

DrJackiePhD :

It sounds like you are well grounded, and I wish you the very best with this relationship and with everything! :-)

Customer:

That's really all. Definitely worth the investment to get to talk to a professional (I just can't talk to my mother about these things!). Thanks again! So I just rate the chat now?

DrJackiePhD, Doctor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 181
Experience: I have been doing research in relational/interpersonal communication since 1998. My Ph.D. is in interpersonal communication.
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