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Context

My friend and I are straight males and we both have girlfriends. We have been friends for quite a long while, and there are a few occasions where we've talked about friends-with-benefits (FWBs) and our opinions on it. He is receptive to the idea of having FWBs, but I've got no clue if he is open to same-sex FWBs and whether he is willing to become FWBs with me.


How do I ask him if he wants to be FWBs with me without straining our friendship or creating an awkward situation between us if he refuses to?

closed as off-topic by Theik, curiousdannii, Tim, OldPadawan, sphennings Jul 21 '18 at 13:27

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  • 47
    Your culture, social background and age might actually matter. A 21 year old gender studies student in the Netherlands is in a completely different situation than a 50 year old farmer in rural pick a suiting country. – Raditz_35 Jul 10 '18 at 8:55
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    Can we please cut back on the snarky remarks about gender and sexual orientation? Comments are for suggesting improvements or requesting clarification, not for posting opinions that can't even be properly downvoted. Thank you! – Tinkeringbell Jul 10 '18 at 9:07
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    How the OP self-identifies is irrelevant to the question. Please focus on the problem, not the terminology that he chooses to use. – Catija Jul 10 '18 at 13:45
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's a what-to-say question. – curiousdannii Jul 15 '18 at 7:06
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How do I ask him if he wants to be FWBs with me without straining our friendship or creating an awkward situation between us if he refuses to?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that there isn't really a risk free way to do this and suprisingly enough, gender and sexuality don't make as much of a difference as you might imagine.

Anytime you proposition anyone, you're taking the risk that you may be rejected. If you proposition a friend, you're adding the risk of straining and/or making the friendship awkward. These are just realities of any sexual proposal.

You can test the waters with casual flirtation before making a proposition, and that may give you a better picture of how the person will react, but it definitely doesn't tell you for sure.

Friends with benefits situations are inherently risky no matter the gender or sexuality of the folks involved. Someone may develop deeper feelings, someone may be cheating on a partner (nudge), someone may want to end the arrangement while the other doesn't, and the list goes on and on... No strings attached sex between friends is rare, there are nearly always strings attached, it's more a matter of whether the people involved are aware and emotionally mature enough to handle that.

Now, on to the other part of the the question, the same-sex-fwb part. I've read enough Dan Savage to know that there are plenty of straight identified men who enjoy bro-jobs, buddy-baiting, and other same-sex-sex while still maintaining their straight identities. Seriously, straight people write him an awful lot with these kinds of questions... An awful lot...

Dan Savage mentions the idea of straight male fragility, in the piece I linked above.

Male heterosexuality, in this way, is a lot more fragile than female heterosexuality or male/female homosexuality. But with that said... a lot of the white guys (and a lot of the not-white guys) out there ... are closeted gay or possibly/probably closeted bi men. I kept waiting for the word "bisexual" to pop up in the press release for Not Gay but I didn't see it in there. The men Jane Ward studied might not be gay—gayness could be ruled out in some cases—but straight-identified, married-to-women guys who have sex with other men are likelier to be bisexual, closeted or not, than they are to be straight, fluidity or otherwise.

And honestly I tend to agree... Many straight men have some serious hangups about being perceived as anything other than straight men, even when they actively seek out not-exactly-heterosexual sex. The stigma, and fragility of male heterosexuality makes it really hard for some guys to experiment, without the fear of being forever labeled, or to embrace the idea that it's ok to be something other than a straight male. As Dan Savage put it:

While I believe a guy can have a same-sex experience without having to identify as gay or bi—straight men should have the same latitude on this score that straight women enjoy—straightness is so valued (and apparently so vulnerable) that some people can look at guys who put dicks in their mouths at regular intervals and construct book-length rationalizations that allow these guys to avoid identifying or being labeled as bi, gay, or queer.

To be clear, I think the fragility of male heterosexuality has more to do with the way society tends to label people, than it has to do with the way these men label themselves. To use myself as an example; I am a cisgender man and I identify as queer, but I also date women. Society doesn't label me as being any less queer for dating or sleeping with women. On the other hand, before I came out, the moment I began to even consider dating people who weren't cisgender women society was very quick to label me as gay, bi, or queer.

Notice how once queer I'm considered queer regardless of who I'm dating or sleeping with, but as a straight/heterosexual man even having thoughts or fantasies will change the way society wants to label me? I don't think that's right, or fair, but unfortunately that's the way things are at the moment. That's the fragility of male heterosexuality.

Now with all of that in mind...

I think this is probably a bad idea... Unless you're willing to risk the friendship, each of you are willing to be honest with your girlfriends, and you're both willing to be honest with yourselves about what you're doing, you probably shouldn't.

If you really feel the desire to experience this kind of thing, talk it over with your girlfriend, and then maybe find someone who's not a straight, close, friend.

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    Hmm, I'm curious why Savage and others frame this in terms of fragile male homosexuality rather than just calling it homophobia or heteronormativity. Why the adjective 'fragile'? Isn't it just society's latent homophobia? – curiousdannii Jul 15 '18 at 7:10
  • @curiousdannii it's fragility of male heterosexuality, male homosexuality is pretty durable. While it's pretty clearly caused by homophobia, it's a subset, a specific issue under the larger umbrella of homophobia. Also it may be fair to say that this fragility is a mixture of homophobia and toxic masculinity. – apaul Jul 15 '18 at 16:48
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You might be approaching this from the wrong direction, trying to head directly towards FWB'ship with your friend. Since you didn't write anything about the extent of his straightness or his potential interest in homosexual experimentation, I assume this hasn't really been a topic until now.

This is the first thing that you need to take care of: Find out whether he's similarly bi-curious as you seem to be, then depending on the result, ask him would he like to give it a casual try. As you also labelled yourself as "straight", who says that you yourself will like the result? As a gay man, I can tell you that things are in practice often not as fun as shown on TV ;-) If he agrees to such an experiment, and it turns out you both like it, the route to make this a regular activity isn't that hard anymore.

(I am deliberately not making any suggestions on how you could get this arranged with your respective girlfriends.. that's a completely different can of worms.)

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I'm thinking that this is the relationship equivalent of taking a bottle of nitroglycerin and shaking it with all of the force you can muster.

You really need to make sure that your girlfriend is 110% agreeable to you having any goings-on with anybody else, prior to even exploring the possibility with your friend. You didn't mention whether she knows that you're bi-curious; if she doesn't, it will be something that she will want to learn from you telling her. Don't put too much hope into her agreeing to this; while many people would like to play around, not nearly as many people are comfortable with their partner playing around.

Don't bet the farm on your friend agreeing to this. There is the very real possibility that broaching the topic will having a negative impact on your friendship. You didn't say what his attitude is on the topic of sex with another man; he may think it's completely off-putting, or simply not something he'd find enjoyable, and he might be unable to remain friends with any man who is not 100% straight. Many people don't like being the object of a sexual interest that they aren't able to reciprocate.

Do not believe that your friend's girlfriend is comfortable with this unless and until she looks you in the eye and says so.

Also, be prepared for the first instance of enjoying the benefits with the friend causing either your guy friend, your girlfriend, or your guy friend's girlfriend to want to have nothing more to do with you or anybody else involved. This can happen even if all three of them swear by the tombs of their ancestors that they approve of this adventure you are contemplating. People can be funny about these things.


Addendum

This is somewhat relevant: If you are in a relationship, and are thinking of altering the deal, you must either make your partner the very first person you raise the topic with, or you do absolutely nothing along these lines for the duration of the relationship. It's a breach of trust to do otherwise.

3

There are three issues with this.

1. Friends with benefits is not the same thing as cheating on one's S.O. -- so you aren't sure that he is okay with it in the first place

While he may be open to the idea of having sexual reltions with people he isn't in a relationship, that may just be when he isn't in a relationship, because at that time he has no obligation to remain loyal to someone.

2. While he is open to FWB, that doesn't mean it will extend to members of the same sex.

While many things can be performed by either gender, some things in sex are gender specific. He may have a very strong preference, and may not be open to the idea at all.

3. You are both in relationships, so you would both be cheating on your girlfriends.

While it doesn't directly affect your relationship with this friend, it may very well affect your relationship with your girlfriend. Most people would not approve of their partner having outside sexual relations. If he was caught by his girlfriend, and it turns out badly, he may very well resent you for bringing up the idea.


If he is opposed to any of these things, then just you bringing up the idea may ruin your relationship with him.

If you are fine with the consequences to the points above, and really want to try some things out, then you may go through with it. However, it doesn't seem to have a high chance of working out well with the information given above. Unless you can solve the issues above, I can't recommend going through with it.

3

There's a lot of good answers here about the other aspects of this, but I want to concentrate on a single one.

A big problem you have is that you've no real idea of his real sexuality, as apaul says, us men are kinda touchy about not being viewed as a heterosexual guy. You need to get past this and give him the opportunity to do the same.

So that is the first thing to get over, and the only way you can really do that is to express your interest in other men. At this point, absolutely, definitely, not making any reference to him, and your desires towards him. Talk to him honestly about your desires to have an experience with another guy.

He may or may not respond favourably. He may or may not respond at all. If he is a good friend though, hopefully, he will be supportive of you 'coming out' to him.

This lets you fact find before putting your friendship at risk. (unless it turns out he's hugely homophobic!) don't ask, or push for a similar response from him, if he's comfortable doing so, let it become part of your conversation/banter.

If at some point he 'comes out' to you, then there's much less risk to following up on it because you've already both confided your real sexuality to each other. That should give you the currency to suggest that you both find out.

Through all of that though, give him time to respond, to go away and think about it, to examine his own desires and thoughts. If pushed his answer is much more likely to be no, to assert his image as a straight man, and to close down the notion that he might be any different, even if he is.

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