21

I am a 20 years old male from Canada.

I have been with my girlfriend (also 20 years old) for about three months. When we started being in a relationship, we agreed that it was an exclusive one because I value her being faithful, but she insisted that she would not mind me sleeping with other girls, if I did it only out of lust (She believes that sexual relationships are completely unrelated to emotional relationships). However, I did not want to make use of this privilege because my needs were met being only with her.

Now since about six weeks ago, she has showed depressive behavior and has lost her sex drive. When I talked to her about this, she said that she is currently not interested in having sex at all and reminded me that I can sleep with other girls if I am not satisfied with our current sex life.

I thought about it and there's this friend who might be into me and I am attracted to. This friend knows my girlfriend and is aware of our relationship but she does not know about the sleeping with any girl policy.

Objectives:

  • I would like ask this friend if she is interested in having casual sex.

  • I want to her to understand that my girlfriend is fine with this and that I am simply seeking what my girlfriend cannot give me right now.

  • I want the request to sound like a casual proposition that can easily be turned down rather than an heavy confession.

I often see this friend in social gatherings so talking to her is not unusual. However, we've never been intimate in any way so this request will certainly re-contextualize our relationship.

  • 5
    You mention having a friend who might be into you. Is she interested in having a relationship with you or just sex? That will be important information for answering the question. – Rainbacon Feb 8 at 16:55
  • @Rainbacon I cannot know for sure as I heard this through gossip, but I would like to ask her out as if I had no clue if she is interested in me in any way. – OfficialQueensbridgeMurderers Feb 8 at 17:08
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+100

I've been in polyamorous relationships for some time now, so I speak from a bit of experience here.

The first question to ask yourself before you even decide if this is a path you can take: You mention that your girlfriend believes that sexual relationships and emotional relationships can be distinct. Are you confident that you're wired this way, too? The last thing you want is to be in an emotionally monogamous relationship, having developed and acted on feelings for two different people. Many people can operate this way, but many people can't.

Second, realize that if your potential friend-with-benefits (pFWB) has romantic feelings for you, this is a risky proposition even if none of the other risk factors that I describe are present. It's very difficult for most people to engage sexually with someone that they already have a romantic interest in without those romantic feelings developing further. Some people can do this, but it usually takes a lot more experience navigating these kinds of waters than what most people have.

Third, realize the precedent that this might set. If you don't want her potentially having sexual encounters with other guys, now or in the future, this might be a path that you want to avoid. Later on, if her sex drive spikes upward and you just can't physically keep up, is it possible that she would feel like she was treated unfairly if she wasn't given the same option you take now?

Fourth, before you talk to pFWB, talk to your girlfriend about your plans. Tell her who you plan to approach and make sure there's no unknown drama waiting to happen on the end of your existing relationship. This could help to identify early any lack of trust between your girlfriend and pFWB, and if you detect a negative emotional response from your girlfriend at the thought but it doesn't seem to have to do with the specific pFWB in question, she may not be as okay with the reality of you having other sexual partners as she thought she would be. Some people are also known to suggest things like this to their partners, knowing that it would tear them apart. And even if she, while more emotionally healthy, was happy to see this happen, in a depressive state, she might be more vulnerable to feelings of jealousy, worthlessness, or 'being replaced' that might crop up in here, so be very attentive for that sort of thing. If any of these many potential problems crop up, full stop - abort mission! And if things go well, it might be worth asking if she wants to talk to pFWB, or if she'd be willing to if pFWB needed that. This might be a good time to establish rules and other boundaries - for example, to answer the question of how much you need to communicate with her before engaging with another partner, if you need to ask permission or just give notification, if this will open her up to sleeping with other people as I mentioned before, et cetera.

If you're sure that you can move forward so far, the name of the game is communication! The sexual encounter that you're hoping for might be no-strings-attached, but the conversation leading up to it has to be anything but quick and casual in order to protect the feelings of everyone involved.

You should begin this conversation with pFWB first by establishing that her friendship and her feelings are important to you. You do not want to come off as someone who just wants to use someone and toss them aside. Depending on pFWB's background, she might find the very suggestion offensive and demeaning no matter how you phrase it, so you want a cushion already in place to soften the impact in case that's how she winds up taking it. But don't dwell on this part of the conversation too long or she'll think you're working her up to something different.

You correctly identify that you want to make it easy for her to say "no." If she feels like you're trying to pressure her into something, or like you're holding your friendship hostage, or even like this interaction is in the moment more important to you than your friendship with her, this too could have an impact. So, clearly and explicitly emphasize that there would be no ill will if she turned your suggestion down, possibly in the same breath that you're establishing the importance of your friendship with her.

We've been friends for x months, and that friendship means a lot to me. I don't want to do anything to put that at risk, and if this suggestion makes you in any way uncomfortable please, turn it down - I'd never want to hurt you or make you feel bad.

After that, decidedly before you go into your request, give just a little bit of background about your current relationship.

You know that Girlfriend and I have been together for a while. She's always told me that I could sleep with other people. Well, her sex drive has recently plummeted, and she's suggested that I try to find another sex partner to make up for that.

At this point, keep a close eye on pFWB for any expressions of hurt, outrage, or betrayal. If you see any signs of any of these things, again, be prepared to full-stop and emphasize how glad you are for your friendship with her. Then, as you describe what you're hoping to see, describe the boundaries as well.

So I was wondering if you'd be interested in something like that? She's happy for me to engage with other people sexually, but she does ask that no feelings develop in the process. We wouldn't be going on dates or anything.

Again, monitor her responses carefully. Curious trepidation is okay, but if she's clearly trying to push past a major emotional issue just to get what she can get, full-stop.

If she seems suspicious or hesitant-but-not-hurting, offer to talk to your girlfriend with her, if your girlfriend would be okay with that. This can help to allay fears that you're actually cheating.

If she's responding positively or with interest, you can probably take it from there. Talk about all the things you'd often talk about with a potential sex partner - STD safety, favorite sexual acts, et cetera. Have fun, but remember your boundaries - and if you find yourself unable to keep from crossing them, realize that you have to exit the situation that makes that difficult in one way or another.

  • I don't know about this kind of situation, so please correct me if I'm wrong (and explain maybe ^^), but when I read "she's suggested that I try to find another sex partner to make up for that.", I understand : "I have a flat tyre, and I'm looking for a spare wheel." Seems really... like an awkward word? Would it be nicely welcome by someone not polyamorous? – OldPadawan Feb 8 at 20:50
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    @OldPadawan It depends entirely on the person. That's why there's so much emphasis in my answer on observing how the person is responding. For some people, casual sex is perfectly fine and they don't feel objectified or anything at the prospect, and many of those people understand that the friend-with-benefits relationship might be contingent on the other party's situation being a certain way. Compare it to an activity other than sex to view it more like people might see it. "My golfing buddy is taking a break from golf, wanna go golfing with me?" But yes, many more would respond poorly. – TheTinyMan Feb 8 at 21:33
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    This is a very good answer,but I have a feeling the part about the GF showing "depressed feelings" should also be addressed, that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen if not handled properly. – Erik Feb 8 at 22:30
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    @Erik You're right, I meant to cover this in my fourth numbered point but on re-reading I really didn't. Thanks for helping me to improve my answer! – TheTinyMan Feb 11 at 16:19
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I thought about it and there's this friend who might be into me and I am attracted to.

From the comments:

I cannot know for sure as I heard this through gossip

Given that the only indication you have that your friend is interested in you is through gossip, I would advise against trying to pursue anything with her.

Why you should not ask your friend

In every social circle I've been in, gossip about romantic attraction is much more likely to happen than gossip about sexual attraction. Based on that, I think it is likely that if your friend indeed does have interest in you, it is probably romantic. As TheTinyMan pointed out, it is difficult for someone with romantic feelings to engage in a relationship of casual sex.

I have had 2 experiences with trying to hold a casual relationship with someone who wanted more, and both ended very poorly.

The first time

The first experience was during college. I got back together with an ex-girlfriend in a casual way. We agreed at the start that we would be casual, but she still had some leftover feelings from our relationship. As time went on, the lines started to blur, and we fell into some old relationship habits. We finally agreed to stop, but the damage had been done. We had a long conversation when we decided to stop, and she confided that she wasn't ok with the casual nature of our relationship. By trying to hold a casual relationship, I had hurt her.

The second time

The second time was a few years after college. I met a person through a social event, and we mutually agreed to have a casual relationship. Not long after we started, she said that while having a sexual relationship was ok, she really wanted more. We talked about it and agreed that we could handle the casual relationship since I didn't want more. Eventually, she became emotionally attached to me, and I decided that we should stop having sex. Once again, by the time things ended, she had gotten hurt because she wanted something from me that I couldn't give her.

The moral of these two experiences is that any relationship between two people (whether it be romantic, sexual, or platonic) only works when both people's needs are being met. In both of my situations, my needs were being met, but the other person's were not. We made it work for a little bit, but ultimately my partners got hurt. If your friend does have romantic feelings for you, engaging in a casual relationship will most likely end up hurting her. Even if you ask and she declines because she has feelings for you, it could still hurt her to know that you are interested, but only in sex.

What you can do instead

Instead of asking your friend, and risking damage to your friendship with her, you should look for someone that is looking for a casual relationship and nothing more. Modern dating apps are a good place to meet people who might be looking for something casual. Additionally, if you live in a large city, you may be able to find social groups for people in polyamorous relationships. One of these groups might be a good place to meet people who will more easily understand the situation that you are in.

When you do find someone, you should definitely use the information in TheTinyMan's answer as your baseline for getting that relationship started and talking through things with your girlfriend.

  • 1
    I'm curious: are you polyamorous and a member of any polyamorous communities? If so, have you ever seen it go well when a man joined a community like that and clearly only did so in order to find someone to have casual sex with? It's a genuine question, because I have never seen this happen without the man being told to either seek out a swingers' community or a sex worker; or told to seek a sexual relationship with people he's already connected to, i.e. ask his friends. I'm wondering if you've seen something different. – Meelah Feb 12 at 15:44
  • @Meelah No, I'm not a member of any polyamorous communities, but I have several friends who are. At one point I was briefly involved with one of those friends in a casual way. That being said, I think this particular situation might be slightly different than the ones you've seen specifically because the OP is in one relationship and is seeking another. – Rainbacon Feb 12 at 16:38
  • That's precisely the situation I've seen and I've never seen it be well received in the poly communities I'm part of, both on- and offline. However, here's hoping it goes better for the OP if this is the approach he chooses! – Meelah Feb 12 at 17:20
4

TheTinyMan already gave some excellent advice, but as someone who has recently been in (almost) this exact situation, I'll try and outline how it worked out for us in practice and what I've learned.

TL;DR:

  • I'd advise you to find out your friend's feelings on casual sex in general before even broaching the subject.
  • If your girlfriend shows any interest, consider making her part of the decision. If that's acceptable to you, consider explicitly giving her a "veto" right.
  • If anyone seems anxious, even if they don't say so: back off, sleep on it, and maybe discuss it another time.
  • Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster. The more people are involved, the more complicated it'll be.
  • Make sure that, if it comes to that, you can handle rejection and being sexually frustrated. Acknowledge your feelings, even if they're irrational, and take your time to process them, but don't make them someone else's burden.
  • Most importantly, be patient. People take time to process their emotions, and even casual intimacy needs some trust. Otherwise, someone will probably get hurt.

The first girl I approached was someone I'd met only a few weeks before. We hit it off almost immediately, spent several nights partying and became fast friends. One afternoon, after sharing life stories, we ended up at my place. The conversation steered towards sex in general and I began sharing details about my situation, explaining that my wife had lost her sex drive for medical reasons and that I was allowed - and open - to play with other people. I didn't ask her directly, instead trying to gauge her reaction first. She seemed comfortable and shared some details about her own sex life. Since I didn't know her that well and didn't want to embarass or pressure her, I asked her four or five times (in the course of the evening) whether she was still comfortable or if we should change the subject, but she assured me that all was good.

The night ended with me walking her to her subway station, a long hug and a promise to meet up again. However, when we met at a friend's a few days later, she seemed rather embarassed about the whole thing and kept her distance. I learned later that she'd told other people that she wasn't quite comfortable with the discussion we had. The next time we met, I mostly kept to myself while she was weirdly confrontational.

In the end, I think we're still friends, but not close. If we meet at a party, she tends to try and get my attention every five to ten minutes or so, asking me for my opinion or trivial favors ("Could you hand me X? What do you think about this song?") even when I'm on the opposite side of the room and there are plenty of other people around - my best guess is that she was a bit embarassed by the sex talk, but likes my company.

In any case, after that experience I decided that it might be wiser to learn someone's stance on (casual) sex before bringing up the subject at all.

Another thing that I learned was that, while she was okay with the idea in general and wouldn't say no to me, my wife did care about - and, in this case, disapprove of - my choice of partner. I decided that she should get to meet the next person before we start anything.


The next person I approached was an old friend of my wife's. I suppose we'd always liked each other, but she'd been in a string of unhealthy relationships with jealous, controlling men and I'd been dating my (then) girlfriend. We'd flirted from time to time, and kissed once, and since she was currently single, I invited her over for drinks once a week or so. By that point, we'd known each other for a few years, and she used to joke about watching my wife and me have sex, so I was pretty confident I wouldn't offend her, but we still moved from flirting to cuddling before I started discussing the subject in earnest.

It might have taken us a while longer to get to the point, but one morning, I woke up to a notification. Someone had sent me a friend request on a fetish site. Turned out to be her. She was looking for a FWB, but wasn't interested in one night stands. I asked if she'd considered me, she answered that my wife and I were her closest friends and that she'd be afraid of ruining that.

When I told my wife, she wasn't exactly thrilled. She, too, was afraid that us having sex would jeopardize the friendship, and advised me to look for someone else but, again, said that she wouldn't stop me. She also cautioned me that she didn't trust the other girl not to hurt my feelings.

At that point, I considered the experiment over. You can't do something like this without everyone being 100% on board. To be honest, I was a little hurt that our friend didn't consider sex with me worth the emotional risk, but, well, that was my dumb ego and my problem to deal with. I was pretty down the first night, and got into a fight with my wife because she, in turn, felt offended by me taking it so hard. But we got over it.

A week or two later, our friend was visiting again. We had some wine, played board games and had a great time in general. At one point our friend ended up on my lap, making out with me, and texted me whether it would be okay if we retreated to the guest bedroom. I wasn't going to just sneak off, so I asked my wife. She wasn't comfortable with being left behind while her husband had sex in the same house. We talked for quite a while, first just the girls, then all three of us, discussed all of our needs, insecurities and limits and finally agreed that we really wanted to have a threesome. I "announced" an explicit rule that anyone, for any reason, could say "stop" and we'd end it there before we went to the bedroom.

I'll end the story here. There was a lot of aftercare and assurances that the sex wouldn't change our friendship and, in the end, that proved to be true. These days, we still have casual sex from time to time, but it's mostly me and the friend, since she really prefers men. We took a while to get there, and it was an emotional rollercoaster at times, but worth it, if you're patient.

2

I would like to add a little biological perspective to this question. You have stated that your girlfriend does not want you to engage in romantic relationship. The problem with sex is that it generates oxytocin. Mainly in female body and that leads to attachment. It is well possible that she can curb the effects, but for most people it is hard to not develop any emotional bonding and ending up at the trouble as described by Rainbacon. Maybe not immediately, but long term I don't think it is stable.

So probably the best solution would be to search outside the immediate social circle and not prolong the casual relationship.

But in this situation I would advice against such a solution.

If your girlfriend is depressive and therefore vulnerable it might set a precedence that you only provide partnership and support if she is in a stronger state and that might pressure her to not reveal her emotions to you. If I am right, this would resolve in a slow and painful decay of trust and the relationship itself.

0

FIRST POINT

Is that possible that your girlfriend experiences this lack of sexual desire in the past? She invites you to find other sex partners, while she's not claiming this right for her seems suspicious.

If after only 3 months of exclusive dating she's no longer physically interested in you, you should consider the future of this relationship before looking for other sex partners.

  • How long can you hold an emotional relationship with someone that is not willing to have sex with you? This would be the first point to consider.

SECOND POINT

So let's suppose that you are convinced that this is not a permanent ban, but just a temporary lack of sex mood.

Let's even think that she's 100% alright, not depressed at all, and you find this other woman who might have some interest in you.

Even when you have generic permission, I strongly suggest you discuss the fact of going after "insert name here".

We all can have certain feelings about theoretical possibilities, but when you put a face on your couple's possible sex partner, there you have the truth.

  • Is your GF OK with a possible sexual encounter between you and this particular woman? Do not proceed without her agreement.

THIRD POINT

Now, supposing that your girlfriend agrees, and you have the full permission to proceed with this affair... How would you propose this other woman to a have friendly, non-romantic sex-encounter?

You cannot just date her, to be 100% honest with her on the first encounter you must make clear the whole situation and your intentions and, let's face it, it might be awkward.

Worst case: She might find the proposal anything from rare, abnormal to offensive. If you share friends or places, the after-chat may become uncomfortable for both of you. Best case: She might accept, or find the proposal flattering but no, thanks.

  • Keep in mind that even if your GF accepts, and this woman accepts and the encounter takes place, there are too many possibilities of any of you (you, your GF, this woman) getting hurt or regretting the desitions. Is it worth all the risks?

FINAL COMMENT

After all these considerations, my advice here would be checking first and second point (just to have a real picture), but then better go finding the casual sex outside your close social circles.

  • 1
    "How long can you hold an emotional relationship with someone that is not willing to have sex with you?" - I only have sex with my wife every 2-3 months and we're doing fine. You make it sound like someone who's asexual or has a low libido can't be romantically involved, but the OP already stated that his gf considers sexual and romantic relationships to be separate things. – Ruther Rendommeleigh Mar 2 at 2:36
  • Due to the nature of the question, we can see his GF does not need sex on a regular basis, while he does. This is clear. Besides answering his question I pointed him to consider the whole situation. He's in his 20s and he stated he's been in a relationship with the girl for 3 months. Is not just about this other girl he wants to date. It's about the third party dates being a constant if his GF is not into sex. – Mariana Mar 11 at 13:32

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