Friends with Benefits vs. Solo Polyamorous: Oh, the Choices!

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Hey Leah,

One of the nifty things about this modern-day life is we have the freedom to design our relationship(s) any damned way we want to, and it looks like that’s what you’re about to do.

How do you write your dating profile? I see a couple of ways you can go here, so keep reading and see what feels most authentically you.

Option #1: Spell it Out

Sign up for a dating site that offers you more than 500 characters to describe yourself, then share your situation. It could go something like this:

“Hello readers, I’m Leah. I’m here because I have a high libido and a deep sense of play and adventure. I’m looking for a sexual partner (not a one-night stand) to explore and discover gratifying intimacy with. You’ll have a high sex drive along with a high level of emotional intelligence. You’ll need to be able to manage a non-traditional relationship that is deep, playful, and fun, and held only in the safe container of our sexual experiences. Those who are in open and/or polyamorous relationships may apply. I’ve got an amazing, full life that keeps me happy and busy, so I’m not looking to merge households or families.”

Writing your profile in this way gives folks a clear idea of what’s happening, what you’re up for, and what’s not on the table. And, you don’t have to put yourself in a box.

Wait, Won’t I Get Slut-Shamed?

A concern you might have is being called out for being so sexually direct right there on the front page of your dating profile. Will that happen? Yes, totally.

So?

My all-time favorite quote is, “It’s not your business what other people think.” Being yourself is the fastest way to connect with someone who will like the real and authentic you. There are so many people in varying situations who would be a great fit for what you’re offering. That kind of clarity is a gift.

I wrote my truth (and showed a lot of cleavage) on my dating profile and it worked out fine. Did I get the occasional online cat-call and critical comment? Absolutely. Did I get more than, say, the nice lady in the turtleneck sweater? Nope. They get it, too. There’s no avoiding unkind or unwanted attention, especially online — it’s just part of the package, so you might as well be yourself and try to attract exactly what you’re looking for.

Option #2: Create a Friends with Benefits Arrangement

What you might consider is a long-term, friends-with-benefits (FWB) plan. I’ve had them. I’m a big fan of them. And I can recommend them, but only for those who can handle the emotions of an FWB setup. One needs to be able to either keep their lover at arm’s length or be willing to have their heartbroken.

When you have sex with someone frequently and consistently for long periods of time, you will likely grow to love them. An FWB arrangement is not designed to last; otherwise, it wouldn’t be called a relationship. Hearts will get broken. So that’s a consideration: Are you willing to potentially let your heart be broken?

A Bad Trade with an FWB Arrangement

An FWB deal can go bad when the arrangement means different things to different people.

What’s an all-too-common, absolutely terrible idea is to get into an FWB arrangement with someone you really want a relationship with and then not bother to distinguish the terms of that arrangement. It happens all the time, and it goes a little something like this:

Person A wants a relationship with Person B.

Person B doesn’t want a relationship with Person A but does want to have sex with them.

Without establishing the terms of an FWB agreement, they fall into bed.

And they wake up and do it again.

And again.

And again.

Then, Person A realizes they’re not getting what they want or need, only what they desire. They want a relationship, but the relationship never materializes. The sex drops off. And now Person A is worse off, and even worse, doesn’t have the space in their brain (and heart) to go find someone else who can give them their heart’s desires.

That’s what “settling for crumbs” looks like.

FWB arrangements don’t have to go this way. I never settled for crumbs. I had ten years of FWB deals with three different guys, and for each of them I set up my FWB plans the way I wanted them. I saw my FWB buddy one or two times a week, sometimes more. We went to dinner, to the movies…it pretty much looked a lot like a relationship. The difference was that we knew it had no long-term future, and we were both okay with that. In other words, “boyfriend light.” And that worked! But it worked because I got what I needed, and so did they. I was also willing to love them, and get my heart a little bit broken each time — and it was worth it.

Bottom line: If you go into an FWB relationship, be sure to set your terms, get what you need, and be willing to renegotiate terms when things change. Don’t forget to be ready for potential heartbreak, too.

Option #3: Identify as Solo Polyamorous

Another option for you is to identify as solo polyamorous, a.k.a. solo poly or solo polyam. A solo polyamorous person is someone who has more than one long-term relationship, but their top priority relationship is with themselves. Solo poly people live alone, or with their family, or with friends, but they typically don’t live with their romantic partners. They partner with monogamous and/or polyamorous folks alike.

The Difference Between FWB Arrangement & Solo Polyamorous

FWB: You two are legit friends who have sex, and that is all. Maybe there’s a movie and dinner. Or maybe it’s all kept in the bedroom (or dungeon). You get to set the terms of your arrangement. You may or may not know exactly when it will end, but it is likely to end because you’re not in a permanent, emotionally involved relationship.

Solo poly means you are in relationships with your partner(s), but you’re not interested in steadily dating or “settling down.”

Surprise!

As always, be ready to be surprised. Once, I went online looking for a two-month NSA fling and ended up with a boyfriend. The universe might have other plans for you, but I always recommend putting your preferences in up front.

I hope this column has given you clarity and options. Enjoy your moment and go with what gives you a love life you love.

Happy dating!

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If you want to be sexually free from shame or any part of your history and comfortable in your own skin, consider joining Wendy for her Sex, Love & Intimacy Workshop in the San Francisco (East) Bay Area – August 28 & 29, 2021. We have room for 15 women vaccinated women only.