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Can You Really Be 'Friends With Benefits'

Terry Hernon MacDonald

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I just received this letter from a reader:

I had physical relationship with a guy a few months ago, and we both agreed that it's just ‘physical, ’ but now I have strong feelings about him spiritually; I don't know how to tell him because he seems to avoid me sometimes, and he may move to another state in a few months. I am in a terrible situation now and suffering. I would appreciate it if you can give me some suggestions. Thank you very much.

Here's my answer:

This is a great question because so many people have been in your position. You're definitely not alone! The best advice I can give you is to let things lie. If the guy is avoiding you, avoid him.

Don't call him, ‘bump into’ him, email him, or try to contact him in any way. I know this is painful, but contacting him will only push him farther away at this point. You cannot make somebody love you, despite what we've heard in pop songs. Furthermore, explore the possibility that you only developed feelings for this guy because you had a physical relationship with him. Are you really hooked on him, or on something else?

Whatever you do, do not be ‘physical’ with him again, no matter how tempting that may be (and I know it's tempting). Your best bet is to push all thoughts of him out of him out of your mind. Do not mentally relive your fun times together.

Absence will either make his heart grow fonder, or he'll keep doing what he was doing, which was moving on. Whatever happens, you'll have kept your dignity. If he doesn't come back to you for more than a physical relationship, keep your head up and hold out for a guy who'll love you the way you deserve to be loved.

I know it's not easy, but it definitely is worth it.

This reader has clearly fallen into the ‘friends with benefits’ trap. It's liberating to think that we can enjoy physical relationships without getting emotionally involved, but unfortunately for too many women (and for a lot of men), this just isn't true. Somebody gets hurt.

It's gut-wrenching to fall in love with some guy you fooled around with, only to find out that he has no interest in changing the original terms of the relationship, or worse, to run into him with another woman he's clearly more passionate about.

If you're in this situation, please consider the advice I gave this reader. I have been there. I did all sorts of dopey and humiliating things to get the guy's attention, and all I ended up doing was looking (and feeling) pathetic.

There's something powerful about letting go. Yes, it hurts at first, but eventually you feel stronger. You start to feel good about yourself. Sometimes the guy comes back around for something ‘physical, ’ and it feels just gorgeous to reject him. You're back in the driver's seat.

You run into him several years later, and he's rounder-shouldered, balder, and sneezing uncontrollably from allergies. You give him a polite kiss and introduce him to your successful, loving, loyal, fun, husband, and stride away feeling like a million bucks. (You see, I've been there, too!)

Let your friend-with-benefits do what he's going to do, whether it's to return your feelings, or to move out of state. Ride it out. You'll be happier in the long run.

Terry MacDonald is the happily married author of “How to Attract and Marry the Man of Your Dreams. " Sign up for free dating tips at Check out her blog at


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