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From ‘Friends With Benefits’ to Lovers: Why I Struggled With This

My mental battle with a shift from a sex-heavy dynamic to love, and why I couldn’t accept it.

By Nani CruzPublished 3 years ago 5 min read
From ‘Friends With Benefits’ to Lovers: Why I Struggled With This
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Transitioning from friends with benefits (FWBs) to a committed relationship might be one of the most difficult mental battles I’ve ever experienced. Here’s why.

My relationship with my ex took me through a whirlwind of emotions, but how we even got to the point of dating did not set me up for success mentally or emotionally. We met one night downtown at a club for a mutual friend’s birthday. We hit it off! Never have I clicked with a guy so easily and been accepted for being myself from the first moment. We drank, we danced, we played arcade games. Then we split from the rest of the group and hooked up that first night.

Fast forward a few months after another night out and another hook up with him, I agreed to turn it into an exclusive FWBs dynamic with him. The connection between us was there, but we knew he was moving away in a few months, so we figured FWBs was the best option.

The sex was amazing, but it was just a small portion of our dynamic. We would talk throughout the day. We would cook dinner together after work and watch movies together. We were so easily vulnerable with one another. I was his plus one to social outings. I met all his friends and we even told our families about each other. We were visibly affectionate with one another, regardless of who was around. The only thing stopping us from dating was the impending move. Which was emotionally confusing.

Finally we admitted our feelings for one another in a way that we decided to make things official. He asked me to be his girlfriend and I said yes. Nothing changed in the way we interacted because we already acted as if we were together, but it opened a lot of opportunities and conversations to be had.

Let me preface by saying that my ex is a wonderful human and I love him very much. He has never done anything to make me feel as though he only wanted me for sex. But that’s the mindset I got stuck in and battled mentally for a long time because of how we started initially.

No matter how good things were, how open he was with me about his feelings, and how well we worked together in a relationship, a deep rooted insecurity was planted in me that I was only wanted for sex, or at least that was the main reason he wanted me. No matter what he said or what I did, I couldn’t shake that thought. It’s the first thing my mind would run to when things got rocky. It would slip out in the way I spoke to him. Not only was I hurting, but I was hurting him by outwardly believing he only wanted me for sex. I would verbalize it and make sly jokes about it, but we both knew the painful truth behind them.

Why could I not believe he loved me?

He was the first man I had fallen in love with since my three year relationship ended. Without realizing it at the time, I hadn’t healed fully. I had done an insane amount of healing and growth, but it wasn’t enough at that point. Up until falling in love with him, I couldn’t even feel emotions for another man after that long relationship ended. I was emotionally damaged. I thought because I could feel something for someone finally, I was ready.

Being that our first two solo interactions ended in sex, plus our first few weeks of exclusivity were pretty sex focused, it put me in a mindset of that’s what he wanted most from me. It wasn’t a switch that could just flip in my mind. I knew I loved him. I loved him in a way that I’ve never loved anyone else. But I couldn’t believe he loved me.

This is partially because he loved me in a way that I had never been loved, so I didn’t know how to accept that as real. He cared about me, my thoughts, my genuine self, my emotions, and my passions. He showed that in his everyday actions. He prioritized me. He learned what I loved. He would sit me up on the couch to talk until 2 am if that’s what it took for me to feel better. He treated me as someone who was autonomous and had the right to decide to be whoever I wanted to be, no matter that I was in a relationship. He trusted me, which I never truly experienced before. His love for me wasn’t rooted in insecurity toward me or lack of trust. This is the kind of love I always wanted, but when I found it, I wasn’t healed enough to accept it.

Moving past the insecurity

As time passed, his love and consistency with me helped reaffirm the fact that he loved me for me. He gave me the verbal reassurance I’d ask for, in addition to consistency. He would do anything to take care of me. When I’d fall into depression for days at a time, he would have me come over so he could cook my favorite meals and hold me. He loved me just as much at my worst as he did at my best, if not more.

Communication was what saved us. He encouraged me to be open with him about my ugly thoughts. This way he could understand where I was at and reassure me.

Truly, time and consistency is what it took for me to believe I was actually being loved in a healthy way for the first time. Looking back, I know I should’ve taken more time to heal. Learning to believe a new man’s “I love you” was a mental battle, especially when our initial dynamic was very sex focused.

Some people have no problem making that switch from FWBs to a relationship, which I think is amazing. I had to learn for myself that I am not emotionally equipped to make that shift. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy I did this with him because I got to experience the love I’ve always craved. But I did learn that if my emotional and mental peace are unstable, it’s time to take a step back to examine why. Which includes looking internally at my own readiness and healing process.

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About the Creator

Nani Cruz

As a 23 year old grad school student, I spend a lot of time writing academically. Now I’m taking time to write creatively and enjoy creating stories about whatever makes me happy.

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    Nani CruzWritten by Nani Cruz

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