I DID A THING: I Ditched A Friend With Benefits That Became A Fuckboy Without Benefits. What Now?

I Did A Thing is our weekly advice column where the Her Campus editorial team helps you out when you ruin your own life (hey, we've been there). Email [email protected] for any and everything you need help with. We’ll answer you (anonymously!) on hercampus.com so we can all learn, together. We’ve got your back.

@friendswithshittybenefits: I just blocked and cut off all communication with a guy who I was "with" in a friends with benefits relationship for a year. I ended it in March, and for two months didn't speak to him. Last week he texted me out of the blue asking me how I was and so we talked until yesterday night when I finally asked him if he was talking to any other girls. He said he was "loosely" talking to one seriously so I basically said it's me or her no games anymore, to which he said, "I thought we were just friends?"

Friends don't flirt with and talk of things with a sexual nature in that way with friends, especially when we have this history. I fell in love with him and lost my virginity to him, so when he left me on read after I poured out everything I wanted to say back in March about how much I like him and wish he wanted to date and how amazing he is, I blocked him on absolutely everything. The disgust and sadness I felt were some of the worst feelings I've ever had.

While I'm so so proud of myself for finally ending the emotional rollercoaster he put me on since about September 2017, I don't know where to begin to pick up the pieces he shattered. My friends all say be single and focus on learning to love yourself on your own and remember who I used to be before I met him. The only issue is I have absolutely no idea what it means to love myself and move on from all of this.

What I do know is I'm no one's second choice and I deserve the world, not a boy who can't commit to the best thing he ever lost.

So I guess my question for you is, I did a really big thing, but have no idea what to do next. I look forward to hearing from you and absolutely want to thank you for deciding to start this!

@helpmehc: First off, good for you for communicating what you want and deciding to step away from a situation that wasn’t working for you. That takes a lot of emotional weightlifting to get through and you need to really love and know yourself to make that call to begin with. We’re so proud. Gold self-love star.  

A little known secret about FWB situations is that, in order for them to really work, you need to communicate just as much as you do with any other kind of relationship. If you’re both looking to have a physical connection sans feelings or sans monogamy and that’s your understanding? Great, cool, you are in business. If that situation, agreement changes though— like you fall for someone else or one partner catches feelings or doesn’t feel the same level of attraction anymore — you gotta be real about it and talk about it together. Like, you gotta stay on the same page re: your wants and needs for it to be healthy.

Because secret crushes on people you’re already boning can be a bit star-crossed from the get-go, TBH (we’ve been there). Likewise a “friend”/partner in a FWB situation should have a certain level of kindness in them to navigate that change in the arrangement without being a dick. Friends don’t leave friends — especially friends who they share orgasms with— on read. Like, duh.

But you did the work and soul-searching and basically all the hard parts of breaking off the situation that was no longer working (for both of you, clearly) and cleansing your social feeds. “What now?”-land is a really daunting place to be in general but especially when you’re healing your heart up.

First of all, we love your friends. They are Good and Correct. Enjoying single life isn’t so much abstaining from love as much as romancing yourself. Falling back in love with you and taking back the pieces of you that you gave to a crummy arrangement is super healthy to do. (This doesn’t necessarily mean don’t go on dates or swear off sex or getting thee to a nunnery — it just means you want to take the pressure of becoming ~consciously coupled~ off for a while. Remember that your first and greatest love is the one in your meat suit.)

And then from there, when you’re ready, at least, you know exactly what your needs and expectations are for the next partner you connect with: You know that going in to your next relationship, you want someone ready to commit and go the distance, who isn't loosely affiliated with someone else or tepid about their feelings for you. You know that you want to communicate your needs and find a partner who wants and needs those same things (or complementary things) before letting the physical fun-times take the wheel. You know that you want somebody emotionally available and physically available and willing to talk about the emotional side without freezing out. That’s the big data-takeaways you get in addition to figuring out that you don’t want to date a beer snob or a libertarian or a dude who still won’t shut the fuck up about “Breaking Bad” in the Year of Our Lord 2018.

The hurt doesn’t go away overnight. You broke up with a friend and a partner and you gotta give yourself time to mourn that — but then you circle up with your friends and you strategize. You’re leaving something that wasn’t a great chapter of your life (albeit one that taught you hard lessons but made you a more open, loving and self-aware person) and wherever you go next, you’re already armed with a pretty solid list of deal-breakers to vet future partners.  

Let the broken heart start healing and lean on your friends and be extra kind to yourself while it all starts to scab over. You know so much already about what you need and you're going to be happier, more whole because of it.