In the last six months a plethora of women have come to us for help with a pretty common sticky situation: They began a physical relationship with a man but later developed serious feelings. Once they realize they want to be more than just “friends with benefits,” they aren’t sure if they can, or how. How do you let him know that you desire a more meaningful relationship? Take these 10 steps to help make the transition. (Note: If he’s not onboard with the plan, then it’s time to move on.)
Differentiate yourself from the “home girl” by introducing endearing terms like “hun,” “babe,” “baby,” and “love” into the mix. Even if you start off by just using one when you answer the phone. Those very subtle hints will start to inform him that you care and are more than just a passing bedtime friend.
Remember your goal is to shift this relationship to something more. You may not always have time to answer his calls or texts, so make sure that when you do get together you make the time count by doing something fun and creating memories that will remain on his mind and that he can reflect on throughout the week ahead and in the months and years to come.
If the majority of your time has been spent in either of your homes/bedrooms, it’s time to make the shift and date outside of that environment. Propose that you meet out after work for dinner or someplace where you can actually talk and deepen the emotional connection.
For instance instead of saying, “What are you doing for the holidays?” You could say instead, “I was thinking that we should go to my family for Thanksgiving this year and spend time with yours for New Years.” When you use words like "we,” “us,” “our,” or “together,” you are making the verbal assumption that you’re a romantic couple, and if he’s into you too, he will make the transition. If not, especially during the holidays you will know where things stand.
Have you ever shared with him your aspirations to be in a committed relationship, get married or have kids? If you want to take things to the next level, it’s ok to be open with him about your true desires and what you want now, even if that’s not how you communicated in the beginning.
This appears to be one of the most difficult things for women who are in this predicament to do. Often the man in the bedtime buddy scenario has never been exposed to things that make you tick, what your likes and dislikes are and past experiences that led to you being ok with a friends with benefits relationship. But the more he gets to know you on a personal level, the more you both can decide if moving the relationship forward is all that you believe it can be.
If he’s used to seeing you in comfy clothes, wear your favorite LBD when you head out to dinner and show him how you make a statement with your confidence and style.
If a relationship is primarily physical, sometimes talking is not the priority when you’re together. That changes now. Start asking open-ended questions to inspire real conversations outside of the sheets. Need a good starter question? Ask him what he’s most proud in life.
This piece of advice can seem a bit scary, but if you are available every time he randomly calls or texts you, day or night, what incentive does he have to make any changes to your relationship? We’re not saying to become a complete ghost, but slowly show him that he will no longer be allowed prime time privileges if he’s only offering minimal effort. He’ll have to catch you when he can.
It’s very easy to become angry or resentful at a man for not stepping up and making you his girlfriend for the entire world to see. But remember you were both okay with the way things were, he just doesn’t want them to change. Remain positive and upbeat but keep your new boundaries in mind while you show him what you require.
Overall, this shift can happen but will take time and patience, so be prepared for that no matter what the outcome. You have to decide if what you’re getting out of the relationship now is working for you. If not, put yourself first by making some of these changes. If he bails, yes it may hurt but at least you can move on and be available for the one who will love and value you. And next time, you’ll know what you require and how to show him early on in the relationship. Life is short. Love on your terms and know your worth. That confidence will shine through whether it’s in this relationship on the next one that’s on the way.
Fisher Gilmore Matchmaking is an exclusive agency of "heart hunters" led by The Matchmaking DUO™ (Kelli Fisher & Tana Gilmore). They provide matchmaking services personally designed to accommodate busy, successful professionals who are seeking long-term love. They pride themselves on giving their clients a lot of what they want, and even more of what they need. For more advice from them visit their site or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.