Moving a relationship from bed to friendship?

Dear Alice,

I'm a 25 year-old guy, average looking, and I think I have a normal personality. I met this very nice and pretty girl a little more than a month ago. Almost since the beginning, all she wants to do is go to bed and make love. This was great in the beginning, but, you and some guys out there may think I am crazy, I am starting to get worn out. I like her very much and we get along great in bed, but I want to date her just like my friends date their girlfriends, although my friends tell me they wish they had my problem.

Anyway, when I suggest going out, she shrugs her shoulders and says that she likes to be in bed with me. I'm sure that you get a lot of inquiries about how to move a friendship over to bed. Can you give me some advice about how to move the bed over to a friendship?

— Sexed Out

Dear Sexed Out,

Balancing the needs and expectations of your partner with those of your own may be challenging, but open communication may go a long way in resolving relationship concerns. It seems like you're eager to nurture the relationship and give it time to grow and develop outside the bedroom. Have you and your partner ever had an opportunity to share what you're each looking for in a relationship? Communication will be key to striving for satisfaction moving forward!

You may consider telling your partner that you'd like to develop a relationship, both in and out of bed. In doing so, thinking about what you want to say and how you'd like to say it will help you show up in the conversation in ways that are most right and true to who you are. As with any conversation that has the potential to be uncomfortable, activating, or vulnerable, you may consider the setting in which you have it. Conversations like this are less well-suited for the heat of the moment in the bedroom and tend to be better suited to neutral, private locations that are still comfortable to each person, such as a local coffee shop or a bench in a nearby park. 

Once you have the setting in mind, it'll be helpful to think about the specifics of what you're hoping to communicate and how you can do that. One versatile and widely recommended technique is to use "I" statements, such as "I've noticed we've been spending a lot of time inside, and I think it would be nice to get to know you better over dinner." You may mention things you like to do — go to the movies, take long walks, play chess, etc. Additionally, listening to and learning about your partner's perspective will be just as key. Try to find out what her expectations are for the relationship and what she likes to do. Perhaps you may plan a date involving one of these favorite activities. Asking questions about your partner's needs and interests may help you to determine if you'll be compatible as friends, a romantic relationship, or purely physical.

If your partner isn't interested in developing a friendship outside of the bedroom, you may want to evaluate if the relationship you have now is worth staying in. Are you comfortable staying with your partner for the sex? Would continuing to have sex with this partner keep you from finding someone else with whom you might be more compatible? Can you stay in this relationship for what it's worth without getting emotionally involved (as it may not be reciprocated)? Thinking through these questions can help you figure out your next steps. 

Although you perceive your concern to be different from many others', it's not unusual. And, also not unusual, is that courageous and open communication will be your key to moving forward and making decisions about this relationship that are most right for you. It's great that you're thinking about what qualities would fulfill your needs in a relationship. Add some communication to that and you're headed in the right direction!

Last updated May 06, 2022
Originally published May 01, 1994

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