SHESAID resident psychologist Kim Chartres answers your most awkward and confronting questions.
I’ve lived with a guy for the past six months and while our relationship has always been platonic, there’s recently been some sexual chemistry between us which my flatmate noted one night recently when we were both staying up late drinking.
He also made a proposition that we start a no-strings-attached friends-with-benefits kind of arrangement as we’ve both been single for over a year and the physical intimacy might be nice. I’m really seriously considering doing it, but I’m worried it might make living together weird. What do you think?
Dear Frustrated Flatmate,
Let me start by saying you two aren’t the first flatmates to make the most of your living arrangements. Behind closed doors single people sharing a home can get up to all sorts of mischief and for some, sexual chemistry leads to way more than friends with benefits. Especially if it’s left to linger.
Coincidentally I’ve had personal experience with this. I ended up in a long-term relationship with my flatmate. However we refused to give in to our mutual attraction easily. Now we both agree our time together as ‘flatmates’ felt like the longest two years of our lives.
For us, living with sexual chemistry became a nightmare although we’d discussed it early on, much like yourselves and instead of acting upon our attraction we both decided it best to simply ignore it. In our infinite wisdom we figured if we just ignored it, it’d go away. That’s what we expected to happen as we got on with our single lives, but we were wrong. Very wrong.
Instead of the tension resolving into thin air as we’d anticipated, the sexual chemistry only got stronger until it hung so heavily in the air everyone around us began to feel it. I suppose it would’ve been like watching one of those sitcoms where you want the platonic couple to end the sexual tension and just get on with it. Eventually our plan to stay platonic friends backfired and 12 years later, we’re still a couple.
So dear Frustrated Flatmate, what’s the moral of my story? If this experience taught me anything, it’s that life is way too short to live with sexual tension. Seriously, it’s torture, and sometimes things get weird anyway. If I were you, I’d go grab your flatmate and go get busy. Don’t overthink it and have some fun. If things do get weird, you always have the option to move out of the house and find somewhere else to live. It’s that simple.
Unless of course you think this relationship could lead to something more than just sex? There’s obviously mutual attraction between you two and the only way you’ll find out if it could be more is if you have a think about this question before you sleep with your flatmate.
I say before, because sex is a game changer. A friend offering benefits isn’t usually someone you want to spend your life with, so if you do want a commitment, it’s best don’t go there. I know the physical intimacy would be nice, but it’s short-term. Having a partner who’ll love you forever… now that’s worth waiting for.
Got a relationship dilemma or serious life issue you’re not sure how to deal with? Send your questions to Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org.