Friends with benefits: everything you need to know
Friends with benefits is a type of relationship where, ideally, two people have a platonic connection and use each other for sex.
Friends with benefits (aka FWB) is a casual sexual relationship with either a friend or just a random person. The general idea is that you are friends (or at least friendly) with the other person and have a sexual chemistry, but are not interested in pursuing a more serious, romantic, relationship. Imagine calling someone hot—who you also like and trust—when you’re in the mood to play but not in the mood for the excess baggage of more traditional romantic relationships. It can be a breath of fresh air – this is what friends with benefits are for.
There’s no romance, there are no dates, and there is no commitment. Hanging out usually consists of hooking up. In the popular media, FWB are always depicted as having been friends first, and this friendship is seen as a vital part of the relationship. In everyday usage, however, people define and use the term “friends with benefits” in many different ways.
1) True friends: when two preexisting friends decide to start having sex, just like in the movies. This is the most common type of friends with benefits arrangement.
2) Just sex: when two people hook up from time to time, but do not really have a true friendship.
3) Network opportunism: when two people agree to serve as “backups” for each other in situations where neither of them can find another partner for the evening.
4) Successful transition in: when someone intentionally uses a FWB as a stepping-stone into a romantic relationship.
5) Unintentional transition in: when FWB accidentally turn into romantic partners. Most media portrayals of friends with benefits end with the partners moving into some type of romantic relationship, even though they were initially trying to avoid this.
6) Failed transition in: when someone hopes to use a friend with benefits as a stepping-stone to romance but is not successful in doing so.
7) Transition out: when romantic partners decide to maintain a sexual relationship after a breakup (sometimes referred to as “ex-sex”).
As you can see, the term “FWB” can have more than one meaning!
Consent is so important when you’re fooling around with anyone, whether it’s a one-time hookup, an ongoing friends-with-benefits relationship, or even a spouse. You and your partner need to be clear about each other’s boundaries.
The whole idea behind friends with benefits is that there’s no commitment, meaning either partner is free to have as many FWB as they want. In that case, using protection is paramount.
Communication – If you really want your friends with benefits to work, you’ve got to keep the lines of communication open—and that means listening to your partner and expressing your own desires.
FWB gives you the chance to embrace your sensual side and experience sexuality in fresh ways. Take advantage of the opportunity by exploring your desires and ultimately having fun with it.
Jealousy can creep up unexpectedly if you find out your friend is hooking up with someone else. But the whole philosophy behind friends with benefits is that it’s a fun experience for two people without the added requirements that typically come with a full-blown romantic relationship. If you or your partner feel resentment about outside hookups, the friends-with-benefits relationship might not be ideal for your lives.
No friends-with-benefits relationship lasts forever. Knowing when it’s time to move on will help things end on a high note. Keep it going as long as it’s fun, and when the sexual chemistry has run its course, end your friends-with-benefits relationship and move on.
Set (very, very) low expectations – As liberating as it is to have commitment-free sex, friends-with-benefits relationships can be tricky to navigate. Are you exclusive friends with benefits, or are you both okay with hooking up with other people? What if your friend with benefits starts to want more from the relationship? And if you stop feeling it, how do you end it?
The fact that men and women sometimes have discrepant motivations and expectations when starting a friends with benefits relationship is certainly one source of complication, at least in the case of cross- sex friends with benefits. However, FWB often become complicated for another reason: a lack of communication both in and out of the bedroom.
Being in a friends with benefits relationship requires a lot of potentially awkward or blunt conversations and a lot of emotional maturity. You and your friend with benefits should talk about the expectations for your relationship at the outset. Moreover, it’s a good rule to set your expectations as low as possible. A friends with benefits relationship won’t come with any bells and whistles so don’t expect a birthday present, a Valentine’s card, or a bouquet of flowers at any point. Keeping your expectations low will prevent any possible disappointment or jealousy.