Friends with benefits — also known as FWB, for short — are casual sexual relationships with either a friend (duh) or just a random person. Successful FWB relationships are strictly sexual and avoid all of the romantic and physical intimacy of a true relationship. So, can a relationship like that really work?
The short answer: it depends.
Some people thrive in these casual relationships, while others have a hard time separating sexual intimacy from emotional intimacy. If you’re thinking of pursuing a friends with benefits relationship, these 15 tips will help you navigate it successfully (without getting hurt):
1. Make Sure You’re Emotionally Mature Enough to Be FWB
It takes a lot of emotional maturity to sleep with someone in a non-committal way. Before you start your casual fling, make sure you’re prepared for (and totally okay with) every potential outcome. Sex can definitely complicate a relationship, so you need to ensure you’re able to handle the situation without becoming too anxious or emotionally invested.
2. Don’t Become FWB With Someone You Already Have Feelings For
While there are plenty of movies about friends with benefits that end in romance, that’s not always the case in real life. If you start having sex with someone you have feelings for (but they don’t feel the same way), you’re bound to get hurt. The goal is to keep it casual, so the best friends with benefits relationship is with someone you aren’t emotionally invested in.
3. Choose Your Partner Wisely
The ideal FWB partner is someone that you are attracted to physically, but not emotionally. Along with sexual chemistry, it’s important to choose someone honest! Successful friends with benefits relationships take a lot of communication and trust, so it’s important to choose your partner wisely.
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4. Don’t Be Lovey Dovey
Friends with benefits don’t necessarily have to act “transactional,” but they shouldn’t be overly mushy, either. Keep PDA to a minimum and avoid going on official dates. It should all stay in the bedroom! (Of course, every situation is different, so try figuring out what works best for you.)
5. Avoid Sleepovers
If you’re truly trying to keep a strict friends with benefits relationship, it’s best to avoid spending the night together. It doesn’t mean you need to kick them to the curb as soon as you’re finished having sex, just that you should be aware of the feelings that can stem from all-night cuddle sessions.
6. Be Transparent About Your Sex Life / Be Safe
Since friends with benefits relationships typically aren’t exclusive, you’ll probably be seeing more than one person. It’s so important to be honest about it for safety reasons! In addition to condoms and other forms of protection, it’s a good idea to set up routine STI screenings.
7. Set Expectations at the Beginning
Needs and expectations should be discussed right from the get-go. Do you want to plan your hookups or be more spontaneous? Are you down with flirty texting or is that too much? Do you expect to be in this for the foreseeable future? Talking all of these things through at the beginning will help make sure that you and your friend are on the same page.
8. Expect the Bare Minimum
Not to sound negative, but when it comes to friends with benefits situations, it’s best to keep your expectations low. Try not to expect things like birthday presents or Valentine’s Day cards. Always keep in mind that the two of you are in it for one thing only — and it’s not a bouquet of flowers.
9. Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries and learning when to say no is necessary in any relationship, including friends with benefits. Know your limits and make sure your partner clearly understands and respects them.
10. Prioritize the Friendship Part of “FWB” Over the Physical
At the end of the day, you’re friends! (And you should still be even if the benefits part ends.) Focus on keeping things fun, lighthearted, and playful to help you prioritize the friendship part over the physical.
Whether it’s your expectations, sexual health, or boundaries, you need to harness good communication skills to keep your friends with benefits relationship running smoothly. Be open and honest about any aspect of the relationship you need to talk about, including your needs in the bedroom.
12. Don’t Be Jealous!
You’re friends with benefits, not a committed couple with benefits, right? Kick jealousy to the curb! Since it’s a casual relationship, your partner is likely seeing other people, too. Jealousy isn’t a good look, and if you’re struggling with it, then a friends with benefits relationship might not be for you.
13. Don’t Stop Dating
Remember, you’re not tied down to your friend with benefits. It’s okay to explore dating options! The great thing about a friends with benefits relationship is the fact that things are so casual. (Just don’t forget to end it if you do start seriously dating someone!)
14. Understand That They Are Also Still Dating
Just like you will likely be dating on the side, so are they. Be aware that as friends with benefits, you’re probably not ranked very high on their priority list. (Which shouldn’t be an issue if there’s no emotional investment, right?)
15. Don’t Forget Why You Started
At the end of the day, friends with benefits relationships are about sex. Make sure that you and your friend are having fun sex together!
So, can friends with benefits relationships really work? Sure! Again, everyone handles situations differently, so it all comes down to what you and your potential friend are looking for. You know what’s best for you, and if a friend with benefits relationship is it, then go for it.