Being friends with benefits sounds too good to be true, right? Here’s the definition: Friends with benefits — also known as FWB, for short — is a casual sexual relationship 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
Sleeping with someone in a non-committal way takes a lot of emotional maturity. Before you start a FWB fling, make sure that you’re prepared for every eventual outcome. Adding sex can definitely complicate things, so it’s important to be sure you’re able to handle a casual fling without becoming too anxious or emotionally invested.
2. Don’t Become FWB With Someone You Already Have Feelings For
Unfortunately, most real-life FWB situations don’t end up like they do in the movies. The two people involved probably won’t fall in love — one or both will end it when the relationship is no longer fulfilling. If you start sleeping with someone you have feelings for (and they think you’re still just friends), you’re bound to break your own heart. (And no one wants that!) Instead of going for someone that you are romantically interested in, choose someone you don’t know as well. (It’ll be easier to keep it casual.)
3. Choose Your Partner Wisely
The ideal FWB is someone that you are attracted to physically, but not emotionally. Along with sexual chemistry, it’s important to choose someone honest! Successful FWB relationships take a lot of communication and trust, so it’s important to choose your partner wisely.
4. Don’t Be Lovey Dovey
The relationship should in no way feel transactional, but it shouldn’t be overly mushy, either. Avoid things like PDA and going on dates. Keep it all in the bedroom! Of course, if you’re already friends (without feelings) that decide to be intimate, it’s up to you to decide whether you should hang together outside of your love sessions. Every FWB relationship is different, so find what works 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 with each other. This doesn’t mean kicking them to the curb as soon as you’re finished having sex, just that you should be wary of sleepovers. If you’re not trying to catch feelings, an all-night cuddle session might not help.
6. Be Transparent About Your Sex Life / Be Safe
Since FWB typically aren’t exclusive, you’ll probably be seeing more than one person. It’s essential to be honest and transparent about each other’s sex life in the name of safety. In addition to condoms and other forms of protection, it’s a good idea to set up routine STI screenings so that you do know your status.
7. Set Expectations at the Beginning
Since these relationships are less romantic and more casual, talk about your needs upfront! Do you want a standing hookup on Wednesday nights? Or do you want things to be more spontaneous? Are you down with flirty texting? Or is that crossing a line? 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 FWB 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 imperative in any relationship, including friends with benefits. Know your limits and make sure your partner clearly understands and respects them. This is even more important for FWB that share the same friend group or have some social overlap in their lives. If this is the case, it’s important to discuss who will know about the relationship, how you will navigate the relationship in public, and whether or not friends or certain people are off-limits.
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 FWB relationship running smoothly. It’s okay to be a little vulnerable, too! Be open and honest about any aspect of the relationship you need to talk about, including your needs in the bedroom. After all, what’s the point of the benefits if they don’t do it for you!
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, especially in a FWB relationship. If you aren’t able to control it, your feelings for them might be stronger than you think. (In which case, it might be time to reevaluate things.)
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 FWB relationship is the fact that things are so casual. (Just don’t forget to end it if you do start 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 a FWB, 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! FWB relationships are also a great way to explore different ways to get creative in the bedroom.
So, can FWB relationships really work out? 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 FWB relationship is what you want, go for it.