A “friends with benefits” situation is great when you want to get laid but aren’t in a place where you want a real relationship. As long as both people are on the same page, it’s all good — it only goes wrong if one of you starts getting deeper feelings. If you don’t want to ruin a good thing, here’s how to enjoy casual encounters and avoid getting attached to your FWB.
What does it mean to have a FWB?
There are no expectations. Relationships are great, but they do come with certain expectations and standards that you have to adhere to if you want it to last. With a FWB situation, that’s all out the window. The only thing you can rightfully expect is that when you get together, the sex will be decent.
You don’t owe each other anything. Again, because you’re no boyfriend and girlfriend, you’re not beholden to each other in any way. You don’t have to promise to only date them or commit to spending your weekends together. You don’t need to be each other’s plus-one to events or be a sounding board or provide emotional support when the other person has something going on. This is a no-strings-attached arrangement.
It’s really not for everyone. Having casual sex isn’t for everyone. In fact, it’s not for most people. If you settle for a FWB arrangement because you think it’s better than being on your own or because you think you can eventually change his mind and turn this into a relationship, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The only way it will work is if you genuinely feel happy without commitment. The minute real feelings get involved, it’s all doomed.
How to avoid getting catching feelings for your FWB
Choose your guy carefully. The perfect FWB is someone who’s got a few obvious flaws that would make him terrible relationship material, which should keep you from falling head over heels since you know it’d be bad news. Once you’ve found the right guy, communicate the rules and set expectations before jumping into bed for your first hook-up session.
Aggressively pursue your life outside of him. Just because you now have a FWB doesn’t mean that you should spend less time on your own hobbies, career, and social life. You’re only together to sleep together, so make sure your life away from him is full and happy. Don’t let the setup with your new “friend” get in the way.
Don’t keep this thing going for too long. Expiration dates aren’t just for food — they also apply to your FWB setup. If you’re spending more than a couple of months hooking up with this guy, it’s more likely you’re going to edge toward relationship territory (or at least want to). Keep it moving.
Skip the cute nicknames. Romantic nicknames and pillow talk are only for couples who are in serious relationships, not for your FWB. Stick to calling each other by your first names, and if you catch yourself slipping in a “babe” or “honey,” get out while you can.
Do the deed and run. Don’t sleep over, kiss, cuddle, or talk about anything other than when and where your next hook-up session will be. You can text or call each other as long as it’s limited to sending suggestive messages, naughty phone time, or making plans for your next hook-up. Anything more romantic than that is off-limits.
More ways to avoid getting detached
Never introduce him to your friends. Your “relationship” should be between the two of you only, so if you’ve ever thought about introducing your FWB to your BFFs, drop that idea now. It would only make it harder for you to walk away from him when the time comes.
Don’t let him be the only man in your life. Since there are no strings attached in a FWB setup, you’re free to see other people if you want to. Take advantage of this, so the chances of developing deeper feelings with your FWB will be reduced significantly. That doesn’t mean you have to be sleeping with all of them (unless that’s your thing), but have other guys in your life so you never get fixated on this one.
Master the Ice Queen persona. While your FWB deserves to be respected, don’t treat him as if he’s more of an FWB to you. Don’t serve him food after your hook-up session and never make him feel as if he’s special. Never lead him on if you don’t have intentions of having a serious relationship with him in the first place.
Keep the conversation super casual. Don’t talk about anything with your FWB other than matters that revolve around casual encounters. If you have personal problems, let the steam off with your FWB in bed, not by having a deep and meaningful convo. After hooking up, leave. Then, call an actual friend if you need company.
Sign a binding agreement. It may seem like a Mr. Grey-ish thing to do, but you’ll thank yourself for doing this in the long run. Unlike verbal agreements, a written binding agreement can’t be easily forgotten and dismissed. So put your FWB rules in writing and sign it. This will serve as a constant reminder that you’re only together for hooking up and nothing else. Plus, it might add an extra element of fun to your hook-ups, which is never a bad thing.
What to do if you find yourself getting attached
Even if you try your hardest to keep the emotional distance between you alive and well, sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it — you start to feel something deeper for your FWB.
Take a big ol’ leap back and have a word with yourself. If your feelings for your FWB are getting a little too deep, that’s a sign that you need to take a step back from the situation and give yourself some tough love. You started this arrangement knowing that it was only casual and it was something you swore you could handle. This is not and was never going to be a real relationship, and it’s important that you accept that.
Reduce contact until you get your head on straight. Hopefully, you’ll be able to talk some sense into yourself and recognize that you’re better off as casual hookup buddies and that a relationship between you would be a disaster. Once you do, it’ll be a whole lot easier to get your head back in the FWB game. Until that time, however, it’s important that you put some distance between you both physically and emotionally. If you met up once a week or more, maybe you have a couple of weeks where you’re “super busy” and can’t make it. This should give you time to reassess.
Remind yourself of all of his terrible qualities. Again, one of the reasons you initially decided to go for a FWB arrangement is likely that you knew he’d be a really crappy boyfriend. He’s flaky, unsure of what he wants in life, he never cleans his apartment, he has terrible taste in music… whatever it is that you don’t like about him, now would be a good time to remind yourself so that you can nip those feelings in the bud.
Figure out what’s behind your feelings — are they actually legit? It’s possible that you’re kidding yourself about having feelings about him when that’s not the case at all. Do you suddenly like-like him because your best friend is getting married or because you’re feeling broody and feel like your life is passing you by? While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with craving a monogamous relationship, that doesn’t mean that you want one with this guy. You could just be projecting and convincing yourself of things that aren’t there.
Mirror his behavior. How does your FWB treat you? Does he go AWOL between your hookups? Does he get up and take a shower before heading out right after you do the deed? Does he talk about women he’s actually dating casually? If his approach couldn’t be less emotional, yours should be the same, not only because that’s what you signed up for but because it’s clear that he wouldn’t be interested in transitioning your arrangement into anything more serious.
If you really can’t detach, it may be time to end your FWB arrangement. Sometimes we really do fall for people we know we shouldn’t, and if you recognize that you’re really into him and you just can’t switch those feelings off, you know what you have to do. You can’t continue to put yourself through the emotional torture of sleeping with a guy while pretending that you’re cool with the fact that you’re nothing to him but a quick lay. It’s time to call it quits for good.
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