I’ve had my fair share of friends with benefits arrangements and I’ve found them fulfilling and exciting. However, there are some missteps that can quickly derail this type of relationship and I’ve made a few of them. Here are some you should avoid.
Failing to communicate
The secret to any good relationship—not just the romantic ones—is communication. I neglected this aspect in my first FWB arrangement and it went south fast. We weren’t on the same page and didn’t know where the other stood so there was lots of drama. Since then, I’ve been clear about my expectations from the start. We talk about whether it’s a monogamous or open arrangement. We discuss where we see it all going. We make sure both of us have similar expectations. Making assumptions is the worst thing you can do in any relationship. Don’t be afraid to clarify!
Neglecting to lay ground rules
In my first relationship, not only did I fail to communicate well, but neither of us set any ground rules. You might think it’s unnecessary, but trust me, it’s very, very important. Setting basic rules has helped me and my FWBs stay on the same page. Is it weird to rummage through the other person’s fridge? Are we allowed to stay the night? Should we tell each other about our other flings? Are booty calls OK? You’d be surprised how many of these come up. Make sure you have guidelines beforehand!
Hanging out too often
I used to think that having an FWB meant we’d hang out constantly. I mean, it’s practically a typical relationship, right? Just without any romance? Of course that’s totally wrong, and meeting too often quickly became stifling. Friends with benefits are just that. Unless you work or go to school together, it’s unlikely that you see your friends every single day, or very often at all. Now I apply this same concept to my FWB arrangements. We usually climb into bed together once a week at the very most—it’s not super regular.
Secretly wanting more
This one is probably the most common mistake people make, and I’m no exception. I had a crush on someone and thought that becoming hookup buddies would make him feel the same way. It didn’t, and I wound up heartbroken and completely disappointed. I wish I’d known back then that you can’t make someone love you. The entire point of FWB arrangements is no-strings-attached fun. When I made this mistake, I was automatically entering an arrangement based on deception, and that’s an error you never want to make.
Forgetting the friendship it began with
FWB arrangements are temporary. Eventually, that aspect of the relationship will end. When this happened in my second FWB situation, one I was confident had gone very well, we suddenly felt awkward. We’d been so caught up in hooking up that we’d forgotten we were friends before too. Suddenly, I’d lost a friend entirely. We tried to get back to how things were before but it didn’t work out. So when you’re in an FWB relationship, be a good friend first and a good sexual partner second. Take time out to just hang out like you used to without the sex. Trust me, it’s important.
Treating a FWB like a boyfriend
With my first FWB, I was very open. I asked him to go out with me to dinner and movies and stuff. I completely confided in him with everything. I got suspicious of other girls around him even though I didn’t have feelings for him that way. When he didn’t reciprocate, things got bad—and it wasn’t his fault at all! A friend with benefits is not meant to be anything like a boyfriend. You’re supposed to have the same attitude towards each other as you would to a different random friend. My mistake was allowing the line between friend and romantic partner to get blurry. Keep it clearly defined and stay on the friend side.
Deterring romantic relationships because of your FWB
The last time I was in an FWB situation, someone at a bar asked me out for dinner. She was funny, attractive, and cool but I automatically turned her down! Why? Because I remembered my FWB and just said I was seeing someone even though I wasn’t—at least not in the way I accidentally implied. If you’re having great sex and genuinely like spending time with your FWB, you might forget that you’re actually still technically single. There’s nothing stopping you from playing the field and finding a future partner!
Hiding developing feelings
Sometimes, even in the best FWB situations, things happen. Feelings can develop. That happened to me, and one day I woke up to find I had a big crush on my hookup partner. Instead of telling her, I kept it a secret. I thought I could handle it, but those feelings changed our whole dynamic. When she ended the arrangement, she didn’t know why I’d changed. The whole point of an FWB is to not catch feelings. If you do, it’s important to talk about them. Tell your FWB about it and see what happens. Will you give dating a try? Will you call it quits? You won’t know unless you keep communication open!
Not knowing when the arrangement has run its course
Being in an FWB arrangement should be fun and hassle-free. Once, I started getting stressed out when I had to go see an FWB. I didn’t feel up to being with him anymore but I didn’t want to end it because I thought I was just being a jerk and needed to get over it. When it finally came to an end, we both found out that we’d both been feeling the same way. The relationship had pretty much run its course. For as long as you’re having fun, you do you, but when it becomes a chore, gets confusing, or is no longer what you want, it’s time to break it off.
Taking it for granted
In my first FWB relationship, we had pretty standard sex. We didn’t try anything new. It was unadventurous. What’s the point in that? It’s supposed to be a time for experimentation and for trying new things. Since I’ve learned this, my FWB arrangements have been full of excitement. We try out new kinks, play with new toys, and experiment with different positions, all without judgment. It’s a blast!
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