In theory, a friends with benefits arrangement sounds great: a bed buddy you don’t have to play coy with, you have fun with, and who’s always only a text away. Unfortunately, maintaining this relationship without becoming emotionally involved is a lot tricker than you might think. Before treading this path on which many have tried and failed, both parties should be aware of these sacred rules.
Thou shalt not have expectations. Never go into a friends with benefits arrangement with expectations of it going further. As soon as you start to hope this FWB will turn into your next boyfriend, you’ve just bought yourself a one-way ticket to evenings alone on your couch, sobbing over a family sized bag of chips and thinking, “If only I could find a man like Jon Snow.” This kind of relationship isn’t suitable for everyone, so you need to be fully aware of what you’re getting yourself into before taking the dive.
Thou shalt always be safe. There isn’t much benefit to be had out of a bad case of gonorrhea. If you’re in a sexual, non-exclusive relationship, chances are you or your partner are sexually active with other people as well, which means there’s a whole lotta sharing going around. STIs are like bible salesmen—most the time you don’t know they’re there until it’s too late and they’re right on your doorstep. Do yourself a favor and insist on protection all the time, every time.
Thou shalt not introduce thy FWB to friends or family. There’s nothing like seeing your FWB having a laugh with your bestie or playing with your little nephew to inspire an instant mental montage of your future together, complete with endless backyard barbecues and a wedding album on Facebook. Once they’re in your inner circle, they become all the more real. Your FWB should be treated like an imaginary friend: unseen by anyone else and ultimately, only temporary.
Thou shalt not go on dates. Once you bring dates into the mix, the lines really start to blur. After all, acting like a couple in private and in public looks a whole lot like dating. Unless you’re into extreme PDA, dates usually just involve conversation and fun activities of the clothed variety — both a big no-no for a successful FWB relationship. Not engaging in anything in the romance territory will help to keep those pesky feelings at bay.
Thou shalt keep contact outside of the bedroom to a minimum. This includes in-person meetings and anything done via your smartphone. Outside contact should be restricted to setting up your next rendezvous and maybe the odd sext. Anything beyond this and you may start to enjoy the back and forth a little too much. Remember, you use an FWB for one thing, and their mind isn’t it. If it becomes one of the main attractions, it’s time to reassess your situation.
Thou shalt not be FWB with an actual friend. Some of these rules would be a little hard to abide by if your FWB is actually one of your friends. Entering this situation with a friend usually ends one of two ways: One, in a committed relationship or two, in some hella awkward situations when the whole thing goes south and you still have to see each other at social events.
Thou shalt not be jealous or possessive. There is no faster way to kill a casual relationship than by smothering it in jealousy. If you want to take part in an FWB arrangement, you have to understand there may be other people involved and be okay with it.
Thou shalt reconsider staying the night. Okay, so after a session beneath the sheets the last thing you want to do is get dressed and get in your car, but it’s worth considering. Sleepovers can lead to two things: cuddling and pillow-talk. Now you may think going straight to sleep solves both of those problems, but things happen in the night. One minute you’re on opposite sides of the bed and the next you’re entwined in some casual-relationship-ruining pretzel. Cuddling = bad.
Thou shalt be open to new relationships. When your needs are being met by a guy you don’t mind spending time with (even if it’s just sexy time), it’s easy to become complacent about dating and putting yourself out there. If you really aren’t interested in anything more, that’s okay, but if you’d like to eventually find yourself in a proper, committed relationship, you don’t want your FWB to distract you from any real contenders.
Thou shalt not continue with an FWB relationship if it’s no longer fun. This is an important one. The whole point of an FWB is that you can have some no-strings-attached fun and then go on living your life in-between, carefree. But if these casual romps start taking a toll, it’s time to reevaluate. It may be because you’ve developed feelings and this dead-end situation is no longer satisfying. Or maybe it just isn’t exciting anymore. Whatever the reason, if having an FWB starts to leave you feeling bad instead of good, it’s time to call it quits. Until then, enjoy yourself!
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