Few relationships are as intense as being friends-with-benefits, mainly because it sounds amazing and yet seems impossible to maintain. The idea of having fun, casual sex with someone that you already know and trust certainly has some appeal, but it also has plenty of downsides. If this is an idea that you and one of your pals have mulled over, here are a few key rules to abide by to try and make a no-strings relationship work for the best.
- First and foremost, you have to be comfortable with the guy. This might be pretty obvious, but it bears stating anyway. You might be attracted to a male friend, but take a second to imagine actually doing the deed with this person – a guy who has, perhaps, witnessed your “vomit incident” in elementary school or watched you make a drunken fool out of yourself freshman year of college. Now, this could be exciting for you! The idea of being intimate with someone who was there for all those moments might make you smile. Or? It could be a gigantic turn-off. So, before engaging in this conversation with a buddy, make sure you’ve taken the time to determine that you are, in fact, into the idea of this sexual experiment.
- You also have to be comfortable with a non-traditional relationship. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a classic “boyfriend-girlfriend” kind of relationship. But if you’re a traditional gal through and through, venturing into a friends-with-benefits situation might not be the best choice for you. This man is not going to be your boyfriend; theoretically, it’s all of the sex and none of the boyfriend-type things your man might do, like be a shoulder to cry on or take you out on dinner dates. If that doesn’t sound so fun, then a FWB relationship is not for you, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
- Establish some rules. Once you’ve found a guy that you’re comfortable with and you’ve determined you are ready to venture into this unique kind of relationship, it’s crucial to establish some rules upfront. Determine if you’ll tell anyone in your friend group what’s going down between you two, how you stand on going out on dates, or what sexual acts you do/do not like. Naturally, you have to share any STDs with your new partner and discuss safe sex protocols. Pro Tip:
- Make sure you both come up with a safe word. As you should with any sexual relationship! Safe words are essential for healthy communication during sex, and we highly encourage you and your FWB to come up with one. This will help establish physical boundaries and a respectful relationship early on.
- Know that you can see/sleep with other people – and so can he. Unless part of your agreement is that you wouldn’t see anyone else while you two are fooling around (which, and no judgment here, would kind of ruin the whole “non-commital” aspect of this type of relationship) don’t be alarmed if your friend is also seeing or sleeping with other people. Likewise, you shouldn’t be afraid to see other people, yourself! Still dating outside of your FWB will affirm the casualness of the relationship and make it more difficult for one of you to become emotionally attached. Obviously, you don’t have to tell your buddy the deets on every other guy you’re hooking up with, but making it clear that seeing others is on the table will keep things honest and prevent feelings from getting hurt both ways.
- Don’t expect anything. That brings us to one of the biggest issues when it comes to friends-with-benefits: you cannot expect it to turn into something more. There’s certainly a chance that it could, but both of you agreed to be in this no-strings relationship to AVOID the constructs of monogamy, so odds are that physical needs/occasional companionship are all there is to it. Expecting this fling to transform into a relationship is the easiest way to get your feeling hurt and ruin a potentially fulfilling sexual relationship. So, either be prepared to get invested and potentially get your heart broken, or go in knowing that this is strictly fun and will likely lead to nothing serious.
- As soon as you catch some feelings, say something. Now, you and your friend-with-benefits aren’t robots – you both have the capacity to catch feelings from a casual relationship like this. Sometimes the intimacy of sex is difficult to separate from the person you’re sleeping with, and frankly, this is totally normal. The only thing you can do is immediately discuss your feelings with your FWB and encourage them to do the same if they start to feel something for you; this will be an uncomfortable conversation and could result in the end of your arrangement, but better that than allowing yourself to seriously develop feelings for your friend.