What Does Being ‘Friends With Benefits’ Really Mean?

As its name suggests, a friends with benefits relationship is a friendship between two people with a bit extra on the side. Usually, it refers to two people who are consistently hooking up without being in a relationship, but there also needs to be an understanding between the two of you that things are platonic and aren’t heading in a direction of developing into more. So what does this kind of arrangement really mean?

  1. You’re Both Looking For Sexual Satisfaction. Friends with benefits is about sex. You’d both prefer to be involved with someone consistent even if it’s not an official relationship rather than hooking up with random people. At the heart of it, friends with benefits is about getting your rocks off in a safe and familiar way. You’re both mutually benefitting from the arrangement by getting sexual satisfaction from it.
  2. You’re Free To See Other People. This is a key point of a friends with benefits arrangement. If you’re both only exclusively seeing each other, then it’s no different than a traditional, monogamous relationship. But when you’re only hooking up with a friend casually, you’re both free to do what you want with other people, whether it’s hook up or date. And you shouldn’t allow a friends with benefits relationship to stop you from seeing other people. You should pursue what you want, including if that’s an official, committed relationship.
  3. But Don’t Mention It Unless It’s Serious. It may feel weird talking about your other hook-ups or dates with your friend with benefits. Thinking about the fact that they’re likely seeing other people may weird you out, and that’s okay. Many friends with benefits introduce a rule that they don’t mention what they’re up to in their dating life unless a relationship turns serious, in which case the friends with benefits relationship must end. However, if you feel jealous at the thought of your friend with benefit hooking up or dating someone else, you may need to revaluate the relationship, as it’s important to ensure romantic feelings stay out of the arrangement.
  4. You Need Established Rules & Boundaries. To add on to the last point, it’s important to establish the ground rules early on. This not only establishes an open line of communication but can prevent feelings from getting hurt later on. You’ll want to talk about what you should do if someone develops feelings and how you’ll navigate dating other people. Even consider discussing the timeline. How long do you see the two of you casually hooking up? What’s the point of the relationship?
  5. You Don’t Hang Out Outside Of The Bedroom. Some friends with benefits started out with friends, so it may be normal for the two of you to hang out together, whether it’s going to the movies or grabbing a bite to eat. But proceed with caution. The more the two of you hang out apart from what you do between the sheets, the more likely it is for feelings to develop. The boundaries get blurred if you’re having sex and hanging out. Your friends may start to see no difference between your friends with benefits arrangement and a real relationship, and after a while, you may start to feel the same.
  6. It’s Sex With No Strings (Or Emotions) Attached. This is the golden rule of friends with benefits that cannot be understated. While the two of you may be sexual partners, there are no strings attached to your arrangement. In other words, neither of you should have romantic feelings for the other. A friend with benefits arrangement isn’t meant to be the precursor to a relationship; it’s not typical that both of you will catch feelings as a result. Rather, it’s more likely one of you will develop feelings while the other wants to keep things casual, leading to hurt feelings. If you’re hoping the relationship will turn into more or you’re crushing on your friend with benefits, it’s time to rethink the arrangement. You should both be on the same page about no romance.
  7. You Can Be There For Each Other Platonically. Even though friends with benefits aren’t supposed to be romantically involved, it doesn’t mean you can’t support one another. Having a sexual connection can bring you closer together and compliment an existing friendship. You may feel more comfortable opening up to your friend with benefits than other people in your life, as a result. But be careful – you don’t want those platonic feelings to develop into something romantic, which can leave one of you feeling frustrated with the original arrangement.
  8. But Things Should End If One Of You Catches Feelings. Going into the friends with benefits arrangement, be prepared to end things if feelings develop.   If you both develop feelings for one another, that’s great. Maybe you’ll be in agreement about taking things to the next level. But considering you entered the arrangement with the understanding things would only stay causal, it’s unlikely. If one of you starts crushing on the other person, it can lead to an uncomfortable and awkward situation. If you find yourself catching feelings, it’s likely in the best interest of the relationship to end things as soon as possible.
  9. It’s An Opportunity To Experiment In Bed. One of the greatest things about a friends with benefits relationship is it’s an opportunity to explore your sexuality. You’re not trying to impress the other person like you would at the start of a relationship. Rather, you’ve both entered the arrangement with the understanding that you’re in it to get sexual satisfaction. So, it gives you an opportunity to voice what you like in bed. Even more, use it as a chance to get practice. Is there a specific position you’re not confident with? Tell your friend with benefit you want to work on it. You should be able to have an open dialogue about sex when you’re hooking up with someone on a regular basis.
  10. You Need To Know When To Move On. Finally, one of the most important things about a friends with benefits relationship is knowing it’s not going to last forever. The end goal isn’t to achieve a committed relationship or get married and have kids. It’s to get sexual satisfaction in the moment. Be mature enough to know when things are over, whether that’s when you find someone you want to pursue a relationship with or you feel as though the friends with benefits arrangement has run its course.
Alexandra is a freelance writer in Montreal, Quebec. She enjoys shopping as a sport, Buffy the Vampire Slayer re-runs, and being a plant mom.