How to be friends with benefits. 3 definitive rules

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

It’s a weird time to be alive. Social dating sites for the non-monogamous are more accessible than ever, but we are still bombarded by the toxic heteronormative insistence that romantic/sexual relationships should only ever be between one man and one woman.

We see it everywhere in the media and hear it from just about everyone we know. And yet individuals are engaging in successful FWB (friends with benefits) relationships everywhere.

Yes, you really can fuck without feelings!

Well, more or less. It depends on a lot of factors, like where you lie on the monogamy spectrum (hint: it’s different for literally everyone). But with self-awareness, proper boundaries, and realistic expectations just about anyone can have a successful friends with benefits relationship.

Here are some tips to help you on your journey:

1. Make sure it’s what you really want.

Don’t roll your eyes at this one. “Why would I be reading this,” you’re thinking, “if I wasn’t sure an FWB relationship is what I want?” Hopefully you’re humble enough to admit that we’re all stupid sometimes and jump into things without really thinking them through.

You might think having an FWB means friends, freedom, and fucking without consequences 24/7 but truth is, it’s a lot more complicated than that. People get jealous. People don’t always know what their boundaries are when they start a relationship, causing hella tension when things need to change down the line. Every person is different, and so every relationship you have will be different.  And yes, it is possible that a friends with benefits will catch feelings (you might even be the one to do so), and you’ll either have to give them more or painfully cut ties.

Basically, it’s a fuck-ton of work! But that doesn’t mean it won’t be worth it. You just need to know what you’re getting into before you do it.

A good way to test whether friends with benefits are a good idea is to imagine having this type of relationship with someone you know. Visualize every positive experience you hope to have with this FWB from flirting to late-night conversations and fucking.

Now imagine this person wants to enter a monogamous relationship with someone else.

If you think you can manage that then congratulations – friends with benefits might be right for you!  If not, you should explore why that is. Maybe what you’re looking for is a poly relationship in which you and your partner(s) can see other people but still stay together for the long-haul. Or maybe you’re just afraid of losing someone you care about even if you know you could never settle down with them. Either way, the more self-awareness you have, the better you can align with what you really want and prevent unnecessary heartbreak!

2. Communicate. Like, a lot.

“Isn’t the point of having an FWB to make things easy?” Well, no actually. And if you’re thinking this way, you probably aren’t ready to have one (see: tip 1). You should of course have more independence and romantic/sexual freedom, but beyond that, the people you engage with are still people and should be treated as such. You still need to communicate boundaries and have an exit strategy if anyone’s needs significantly change.

Basically, your intentions should be obvious as fuck. It’s the only way to ensure that you aren’t accidentally stringing someone along and vice-versa.

3. Don’t be afraid to catch (some) feelings.

This might come as a shocker, but you are in fact supposed to LIKE the people that you’re sleeping with. In fact, one study shows that happy friends with benefits have a feeling of connectedness and a willingness to sacrifice for each other. That’s right: they have feelings for each other!

Maybe they aren’t “love-you-till-the-day-I-die-give-my-everything-to-you-and-only-you” feelings, but they are positive feelings none the less.

Although most people tend to focus on the “benefits” part of having a friend with benefits, that’s just one part of it. You should trust each other too. You should feel comfortable enough to discuss boundaries and expect that they will always be respected.

If you set and stick to said boundaries, you can ensure better relationships and benefits!

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