Friends with benefits – it all started as a bit of a joke. But in recent years, people have begun treating it more seriously. It’s the idea that a friend can meet your sexual needs without any of the commitment, arguments, or emotional attachment of a conventional romantic relationship. Sounds great, right?
Well, not so fast. While the theory is sound, the practice is anything but. In fact, pulling off a friends-with-benefits setup is considerably more challenging than you might think. It’s hard to separate the physical from the emotional, so you’ll need to be constantly vigilant to prevent anyone’s feelings from getting hurt, including your own.
In this post, we take a look at some rules you’ll need to follow if you want a friends-with-benefits (FWB) relationship. Here’s the overview with more explanation below:
Friends with Benefits Rules
1. Be Honest
2. Be Careful About Who You Choose
3. Don’t Sleep Over
4. Talk About Your Sex Life and Be Safe
5. Leave Your Expectations at the Door
6. Set Boundaries
7. Keep Communication Open
8. Don’t Get Jealous
9. Keep Dating
10. Check Your Emotional Maturity
11. Don’t get an FWB That You Already Have Feelings For
12. Watch out for Narcissists
Rule #1: Be Honest
This is the big one: being honest. Both people need to understand that they are entering an FWB setup. It should be clear from the start that the relationship is about scratching that sexual itch and nothing else. Neither party should expect the exclusivity nor intimacy that comes with a full-blown romantic relationship. Each person needs to view themselves as the other person’s plaything, to be discarded at a moment’s notice, with no strings attached.
Rule #2: Be Careful About Who You Choose
Only a small minority of people can separate their sexuality from romantic feelings of attachment. As such, you’ll need to select your partner carefully. You might feel okay about the FWB arrangement, but the other person might not (even if they say they don’t mind).
Be wary of who you choose. Don’t start something with someone who’s been giving you puppy eyes since childhood. Find someone with the same attitude as you. Look for a person who’s looking for bedroom fun but doesn’t expect cuddles, gifts, “quality time” or any of the other trappings of conventional relationships.
Rule #3: Don’t Sleep Over
On a similar theme, don’t stay the night. Don’t have cuddles or kisses after sex. Certainly don’t tell the other person you love them. The moment you cross that line, the FWB becomes a full-blown romance and the chances of pain and suffering skyrocket.
Rule #4: Talk About Your Sex Life And Be Safe
If you and your FWB are in an exclusive sexual relationship, then the risks of infection are relatively low. However, if one or both of you has other sexual partners, the need to practice safe sex increases. And that means CONDOMS, CONDOMS, and more CONDOMS. The more sexual protection you can bring to bear, the more confidence you and your FWB will have.
Rule #5: Leave Your Expectations At The Door
We can get into the habit of forming expectations of other people, particularly people we’re sleeping with. But if you want a sustainable FWB relationship, it’s best to have no expectations whatsoever. That means that you don’t expect them to be faithful, turn up on time, or text you when you text them.
The term “friends with benefits” is actually a little unhelpful in this regard. That’s because regular friends should meet basic expectations. You should treat FWBs as free-spirits who could flutter away at any moment.
Rule #6: Set Boundaries
Before you jump into bed with your FWB, it’s a good idea to set some boundaries. These could include:
- Not discussing anything you do on social media
- Not socializing with each other’s friends and family
- Determining whether the relationship will be public or private
- Discussing what you won’t do in the bedroom
You’ll also want to regularly review your boundaries. The situation may change.
Rule #7: Keep Communication Open
While you won’t be sharing intimate or romantic thoughts with your FWB, it’s critical to keep lines of communication open. You should feel confident discussing sexual health, boundaries, and expectations in your new relationship.
This level of openness requires a degree of maturity from both sides. It can be hard to be upfront and honest about the things that matter while avoiding intimacy.
Therefore, you’ll want to have regular check-ins and ask bland, procedural questions that relate to safety, sexual health, or logistics. Going as far as scheduling weekly review meetings can also help.
Rule #8: Don’t Get Jealous
If your FWB is pursuing other people, don’t get jealous. Enjoy the relationship for what it’s worth and then let it go when the time comes. Avoid the temptation to become attached or to view it as something long-term. By definition, it’s not.
Rule #9: Keep Dating
An FWB is not a serious partner. Therefore, if you’re looking for someone serious and long-term, keep dating. Your FWB can meet your sexual needs while you look for the right person. Just remember to tell them that you’re looking for a long-term partner who could arrive at any time.
Rule #10: Check Your Emotional Maturity
While an FWB setup might sound great on the surface, many people don’t have the emotional maturity to make it work in the long term. Adding sex to an existing relationship is high-risk and comes with significant peril.
Above all, you need to be honest with yourself and what you want. And that’s not always easy because many people don’t know their real desires.
Then, you’ll need to assess your partner and figure out where they are coming from. And that can be tricky, too. You don’t want to get two months in, only to discover that they had lovey-dovey feelings for you all along.
Rule #11: Don’t Get A FWB You Already Have Feelings For
It can be tempting to use an FWB arrangement to get into a relationship with someone you already have feelings for. But no matter how tempting that might seem, don’t do it. The chances you will get burned are exceptionally high.
Instead, choose a bed buddy you feel indifferent towards, not someone you have to be with at all costs.
Rule #12: Watch out for Narcissists
FWB is a dream relationship for a narcissist and it may be all they are capable of providing. They may try to manipulate and abuse you via love bombing, gas lighting. Just when you are ready for more they’ll move on.
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