Have you been thinking about starting a friends-with-benefits relationship but you’re not sure whether this is the right choice for you? Would you like a cuddle-buddy without the commitment of a serious relationship but you’re worried about hurting your partner? You do not even know what friends-with-benefits means and you’re now wondering what the hell I am talking about? Then, this is the perfect article for you!
Friends-with-benefits (FWB): what does this even mean?
FWB refers to all sorts of couples that engage in any type of relationship-like activities without the commitment of having a serious engagement. Every FWB relationship is unique. In some cases, the two people involved barely know each other and meet every now and then to spend a nice night together. For some people, it’s fundamental to find someone with whom they can connect on a deeper mental level. In other cases, people do not even engage in sexual activities but in other forms of relationship-like pastimes, such as cuddling while watching a movie, going on dates or hugging in bed.
It’s up to you to define both the word ‘friend’, which may refer to someone you don’t even know the surname of or to someone you deeply care about, as well as the word ‘benefit’ which may stand for both sexual intercourses or simply holding hands. In general, what defines this term is the will of keeping things casual and fun, without planning too much for the future.
The many positive and negative sides of being FWB
Alright, now that you understood the basics, let’s see what the benefits of starting this type of relationship are. This hugely depends on the type of relationship you have with your partner. If you are connected on a mental level the benefits are obvious. You will end up spending some quality time with a person you value and respect. In case your relationship is purely physical, you will end up learning a bit more about your own sexual preferences. Spending a night with someone can be great for recharging your energy!
However, there are some negatives that come with an FWB relationship. As said before, FWB relationships can hugely vary but they all share a lack of commitment. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know whether you will end up developing the biggest crush ever on your partner or even worse, fall in love! If you are lucky, your partner will return your feelings but this is not always the case.
Is FWB for you?
FWB is not for everyone and even if you think you can deal with it, there are moments in life when starting this type of relationship is not ideal. But let’s start from the beginning! How do you know if FWB is for you?
The main point is that you need to be comfortable with having sex or just cuddling with people with whom you do not necessarily see a future together. For some people, it’s impossible to have a physical connection with someone unless there is a solid base and commitment behind it. If this is your case, obviously FWB is not for you. If you need constant attention and reliability from a partner, maybe you should reconsider an FWB relationship. No commitment means that your partner will probably not be there during your late-night crisis and, yes, you can get mad about it, but he or she still has no obligations towards you. Lastly, if you tend to fall in love easily, well, going into an FWB relationship may be challenging.
In case you do not recognize yourself among any of the people described above you may be ready to try FWB out. But beware! There are moments in everyone’s life during which it’s better to avoid the beginning of an FWB relationship. If you just moved to a new city, it can be fun to have someone to hang out with without commitment, especially when your circle of friends is still small or inexistent. But if after a few months your partner is the only person you see on a regular basis, you may have to reconsider your relationship. Even though you don’t feel any type of romantic attachment towards your partner, the fact that he or she is the only person you see may create problems. If you will break up with your partner, you will end up completely alone, and even though it meant nothing to you besides good sex, trust me, the break-up will be much more challenging than expected. Think about it, you will not only lose your partner but your only friend as well. Not ideal.
You may also want to reconsider your relationship if you are experiencing a difficult period in your life and your emotions are unstable. One day you may think that you do not want commitment in your life and the next one, after a bad day at work, you may change your mind and wonder why your partner is not there to support you during your crisis.
Lastly, be sure that the time spent with your partner is not the only one you dedicate to fun activities outside of your super busy working schedule. You shouldn’t see someone only so that you can finally take some time off. Make sure you have some fun when you’re alone as well!
Ok, you are ready to try FWB out! But where to start?
Nowadays, these types of relationships have been widely normalised. The best way is to ask your friends whether they know someone who may fit with you. Organise a dinner with friends or a day at the park and ask each of them to bring someone. Chances are that you will find the right person for you! Try to avoid people in your close circle of friends. If things go the wrong way, you don’t want to see the person who just broke your heart on a daily basis. Make sure to follow the three golden rules: colleagues, housemates and people studying with you are off-limits! In general, don’t choose someone you are forced to see and spend time with every week.
If you are a bit shy, you can use some dating apps. They are usually full of people who are open to starting an FWB relationship and will be more than happy to see how things will go with you.
If dating apps are not for you and your wallet allows it, plan a trip. Hostels are normally full of people travelling full-time and happy to share some relationship-like activities without commitment. The negative side is that it may only last a few days. If you are looking for a low budget adventure you can also check websites such as Workaway.com where you will find plenty of communities that, for a few hours of work a day, will be willing to give you hospitality and food.
Once you have found the right person make sure to let them know what you’re looking for. Tell your partner about your desire to start an FWB relationship at the beginning of your adventure together. The second date is normally the best moment to bring this up. Earlier is also ok, but don’t wait for the third date. Most people think monogamy is the norm and give full commitment for granted. The earlier you have this conversation the higher the chance that no one will create false expectations and get hurt.
Rules & Tips for the perfect FWB relationship
Choose the right person
First and foremost you need to choose someone who is honestly willing to engage in this type of relationship. Don’t pick up your high-school friend who has been in love with you since the second grade. Make sure the person you choose is fully comfortable in having an FWB relationship and doesn’t have any emotional feelings towards you. If your biggest worry is to make your partner suffer you can try with someone in a polyamorous or open relationship. These people normally have plenty of experience in the field and are probably already seeing someone as their primary partner, so there are fewer chances that they will hopelessly fall in love with you.
Boundaries are a must!
Make sure to set boundaries before starting the relationship. For instance, is it ok to date other people? If yes, make sure it’s clear for both of you that protection is a must! Nobody wants to spread or catch STDs! Are there any sex toys that you are exclusively using with each other? Do you have to tell your partner whether you are seeing someone else? Is it your partner’s right to ask questions about the other people you’re seeing?
Are you an exclusive FWB couple and simply aren’t looking for any commitment? What if one of the two is in trouble or having a hard time? Is there any sort of obligation that comes with this relationship? Are you celebrating anniversaries or other important dates? Are you expecting your partner to be there for your birthday? Are you seeing each other only for sexual purposes or also to spend quality time together? What are your sexual boundaries?
Make sure to discuss every possible question! Of course, you won’t be able to cover everything at the beginning, but every time a new question comes up make sure to discuss it.
Keep analysing your feelings
In the beginning, you may be confident that nothing serious will ever happen between the two of you. But things sometimes change. Make sure you regularly keep asking yourself whether romantic feelings are arising. Invite your partner to do the same and share with each other freely. It’s absolutely normal to get emotionally attached to someone with whom you’re sharing so many intimate moments. Just keep each other informed and decide together how to proceed.
What if I fall in love?
I won’t lie. It can happen. If this is the case there are two main options: your partner is willing to start something serious or he’s not.
If it’s clear that your partner is not and never will look for something more, simply end the relationship. You may believe that you are strong enough to continue being FWB despite your feelings, but you will only end up hurting yourself more and more as time passes by. If your partner is willing to start a committed relationship, you will have to reset your boundaries. Discuss questions such as: are we exclusive now or are we still in an open relationship despite the commitment? What do you mean by commitment? What is going to change?
Lastly, there is a third option: they are not ready for a committed relationship but you think, or they think, they may be in the future. This is a dangerous area as I’m sure most of your friends will tell you to let it be. That if they are not sure now, they never will. I disagree. Trust your guts! If they have been around for many months if you do not only engage in sexual activities but also spend quality time together if they came over more than once and left the day after without realising that nothing sexual happened between the two of you, it may be that sex is not the only thing that keeps them coming back to you. Make sure you know their past story. Are they coming out of a difficult relationship? They never had one and they are scared of trying? Let them have the right time to understand what they really want. When you ask your partner to start a serious relationship it can be quite overwhelming. Make sure to give them time to think about it and then return to your question. Sometimes just by breaking up, they will realise that they also wanted more. However, if a few months have passed and they still haven’t made up their mind, I’m sorry, but it’s better for you to split paths.
Now you’re ready to start your FWB relationship! Make sure to have fun and respect your partner. And remember, however, it will end up, you will learn a lot about yourself. Good luck!