Relationships are great but have you tried mind-blowing sex without any emotional baggage or attachment? With the right friends-with-benefits rules, you can enjoy that with someone you know and trust. Rules being the operative word here. That’s because, if left unbridled, friends-with-benefits (FWB) equations can become tricky to handle.
What if one person develops feelings for the other and wants more than just no-strings-attached hook-ups? What if you stop feeling it with your friend with benefits and want out? What if they find someone and want to move on? That’s why laying some ground rules is a must for friends who’re inclined to get intimate without being in a relationship. It prevents a fun, casual thing from turning into a complicated mess.
What Does FWB Mean And How Is It Different From Dating?
If you have been wondering what are friends with benefits, you are on the right page, err, place. Well, broadly, the friends-with-benefits meaning is pretty self-explanatory. You’re friends who hook up with each other from time to time. A study on FWB defines the term as, “Framed as casual, it is about sex among friends; one that brings together friendship (i.e. psychological intimacy), and physical closeness void of romantic liaisons.” So the key takeaways from this definition would be:
- A friend with whom you have a casual relationship for sexual pleasure
- It is a no-strings-attached relationship devoid of any emotional baggage
- The relationship here refers to physical intimacy and not feelings
- It is usually between friends so that trust and compatibility are not compromised
Finding common ground with your partner to outline the idea of FWB right at the outset can ensure that experience is breezy, casual, and fun for both parties involved.
Related Reading: Sleeping With Your Best Friend? Here Are 10 Pros And Cons
The difference between FWB, Situationship and Dating
“I am seeing someone!”, “I am in a relationship with that bloke”, “That was just a random hookup!”, “What do I tell you, it’s a situationship!”, “We are keeping it casual”, “We are doing it. No-Strings-Attached!” These dating, or non-dating, terms can often get a little too complex. The major difference between all of these scenarios is on three planes:
- Type of relationship: Whether it’s primarily sexual, or primarily romantic
- Level of Commitment/Exclusivity: Are you keeping the relationships open, or closed, are you monogamously attached?
- Clarity: Both partners are either on the same page regarding what they want from their relationship, or everything is vague
This makes all the difference! We know dating is romantic in nature. Sex may or may not be involved in dating and couples often graduate to becoming monogamous. A situationship is a kind of dating but differs from dating on the grounds of commitment and clarity. In a situationship, couples date but are not sure what their relationship status is.
On the other hand, in an ideal friends-with-benefits relationship, the interaction is sexual, no romance is involved, and there is often no commitment toward each other, but most importantly, both partners know what they want from their arrangement. So, which of these is the right choice for you?
Is FWB a right choice for you?
Are you designed to knock boots without hurting yourself, or will casual sex with a friend complicate things for you? The distinction lies on a fine thread based on what your relationship with sex is, and your current emotional health. If you don’t have an interest in the emotional investment a relationship requires, FWB may be a good choice for you. Even individuals who identify as aromantic may benefit from the “physical only” quality of a benefits relationship.
On the other hand, if you are getting into a benefits relationship because you have a huge crush on this person, and the only relationship they are going to have with you is sexual, you can get hurt in the process. An FWB will leave you feeling vulnerable, unimportant, or unfulfilled if you aren’t sure this is what you want. A long-term FWB will set you back in your romantic journey to finding a soulmate.
To make sure this is how you like your sex: non-committed, light, and breezy, take a deep dive into your heart. Think of the following statements and see if they resonate with you:
- You don’t really like being single and would rather fall in love
- You love holding hands and cuddling post-sex
- You have an iota of hope that an FWB with your crush will develop into something more serious
- An FWB is the only way you can stay close to your crush
- You know that a benefits situation is going to be painful for you but you want to revel in the pain
If the above statements resonate with you, the benefits lifestyle may become a twisted mess. It is okay to be a hopeless romantic and wait for your perfect partner. If your crush can’t give you that, there is plenty of fish in the sea. On the other hand, if you enjoy being single, can’t wait to be by yourself post-sex, have a trusted friend with whom you share a palpable sexual chemistry, and love the idea of releasing that sexual tension, sex with friends is totally your cup of tea.
Related Reading: 11 Types Of Casual Relationships That Exist
18 Friends-With-Benefits Rules To Swear By
So, you’re happily single and want to keep it that way but there is a friend who leaves you feeling weak in the knees every time you lay eyes on them. You get a sense that they too feel the same way. You have the perfect setting to get a friends-with-benefits relationship going. But don’t jump the gun just yet.
Before you hook up with this person that you find irresistible, get a contract with friends-with-benefits rules in place. Wondering what does that even mean? By contract, we don’t mean an actual written contract. We just mean setting expectations and ground rules so that there is a clear, concise understanding of what this equation means for both of you and where you want to draw the line. To help you get started, here are 18 rules for friends with benefits that you can swear by:
1. Define what FWB lifestyle means to you
The specifics of the FWB equation can mean different things to different people. Thus, the foremost of the friends-with-benefits rules for guys and girls is to find out the FWB meaning for themselves. Even more important than discussing it with your “best friend with benefits”, it is important to find out for yourself why you’re choosing this arrangement.
Make sure you are not getting into this trying to escape something, find a distraction, or punish yourself (people can have a masochistic desire to feel pain, by trying to play with something they know they can’t have). Make sure this is healthy for you.
2. Always seek consent
Now that you’re boning, it doesn’t mean you can take asking for consent for granted. Don’t just show up at your friend’s place expecting some action without any forewarning. Or push for something they’re not ready for while you’re both in bed. As sexual needs are dynamic, feelings can change without a warning, which makes consent one of the most crucial aspects of the contract and neither party must take it lightly at any time.
Consent and respect are key elements of great sex. If you cross a line in the heat of the moment, you risk hurting the other person for life and jeopardizing not just a perfect arrangement but also your friendship. On the flip side, don’t feel obligated to say yes to things you’re not comfortable with just because you’re sleeping with this person.
Related Reading: What Do Guys Think Of Their Female Friends?
3. Discuss the element of exclusivity and friends-with-benefits boundaries
When entering a friends-with-benefits arrangement with a buddy, do discuss expectations about sleeping with other people. How far do your friends-with-benefits boundaries go? While this is not a romantic relationship, expectations can take hold in intimate connections such as these, even if it is just casual sex. Besides, not everyone is comfortable with the idea of their sexual partner having multiple partners.
An honest conversation on this aspect is warranted while drawing up your friends-with-benefits contract. Are you in an exclusive hook-up arrangement, or can you see other people? How long do you want it to last? What are you both okay doing? Do cuddles mean romance to you, or are they part of the sexual after-play? There is so much you can talk about!
4. How to have safe sex with a FWB
One of the most important rules for everyone, irrespective of gender, is to have safe sex. Whether or not you’re sleeping with other people, safety is non-negotiable in such an arrangement. It’s not hard to see how throwing caution to the wind can expose you to the risk of STIs and STDs or unwanted pregnancy. So, it’s best to err on the side of caution and not get reckless in the heat of the moment.
- Be open and honest to one another about your sex life
- Always use protection
- Plan birth control methods
- Go for routine STI check ups
Highlight sexual health in red when establishing friends-with-benefits rules in high school, since it becomes much easier to ignore the importance of protection under the guise of exploration in those years.
5. Pay attention to your personal hygiene
Just because you’re not dating this person, it doesn’t mean you get to be a slob in the bedroom. Even if they’re not your girlfriend/boyfriend, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to groom yourself. Don’t show up with prickly pubes, stained undies, armpit hair, or garlic breath. Take time to groom yourself as you would if you were going to get down and dirty with a romantic partner.
Even if you two are besties and they know you all too well, make this one of your top friends-with-benefits rules anyway. Expect your casual sex partner to do the same. It doesn’t hurt to spell it out when setting rules for friends with benefits, just so that you are both on the same page.
Related Reading: Got Friendzoned? Believe Us It’s Great for You!
6. Know how to make the most of your FWB relationship
The best part about such unconventional alliances is that they excite you and stroke your carnal urges a whole lot more than a traditional relationship. So, revel in that rush you feel when in bed with your friend with benefits.
- Let yourself go and shed your inhibitions
- Play out your sexual fantasies and deep, dark desires
- Speak your mind and let them know what you desire
- Don’t hold yourself back from experimenting and exploring new things that give your sexual pleasure
The whole friends-with-benefits meaning is lost if you miss out on this part. A casual relationship, in contrast to a committed one, will allow you the space to focus on your sexual dreams without thinking about much else. I mean, isn’t getting to let go of emotional ties the whole point here?
7. How to not get emotionally attached to your FWB
Getting emotionally attached to your FWB may be a bad idea. It’s one thing if you and your friend with benefits have always hung out and are used to spending time together. But if this person is someone you shared a casual friendship with before, be wary of venturing into the couples’ territory.
- Steer clear of doing coupley stuff together like hold hands
- Do not be overly affectionate and lovey-dovey
- Limit activities such as going to the movies or shopping together
- Don’t spend time with each other out of the “benefits with friend” part
- Avoid dates, having lunch, or getting coffee
- Limit your interactions and communication
These can be the breeding grounds for emotional intimacy. Since you’re already physically intimate, getting emotionally attached can instantly put your equation into the complicated territory.
Related Reading: What Does Exclusive Mean To A Guy?
8. Avoid flirting in public
This is especially important if you’re friends with benefits at the workplace or are sleeping with a friend who is part of your inner circle. No matter how much you’re turned on by each other’s presence or how high the sparks are flying, avoid flirting in public. Also make this one of your friends-with-benefits rules in high school, where rumors rage on like wildfire. This is particularly important if you want to keep your casual sex with friend relationship on the down low.
If you can’t control yourself, what with all the sex keeping you high, use a more discreet medium like texting. That way you can get the message across without raising eyebrows. Besides, the whole clandestine angle does make things a lot more exciting.
9. Don’t introduce your FWB to family or friends
As far as friends-with-benefits rules go, introducing an FWB to your family or friends is a big NO-NO. That stuff is reserved for serious relationships only. By getting your family or friends involved in this arrangement, you risk complicating the situation by getting everyone’s expectations up. Not to mention the pain of dealing with the prying “what’s going with you guys” questions.
Even if your friends and family already know the person you’re in a friends-with-benefits arrangement with, there is just no need to announce this aspect of your equation to them.
10. Stay away from sleepovers
If you want to avoid dealing with possessive friends-with-benefits situations, steer clear of circumstances that can lead to emotional attachment. Having sleepovers certainly tops that list. When your FWB sleeps over, they may bring you coffee in bed the next morning, or fix breakfast. You may shower together before getting ready for the day, making it easy to catch feelings.
A research study points out that around 22% of the participants developed “emotional complications” during their FWB relationships. So avoid doing anything that meddles with your emotions for your FWB partner. This just confuses things. Have your share of fun, maybe top it up with a nightcap or a quick shower, and then, head home or say goodbye to them depending on where you’re at.
11. The same goes for cuddles and snuggles
Speaking of rules for friends who’re sleeping with each other to eliminate the chances of developing an emotional connection, cuddling or snuggling up after sex is also a no-go territory. It will leave you feeling all warm, fuzzy, and somewhat smitten with your FWB.
Leave the physical intimacy to just good sex. If you get all mushy, you know as well as we do that’s a recipe for disaster. Especially if you two are already very close and have been besties for years, make this one of your best-friends-with-benefits rules. You don’t want to ruin a convenient arrangement and lose your best friend by catching feelings for them.
12. Negotiate personal space with your FWB
Space is important in any relationship or connection you cultivate with another person. This is especially true for a no-strings-attached arrangement with a friend. So, when you discuss establishing boundaries with your friends with benefits, factor in the element of space.
Here are some rules that you can follow to make sure that both of you have your breathing room and do not get embroiled in something more serious. This will go a long way in managing expectations later on while keeping you both on the same page.
- Make it explicitly clear that neither of you will put up with the other becoming too clingy
- Focus more on the friendship than the physical closeness
- One has to have FWB texting rules to not smother or annoy the other person. Steer clear from good morning texts or texting them ten times a day
- Keep your equation fun, playful, and lighthearted – just as you would have with any of your BFFs
- Mutual understanding and respect for each other’s privacy and space are at the root of successful FWB relationships
- Do not try to prod each other for information on each other’s sex lives
13. Be open to new relationships
This thing you have going with your friend may be great but it is superficial and casual at best. You need to know that usually there is no long-term commitment when it comes to sex with friends. So, do not let it take up the space of a real relationship in your life. Be open to meeting new people, going out on dates, and starting a new relationship if the right person comes along. This becomes especially crucial if you’re trying a long-distance friends-with-benefits arrangement.
14. How to not be jealous in a FWB relationship
If your friend with benefits finds someone else or is putting themselves out on the dating scene, don’t let it make your insides turn green with jealousy.
- Remind yourself that you’re not partners
- Understand that they’re not cheating on you or crossing any lines if they seek a deeper connection with someone else
- Remember your rules entailed that you two are free to seek anyone else romantically
This is an especially important one to include in the rules for long-distance friends with benefits. Perhaps you’re in different cities and resort to sexting to sustain your FWB relationship. It can become easy in this situation to be filled with rage when they actually go out with someone else. But there is no need to feel discarded!
15. Space out your shenanigans
If you and your FWB are getting together every day for some hot, steamy action, it is only natural that you’d get used to each other’s presence in your life. That is the first step to getting attached to someone. This will cause a lot of pain and grief when one of you moves on. That’s why spacing out your escapades is among the most important rules. Even if you hate abiding by it, you know it is essential to sustaining your open or exclusive hook-up arrangement, whichever it may be.
16. How to not fall in love in FWB relationships
We cannot emphasize this enough. When you have such an intimate connection with someone and begin to feel utterly comfortable in their presence, it is only natural that feelings may blossom at some point. If you sense that happening, try to follow these thumb rules:
- Don’t be on the lookout for love in a friends-with-benefits situation
- Distance yourself from your partner emotionally, mentally, and digitally
- Keep a check on your feelings; make it a conscious decision
- An extremely important rule for friends with benefits is to limit expectations
As per a research study based on a survey, 60% of the participants were concerned about harboring “unreciprocated desires for romantic commitment” due to the physical intimacy in the random hookup setting. However, if you cannot rein your feelings in, you must be open and honest about it. How your FWB reacts to this development is up to them.
Related Reading: How To Not Fall In Love Easily – 8 Ways To Stop Yourself
17. Talk about the fleeting nature of this FWB situation
You and your FWB cannot possibly continue doing this dance – no matter how scintillating it may be – forever. It is not going to last long even though you would want it to. According to a study published in Personal Relationships, FWB relationships play out as per people’s expectations only 17% of the time. The study highlights the uniqueness of this kind of relationship, which usually evolves into something more serious or dies down.
FWB relationships, the authors of the study point out, either grow into more intimate and romantic relationships or return to regular friendships with lesser intimacy. As the relationship undergoes a change, it poses a threat to either of the two partner’s expectations. There will come a point when either one or both of you will want out. To make sure that doesn’t leave you with hurt feelings, establish some clear ending friends-with-benefits mandates, such as:
- Specify at what stage or under what circumstances it’ll be acceptable to end this arrangement
- Will you have an elaborate conversation or would a casual heads-up suffice?
- Would you go back to being friends afterward?
- Don’t get your emotions worked up in the process
Related Reading: What Is A Significant Other And Why You Should Have One
18. Let things grow organically
In the rare event that both you and your FWB develop feelings for each other and want more than a sexual relationship, there is no harm in nurturing this arrangement into a full-blown relationship. Provided there are no apparent relationship red flags telling you otherwise. Should you come to that point, let things advance organically rather than trying too hard to make a relationship come to fruition. If it’s meant to be, it will happen. If not, you will just have to make your peace with it and move on.
- Friends-with-benefits relationships are for casual hookups. There can be many benefits of relationships with all sex and no romance
- In successful FWB relationships, the interaction is strictly sexual, no romance is involved, and both sexual friends are on the same page
- Discuss with your FWB the relationship boundaries to swear by right at the outset
- Steer clear of getting caught in the web of emotions with your FWB partner
- Be mindful of consent, respect one another, avoid spending time together to not catch feelings, and above all, stay safe
With these clearly defined rules, you can truly make hay while the sun shines on your sex life without getting your heart skinned. Just remember to keep your emotions in check and set your body free to live up to the experience to the fullest. If you are already in such a relationship and have reached a sticky spot where you need help and emotional support to wade your way out, consult a relationship coach. Should you need that help, skilled and experienced counselors and therapists on Bonobology’s panel are here to help you.
This article has been updated in March 2023.
Friends with benefits sleep with each other without being in a relationship.
There is no expiration date on a friends-with-benefits relationship. Some people stop in a matter of weeks or months, while others keep at it for years. As long as it feels right, you can keep it going.
For a guy too friends with benefits means having a connection with someone that falls somewhere between dating and friendship. Some men may see it as the perfect arrangement to have their needs met without any emotional baggage or relationship obligations. That said, it would be a stretch to assume that all men have the same take on this arrangement.
Yes, it is not unusual for friends with benefits to fall in love or develop feelings for each other. Trouble arises when these feelings are one-sided.