If you're in or have been in the dating scene at any point in your life, you're probably familiar with the term "friends with benefits." There's even a movie about it titled - you guessed it - "Friends with Benefits." But what exactly is 'friends with benefits' or FWB for short?
To put it simply, "friends with benefits" is a "sexual relationship without the assumptions that generally go along with romantic or partnered relationships," according to Carol Queen, Ph.D., staff sexologist at Good Vibrations. It's typically a more casual connection or friendship with a sexual component.
You might get together for sex regularly or once in a while but do not label each other 'girlfriend', 'boyfriend', or 'partner'. You're basically benefitting sexually without the commitment, expectations, and obligations of an actual relationship.
The Rules of Friends with Benefits
Like with any situation or relationship, there never has to be set 'rules' you need to follow when in a FWB situation - but it does help to have some parameters to protect you and your feelings/emotions.
People in a friends with benefit arrangement can - and should - come up with their own 'rules' or parameters that fit their situation and lifestyle. For example, that can mean only meeting up for sex - no dinner, no hanging out, etc. Or, that can mean having a meaningful friendship with no-strings-attached sex thrown in.
Ultimately, it depends on what both people are looking for and want - and while there isn't necessarily a commitment to be monogamous, there is still a commitment to honoring the arrangement.
The main rule, however, should always be open communication and mutual respect for the other person. Once communication and/or respect for the other person is lost, it can turn into a "friends with no benefits" situation!
Why Friends with Benefits Rules Are Important
As you can imagine, one of the biggest wrenches thrown into a FWB situation is when one person falls in love or wants something more and the other person does not. That's why it's SUPER important to lay down ground rules when entering into a friends with benefits situation.
Since there are so many ways to have a relationship - and none are wrong or right - it's imperative to get on the same page with the other person. If you're both on the same page, it'll prevent one person feeling used or like they wasted their time.
How to Define Your Friends with Benefits Rules
Again, there are no set rules for entering into a friends with benefits situation. But, there are a few key factors to keep both parties happy - communication, setting boundaries, and not crossing those boundaries.
And ultimately, that comes to down to having a conversation with the other person. Simply asking what their boundaries are and telling them yours is a great way to get on the same page.
Be honest about your wants and needs and if the other person doesn't want to respect that or dismisses them, then they probably aren't the best person to be in a FWB relationship with.
This also means discussing and agreeing to safe sex practices. Make sure you are both in agreement about how you will handle having sex with a new partner.
And of course, as with anything in life, even if you follow these "rules" there will always be some emotional risk involved in a FWB situation. It's easy to say "oh it's just sex and I won't catch feelings" but unfortunately that isn't always the case. And denying how you feel doesn't mean they go away (ugh) - so if you do start to feel something more, first talk with the other person and if they don't agree or feel the same way, it's probably best to break things off.
In the end, a friends with benefits relationship can be a great situation for people who aren't looking to be a serious relationship but still want sexual intimacy or are in between serious relationships. Just remember you need open communication, boundaries, and a mutual understanding of what each other wants.
And, if you try friends with benefits and it's not for you - that's totally okay! It's definitely not for everyone and ultimately it comes down to you and what makes you happy!