In romantic comedies, the concept of Friends With Benefits always end up with a two people being romantically involved. We're looking at you, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. It's a real cop-out: Hollywood insinuates these sorts of friendships are purely a pre-cursor for long-term relationships.
In real life, having a Friend With Benefits, or FWB, is a difficult relationship to maintain and sometimes the friendship is actually ruined. But can a FWB actually work?
A FWB is defined as a friend with whom you have no romantic connection with, yet still sleep with sometimes. Usually just when you're both horny and have no other options. You're otherwise platonic friends, but on occasion you'll hop on the good foot and do the bad thing. Just for the physical release.
I've had one or two FWBs in my time. I find them complicated not because of the sex, but because of the feelings associated with becoming sexual with somebody on a regular basis. Because I struggle to disassociate emotion from sex, I'm not really a good candidate for a FWB relationship.
However, some people are great at them. FWBs don't have to be fraught, awkward, or contentious. They can actually be straightforward. However, saying "no relationships, no emotions, just sex" is easily said in the beginning, yet harder to maintain in the long run.
This is why it's important to already have a friendship before you start sleeping together. It doesn't need to be close, but some kind of existing contact means you aren't getting to know your FWB from scratch. This is key in avoiding that early-days notion of being utterly smitten that we can't control.
Sleeping over at a FWB's house is therefore a bad idea. The natural inclination to cuddle and fall asleep after sex develops intimacy, and that's exactly what you want to avoid. You shouldn't get to the point where you have to ask someone to leave after sex, it should go without saying.
READ MORE • How to ask someone to leave after sex
When you have a FWB, you also have zero say over the other types of relationships they have. They are free to date whomever they want; there are no obligations of exclusivity. They are even allowed to have other FWBs. For most people, it's easiest to know nothing about your FWB's love life, but you should understand how sexually active your friend is and have no problems with that.
Brutal honesty is also integral with a FWB. If you or your friend begin to develop feelings, it's important to talk about them and adjust the friendship to suit. This often means cutting down on seeing each other, or calling the FWB quits altogether, if affection develops on either side.
FWBs work best when you have little communication outside of the bedroom. You don't text each other about your daily lives. You don't follow them closely on social media. You don't hang out after sex. You don't go out for dinner. You only really see each other in your homes for short periods of time.
Acknowledging all of the above, your friendship should resemble any other. You should have no problems bumping into your FWB at social events, nor will you be tempted to kiss or touch them in public if you hang out with them as part of a group.
There's no leaving personal items (e.g. underwear, toothbrushes) at each other's houses, and no expectation regarding the frequency of your hook-ups unless that's a pre-set part of your FWB agreement, i.e. "we meet for sex every Tuesday night at 8pm, and only then".
FWB relations may also need adjusting as time goes on. You mustn't shut yourself off from the possibility of new, romantic relationships – even if a FWB situation is satisfying your needs.
If you or your FWB start dating someone else, it should be mutually understood that your sexual relationship can stop at any time, and a regular friendship should be able to resume without any hard feelings on either side.
If you don't think you can handle everything and all of the above, then a Friend With Benefits isn't right for you.