Advice for a friends with benefits relationship

Libby Trammell

There are always those things in life that look really good on paper and then turn out horribly once put into practice. Things like communism, tattoos of tigers and the most sought-after Friends with Benefits. I’ve recently been approached by several students and asked to expand upon how to make this work, why it fails, etc. First off, as a writer I have to urge my readers to enter into this sort of relationship with caution. Feelings can be hurt extremely easily, metaphorical toes can be stepped on and, as with any sexual relationship, there are a whole slew of things that could go horribly awry.

That being said, however, my research shows that this kind of relationship can be accomplished and is quite fulfilling if done correctly. The biggest decider on whether a FWB relationship will work is the person that you choose. Pick a friend that you trust, that you’re attracted to and that you think could handle a situation like this. Approaching them with something like this could be tricky. My best advice is to straight up ask. If they say no, then act like it was a joke or just never mention it again. But if they say yes, well then, you’ve got something started.

The next step is to lay down the ground rules. This is very important. Good questions to ask include how many sexual partners you’re each allowed to have. Is it going to be monogamous? If they sleep with someone else should they avoid mutual friends? Is your relationship going to be public or a secret? How long will you two be doing this? These questions all need concise answers.

Some of you may be saying, “Why is there so much work to this? Can’t we just jump right in?” Well, I suppose you could, but I do warn you that it won’t work unless you have this talk first. After answering all those questions in ways that you’re both happy with, then you’re ready to get started. Just keep in mind that things like this can ruin friendships if communication isn’t part of the equation.

There are several things that will break a FWB deal. For one, I would not recommend sleeping next to each other unless it cannot be avoided. Sleeping next to someone can release hormones that trigger feelings of love and affection toward that person. Now, perhaps that’s what you want with your partner, in which case I would say it’s time to start actually dating. Most folks, however, aren’t looking for that when they become FWB. Respect is always key as well. For example, if you have a FWB going on and you’re attracted to their roommate or best friend, then it’s time to have a talk. Lastly, be ready for it to end. These types of arrangements are not permanent, nor should they be. They are temporary fixes for dry spells or for keeping yourself occupied during times of stress.

The best piece of advice for things like this is to keep an eye on your feelings. They should always come first when figuring out things like this.

Libby Trammell is majoring in human development and family studies. She can be emailed at [email protected].