9 Rules For Friends With Benefits - What FWB Really Means
By: Carlos Cavallo
First off - I want to start out with a definition of friends-with-benefits for anyone who may be unclear on this term and what friends with benefits really means.
Because I'm sure you want to know if you're stuck in a relationship like this - and how to break out of it!
(Sometimes 'friends with benefits' relationships are shortened to simply FWB, 'benefits relationship,' - or maybe even #FWB on Twitter...)
What is the definition of friends with benefits?
The Urban Dictionary defines it like this:
Friends With Benefits Meaning: Two friends who have a sexual relationship without being emotionally involved. Typically two good friends who have casual sex without a monogamous relationship or any kind of commitment intimacy.
Pretty straightforward. I may agree with that.
So when we're talking about an arrangement that involves a friend of yours and ... sex, you have to agree that there's a lot of mystery about it. Mostly because there are a lot of boundary issues involved with a benefits relationship.
You might have a few questions about friends-with-benefits:
Do friends with benefits fall in love?
How long do FWB usually last?
How can I tell if my FWB has feelings for me?
Is a friends with benefits relationship right for you?
Is FWB a bad idea?
Well, I'm going to give you 9 rules to a Friends with Benefits situation so you can set this type of relationship up the way that best suits you.
But first, you need to know about a few warnings...
Friends With Benefits - Warning 1: An emotional connection always comes up...
It's impossible to avoid emotional entanglement in a physical relationship. And I hate to say it, but it will probably be you that develops the feelings first. (Even if you swore to him and yourself that it would just stay friends.)
Women tend to allow an FWB situation to start, to suit the guy. And also as her "back door" way of getting into a relationship with him.
But it ALWAYS becomes more emotionally complicated eventually. You can't promise that it will stay friends only.
So just realize that there is an expiration date on this type of relationship.
Friends With Benefits - Warning 2: It's all about the boundaries
Is a friends with benefits relationship right for you? Well, to the degree that you can keep healthy and strong boundaries, the longer it will last.
The rules I'm going to share with you will help a bit, as you go forward. These rules form the container of your romantic relationship.
Friends With Benefits - Warning 3: Be safe above all else.
This means using birth control and sensible protection against STDs, of course.
Get tested every 6 months as a rule. And of course, with any change of sexual partners. And require that HE gets tested, too.
And "safe" also means being safe with your lifestyle and choices. If your emotions are running the show, you could be pressured into going into uncharted and possibly unsafe emotional space.
You want to make good choices. As well as being safe with yourself and your feelings of wholeness and integrity.
Now, let's dig into the 9 Rules of Friends With Benefits Relationship:
FWB - RULE 1: Know what you want in a relationship
Can a "friends with benefits" situation become a relationship? Well, this is where you have to know what your real emotional connection is for this guy.
You can't harbor a secret desire to be his real full time girlfriend if you go the friends with benefits route. Giving him convenience in the hopes that he will get "hooked" doesn't usually work.
Typically, you'd choose an FWB direction because you're not in a place to create a romantic relationship.
Maybe your time is limited, or your emotional capacity is not there.
Maybe you just want some sacred space for you, and maybe you want to throw in a little sexual healing.
Whatever the reason, you have to be aware of your "stories" going on in your life at the moment.
Because these will dictate your needs and desires when you start getting sexual. (Or continue going this way.)
After all, sex is a powerful force in our lives, both emotionally and spiritually. You have to go in knowing what you want.
FWB RULE 2: Don't partner up with your neighbor, or anyone that lives close to you
A lot of people ignore this one in the name of convenience. After all, what's nicer than doing your "walk of shame" up two flights of stairs and taking a quick shower?
I used to make it a general rule that my "special friend" couldn't live too close to me or it might start blurring the boundaries of our relationship. It's easy to pop over or drive by, but at what cost?
This is even worse when it's a person in your apartment building. Just too close and too weird for an emotional connection.
So keep in mind the physical limitation of distance. Some people even set a rule that they can't have this friendship with benefits with someone who lives within flying distance.
Which is a very specific boundary that can keep it very 'safe' for everyone involved. This cuts down on the frequency of get-togethers, and sometimes that's a good thing.
FWB RULE 3: There is no "walk of shame"
Yes, as a man, I'll be the first to tell you that this sex-shaming term needs to bite the dust.
I think it was started with the best of intentions - even humor. That's how I intended it in the previous rule.
But in this day and age, even covert shaming (hell it even has the word SHAME right in there!) needs to be dropped.
If you're choosing to have a relationship of ANY kind, shame will only get in the way.
Don't let anyone pull that crap on you - ever - by implying that spending the night with a guy is connected to "shame" in any way.
FWB RULE 4: Don't pretend he's serious about your friendship if he isn't
If there's one rule I adhere to in life - it's that you NEVER delude yourself about anything.
No matter how good it might feel to fantasize about having his kids, writing your first name with his last name, or moving into his place - it's going to hurt you if it goes too far.
Don't get ahead of yourself.
There's a temptation to think that your feelings are "contagious" and there MUST be more meaning behind his texts. It's always a possibility... But that's not real until it's REAL.
So always keep your eyes open for the signs and signals, but realize that your vulnerable state is going to distort your feelings.
And when in doubt, have a friend who can give you the straight truth. (NOT tell you what you want to hear.)
FWB RULE 5: Know how you'll handle the attention...
Look - the fact is that everyone is sexier when they're getting sex.
Because you've put your needy desperate vibe on hold while you're getting some. This is universally how some guys "play the field."
Most guys are astonished at the attention they get when they're sleeping with someone - wondering what the heck changed.
You stopped acting like a dork, dork! That's what changed. You relaxed.
And the same thing happens with YOU. Make no mistakes.
So don't be surprised if all the guys suddenly start sniffing around you like a pack in heat. They're picking up on your relaxed sexiness that's allowed to come out now that you're getting O-therapy.
FWB RULE 6: Don't go exclusive with ANYONE until you know what's what
Since you'll be inevitably meeting more guys because of the "halo" effect of this FWB relationship, you might be tempted to cut off the benefits guy the second things heat up between you and the new guy.
Take some time to feel out the new relationship. You have that luxury now, and you should use it to screen out the dweebs.
This is assuming you're looking to create a relationship sometime down the road.
But don't wait TOO long. If you know you're going to get the romp and the relationship with someone, you should move on it.
FWB RULE 7: Keep your Friend with benefits in his place
Don't go pulling this guy to family functions, parties, special events.
You need to keep him in his place. It's too confusing to him and you to start playing the "pretend husband" game with him.
ESPECIALLY if that's you trying to rope him into a long-term-committed relationship. (LTCR for those of you who like acronyms.)
What will happen is that you'll be putting all the structure of a real relationship in where it doesn't belong. And it's really manipulative.
This also means don't do "date" activity that distorts your relationship.
When you blur the lines of your FWB "container," you threaten its integrity. This alone can spook a guy into hooking up elsewhere.
Which brings me to -
FWB RULE 8: Remember - he's able to go wild, too
This one fact can be enough for most women to avoid the Friends-with-benefits arrangement. The jealousy can simply be too much.
Even if you were okay with the no-strings-attached arrangement - and you really didn't want this guy for a long-term boyfriend in the future, just the competition is enough to make some women lose their cool and try to win him as a boyfriend.
Even if he wasn't what they really wanted.
I call this the Cupid Blinding Effect - where the need to establish the relationship to prove yourself gets in the way of reality.
You really have to go in with the ability to handle that disturbing image of this guy getting his pleasure with someone else.
You can make your sexual arrangement exclusive if you like, which is a way around this rule. However, that can sometimes distort the FWB status again.
So be clear on your vulnerable emotional triggers beforehand. This also means that if your Friend With Benefits guy is out on a date, that should be okay with you.
If you get mad at this, or emotionally caught up in it - you're probably using the FWB thing to weasel into a relationship.
FWB RULE 9: It's not always about the sex
At first, the urge to freely get it on at the drop of a hat might be really liberating. And you can indulge all you like.
But sometimes you'll want to just chill out and maybe say "not tonight..."
Both of you should be able to express this freely and not feel threatened by it. Stay cool with each other, and keep the insecurity to a minimum, because that will totally ruin the arrangement.
I should add the sub-rule here that you need to talk about these mutual rules with him at the start - and all along the way.
You need to have open communication to keep this FWB thing together and solid for however long it lasts.
Remember, though - if your FWB relationship starts to take on REAL relationship tones, and both of you talk and agree that your feelings for each other are growing, than throw all these rules in the trash and GO FOR IT.
Don't sit around worried that you're going to lose his friendship, or the 'great sex,' or any of that. Fear of loss has no place when you're going all-in on a possible love connection.
Just go for it, and if it doesn't work, you'll know that you at least tried.
And truthfully, there are plenty of other FWB options out there. Trust me...
Is a friends with benefits relationship right for you?
I won't mince words here for you: If you're a heterosexual woman, NO. It probably isn't right for you.
However, you can turn it around into something more like a REAL romantic relationship. I've found a way for you to completely skip the FWB route so that you can stop getting stuck.
Like I said, things can go wrong by trying to build a committed romance from a friends with benefits relationship.
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