Not ready for a relationship?
Need your needs met?
Need an emotional connection to someone in order to hook up with them?
Ding ding ding! Sounds like the classic Friends with Benefits situation is for you!…Or is it?
If you’re going into this with the image of Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake, beware, being friends with benefits is rarely sunshine and butterflies, and usually ends in being neither friends nor having benefits. That being said, it is possible to end cordially, with the right steps.
My credentials? In total, I’ve had 5 friends with benefits situations, including with my ex-boyfriend, my first-year residence neighbor, and my best friend, and all ended in different circumstances. But finally, I have cracked the code in navigating these situations.
1. It’s not for everybody
It’s super important to recognize if this is for you. Do you have an addictive personality? Are you a relationship person more than a hookup person? Are you making a compromise of “just sex” as an excuse to keep them in your life? Asking yourself these questions will help you narrow down what you’re actually looking for with this person, and if you’re ready to fully separate your friendship from the sex.
2. Have an expiration date
The most successful FWB situations are ones with a deadline—this could be a semester, until you aren’t in the same location, or even until one of you gets a relationship. Having someone to keep you accountable with this deadline is also helpful.
With this, it is important to note that things could get complicated if you do this with someone you could actually see dating—the best scenario would be someone with who things will just never work with. Having this obstacle will prevent you from confusing physical chemistry with compatibility.
3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
This is an obvious one, but what’s not so obvious is who exactly you choose. What I had to learn the hard way, is that by hooking up with people you don’t like as much, you might start comparing them to your FWB, which will only make you like them more.
4. Communicate boundaries and expectations
When you both first decide to hook up, communicating exactly what you both expect out of this, the deadline you have decided on, and what your boundaries are is necessary. I know it can be unnatural and awkward at times, but it is critical in order to keep the “friends” part of a FWB. This involves setting your own boundaries on things like dates, cuddling, sleeping over, or seeing other people.
5. Enforcing mutual respect
Keeping each other in check about where you’re at and if the boundaries and expectations are changing is necessary to maintain respect for each other. In general, things like hooking up with each other’s close friends or talking about hooking up with other people in front of them should be done with caution, or at least communicate with the other person to make sure respect is always given. Even though the contract is known, things can get messy if you don’t prioritize the friendship.