The Realities of Having a FWB

Although it is a pretty common occurrence among young adults, having a friend with benefits is still a strangely taboo topic that people don’t like to talk about. I asked a friend of mine in a FWB relationship what it’s really like.

L: How do you know this person?

K: We work together. We randomly started talking when I was away on vacation and I got fearless and started flirting with him – I wasn’t thinking about coming back home, returning back to reality and having to deal with the results!

L: What’s it like when you hang out?

K: We’re pretty simple. We just like to drive, talk, cuddle and hook up. It’s nothing too heavy. We flirt pretty much all the time. It feels like the beginning of a new relationship the whole time: new, fun and you never get to the serious point where you are having old-married-couple fights about stupid stuff.

L: How would you describe your relationship dynamic?

K: I feel like we are just there for each other for emotional support. You know when you’re alone at night, thinking, “Wow, it would really be nice for someone to be beside me right now.” That is what we are for each other.

L: Has it always been like that?

K: Yeah, except when I started to question the relationship. Eventually someone catches feelings at one point, but at the beginning at least it was like that. Then I went to the absolute opposite side of the spectrum where I was questioning if I actually had feelings for him. It’s weird to talk about with the other person because you don’t want to risk ending what you’re doing or make it awkward. Just like with two friends, if one of them catches feelings, you don’t want to talk about it because it might make it awkward.

L: Did you catch feelings first? Or did he?

K: At the beginning it was him – I think he was overly excited because it was something new. I was pretty hesitant about it and even sometimes when he would ask to hang out I was skeptical. I didn’t really have that “relationship” feeling or connection with him. Later, I started to realize that I was really wanting to hang out with him and at that point, I think it was more me that was interested than him. Now we are in a neutral spot where we both know that we don’t want that commitment.

L: How is it different to being in a relationship?

K: People need a sense of security with some type of relationship. If you’re in a relationship, you have to break up if you no longer want to be together, but when you’re in this situation, you don’t have to do that. You can just fade off, like a friendship, which is kind of annoying.

L: Do you think that’s worse or better than a breakup?

K: In breakups, there’s usually closure – you’re given a reason, you have to talk it out somewhat and you both know what’s happening. Ghosting is a big thing with FWB situations, and it’s a big fear.

L: Were you friends before you started hooking up?

K: A little, but I would rarely see him at work. Our situation escalated really fast. We weren’t really close friends; we were more acquaintances. Then everything moved very quickly, so it was very sudden.

L: Do you think people can go from being close friends with someone to being friends with benefits?

K: Not for me. I had a similar situation with a guy that I had been friends with since we were kids and he just wanted to hook up and be each other’s firsts, kind of to “get it over with.” I definitely could not do that. I had such a friend mentality towards him that there was no way I could ever see him in that light. I feel like you have to be acquaintances first and then go into it rather than being friends and having it evolve into that over time, if you were strictly just friends.

L: How do you separate yourself emotionally from something as intimate as sex?

K: I feel like some people think more seriously about sex than others. Some people think that you have to lose your virginity to someone special, you have to wait for marriage, etc. If you’re not that mentality and you think less seriously about it, it’s more doable. If you’re the type of person that thinks that sex is sacred and special, then this is not the thing for you because they could choose to be out of your life tomorrow.

L: Do you think anyone is able to pull off this kind of relationship?

K: No, it definitely takes a certain type of mentality to be able to pull off a healthy FWB situation. If you were to get together and talk about it with the person, to say, “this is what we are doing, this is what we are not doing,” then you could do it more successfully. But I feel like a lot of people need that “relationship connection”, which I’ve learned that I don’t need, but if you think you might catch feelings really quickly then I don’t think you’d be able to do it. A lot of people need a feeling of commitment with someone, which you don’t get in a FWB situation. They’re not your boyfriend, they’re not obligated to text you, they don’t have to come to family gatherings with you. And if you want that, this is not the right thing for you.

L: Did the lack of commitment affect you when you started to catch feelings for him?

K: I definitely wanted to call it off at that point. I wanted to get out before I got in too deep. You know that eventually the whole arrangement is going to end and you have to be mentally prepared to be dropped at basically any point if the other person starts seeing someone that they want to be in a committed relationship with.

L: Do you think you two could go back to being friends if that happened?

K: I don’t know. It’s so automatic at this point that we both are expecting to hook up when we hang out. When you are friends with benefits, you don’t have to actually go out and do things together like friends do. You could literally just sit in a room all day and go back and forth between hooking up and watching shows.

L: To conclude, do you have any advice for people thinking of having a friend with benefits?

K: Talk about it! Address what you’re doing so that you’re not wondering the whole time about what is really going on. For me, it’s a little different because neither of us are seeing other people so I don’t have to worry about asking if that’s okay, but if you are thinking of seeing other people then you should know what ground rules you want to have with what’s allowed mutually. Also, expect less than what you think it’ll be. Go with the flow, you’re just having fun! Treat them as a friend and nothing more than that emotionally.