For collegiettes looking for a more casual fling without wanting to feel like a booty call, a friends-with-benefits setup can feel like the perfect solution. You can hang out during the day like you normally do and hook up occasionally without the stress of a committed relationship. But what happens when this “casual” hook-up with one of your friends creates jealousy, fighting or unwanted drama?
Because you’re hooking up with a friend and not someone you don’t know as well, you may keep hooking up with him or her long after you realize you’re not happy in the situation, which can potentially lead to the end of your friendship.
Friends with benefits can seem like a great option, but there are times when it just doesn’t work. If any of the following signs sound familiar, it may be time to call it quits with your FWB.
1. There are jealousy issues.
While it’s not exactly fun to see a recent hook-up out with another girl, if you find that hearing about your FWB’s late nights with someone else is affecting your own relationship with him or her or even affecting your self-esteem, it may mean you want something more than the casual label you currently have.
“During my sophomore year, I started hooking up with someone I had been friends with for a while,” says Anna, a senior at the University of Delaware. “We had agreed that we wouldn’t be anything more serious than what we were doing, which was hooking up casually on weekends and hanging out with our friend group during the day, but one night, I saw him hooking up with another girl and started crying. I knew I was more invested in him than I expected to be and that he didn’t want anything more, so we decided to just go back to being friends.”
2. You have different definitions of your relationship.
Do you consider a FWB situation to mean you talk or text more than normal? He may not. Your partner may think that a FWB means you hook up frequently, while you may see it as a once-in-a-while deal. If you’re both on different pages about things such as how you much you talk or hang out, what you’re “allowed” to do with other people or how you act when you’re around your other friends, unwanted problems can arise very quickly.
“When a friend and I started hooking up consistently, I thought that it would be casual because he told me he wasn’t interested in anything more, and I wasn’t either,” says Mary, a junior at the University of Maryland. “I assumed that we would hook up when we saw each other at a party, but he wanted it to be more of something that we did during the week. We were on completely different pages of what FWB meant, but once we talked about it, we were able to agree that in order for us to keep it casual, we had to both see other people.”
While it helps to establish these boundaries before you get too deep into a FWB fling, if you’re still unhappy with the way things are going, have that conversation. The difference between him/her and other casual hook-ups you may have is that he or she is a friend, so it’s probably easier to bring up those topics without feeling awkward and uncomfortable. If you have the conversation and you still feel like FWB means two very different things to you both, consider going back to the “just friends” route.
3. You only hook up on his or her terms.
Even if hooking up isn’t necessarily hurting your friendship, if one of you holds significantly more power over the mechanics of this FWB situation, it’s not a healthy relationship.
“When it is based on his [or her] terms, it is never going to work,” says dating coach David Wygant.
Kaley, a senior at Hofstra University, experienced this firsthand when she was hooking up with her best friend last year. “It started to get on my nerves when I would text him to come over and he would ignore it or say he couldn’t, but when he texted me to do the same, I was always there,” she says. “It made me feel like I was his last choice, and I finally decided that anyone, especially a friend, shouldn’t be making me feel that way. I got really frustrated, and eventually we just went back to being friends.”
4. It’s ruining your friendship.
If you were friends before you started hooking up and suddenly you only hear from him or her after 1 a.m, you’re being treated more like a booty call than a FWB.
“I knew I didn’t want a boyfriend, and I loved the idea that [my best friend and I] could still hang out during the day and hook up at night when we wanted to with no strings attached,” says Maria, a senior at the University of Maryland. “The problem came after about a month of us being friends with benefits. Soon he started only texting me at night, and we never hung out during the day anymore. When I finally confronted him about it, he said he didn’t want me to get the wrong idea about what he wanted.”
If the hook-up is truly casual, then it shouldn’t disrupt the friendship you had beforehand in a negative way.
“It has taken an unhealthy turn when he doesn't contact you for two weeks, and all of the sudden, he contacts you, comes over, has sex and leaves immediately,” Wygant says.
While many casual hook-ups take this form in college, hooking up with a friend shouldn’t mean that your friendship goes out the window. If hooking up becomes more important than the friendship in a way that feels uncomfortable to you, it may be time to stop and go back to being just friends.
A crucial part of making a FWB relationship work is ensuring that you can actually stay friends. While it’s expected that your friendship will change as you move into the FWB stage, if hooking up is causing noticeable problems in your friendship that didn’t exist beforehand, it’s time to evaluate why that’s happening and if you should continue down the road you’re on.
“I thought casually hooking up with my best friend would give me the best of both worlds,” says Ariana, a senior at Lehigh University. “It was great for a few weeks until we started fighting and there was a lot of unwanted tension between us. It got so bad that we stopped speaking for a few months, so it definitely wasn’t worth going down that road. I wish I had stopped hooking up with him before it got to that point.”
If you truly consider this guy or girl a friend, it’s important to keep that in mind and figure out if the benefits are worth the problems they may be causing.
5. You’re hooking up to hold on to a friendship.
So you started hooking up with one of your friends, and now you’re not that into it anymore. However, you’re scared that if you stop, your friendship might stop, too. This is a problem many collegiettes face when they enter a FWB situation.
If you’re casually hooking up with a friend and find that, for whatever reason, it’s not what you want anymore, continuing to hook up to avoid friend drama will end up creating more trouble for yourself in the end.
Because this hook-up is relatively casual, having a conversation with your friend to either fix what you don’t like about the situation or to end it altogether and go back to being friends shouldn’t have the dramatic aftereffects that a serious breakup would have.
“What you need to do is you need to end it, and end it fast,” Wygant says. “I've seen many girls [and] many women literally continue these things for two years. And it's literally like driving around a cul-de-sac; you're never going to get out, you're never going to get in, you're never going to get anywhere.”
To avoid getting stuck in an unwanted situation, let your FWB know that you think you both were better off as friends. If he or she saw the relationship as casually as you did, this should be a drama-free exit.
While the idea of going home with your go-to movie marathon partner can be incredibly appealing, it may not work the way you planned. If you find yourself struggling to deal with the hook-up, it could mean that it’s no longer working for you. You should either move forward to something more serious or eliminate the “benefits” aspect altogether.