Sometimes, in the midst of a particularly hectic time in life, all we want is the consistency of a regular hookup without having to put in the effort that comes with a long-term relationship. This is where a friend with benefits conveniently comes in. Casual hookups can be great, especially when you find someone you’re compatible with in bed.
Being FWBs sounds like the best of both worlds for a lot of people, but we’re only human – and sometimes feelings get in the way. Having a sexual relationship with someone is incredibly intimate, and it’s totally normal if that relationship causes some real romantic feelings to spring up. It’s a tricky situation and one that varies from person to person, but read on for how to navigate these feels.
Spend time together outside of hooking up.
It’s easy to feel like you’re falling for your FWB in the heat of the moment, and spending some time with them outside the bedroom might be all you need to discover that those potential feelings were fleeting. Truth be told, your FWB may seem like everything you could want out of a partner when you’re hooking up, but when you sit down and talk with them, you may discover a new side.
Maybe they seem charming and sweet when you’re together, but those traits disappear when they aren’t getting anything out of being around you. Something as simple and easy as getting coffee together may show you that you have completely different beliefs and priorities, or even allow you to discover that you simply don’t like their personality. Whatever it is, spending time outside of the bedroom with your FWB may help you realize that you work best when your relationship is casual.
Of course, the opposite may happen. Hanging out with your FWB may cause your blossoming feelings for them to deepen. While this may be distressing at first (catching feels is always a little stressful), don’t let it scare you away! Life’s too short to run away from the people that you have a connection with, and you should explore your relationship in a new way. If you get coffee and the conversation is great, suggest getting together another time by getting lunch or studying together.
See how your relationship evolves outside of hooking up and determine if it’s something you want to pursue on a more regular basis.
Reflect on the circumstances of your relationship.
Having a consistent hookup is great if just want to have a little fun every once in a while, but it also may be a way for you to fulfill something that’s missing in your life. Do you get together with your FWB when you’re feeling lonely and reminiscing about your ex? Do you text them after a particularly difficult week when you need to forget about all your stress? Do you conflate your friendship with actual romance? If you turn to your FWB during times that you are feeling sad or overwhelmed, or are confusing the jokes you two have as a sign of something deeper, it’s only natural that you may start to develop romantic feelings for them.
They’re a distraction during times you need a distraction, and your brain is going to equate them with the reprieve they bring. Take a step back and evaluate the circumstances during which you seek out your FWB. If you’re only with them when you’re drunk or upset, you probably aren’t compatible for a sustainable, long-term relationship.
This idea goes both ways. Consider when your FWB is reaching out to you—if they ever reach out first. Do they only call you when they are drunk or needing comfort? The circumstances surrounding your hookups can tell you a lot about the way you’ll interact around each other in the future outside of hookups.
Spend time with someone else.
One of the actual benefits of having a FWB is the lack of exclusivity and the ability to talk to and have relationships with other people. If you find yourself starting to catch feels, it can be hard to distinguish actual, legitimate feelings with your sexual desire for them. If you’re up for it, try going on a couple of dates – or hooking up –with someone else or several different people. Playing the field a little bit will remind you what it’s like to pursue a relationship with someone that is looking for a full, committed relationship, not just a sexual one.
Go on a date with someone who has caught your eye lately. Let your best friend set you up with the person she’s been dying to, or meet up with that cute guy that always smiles at you. Just remember to stay safe if you’re hooking up with multiple partners!
If you’re too focused on your FWB, it can be easy to forget that you are not in an exclusive relationship. You’re allowed to pursue other people you’re attracted to and start to form relationships with them. If you go on a date and have a great time and forget all about your FWB, then it’s a sign your feelings for your FWB were temporary. But maybe you’re constantly comparing your date to your FWB, thinking that there’s another person you’d rather be with. If that’s the case, it may be time to acknowledge your feelings.
Talk it out with your FWB.
Ultimately, the only way to come to terms with your feelings is to talk to the person that those feelings are about. Sitting there stewing in your confusion is only going to make you feel miserable, constantly longing for something that the other person may want too. It’s important to think about all the outcomes that may come from a conversation with your FWB about having deeper feelings for them. In the best scenario, you learn that your FWB has been feeling the same way, leaving the two of you to figure out how your relationship is going to change in light of this new realization.
However, you also have to be prepared to hear that your FWB doesn’t feel the same way about you. To them, it may only be about sex and ultimately, remaining friends. This doesn’t mean you’re not worth their feelings or attention – but you can’t force romantic feelings out of someone, nor should you want to. It’ll be really hard, but hopefully, it will provide you with some closure and allow you to move on to better relationships with new and exciting people.
Relationships are messy and confusing, especially when they start as one specific thing and begin to evolve into uncharted territory. As much as we try to avoid them, feelings are bound to creep in when two people are intimate with each other. When this happens, don’t panic. Give yourself time to figure out what you want, and go for it! Making big moves is risky but often have the best payoff. You never know where a bold decision will take you.