I am going to attempt to tackle the impossible, elusive question that so many of us have: Is it possible to sustain a real friends-with-benefits relationship? And is it possible to have a FWB situation longterm?
I think it is for some of us. If you’re jealous, insecure, and don’t communicate, then no, I don’t think it is possible for you. But yes, I do think you can be in a perfectly happy and fulfilling friends-with-benefits relationship. So here are 10 tips that will help you keep your FWB relationship from falling apart.
You are first and foremost friends. Not need-fulfilling machines. Not sex robots without emotions. Both you and he deserve respect and honesty. My friends will tell me stories when their FWB will do something awful to them. They’ll then justify their FWB’s actions, saying, “Well we’re not dating, so like, I guess it’s fine.” No, it’s not fine. Would it be okay if a friend did this to you? No. Then it’s definitely not okay if a friend who’s sticking his penis up your butt does this to you.
This point really needs to be hammered home, because I can’t tell you the number of times my friends have conflated the two. No strings attached (NSA) is pure, unadulterated sex. In and out of your apartment within 20 minutes. In that time period you’ve said no more than 100 words, and you’ve both orgasmed. FWB is a relationship. One that requires significantly more work and communication.
So with the NSA and FWB distinction made, you need be upfront about your expectations with him. Do you expect texts periodically? Do you want to have a “date” when you see him, or just get straight down to business? Do you talk about other people you’re dating? Do you expect to see him on a monthly basis or just when you’re both free?
You don’t need to sit him down and ask all these questions at once (that’ll definitely scare him off), but after a couple hookups, I think it’s fair to ask, “Hey, what are you looking for out of this? I’m pretty sure we’re on the same page, but I just want to make sure.”
Not everyone can handle a friends-with-benefits situation. In fact, I’d argue that most guys probably can’t. Pick the right friend to explore a FWB relationship with, knowing that it has the potential to blow up.
Don’t pick your best friend, because you might end up losing him if things go awry. Similarly, don’t pick the guy who works in the cubicle next to you, because you’re going to have see his ass every single day. That hot friend who’s in an adjacent social circle that you always enjoy spending time with but have no desire to date? Now that sounds like an ideal pick, right there!
There are some people I wear condoms with. There are some people I don’t. Regardless, everyone I’m sleeping with knows about my sexual activity. The ones I don’t wear condoms with are aware of the risk of acquiring STIs. We’re not so much worried about HIV, because both me and male partners are on PrEP, but yes, there absolutely is a risk for other STIs when I don’t wear a condom. All parties involved know the risk.
I know it’s tough. I know you’re putting yourself out there and he very well may say, “I don’t see you in that way. I’m sorry,” but it’s something you have to do. Things will get messy if you don't. You or he will get hurt. And the FWB relationship will inevitably crash and burn.
Some last for as little as few weeks, other FWB relationships last a year. Seldom do they last forever. Either one person gets more serious with someone else. or you get bored of each other. Or one of you wants something more. When the FWB relationship has run its course, let it. Don’t try to make it go on any longer than it should.
So we always say actions speak louder than words. Ninety-nine percent of the time I would say this is true, but sometimes, especially with FWB, it’s actually not the case.
When you’re with him, it may feel like you’re boyfriends and everything is lovey-dovey. Then he tells you that he doesn’t want anything serious. You’re like, “But wait, you just acted like we were in love.” Take his word that he doesn’t want anything serious. Not his actions. Sometimes with FWB, we get caught in the moment and get excited, but then afterwards, realize that we don’t want something more serious. If he says that, believe him—even if his actions tell you otherwise.
In addition to talking about it, it’s also necessary to talk about how/when you’re going to talk about it. I know this isn’t necessarily the most fun, but FWB still takes some work. Not as much as a full-fledged monogamous relationship, but still some. It’s necessary to know how/when you guys are going to talk about your relationship. In a similar vein, it’s also necessary to check-in periodically, to see if both yours and his feelings about the relationship have changed.