When you start a having casual sex with someone you know, everything seems easy in the beginning.
“Hey, you want sex with no strings? So do I! Why don’t we team up and take care of that problem together?”
And there really are few things better than a friends-with-benefits arrangement.
However, once you actually get started, that’s when things can get complex. Because anyone can say, “I’m looking for sex with no emotional ties,” but then you start having sex, the empathy centers of your brain start kicking in, you start valuing how the other person sees you and … BOOM! Emotions explode all over the place.
That's why so many movies have been made about the FWB arrangement.
And that's where it gets awkward.
If you feel something, you’re violating the agreement you made. But, if you feel nothing (and the other person feels something), you feel like a jerk.
One way to combat this problem is establishing a “contract” before you enter into a friends with benefits relationship.
If you’re wondering, yes, you can actually find drafts of semi-legal-looking contracts online that FWB partners can sign to solidify the terms of their arraignment, but, in most cases, you don’t really need to involve a lawyer or a notary public.
The contract can be more casual — a list of points that you’ve discussed and agreed upon beforehand — just so you both know, if you find yourself entering murky emotional waters, that you’ve been VERY clear with your boundaries and desires from the start.
If you want to protect your heart (and your friendship), here are 6 reasons why you NEED to establish a friends with benefits contract before you and your special friend engage in any guilt-free sex.
1. You need to establish your emotional dealbreakers.
Everyone enters into a FWB relationship with their own unique opinions about what constitutes sex without emotions, so it’s REALLY important upfront that you both know where you draw the line. Does the other partner consider “cuddling” too emotional? What about kissing? Sleeping over? Sexual compliments?
You need to know what they see as a benefit and what they see as a precursor to an unwanted romance.
2. You need to set a safe word.
This serves a dual purpose. First, there’s the sexy reason. If you guys are into kink, you need to know how far you’re allowed to push their buttons and they need an easy reset button if you go too far. But a safe word can actually work for emotions too.
If you’re getting too lovey-dovey in your pillow talk, your partner needs to be able to say “apple-sauce” (or whatever your agreed upon term is) to let you know that this isn’t something they’re interested in. It’s the perfect kind of shorthand that friends should have anyway.
3. You need to plan for the worst.
What if she gets pregnant? Or what if one of you discovers that you have a STD? Those are hard enough issues for people in committed relationships to deal with, but they can be particularly dicey if you’re just casual friends who find each other SUPER hot.
Have the hard conversations upfront. The best case scenario is that you’ll have your bases covered. The worst case scenario is that you find out that your friend has TOTALLY different ideas about what happens if you get pregnant or something and you walk away from each other before stuff gets too real.
4. You need to spell out what you like.
Here’s the thing — if you’re having friends with benefits sex, you’re doing it because you really, really want to have some AMAZING intercourse. So you should 100% be selfish with your partner. Tell them immediately, “This is what I want. This is what I like. This is what I will do.”
This isn’t a romantic relationship where you always have to compromise. If you and your friend are both DTF, you should both be chasing the kind of guilty-pleasure sex that you don’t always get in a romance. So don’t settle for half of what you want. FWB sex should 100% be about pleasure.
5. You need to figure out what you’re calling it.
Unless you’re incredibly sneaky (or don’t have many mutual friends), chances are, eventually, the people in your life are going to pick up on your friends with benefits relationship. They might not know the extent of it, but they know something is up.
“What’s going on with you and Beth?” “You and Dave left the party at the same time last night…”
It’s worth having the “what do we call this” conversation at the beginning, just so you don’t start spreading lies in any knee-jerk attempts to protect your privacy.
6. You need to discuss what happens the BIG rule is broken.
What happens if one of you suddenly says “I think I’m in love with you”? It’s the number one violation of a friends with benefits situation. If you want to protect yourself, talk about what that violation means at the start of the relationship. Will it mean you never see each other again? Will it kick off an awkward conversation? Will the violator own you 20 bucks?
It sounds funny, but if the cardinal rule of friends with benefits is broken, you need to think about how you’re going to react, particularly if you want to preserve the friendship.
Being “friends with benefits” can be AWESOME.
Amazing sex with someone you really like who won’t get mad if you don’t call them in the morning — what’s not to love?
But, if you want things to remain as simple as that sounds, set some rules or establish a contract from the beginning, so your kick-ass sex won’t get ruined by any unexpected entanglements.