Keep the "friends" in "friends with benefits"!
Most of us recognize that there's a difference between being an adult and being grown. An adult is someone who has reached the legal age (18 in most states) to make decisions for themselves, independent of a parent or guardian. A grown person, on the other hand, is one who is of legal age and who also has the know-how to not only make healthy decisions for themselves, but the maturity to be responsible and accountable for the consequences (both positive and negative) that arise from those decisions.
Nothing tests just how grown and healthy we really are like how we handle the consequences that arise from the decisions we make about our relationships with others. We are relational beings, so it's only natural for us to want to engage in being with others, commune with others, interact with others, and yes, have sex with others. Yes, sex! Yes, I said it! Sex! Come on, say it with me: sex!
I know we treat sex (the act and the word) like we treat Harry Potter's Voldemort: "that which shall not be named." We treat sex as unspeakable and taboo, despite the fact that many of us—both adults and grown folks—are doing it. Let's face it: without sex none of us would be here and none of us would know about the extraordinary sensations that can be experienced physically, mentally and emotionally that go far beyond the mechanics of sex. In other words, it feels good! But what happens when the person we want to have sex with is a friend, or someone we don't want monogamy or a commitment from? You know, just a person to get your groove on, get your toes curled, get your peanut butter jellied, all while keeping it moving. No romance, no deep emotional connection. Just two consenting grown folks who hang out together sometimes and, from time to time, answers the other's booty call. They're "sex buddies," or "friends with benefits."
One of the reasons most people enter into a "friends with benefits" relationship is because they see it as void of commitment. But just because there's no commitment doesn't mean that there doesn't need to be effective communication about how the relationship is navigated. A recent study indicated that while communication in a "friends with benefits" relationship is important, most feel that conversation defeats the purpose of such relationships. Well, maybe to an adult. But grown folks recognize that communication is essential for a healthy relationship, monogamous or not. In other words, a "friends with benefits" relationship is only as healthy as the people involved and healthy people not only communicate, but they communicate effectively. So, if you are considering "grown folk" sex with your friend, consider discussing the following:
- Each person's expectations about the relationship. Remember, even though you were friends first, the expectations about the relationship will likely change when sex is introduced.
- What each person wants sexually from the relationship.
- Under what terms will the relationship end.
- Under what terms there needs to be further communication about renegotiating the terms of the relationship.
A "friends with benefits" relationship is not a "hookup." To be in a "FWB" relationship, the people involved have to be friends, which suggests that there was an established relationship/friendship (unlike in a "hookup") before sex changed the dynamics of the relationship. As friends, you talk about all the things you have in common. So why stop talking when you introduce sex into your friendship? Communication makes all involved parties informed consumers. It demonstrates a level of maturity and allows for decisions about the relationship to be made from a healthier place, physically and emotionally. It demonstrates that you have matured from making adult decisions to grown folk decisions. And as a grown person, if you can't talk about it, should you really be doing it?