Navigating ‘Friends With Benefits’


How to survive a 'friends with benefits' relationship without developing feelings.

By Lily Rose

Embarking on a friends with benefits (FWB) relationship is similar to walking across the county on foot; it’s seemingly impossible and most people who try to do it will fail. There are, however, a few survivors who manage to navigate FWB and keep their friendship and their hearts intact.

Just as you wouldn’t decide to walk across the country by waking up, lacing up your sneakers and immediately leaving, having a FWB relationship also requires planning. The ones that survive aren’t the people who haphazardly tumble into bed one night after too many tequila shots. Instead, it’s those who prepare who manage to be successful and happy. Before you embark, check out Cupid’s FWB survival map:

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1. Be honest about your motives: There are plenty of good reasons to ask someone to be in a FWB relationship with you. After all, sex is fun, and it’s a stress reliever. But one thing a FWB relationship isn’t is a secret passageway into a romantic relationship. If you have feelings for your friend, suggesting FWB as a way to sneak into a relationship is not only dishonest, but it also won’t work. Instead, tell your friend how you feel. They may feel the same way. If they don’t, your friendship has a better chance of surviving that discussion than a FWB scenario gone wrong.

2. Know your limitations: Not everyone has the capacity to separate sex from love and commitment. If you tend to fall in love with each orgasm, it’s probably not the best idea to mix sex and friendship.

3. Agree on the terms: From the beginning, be sure to agree on how your FWB relationship will proceed by setting boundaries. Think of important guidelines like not meeting each others’ parents and not hanging out with each others’ friends. Similarly, don’t get mad if the other person doesn’t feel like sleeping over or refuses to listen to an hour-long story about your dumb coworker.

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4. Don’t deviate from the agreement: The boundaries and rules you’ve made are set to protect both of you, so be sure to follow them. If you planned on avoiding romantic vacations, resist the desire to go on a ski weekend in Vermont. Otherwise, the lines between FWB and a romantic relationship could become blurred. Once that happens, expectations are created and the chances of someone getting hurt are greatly increased.

5. Know when to stop: It’s always hard to walk away from someone you love. But if you start falling for your friend, you may need to do just that. Before you leave, ask if the other person feels the same way. If they don’t, walk away from both the FWB and the friendship as a whole. If you want to remain friends in the long run, just walk far enough away to get over the feelings of hurt and rejection. When you’re ready, you can gradually pick up your friendship where it left off before the FWB.