Things you need to know when becoming ‘friends with benefits’
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
Relationships are hard. They involve compromise and communication, and suddenly you go from being single, where you answer to nobody, to being part of a unit where your actions could have a detrimental effect on someone you love. That’s a lot to deal with—and that’s why many people dream of being “friends with benefits” (FWB).
For some people, that seems like the perfect way to explore the joys of sex without the commitment of a romantic relationship, or the dangers of a one night stand. What many people don’t seem to understand is that having that sort of relationship, an FWB, is still a relationship unto itself, and it must be treated as such in order to avoid lost friendships or any hurt feelings.
In order for an FWB situation to work, both parties need to be fully aware of the limits on the relationship. This means communicating between one another and making sure that both of you know that whatever you explore together, it’s just sex. The reason why FWB has such a bad reputation is that too often it is used by people as a perceived stepping stone towards a romantic relationship.
A healthy FWB relationship is platonic in nature because it requires two people to trust each other enough to have sex with a reasonable expectation of it just being for fun. If you enter into it with mixed feelings, you have no one to blame but yourself if it all ends badly—as long as it was clear when the relationship was established that romance was never going to be a factor. Sex isn’t some magical act that will make people fall in love with you, and it shouldn’t be treated as such.
Another problem that might arise is the possibility of jealousy. Human beings are complicated, and even with our regular friends, jealousy can sometimes arise when one individual gets shunned in favour of someone else. This is made all the worse when sex is involved. If one party enters into a romantic relationship, or seems on the verge of doing so, it is important to break off the FWB connection as soon as possible. It is best not to overcomplicate the situation, which is already complicated by the fact that burgeoning relationships are like the purgatory of romance, by allowing a rogue sexual factor to remain. In layman’s terms, don’t create a love triangle, as it rarely works out in after-school specials and it will most definitely not work out for you.
My last piece of advice might seem somewhat harsh. In my experience the term “friends” in regard to an FWB situation can be somewhat misleading. It is near impossible to have sex and maintain a close and personal friendship without a romantic relationship—these aren’t people you’re “friends” with, they are people you keep in your phone for mutual gratification when the need strikes you. Otherwise, jealousy will be a factor because we are socialized to believe that sex means you have rights over someone, as it is seen as an act of surrender.
But sometimes, sex is just sex.