Friends with benefits: 10 Rules to make it work

Friends with benefits: 10 Rules to make it work | Beanstalk Mums


Does having a friend with benefits (FWB) appeal to you?

A friend-with-benefits relationship is simply a relationship with a good friend, with whom you enjoy sex without the commitment of a conventional relationship. Simple.

Or is it?

The idea of no-strings-attached sex with someone you like (and fancy) is appealing to many. As humans, we crave intimacy, but may not want a committed relationship for several reasons. These include commitment phobia, fear of getting hurt and lack of time.

But there is more to this setup than meets the eye. Unlike a traditional relationship where the rules are clear, the lines and boundaries around an FWB relationship are all over the place. And to make it work is harder than you may think.

Finding the perfect friend who satisfies you in the bedroom AND doesn’t want to take it further is tricky. Making it work long-term, is harder still.

Like all good things, getting it right can take time and effort. Here are our rules for finding, keeping and loving life with a FWB.

Further reading: Casual fling or relationship: Which is right for you?

FWB: 10 Rules to make it work

Pick the right friend with benefits

If you already have a close friend who you fancy (come on, we all have one) you could see if they’d like to take your friendship to another level. It’s possible that he/she is waiting for you to ask!

Note: Consider this carefully first. Beautiful friendships can be ruined when sex comes into the equation. Only you can decide whether this is the right move, or not.

No fanciable friends? No problem. There are heaps of people out there looking for the same thing as you, you just have to know where to find them. Dating apps are great for this, but using the right app is key. Generally, people are looking for love, even if they don’t say it. To cut them out of your search from the beginning use a more targeted app for your needs, such as Adult Friend Finder. The name alone suggests what you’re looking for and all your matches will be after the same. Another great app that is slightly more PC is Passion.

Know your emotional boundaries

I learned from a few "friends with benefits" in the past that having feelings for your buddy is inevitable (for me, at least). Even if you want it to be completely about sex and satisfying each other, there is always one party (or both) who ends up caring deeply (and romantically) for the other.

Once this happens, it is time to end the relationship. Believe me, nothing good is ever going to come out of being in love with your FWB (especially if it is one-sided).

Understand what you can handle emotionally. Take the exit if it becomes too much. Remember, you are doing this to unwind, not to complicate your life more.

Make sure you are cut out for FWB

Everyone loves the idea of a FWB. It seems so fun and easy. But really, is it you?

Many women find it hard to have an intimate relationship without falling in love and wanting more. And no, this is not you being needy. An article from Business Insider explains why we feel this way after having sex with someone:

“Oxytocin is released into the body during intercourse, a hormone which is linked to positive social functioning and is associated with bonding, trust, and loyalty.”

The main cause of breakups in FWB relationships is because one person develops deeper feelings and wants more, which is natural and (we now know) chemical. If you are the type to fall for someone big time, attempting a relationship with someone who will not commit could be a heartbreak waiting to happen.

Beware the green-eyed monster

Remember the feelings I warned you about earlier? This is its evil twin. You know you are only involved physically, so you should be fine with your partner having other friends with benefits.

I was not good at it at first. But years of experience taught me how to keep the green-eyed monster at bay.

I used to feel possessive and jealous whenever I saw my "buddy" flirting with other women. But after one ugly confrontation, I learned that I can use this as a "me time," or a chance to look for other potential (and hotter) FWBs.

Communication is key

Like with every single relationship in the world, communication is super important. Especially so when navigating the world of friends with benefits.

Start out with clear expectations and listen to those of your friends. Are you both on the same page? Things to chat about include:

  • Whether you are sexually exclusive, or not
  • Will you tell people about your relationship
  • How often will you meet
  • How the relationship will/could end
  • A plan for contraception

As a woman, you might need to instigate these conversations but explain that it is important for you both to know where you stand. Then, check in regularly to make sure you’re both still happy with the arrangement.

By defining the boundaries of your relationship, you can both relax and have lots of fun within them.

Safe sex always

Even if you are not sleeping with anyone else but him, it could be different for your sex buddy. You never know who else he is intimate with, so practising safe sex is crucial. And even if you are in an exclusive relationship, protection is still important. Don't forget the contraceptives, too! Trust me, you don't want a little version of him wiggling in your uterus.

Aside from a first aid kit and an emergency "anti-tantrum" kit for my kids, I always keep a secret protection pouch at hand. Besides, being prepared never hurts. You can tell your partner to do the same as it will benefit you both.

Don't forget the friend bit

A common mistake people make is to forget the ‘friend’ part of friends with benefits. This is not a casual fling or a one-night stand. Friends should be treated with the respect and kindness they deserve … and your FWB is no different.

Friends talk to one another and look out for one another. Never use your FBW as simply a toy for your bedroom and always respect his/her feelings.

Keeping it a secret (or not)

To spill the beans or not to spill, that is the question.

It is up to you to decide whether you want to tell your friends about your little rendezvous. But before you start gushing about it, be sure that your FWB is aware and that he (or she) approves. 

Personally, I've had success with both. But like any other relationship, communication is key. It is just a matter of timing and knowing who to trust. If you want only a few of your closest friends to know, that works too!

However, be careful about letting your kids know, especially if they are still pretty young. They will not understand it yet. In my experience, I have only introduced my past FWBs as “mum’s new friend,” and so far, it worked well.

Be prepared to share

Talking about friends, let’s look at this from another angle. Friends are all you are, not partners or a couple. This means both you and your friend have the freedom to do as you wish, with who you wish. Even if you have agreed on exclusive sex, you are both free to go on dates and attend work events with other people. How does that make you feel?

In an article in Women’s Health discussing findings from a published journal about friends with benefits, they found a real issue for women was:

“A difficulty expressing negative feelings about their partner engaging in flirting or sexual behaviour with someone else. They said that although they experienced jealousy, they couldn’t express it as such because they didn’t have the ‘right,’ because they weren’t in a serious relationship.”

Are you able to watch, even support, your FWB as they meet and enjoy other people? After all, this is what a real friend would do.

Further reading: The best hookup sites for casual flings during a separation.

Be ready to let go

This is not marriage. There is no ‘to death do us part’. Which means, there will most likely be ‘an end’.

Talk about what will happen if either of you meet a person you/he/she would like to date. It will mean you can no longer continue sleeping together, but there is no reason not to maintain your friendship.

The same goes if either of you are not into it anymore. Can you extricate yourself from the sex side of the relationship whilst keeping your friendship intact?

Friendships are one of the most beautiful things in the world. Discussing ‘the end’ before it actually happens will allow for a peaceful transition from bed buddies to just good mates.

Summary: 10 Rules to make friends with benefits work

There you have it, your foolproof guide to having friends with benefits and making it work. It is a fun, no-pressure setup that will relieve most (if not all) of your stress from solo parenthood.

Don’t get me wrong, I love caring for my kids and have completely embraced the single mum role. But as human beings, we need to satisfy our needs. And sometimes, we do not need to commit to a serious relationship to do so. Just make sure you follow all of my tips above and your FWB experience will be smooth sailing.

Here's a special tip - always keep those communication lines open and establish ground rules. Be clear about expectations, desires, and physical and emotional boundaries. Be clear about what's on the table and what's off-limits. Doing this has worked wonders for me.

Have you watched the movies "No Strings Attached" or “Friends with Benefits?” If not, these are great flicks that I am sure you can relate to, especially if this is your first time having an FWB.

That's it! Go forth, have fun, and celebrate your womanhood!

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Sally Love

About the author

Sally Love is a pseudo single mum author who has been writing about single motherhood, separation and divorce for 8+ years. She has been a single mother for 10+ years and has two daughters, one of whom she co-parents and the other she solo parents. Sally has experienced all aspects of single motherhood from legal, financial, parenting, dating, travel as a single parent, re-partnering and re-building a career. She is an integral part of the Beanstalk community chatting and helping single mothers across the globe, as well as sharing her expertise, experiences and genuine reviews with major national newspapers and appearing on nation-wide television shows.

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