How To Make A Friends With Benefits Relationship Work
Throughout our lives, most people end up in relationships that vary in levels of commitment, longevity and expectations.
On one side we have a short fling or a one-night-stand, where the expectation is little more than a passionate night, sexy lingerie sets flung over the floor and enjoyable sex without any strings attached.
On the other are more committed, long-term relationships where couples have the time and the space to explore each other’s bodies slowly, tantalisingly and develop sexually together.
Whilst it is an oversimplification to say friends with benefits falls between the two extremes, it is a type of relationship that can be perfect for some people but very difficult to navigate for others.
This is not just because friendships and relationships are automatically more complex when sex is involved as was strongly implied by the 2010 film of the same name, but depending on the people involved, it can be more complex.
However, there are a lot of ways to make it work, and for the right people, it can be the perfect path to intimacy, whether they stay friends with benefits for a while, become friends again or start dating fully.
There is no “right” type of sexual relationship, but instead, there are relationships and liaisons that suit some people better than others, and the first step to happiness is understanding what intimacy means to you.
Understand Yourself And Each Other
Communication is the backbone of any relationship irrespective of how short, but with friends-with-benefits, it is essential to understand your attitude to sex, commitment and friendship, as that will affect the type of friends-with-benefit arrangement you would be happiest in.
According to a 2019 study, there are three main types of friends with benefits relationships:
There are those that are purely or at least primarily about the sexual aspect, being sex friends with an emphasis on the sex. This can be great if you want to experiment with someone who you can trust but still retain your emotional independence.
Others are more about social connections. You are sex friends but also get to meet each other's friends and form friendships and sexual relationships with other people without breaching trust or overstepping the bounds of a friendship or relationship.
Finally, there are very close friends who have sex. Here the emphasis is on that close platonic connection with the sexual component being a part of your friendship but not the only part.
Don’t Forget The Friendship
Ultimately, whilst there is not the long-term commitment to another person that there is in a “serious” relationship, it is still important to value the friendship and keep that in front of your mind when you do have sex together.
If they are worried about anything or feel uncomfortable, talk about it, and make sure not to forget either the platonic or sexual aspects of your friendship. Be clear about your boundaries, what you do and do not want out of any part of your friendship and do not accept anything you would not accept in a friendship.
Both parts of a friends-with-benefits arrangement have the emotional and sexual freedom to see other people, but at the same time that also means it is important to be safe with everyone you have sex with.
Similarly, do not feel pressured into doing anything you do not feel comfortable doing, even with a friend.
Talk Through Caught Feelings
One of the big tests of a friends-with-benefits arrangement is the potential for a disconnect between what both people want out of it, and the best solution is to talk about your feelings, however hard it can be.
Out in the open, it will let them know how they feel, avoid confusion and ultimately ensure that both of you are getting what you need out of your relationship.