15 August 2012
Can FWB (friend with benefits) really work?
by Fran Creffield
It can seem like an ideal solution if you are both single and want some sexual activity without the complications of a full relationship...can it really work?
We live in a much more liberated society where casual sex is accepted by many people as part of everyday life. If you have recently ended a long-term relationship and are not ready to get into a new one just yet, or if you have been single for a long time, you will still have sexual needs – we all do, it is human and natural and nothing to be ashamed of. Where once the choices for satisfying those needs was limited to one night stands with strangers, which is fraught with dangers, a new trend has emerged – Friend With Benefits – meaning a friend who you have sex with but with no pretence that it is going to turn into anything deeper or more meaningful.
Some people would argue that what separates an intimate relationship from a friendship is the fact that you have sex with each other – many people refer to their partner as their best friend – but FWB belong in a different category and are different from a normal relationship in a number of ways:
1. It is short term – this isn’t a permanent solution – each of you are aware that it will only last until one of you decides to end it usually because they have met someone they do want to develop a full relationship with.
2. It is sexual – although you may be friends and have affection for each other as such, this aspect of the relationship is about satisfying sexual needs not falling in love or deepening intimacy.
3. It is casual – there are no expectations for a deeper emotional connection on either side and you won’t be able to expect this person to accompany you to parties or go on romantic dates together – this is a sexual arrangement – anything more than that and you are having a relationship with each other.
4. It is private – this may not always be the case but many people prefer to keep their FWBs discreet because there can still be some stigma attached especially when you start dating again.
There are advantages to this kind of arrangement mainly in that you already know the person so it is much safer than picking up a stranger in a bar. If you have a good, strong friendship you will probably be able to talk things through and lay the ground rules so that you both know exactly where you stand. It can be great fun – no pressure to perform, freedom to explore sexually with a safe, consenting partner and no expectations for it to develop into anything more serious. As with all things there is another side to the story.
…. and cons
Unfortunately many friendships are ruined by becoming sexual for the simple reason that while you may both start at the same place emotionally very often one person develops stronger feelings and wants more from the relationship. This cannot be helped – sex and intimacy are so closely related that while you may begin in one place it is easy to find yourself falling in love with your friend or being hurt when they start dating someone seriously. Emotions are fragile.
While you may be open minded and see nothing wrong with what you are doing not everyone will agree with your point of view. You may find yourself subject to gossip or other people’s judgements. Future dates may find it difficult to accept your FWB being in your life even if you are no longer engaged in a sexual relationship with them. Finally it is important to remember that engaging in casual sex carries more risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases so it is especially important to be careful with protection and regular check ups.
This kind of relationship is not for everyone – it can be damaging to your self-esteem and leave you feeling ashamed or cheap. This is often made worse if the decision to get involved sexually with your friend was made under the influence of alcohol. If you feel bad about what you are doing, stop doing it. Put your energies into building yourself up and dating people who you want to have a full relationship with.