Friends with benefits – and I’m not talking about that cheesy 2011 rom-com with Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake. It’s something we’ve all heard of, maybe dabbled in, or even been warned against. You could even say it gets a bad rap, particularly in mono-centric culture.
A quick Google search will bring up various lists of rules to follow. As if there are a right and a wrong way to do it! I’m here to tell you, there’s not.
You can cuddle, you can sleep over... or not!
Often times we see friends with benefits portrayed as two single people unable to find love. Can that be the driving factor to engaging in FWB? Sure, but it’s a myth that it HAS to be that way. And it doesn’t matter what your sexual orientation or gender identity is!
If you engage in non-monogamy, FWB can be a really beneficial arrangement. It might even enhance a primary relationship. Are you in a long-term relationship? If so, experiencing someone new could give your sex drive a lift. Sharing sexy details with your partner could spark more in the bedroom for the two of you. You might discover something new in your explorations and bring that home to bed!
Friends with benefits can offer solutions to some common relationship challenges, such as:
Often medical conditions make it difficult for our partners to comfortably engage in certain activities. An FWB could offer you the opportunity to find a play partner to fill in the gaps!
Maybe your partner lives far away. Or it’s not feasible to see each other (thanks, COVID). An FWB could offer you the opportunity to have your physical needs met!
It’s possible that your partner is asexual and you’re not, or that you’re aromantic. Perhaps you have a partner who’s older and their sex drive doesn’t keep up with yours. Or your partner isn’t into a certain kink that you are. Regardless, FWB offers an outlet!
Expectations and boundaries are extremely important to hash out between you, your FWB, and any other partners. You’ll each have to decide what you’re comfortable with and make adjustments where warranted. Maybe cuddling is okay but spending the night isn’t. This is where you get the chance to make it yours, make it work for you. Have fun! Part of the joy in the FWB arrangement is, after all, not worrying so much about emotional entanglement.
Be honest about what you’re wanting and have that conversation often. Things change over time and that’s okay! You’ll also want to be upfront about your sexual history, partners, and how to navigate safer sex for all parties.
digit-finger-vibrator-stands-next-to-product-packagingIn this new era of pandemic that we’re living in, that includes of course talking about COVID bubbles, risk/exposure, and underlying conditions. We’ve all been forced to find more creative ways to get our needs met whether sexting or video chatting. If you find an FWB that can tick all your boxes, activities like mutual masturbation and outercourse in person are less risky than penetrative sex.
Hot Octopuss’ PULSE DUO is a couple’s (penis and vulva) toy that’s a great option as it ‘turns foreplay into the main event’. Their DiGiT finger vibrator can be used solo or together, in person or not! Toys are a fun addition to the bedroom no matter what your relationship status.
This is typically where all those rules come in to keep you safe emotionally. Those fears are founded, no question. You have to be sure you’re in the right mindset and emotionally ready to pull off FWB successfully, long or short term. You can high tail it out if you start to develop feelings and you’re not looking for that (after some frank discussion of course.) Or you can keep an open mind, and heart, and take it further if you’re both willing.
If you value your friendship and the thought of ruining it makes you feel awful, that person might not be the right fit. Choosing a friend you’ve been close to for years and years could be risky. However, your FWB might be someone you’ve not even met yet! There’s no rule stating that you have to choose someone in your existing pool of friends.
All of that said, FWB arrangements aren’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s to be expected. So if you find yourself with the opportunity or you get into one and it doesn’t feel right, that’s okay. Just be honest about how you feel. If you have engaged sexually with a friend, they should hopefully understand and put your friendship first. If they don’t, well, maybe they weren’t a great friend, to begin with. But overall, friends with benefits can be satisfying and in some cases, deeply beneficial!