Cover the eyes of small children, and step outside if you’re squeamish. This week we’re talking friends with benefits. FWBs if you will.
Most every Tuesday I answer questions submitted by readers on my formspring.me account. I invite questions or insight anonymously on the site and answer them in a post the following week. Submit your questions for next week’s edition by clicking this link. Link opens in a new window.
An anonymous user from formspring.me/theblondexoxo says:
What are your thoughts on friends with benefits?
Interesting question. And definitely one that I consider more often than I should. It may confuse many readers to hear that I definitely have had a couple of FWBs myself. Once in high school (oops) and one in the last couple of years. One ended because I got into a long-term relationship, and we remain casual friends today (casual because we are aware of our past and he is married) and the other ended because I grew attached after a series of unfortunate misunderstandings wherein I’m not sure either of us knew what we wanted.
Most people wonder why a FWB situation would be ideal. To this I say…sometimes circumstances just aren’t going to work out. Time, distance, whatever…it’s just not going to make a relationship. And sometimes you’re friends with someone and you want to have sex. In fact, I’d say most of the time if you’re in a cross gender friendship, you want to have sex. Now, if you’ve got that sexual attraction, and you realize it’s never going to work out, but you’re still curious, what are you to do? Sometimes, FWB scratches the itch.
I definitely think FWBs can work, but there are important elements that have to be present in a successful FWB situation. First, you should be friends. I think there is a difference between FWB and hook ups. Hook ups occur between people who aren’t really friends. FWBs are two people, in my opinion, who know one another well and have a strong sexual attraction but no desire to work out a relationship. Having this friendship present, to me, always makes it better. There is a sexual energy and attraction, and I find that it’s always easier to have great sex with someone you’re comfortable with.
Second, I think it’s important to be realistic. If you have any inkling at all that you’re looking for a relationship with this person rather than just remaining friends who have hooked up, then you cannot (it bears repeating–CANNOT!) be FWB. Why not? Because you’ll both end up resenting one another. The one with feelings will resent the person because they’ll feel used and toyed with. The person without feelings will resent the “feeler” because they’re putting pressure in a place they agreed it wouldn’t be. A world of resentment can be opened up if the terms are not agreed upon prior to the first encounter.
In the same vein, if you are in a FWB situation and someone begins to develop feelings, at any moment, it’s important to let the other person know. I realize that it may be awkward, and you may feel guilty for ‘back tracking’ on an agreement, but by letting the person know that your feelings are in jeopardy, they can evaluate their own feelings. Then, if they choose to stop, your feelings are saved. They didn’t disregard you, they carefully evaluated the situation and you both made the best choice possible. Honesty is always the best policy, but it’s absolutely pertinent in this situation.
That might mean you only hook up once. It might mean you keep something up for a long time. As long as you are communicating what you are feeling, I think it’s fine. Being open is essential. If you’re not ready to say “Hey, sorry, I’m just not that into you”, you definitely aren’t ready to hook up with a friend.
I think you’ve got to agree up front the terms. Is this a one time deal? Are we going to be friends after this? Can we joke with others about this, or is this a secret? Do you have any feelings for me beyond the friendship? Do I need to call you tomorrow? I realize sometimes moments just happen, so if you can’t agree to these beforehand, maybe get up the nerve to ask your friend after the incident. Just to clear the air, and ensure that the friendship remains in tact.
I think it’s important to note that not many of these situations pan out to real relationships. If you’re thinking that this is something that will make a guy or girl more interested in you, you’re probably off base and shouldn’t try this. If you’re looking for a commitment I suggest you get that first before having sex.
However, if you’re friends with someone, have a sexual energy, realistically have a grip on your feelings, AND this is something you’re interested in, have a talk with your friend. Agree to some ground rules. But always, always, always go with your gut instinct. If you’re at all wondering if you have feelings beyond a sexual attraction, opt OUT of the FWB. Save yourself the misery that comes from unrequited love. And remember, never tell someone something if you think it’s what they want to hear. This goes for FWB, significant others, friends, random people on the street.
So, FWB. Would I do it? Yeah. Especially right now. I am not sure where I’m going in life, not sure what the future holds. If I found someone I was friends with and sexually attracted to, I’d find myself considering the FWB. But not at all if I thought my heart was involved.
Just my two cents. Take it for what it’s worth, y’all!
Side note, where did this term come from?