I’d like to know your rules for having a friends with benefits arrangement. I’m not looking to be in a relationship right now, but I’m only human and I have needs. I want something that’s dependable enough that I can take care of my needs without having to jump from guy to guy or pick some guy up at a bar or club. Yes, I understand that this isn’t what women say they typically want, but I just got out of a long, difficult relationship and I don’t want to dive right back into commitment again.
Can you tell me the best friends with benefits rules so I can make this happen without drama or complication?
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Yes, I’d be happy to share the best friends with benefits rules so you can hook up without things being complicated. It’s certainly possible, but it requires that you look at things honestly and set clear boundaries for yourself. It also requires that you know yourself – some women can have a friends with benefits arrangement with a guy and have absolutely no problem with it… other women absolutely can’t. It’s a mixture of biology, personality, and psychology that will determine if you’re someone who can do it or not…
One note before we get rolling. I am not encouraging or advocating having a friends with benefits arrangement in your life or as a lifestyle. At the same time, I’m not discouraging it. I’m simply answering your question and speaking to what friends with benefits rules will lead to the most successful results – those results being to get what you want without hurting anyone (including yourself) in the process. I want you to get what you want for the greatest good of everyone involved. Fair?
OK… let’s begin with…
Friends With Benefits Rules
(aka: how to have a friends with benefits arrangement without drama, difficulty, or disaster)
Rule #1: A clean break must be possible (and know that it will end eventually).
This means no neighbors, no co-workers, no ex-boyfriends, no guys that are currently your friend and no people within your social circle. Really, the term “friends with benefits” is misleading because having a FWB arrangement is not sleeping with a guy who’s your friend. It’s an arrangement that you define from the get-go as a purely sexual arrangement… and when it ends, it needs to be clean without loose ends (for you or for him).
Now, I understand that some of you might be reading this article specifically because you are sleeping with a friend and you want it to become something more. You’ll still benefit from reading this article, but read this article as well:
Rule #2: Make sure you’re already happy and OK in your life.
In our modern society, it is common for people to want to add something to their life to fill some sort of emotional void. This is a recipe for disaster in a friends with benefits type of relationship since it’s easy to slide from wanting to fill a void into making a friends with benefits arrangement into something more. FWB arrangements are super clean and simple: a relationship purely for sexual enjoyment and exploration. Nothing more (we’ll talk about this soon).
If you’re not currently happy, fulfilled. and whole, then your focus needs to be on living your life where you’re 100% in touch with your grounded, stable, ever-present sense of being OK before you bring any sort of relationship into the picture (whether it’s a friends with benefits arrangement or any other type of relationship dynamic). FWB arrangements are best thought of as a bonus to be enjoyed in your life, but not something you need to hold on to or possess… when you have it, you enjoy it… when it ends, you allow it to end gracefully. You’re not looking for (and you won’t have) a “happy ending”… but you can have a satisfying and graceful ending.
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Rule #3: Both he and you are allowed to do whatever you want outside of the time you’re together.
Expect that he will do whatever he wants to do. Expect that he will see other people. And because this is the expectation, you must practice safe sex and educate yourself on what it means to have safe sex. It is essential that you understand the risks involved with sex and protect yourself accordingly. Also, because the expectation is that he will probably be seeing other people, you need to be able to be 100% OK with this or don’t attempt to have a FWB arrangement in the first place. This brings us to the next rule…
Rule #4: Keep it simple and keep your options wide open.
Being that you can expect he’ll be seeing other people (or at least, that he’s open to it at any given point), it’s important that you keep your options wide open too. I’m not saying that you’re sleeping with multiple people, but it’s important that you keep your options open and keep yourself in the dating market. This protects you from slipping into thinking of the FWB arrangement as something more than it actually is, which is pure, simple, uncomplicated sexual exploration and enjoyment with a guy on an ongoing (but time-limited) basis.
Rule #5: Don’t treat him (or even think of him) like a friend or boyfriend.
The most important rule of having a friends with benefits arrangement is that you limit what this relationship is in your life. This rule is what makes the difference between a fun, light, satisfying FWB situation… and a messy, disastrous, regretful relationship situation. If you feel you need to connect with someone as a friend… call up one of your friends. If you feel like you want a boyfriend, then start a relationship with a guy from the foundation of creating that kind of relationship. As a rule, though, never put your FWB into a role that is outside the arrangement (which is pure sexual enjoyment and exploration). This doesn’t mean that you’re cold, distant or treat them like an object. It simply means that you limit how you relate to them… keep it fun, light and flirtatious. This brings us to the next rule…
Rule #6: There’s no drama or problems in a FWB arrangement.
If you follow rule #5, you will most likely avoid this entirely. FWB relationships are fun, easy, and flirtatious. You’re not bringing your problems into it and neither is he. There’s no drama or heaviness in the arrangement. Similarly, you are not arguing with each other or putting expectations on one another. If you notice strong negative feelings coming up in yourself, it’s time to end it. If you notice strong negative reactions coming up in him… or that there’s problem between the two of you… it’s time to end it. With all this in mind, this is why the next rule is super important…
Rule #7: Choose a guy that is emotionally stable.
Even if you are great at following the first six rules, everything will come apart if you choose a guy who isn’t emotionally stable. This means he’s a guy that isn’t emotionally volatile (as in, he doesn’t explode into anger, he doesn’t pressure you with demands, he doesn’t get jealous, he’s not a trouble-magnet in his own life, he’s not vindicative) and he’s got his life in order (he’s not depressed, his own life isn’t filled with drama or problems and he makes level-headed decisions). This relates to all the previous rules… people with problems always find a way to suck other people into them… and they succeed if the other person isn’t in a stable place herself.
Rule #8: Be (and maintain being) as sexy as possible.
Just because you’re not a couple doesn’t mean that you can slack off on being your sexiest self. This means you’re going to maintain great fitness habits and great grooming habits. The relationship might be casual, but being your sexiest self is important to maintain the mutual excitement of a FWB arrangement. It also keeps you on the radar as an attractive option on the dating market.
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Rule #9: Make sure you both “get off”…
Being that the FWB relationship is purely based on having a satisfying sexual experience, it’s important for you to make your pleasure a priority. The idea is that you are both satisfied… he “gets off” and so do you.
Rule #10: It is for sexual pleasure and exploration only.
The great thing about having a FWB arrangement is that it’s outside your social circle and any heavy drama or expectations… this means you can really let loose and explore your sexual desires and fantasies without worrying that it could screw up a relationship. So go all in… allow yourself to do what feels good, feels exciting and feels sexy to you…
As I said at the beginning of the article, I’m not encouraging or discouraging anyone from having a friends with benefits type of arrangement. That’s your decision.
I will say that there’s nothing wrong with having one, though. Sadly, it’s typical for people in society to shame others for pursuing anything that falls outside of the most rigid, puritanical, formal type of relationship… and as a result, many men and women feel pressure to learn and explore their own sexuality. They’re held back in fear of being shamed or shunned by their peer group or society as a whole.
I don’t see society as a whole changing anytime soon, so my opinion is that it’s best to keep this sort of arrangement to yourself and not talk to your peer group about it (unless you feel you have someone you feel you can really trust, who won’t judge you, shame you, moralize you or gossip about you after you share the details… which is a rare person, but they exist). This relates back to rule #1 – when it ends, you want things to be clean… you don’t want to have to explain to other people that it ended or your reasons why.
Now, there are lots of times where someone will bring up the hormones released during sex and argue that sex, for a woman, is guaranteed to lead to feelings of attachment. When they argue this, they tend to dig their heels into the ground, citing studies on oxytocin as a scientifically undisputed guarantee that all women become attached after sex.
I agree that the hormone oxytocin is released for women during orgasm. I do not agree that it creates a guaranteed attachment… I have yet to see a woman marry her vibrator and I understand those things are pretty good at dealing out the orgasms…
So how do I reconcile why some women get attached after sex and others can have sex without getting attached? It comes down to expectation…
If a woman goes into the sexual experience expecting it to be simply a hook-up with no expectation, desire or hoping for it to lead to a relationship… then these tend to be the women who can have a FWB type arrangement without it getting emotionally messy for them.
Now, I’m not a woman and I can only speak from observation and from the countless accounts I’ve heard from women who have shared their sexual experiences with me. There are lots of women who can hook up without any feelings of attachment… they just don’t tend to talk about it in their social circles since, quite frankly, most people are judgmental and vehemently attack the idea that women can hook up without somehow being a victim. Sadly, I think it’s guaranteed you’ll see many comments on this article to that effect (and I may or may not have the energy to reply to them… we’ll see).
Sex is not an act to be taken lightly. It’s the most intimate act two humans can share, it can spread infection or viruses and it can certainly stir up your emotions (especially if you’re not in an emotionally stable place to begin with)… so I want to make it clear that I’m not saying that sex is “no big deal”.
I do, however, want to create a space for people to actually talk about exploring their sexuality without someone immediately shaming them or telling them that if they explore their sexuality, they’re somehow bad or classless or naive or foolish or going to be victimized. There’s nothing shameful about exploring your sexuality… and you need to be smart about it.
Hope that helps,
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These Are the Friends With Benefits Rules
- A clean break must be possible (and know that it will end eventually).
- Make sure you’re already happy and OK in your life.
- Both he and you are allowed to do whatever you want outside of the time you’re together.
- Keep it simple and keep your options wide open.
- Don’t treat him (or even think of him) like a friend or boyfriend.
- There’s no drama or problems in a FWB arrangement.
- Choose a guy that is emotionally stable.
- Be (and maintain being) as sexy as possible.
- Make sure you both “get off”…
- It is for sexual pleasure and exploration only.