Friends... Add benefits?

Originally Published: July 23, 2004 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: June 29, 2012
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Hey Alice,

I have a good guy friend, and we were talking about friends with benefits. We said how sometimes you want the relationship, but then sometimes not. Then we were talking about how if you want just the perks without the ties, then why not with someone you know and trust. I asked him if he was looking at someone in particular, and he said no, and he asked me and I said not really. The dilemma is that I want to go that step with him. I want to become friends with benefits. But I'm afraid that if I talk to him about it, he'll freak out and reject the idea and I'll lose a friend. I don't know if he would really react that way, but I'm just afraid. We both seem to be looking for the same things and I've been feeling like this for a while now... Should I talk to him about it or just forget about it?

Dear Reader,

An old Nigerian proverb goes, "Hold a true friend with both your hands," although, in your case, it sounds like you're looking to do a little more than holding.

For the uninitiated, "friends with benefits" is a term to describe friends/acquaintances who hook up. "Hooking up" is a convenient way to describe the activities since it wipes away the 1st base/2nd base clarity and covers all variety of sexual encounters. The friends involved might be bosom buddies or only minor acquaintances; they might be an ex-couple still enjoying the benefits of their now-ended relationship, or a pair who'd never met before deciding to set up to hook up. How things begin often determines how things proceed: whether it's a one-time event, a frequently recurring appointment, or anything in between.

There are many reasons someone may elect to have a "friends with benefits" arrangement. Lack of time for an emotionally-committed relationship and lack of interest were often cited as reasons for choosing the more no-strings-attached feel that friends with benefits carries. Also, unlike casual sex or the bar scene, for instance, friends with benefits can give both parties a little more security and comfort than an anonymous, one-night stand might.

Before you start worrying about whether a friends with benefits relationship is good for your friend, it's important that you take time to figure out if it's good for you. Do you want more from the relationship than just the benefits? One of the hardest parts about making a friends with benefits situation work is that, in time, one person can become more emotionally committed than the other. Going into it with the expectation of a future relationship can be even worse, since you're on uneven ground from the start. Also, will this be the first sexual relationship you've ever had? Or even the first relationship? Sometimes it's hard to separate love from lust — something which a friends with benefits relationship demands — especially if it is the first time you experience both.

So then to the matter of whether or not to tell your guy. Yes, your friendship might be strained if you ask him about it. On the other hand, not telling him might do just the same, or may cause you to miss out on an opportunity to explore this other kind of friendship.

Consider further what happens if all things go well: you tell him, he agrees, and you add the benefits package to your existing friendship. When all is said and done, will you be able to continue to be friends without complication? Will he? And if the two of you are part of a larger circle of friends, are you comfortable with their reactions if they find out? If things were too strained by this additional feature, could you handle the loss of this friend for the promise of a sexual partner? Of course no one knows for sure, but it makes sense to mentally play out all of the possible scenarios before you make a decision, so that you will be more prepared for the possible outcomes of whatever choice you make.

And finally, if you do choose to explore this much-trodden field, don't forget all the other responsibilities associated with beginning a sexual relationship. Unlike full-on relationships, agreements between friends can often be non-exclusive. Remember that you can't consider only your partner's sexual status. And if your partnership is a potentially procreative one, contraceptive options such as the pill, patch, or shot may decrease the chances of adding a third to your friends with benefits relationship, while trusty condoms can do this and more by protecting against most STIs.

Alice

July 2, 2012

513230
I agree with you. My current fiance and me were bestfriends. Then we ended up being friends with benefits. we fell in love, he asked me out and 2 years passed and hes my fiance. I dont regret my...
I agree with you. My current fiance and me were bestfriends. Then we ended up being friends with benefits. we fell in love, he asked me out and 2 years passed and hes my fiance. I dont regret my decision back there. It helped me find my dream guy. It may happen to anybody too (:

October 29, 2007

21355
Alice,
I am really happy that I found your comments on Friends with Benefits, because it describes the relationship I'm in right now completely. I hooked up with a guy who is a friend,...
Alice,
I am really happy that I found your comments on Friends with Benefits, because it describes the relationship I'm in right now completely. I hooked up with a guy who is a friend, someone I only would see once in a while. Then we started sleeping together once, maybe twice a week and I got the whole "hormonal girly feelings" that come with sex, and started thinking I wanted a relationship with him. We just recently talked, and I brought up the whole "what are we" question, and we communicated really well, and he stated that he just wanted it to be a casual friend thing. The more we talked, the more I realized that this was the kind of relationship I wanted too, and I was okay with it not being anymore, if that was all he wanted.

I think the most important thing is to separate lust from "love" or deeper feelings for the other person, and if you are okay with doing that, then friends with benefits is great. TALKING is so important, and if I hadn't brought it up with him, I probably would still be stressing over how I felt about him and what I wanted from him. This is also my first time having a completely sexual relationship (I've had a few one night stands and a fews serious relationships in the past), so I might be kicking myself later...  but right now we are communicating and both of us are happy with where we are right now.

Thank you again, for confirming a lot of the feelings I've been having!

July 19, 2007

21280
It all depends on the individuals involved...Sure FWB is widespread these days, but it can go either way in terms of ruining a friensdship, or creating a new relationship. This is not a simplistic...
It all depends on the individuals involved...Sure FWB is widespread these days, but it can go either way in terms of ruining a friensdship, or creating a new relationship. This is not a simplistic matter, as feelings do get involved, that gray area can get quite murky for some. If it is a one time thing, then I don't see the harm, but if it is continuous, then jealousy, attachment along with other emotions come into play, not to mention how you'll act around your circle of friends. I am not for or against, as this is not a black and white issue, good or bad type of thing. I think if two friends are single this could work. As mentioned above, its all up to the individuals.

January 16, 2007

21168

Dear Alice,

I decided to come on this site tonight to look for advice. Tonight I ended a friends with benefits relationship with my best guy friend of 6 years. It didn't go as planned, and...

Dear Alice,

I decided to come on this site tonight to look for advice. Tonight I ended a friends with benefits relationship with my best guy friend of 6 years. It didn't go as planned, and I'm worried that he will not call after this. I went into it having convinced myself that none of the questions you should ask yourself were a concern. But tonight he didn't agree with wanting to end it.

Although we are both still single, I started to get bored, so I decided it was time to go back to just being friends. I explained myself without actually telling him it was boring and he continued to try to stay together until he realized I was serious. I told him of my concerns that he would not call, and he tried to convince me that I was wrong. (You don’t keep a best friend relationship for 6 years and not get to know someone enough to know when they are faking it, and he was!!!)

He is my best friend — almost like a brother to me (except for the obvious), and if we can't continue being friends, I'll be devastated. We’ve been through everything together. He looks out for me and kicks my ass when I need it. And I’ve always done the same for him. If you want some words of wisdom, no matter what, don’t do it!!! No matter how sure you are that it is going to work, something will screw it up!!! Do not by any means sleep with someone you want to keep a good relationship with. In the end, it’s not worth it. Sex changes everything and friendships are not meant to endure such tests of fate. Friends with benefits is the worst way to go and the best way to ruin a friendship!

— Worried and Concerned

September 22, 2006

21136

Alice & Reader,

And here we see the big pitfall of the Anonymous Internet... people hiding behind their anonymity to post hurtful and simplistic and idiotic messages that do nothing to...

Alice & Reader,

And here we see the big pitfall of the Anonymous Internet... people hiding behind their anonymity to post hurtful and simplistic and idiotic messages that do nothing to help anyone. The poster who accuses you of being a hypocrite does have, underneath all that sarcasm and vitriol, a valid point. ALL relationships, not just "friends with benefits" relationships, are complicated, and there are no guarantees. But, there is one thing that we have learned after decades of experimentation: sex is not Casual. If it were, we wouldn't want to do it so much.

Anyway. Your asking the question shows me that you value sex as more than just a physical thing. Or else, you wouldn't be asking. You'd just be having guilt-free sex with your friend. So for you, sex is clearly more than Casual. As much as I HATED it in high school, people are right when they worry that having sex with a friend can "ruin" their friendship. It may not, but it's a risk, and you need to go in with your eyes open. Same thing with swinging or any other non-traditional activities. They can be rewarding lifestyles, but when you look at people who have had successful "friends with benefits" relationships, you'll find people who have above-average communication with each other. You both have to be on the same page with the same expectations, and you have to constantly work to keep your friendship the primary thing, not the sex. The sex should feel like a natural continuation of your friendship. If it doesn't, then you have issues.

From my personal experience, I will tell you that for me, friends with benefits has worked for short periods of time with friends that I wasn't that close with; and after a few months, I wasn't friends with that person any more. Generally, this is because one of us would get serious about the other and want a "relationship" or because one of us realized that they didn't WANT casual sex, but committed sex with a committed partner(s).

February 3, 2006

21018

Alice,

Your extensive analysis of Friends with benefits is silly, completely lacking in perspective and shamelessly apologetic for the old ways of monogamy and that old fashioned scam, "...

Alice,

Your extensive analysis of Friends with benefits is silly, completely lacking in perspective and shamelessly apologetic for the old ways of monogamy and that old fashioned scam, "romantic love". You go to great lengths to point out all the pitfalls of FWB when romantic love and monogamy have all the same pitfalls or worse. Certainly, you must know that roughly half of all marriages end in divorce and extreme hurt. So why are you not warning everyone about the pitfalls of marriage and all the hurt? Certainly you must realize that the thrill of marriage is gone after a few years and many marriages are sexless thereafter. Why aren't you warning about this? Maintaining a marriage is difficult at best. Why aren't you warning about what a tribulation marriage can be?

Why indeed?

Because you are a hypocrite.

You seek to perpetuate the monogamy/romantic love scam that you got caught up in and won't admit is a total depressing failure. So you do your reactionary best to try to block progress in finding a better way for men and women to interact, by pointing out all the problems that have always existed between men and women and blaming them on FWB and pretending that they won't exist in a traditional romantic relationship.

How naive can you be to think we don't see through your scam? Unfortunately, you don't know better just because you are older. You're like "gimme that old time religion, it was good enough for Moses and its good enough for me." Well dear, you can be miserable living in the past, but don't expect the rest of us follow you worn out bad example. Why not have an open mind and plenty of perspective instead on blindly defending romantic love and monogamy?