If we’ve learned anything about relationships from Hollywood romantic comedies, it’s that a “friends with benefits” relationship isn’t sustainable: someone always catches feels. However, the real world is nothing like the world of film, which begs the question: is it possible, in the real world, to be friends with benefits?
The short answer: it depends. If you’re considering adding some benefits to a valued friendship, consider these questions:
Have You Had the Conversation?
Unfortunately, simply agreeing that this is the route you both want to take is not enough. Instead, you’ll need to truly discuss what each of you expects from this relationship. When the boundaries are murky, you have to define them.
No, it’s not sexy, but talking about a friends-with-benefits relationship before it happens is an effective way to ensure you’re both on the same page before moving forward. Friendships can be fragile, especially when intimacy is involved, so do your part to strengthen yours with an open and honest discussion before taking that next step.
Have You Been Honest About Your Feelings?
Think about what you need and where you are at emotionally. Are you lonely and trying to fill a void? Are you simply looking for no-strings-attached sex, without the risk of a one night stand? Are you secretly in love with your friend?
It’s not easy, but before launching into a friends-with-benefits relationship, you need to determine why you’re doing it. For example, if you’re harboring feelings for your friend, you should be honest and up front about those feelings—you’re not looking for a friend with benefits, you’re looking for a relationship.
What are Your Relationship Statuses?
Are you both actively dating? Or are you both single and looking to stay that way? Your relationship statuses matter, because entering a friends-with-benefits relationship requires open communication and equality.
If one of you is single and looking to stay that way, while the other is waiting for the right relationship, you could encounter emotional issues when one of you is ready to commit to someone else. If you’re not on the same page, there’s a higher likelihood those feelings can ruin your friendship.
What is the Long Term Plan?
You should always define this up front. Are you both looking for something short term to fill the cuffing season void? Are you both going to call it off when one person meets a potential significant other? Before you start this type of relationship, you need to set the ground rules and a long term plan. Discuss what’s off-limits, talk about what you will do if someone starts to develop feelings (for them or someone else), and set a deadline.
It sounds very clinical, but without following these precautions, one or both of you could end up hurt, and your friendship could be a lost cause. While a long-term plan doesn’t protect you from relationship casualties, it does help develop fail-safes to prevent them.
How Highly do You Value the Friendship?
Last, but definitely not least, how highly do you value your friendship? Have you been close since the second grade? Or are you new friends without much history? Either way, how important is your friendship to you?
The fact of the matter is: your friendship might not withstand sex. So, before committing to being friends with benefits, you should determine whether or not losing the friendship is a deal breaker. If it is, you may want to avoid this relationship. If you feel strongly about them, but not so strongly that you can’t put your friendship on the line, it may be worth having the conversation.
While a friends-with-benefits relationship isn’t as impossible as your favorite films may suggest, it’s not without its risks. As with every relationship, there is no one-size-fits all solution, so only you can decide what’s best for you.