'Dear A & E, I'm not ready for a committed relationship yet and just want something casual. I've slept with one of my friends a few times in the past and have started thinking about suggesting a friends-with-benefits relationship. When do I know it's right and how do I do it?' - Jamie
BY THE ROAM TEAM 6 MIN READ
Friends with benefits refers to a relationship between two people who are physically intimate with one another without being committed or exclusive.
Friends with benefits, as exemplified by Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake adding sex to their already platonic friendship, doesn't always have to mean you're besties before. In fact, friends with benefits simply refers to a relationship between two people who are physically intimate with one another without being committed or exclusive. You may enjoy time together, but the nature of the connection is primarily sexual.
And whilst Timberlake rounded off his friends with benefits experience with a flash mob, a declaration of love, and a heartfelt kiss, for the most part, friends with benefits doesn’t culminate in commitment – that’s what makes it fun.
Most of the time, friends with benefits develops naturally as you form a sexual relationship with someone and decide that it works for you. Otherwise, Jamie, a classic slide into the DMs might not go amiss if you’ve spent a night together and feel that you’d enjoy repeating the experience. Rejection is always a possibility when initiating such conversations, but rejection is not always a bad thing. Rather, it’s a healthy expression of boundaries!
It’s probably a bit strong to suggest friends with benefits before actually having had sex, though. ‘I’d like to do this again sometime’ is safer than ‘wanna shag?’ Either way, disclaiming that you’re thinking more of something casual is a good way to go. You don't need to dive into all the reasons you don't fancy commitment. Instead, this should be fun for both of you, from texting to the deed itself.
There are many positives to a casual sexual relationship. If you’re not interested in monogamy, the pressure of relationships, or the emotional vulnerability required to be in one, then a friends-with-benefits scenario might work for you, Jamie. Equally, if you’re at an intermediate stage in your life where you’re not sure where you’re going to live or what job you’re going to have, then it can be difficult to commit to one person who expects you to be around. If you just want to go home to Netflix and your cat at the end of the day, friends with benefits means that you can enjoy sexual intimacy while maintaining the freedom of singlehood.
Top tip: casual sex doesn’t have to be meaningless sex. You can still welcome feelings of affection and care for your sexual partner without taking the next step.
Just as you are free from emotional commitment, so too is your sexual partner. If you feel that you need the support and comfort offered by a relationship, then this isn’t the right scenario for you. Don’t settle for a friends with benefits relationship if you know that you would rather have a more serious connection. If you find yourself falling for your hook-up, don’t panic (we’ve all been there). But it probably does mean that it’s time to evaluate whether or not the casual nature of your relationship is best serving your needs.
The absence of exclusivity does not excuse being a nasty person. Friends with benefits is not an opportunity for someone to mistreat you or take advantage of you under the guise of informality. You should always prioritise yourself and your welfare, and make sure your standards are being met. 2023 is not the year of settling for less!
The ease of a friends-with-benefits relationship is a blessing with big curse-potential. As the terms of the relationship fluctuate and adapt, you need to be open and expressive about your feelings and expectations. Discussing the nature of your connection from the get-go can never go wrong.
Most of all, Jamie, remember to be open, honest, and to prioritise your safety and wellbeing.
Have fun, and sex!
Lots of love,
The Agony and the Ecstasy
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