Friends With Benefits: What Does It Mean and Is It Right for You?

Updated 03/12/19
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Are you wondering what “friends with benefits” actually means? Perhaps you’ve heard the term come up in movies and TV shows or have seen the acronym FWB and were unsure what kind of relationship that was. Maybe you are simply trying to determine if it’s the right situation for you. Whatever the case may be, in order to make a friends with benefits relationship work, it’s important to understand what this kind of casual connection truly means and entails.

What is a "friends with benefits" relationship?

In the most basic sense, a friends with benefits relationship is one in which two people are physically intimate with one another, yet they’re not committed to each other in any way. In other words, people involved in a friends with benefits relationship clearly enjoy spending time together and hooking up, but their relationship isn’t romantic and has no strings attached.

Is a friends with benefits relationship right for you?

If you’re thinking about entering into a friends with benefits relationship, there are five key points to keep in mind that’ll help you determine if this casual connection is truly beneficial for you in every respect.

  1. You are neither looking to commit to this person nor expect them to commit to you. If you want to be friends with benefits with someone, it’s important that you enter into this kind of relationship with full understanding and acceptance of what this means for both of you. This person isn’t your S.O., and this can have both its advantages as well as disadvantages depending upon your current wants and needs. It’s important to recognize that this person isn’t going to be able to provide you with the emotional support and care that are typically demonstrated by a partner in a committed relationship; that may include off-limits activities such as crying on their shoulder, attending family events, or going on a formal date.
  2. You and this person are on the same page about your FWB relationship. When you enter into a FWB relationship, you should discuss openly and honestly about the nature of your connection right from the start. To avoid confusion, hurt feelings, and misread signals, you should be totally forthright and in complete accord with each other about the nature of your relationship. That way, your no-strings connection can be as problem-free as possible. If you reach a disagreement about the situation, this may not be the arrangement for you.
  3. This is the kind of relationship that you truly want with this person. Don't agree to a FWB relationship because it’s the only thing that your potential partner is willing to do. In order to avoid heartache in the future, you have to fully understand what you’re signing up for in the present so that this relationship doesn’t leave you feeling unfulfilled or unimportant. While it’s certainly possible for a FWB relationship to transition into something more over time, you’re likely heading for heartbreak if this is your goal from the outset.
  4. Understand that this person may be with other people. If you’re thinking about entering a FWB relationship, it’s also important to keep in mind that your connection isn’t a monogamous one. In fact, either of you is free to date more people, have other FWB relationships and/or play the field as much as you’d like. In addition to protecting your physical health, it’s important that you protect your emotional health by understanding that your FWB relationship can end at any time and for any reason. 
  5. You both enjoy the FWB relationship. In order for a FWB relationship to work out, it has to fulfill your needs as well as his or hers. You may enjoy hooking up and being intimate, but these types of relationships can only be successful if you’re both completely content with the arrangement. For instance, if your FWB relationship makes you happy in the moment but then later fills you with regret and disappointment, it’s not the right choice for you. If this casual connection prevents you from pursuing a committed relationship that you see for yourself in the long-term, your FWB connection may set you back romantically. 

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