Written by: Brianne Addison
Ah, yes. The classic “friends with benefits” debate. The “we’re just friends, but if you look at him/her, I will scratch your eyes out” type of deal. It seems like a good idea at the time, but, more often than not, it ends up being a disaster. It is rare that a “friend with benefits” label ever truly works out the way both parties originally intended it to, and here’s why, someone usually ends up catching feelings for the other person involved, and as a result, someone usually ends up getting hurt. As someone who’s done the whole “friends with benefits” thing on two separate occasions, I can tell you that what you’re essentially doing is jumping head on into an emotional roller-coaster.
So, you’ve both made a plan. You’re good friends, you’re exes, you’re acquaintances, etc., and you’re not looking for a serious relationship. You just want someone to cuddle with at night, someone to possibly vent to, someone to go out to dinner with, and someone to do the….well….obvious with. Basically, you want a person who acts like a friend, but in the bedroom, does all the things a boyfriend/girlfriend would do, no feelings involved. Sounds great, and for the first few months, it may be the most amazing thing you’ve ever experienced. Guilt free sex, no strings attached, which enables you to go out and talk to whomever else you want to. Liberating. The only problem is, sometime down the road, you might run into some problems. This is what we call, a slippery slope.
You swear up and down to yourself that you’ll never catch feelings for your FWB, but wait, he’s talking to another woman at the bar and that kind of makes you feel weird. You’re not sure why it does— after all, you’re just friends, and as his friend, you have no right to determine who he talks to or what he does with said, person— except maybe you feel kind of strange, because instead of taking you home tonight, he’s going to take her. Could that be jealousy rearing its ugly head? Perhaps. Or maybe you really don’t have feelings for your FWB, but you can tell they’re catching feelings for you, so when they go out of their way to cook you dinner, guilt forms in the pit of your stomach. All you really wanted to do was take them to bed before you asked them to leave. You have a lot of episodes of XYZ to catch up on and now you feel immense guilt at the prospect of kicking them out afterwards.
But we agreed to this-this and that! Yes, yes, I know, but people’s emotions don’t know that. The worst thing to do is lie to yourself if you know you’ve caught feelings for your friend. My advice? Tell them, and if they don’t return those feelings, then MOVE ON. You will only continue to get hurt if you stay. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, allow the other person to guilt you into feeling bad because you broke the sacred oath of being “just friends” that you both took during the sacred “Friends with Benefits” ceremony some months prior. They’re entitled to their opinion, and if they do not care for you as more than just as a friend, that’s their decision and you should respect it, but that does not mean you linger around, hoping they’ll suddenly wake up and see you in a whole new light. I’ve watched countless friends ruin themselves in scenarios such as that and it is terrible to behold.
One more hazard of being “friends with benefits” is that sometimes the agreement can go too well. Yes, that right, you’re plan is working out too efficiently. You’re both extremely cozy with your set-up and you end up essentially living like a couple. You watch movies, have someone to cuddle with at night, go out to eat, to the movies, and so on and so forth. The problem with this is people tend to get lazy when placed in this situation. They get so comfortable with their FWB, they don’t even go out and try to find actual dates. What’s worse, they live in a situation where they’re essentially boyfriend and girlfriend, except, they’re not making the actual effort of a boyfriend and girlfriend (yes, I’ve lived out this scenario too…. And let me tell you, it SUCKED). Dating someone requires you to actually put in some effort, now and again—you know, going to see that crappy movie that he/she wants to see oh so badly, but when you’re “friends with benefits”, technically, you’re not required to do that. You don’t have to go out of your way for that other person, even though you’re treating them like a significant other. I’ve heard that “friends with benefits” is the new form of dating in my generation, and to me, that is horribly disappointing. To me, being just “friends with benefits” inhibits people from branching out and finding someone they’d actually like to make the effort for, or even just making the effort to be alone and find themselves. Calling FWB the new “dating” has the ability to teach laziness and lack of commitment, two very important things that all young adults needs to learn to deal with.
I will say this before I go: not all “friends with benefits” situations end badly. My current boyfriend and I began our relationship as FWB and ended up falling in love with one another. 2-years later, we’re still together. It does happen when both parties feel like they’d like to take their relationship further and voice their opinions sooner rather than later. But let me tell you, going from FWB to boyfriend and girlfriend was one of the most difficult, emotional journey’s I have ever taken and I do not recommend it to anyone.
If you feel like you might be falling for your FWB, tell them. If they don’t return to the love, let that little bird fly free. You know that saying “if you love them set them free?” Well, in this case, I say, if you love yourself, then by all means, set yourself free.