In all my years, I have yet to hear of another term so brilliant in nature, yet so poorly carried out.
Friends with benefits are for people who are real friends who respect one another, understand that sleeping around is not healthy or productive, and are not in a place in their lives to handle an actual relationship.
It sounds simple, but the percentage of people who misrepresent one of more of these stipulations is staggering. I’m going to take the time to break this down for you, since I truly believe that for those who can pull it off, friends with benefits is one of the greatest things ever invented.
*Real Friends Who Respect One Another*
This does not apply to people who recently met, found each other attractive, and say they aren’t interested in a relationship. This is only for people with no previous sexual or emotional history, who platonically hung out together either solo or in groups for an extended period of time. Respect is enormously important here because if you don’t respect each other, it becomes easier to ignore potential issues or emotional concerns. Real friends care about each other, and will therefore care about each others’ well-being and comfort.
*Sleeping Around is neither Healthy nor Productive*
You become friends with benefits for the strict purpose of alleviating each others’ sexual needs. If one of you is also getting it from other places, then why are sleeping with your friend? You’ll only end up putting a kink in your friendship if you have sex with your friend and then multiple other people because they will always wonder what made them not good enough. If you return to a place in your life where you have the time and energy to go out looking for someone else, you no longer need a friend with benefits… you can go get a significant other.
*Not in a Place in their Lives to Handle an Actual Relationship*
This does not mean that you do not want a relationship, it means you cannot have a relationship. The difference between those two conjunctions is hugely important. If you merely do not want a relationship, inevitably you catch deeper feelings for the person you are sleeping with and that makes your arrangement uncomfortable as you begin to desire something more than what they are offering. If you cannot have a relationship, no matter what kinds of feelings you get, common sense prevents you from realizing them and keeps you safely in the “friend zone” of sex.
In my personal experience, my “friends with benefits” situations didn’t pan out properly because of the first and last stipulations.
My first mess-up was with someone who wasn’t a real friend. Yes, we hung out together platonically prior to the sex, but the respect that is garnered from a true friendship was missing. This enabled him to treat me in a very disrespectful manner towards the end of our ‘relationship’.
My second mess-up was with someone that wasn’t in a place in his life for a relationship, whereas I merely didn’t want one. Inevitably, my mental situation changed while his didn’t, and our friendship became strained because he felt badly knowing he couldn’t give me what he knew I wanted.
I guess the big takeaway from this is that friends with benefits is like an all-in bet. If you try it and win, you’ve struck gold for life. If you try it and lose, you either lose a really good friend, or a whole lot of self-respect.
It’s a tricky business… but then again, so is life.