Friends-with-benefits relationships can be the most laid-back and easygoing type of relationship. They’re perfect for individuals that aren’t ready for love or the commitment of a serious relationship. They’re also great for busy people who don’t have time for a conventional relationship.
However, all relationships are complicated — and this type isn’t an exception. Here are some ways to maintain a healthy friends-with-benefits relationship.
1. Define Expectations
Friend-with-benefits relationships can be complicated, but they aren’t impossible. It can be a mutually beneficial relationship that flourishes into something else or can lead nowhere. As long as you clearly understand and define the relationship from the beginning, there shouldn’t be many issues.
Will you keep your relationship a secret or share it with friends? How often are you going to see one another? Remember that anything more than strictly platonic sex is flirting with danger because feelings can develop easily. Ensure you are on the same page from the beginning to avoid any false hope or differing narratives.
2. Create Boundaries
Are you sleeping with other people? Do you hang out with each other’s friend groups or are you strictly friends in the bedroom? You’ll have to decide how to navigate social situations, like whether you’re seeing anyone else or not.
Boundaries are important for any kind of relationship. Be sure to stay safe by using protection and getting STD testing regularly to avoid HPV, which can cause cervical cancer. Annually, there are around 13,000 women who test positive for cervical cancer in the U.S.
3. Have Consistent Communication
Ensure you remain on the same page at all times. If one of you starts developing feelings for the other one, it might be time to call it quits. An open line of communication can keep you both informed and updated on how each other feels about the relationship.
Open communication can build trust, which is essential in a friends-with-benefits relationship. If you begin feeling jealous or uncomfortable with any aspect of the relationship, communicate that with your partner. Communication is always crucial to a healthy relationship, perhaps even more so in a friends-with-benefits situation.
4. Accept the Expiration Date
Friends-with-benefits relationships are only meant to last a season. There will be an end to the relationship at some point — ensure you both accept that and let it happen naturally. Call it quits when one or both of you are done experimenting and ready to settle down.
Remember why you began this relationship, and be honest with yourself and the other person about your endgame and when it’s time to move on. Endings are hard, regardless if there was romance involved. Allow yourself to grieve the relationship and then get back out there. Lean on friends for support and let yourself have some fun.
Navigating a Friends with Benefits Relationship
The beautiful thing about this type of friendship is that you can move on when you’re done having fun. There shouldn’t be any strings attached — if there are, you’re in more of a conventional relationship than you may realize. Be upfront and honest about how you feel, and enjoy it while it lasts.
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