So you’ve been talking to this special someone for a few weeks now – maybe you’ve been hanging out a lot, gone out on a few dates, and maybe you’ve even slept together. Things seem like they’re going really well, and then just as you’re wondering where things are leading, they ask you to be friends with benefits. What does that even mean? Well, let’s break it down.

What does FWB mean?

You might have seen the widely popular movie ‘Friends with Benefits’ on Netflix starring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake, and while yes, it is just a movie, I would say it’s pretty spot-on when it comes to explaining what an FWB situation is. So, does that mean that you and your FWB will end up falling in love and living happily ever after? Not necessarily. Typically, when someone asks you to be their FWB, they want someone that they can sleep with but not have to take to breakfast the next morning. It means they want some of the girlfriend or boyfriend privileges without actually having any sort of emotional obligation to you. So, if you also just don’t have the time or energy for a real relationship, but you want to be able to engage in those cute couple activities from time to time, then a friends-with-benefits situation may work for you. 

Ultimately, what being friends with benefits means is entirely up to the parties involved. You have to decide what this means for the two of you. Laying out clear rules like what you should and shouldn’t do together will be an important factor for this to work. You two have to make sure that you are both on the same page because if one person is going into a ‘friends with benefits’ situation expecting it to eventually lead to a relationship, things can get complicated really quickly. Almost always, someone will end up getting hurt.

How long does FWB usually last?

There are no time limits on your FWBs. If two people are on the same page and it’s working out for both of them, friends with benefits situations usually last until one person or both parties are ready to move on to something else. (Be it a real relationship or they’re just ready for a change). On the other hand, though, with FWBs where one person wants more out of the relationship than the other, generally those last about a few months. This is usually how long it takes for someone to realize that maybe they want something more from the other person, and so, the casual nature of the situation changes.

Why do people turn to this kind of relationship?

People look for FWBs for different kinds of reasons. Some people truly just aren’t in a place in their lives where they can put time and effort into a relationship but want to have fun with someone every now and then. These people would rather focus all of their energy on other aspects of their life that are more important to them at that point in time, such as their career or school. They know that they just can’t fully commit their time and emotions to someone else, so they seek out an arrangement where they can be independent when they want to be without worrying about another person.

This might sound selfish, but if someone is honest enough to admit this to you, you should respect their choices and also believe them. Don’t try to find some hidden meaning behind it. Usually, when people say they don’t want a relationship, they really don’t want to be in a relationship. 

But sometimes, people turn to FWBs simply because they’re afraid of commitment. And it gets confusing because a lot of the time, these people don’t want to be alone either, but rather, they want to stick to one guy or girl and not date around. This makes a ‘friends with benefits’ ideal to them because they get to have the comfort of having someone and reap all the benefits of having a boyfriend or girlfriend while not being technically tied down to that person. With all the dating apps nowadays, it also becomes really easy to be enticed with all the options that seem to be out there. Some people use FWBs to “test out” these options without having to deal with the repercussions of a real break up if they want to move on to someone else. 

How to save the friendship?

More often than not, when people refer to the term ‘friends with benefits,’ they weren’t actually friends first. But let’s say you’re one of the few who were actually platonic friends with someone first before deciding to enter into a ‘friends with benefits’ situation.

How do you save the friendship once you decide that that’s no longer what you want? Well, as mentioned above, communication is very important. You’ll be able to preserve your friendship if you and your friend know that you are going into this arrangement with the same set of intentions, and if you both know that it will eventually end. It is also important to point out that if at any time a person’s expectation about the relationship changes or shifts, the other person should be made aware. This way, you can both re-evaluate the situation, and if you end up realizing that you now want different things, talking about it as soon as possible will help you or the other person avoid developing stronger feelings that can lead to heartbreak.

Friends with benefits agreements get a bad rep sometimes because lots of people associate them with fear of commitment. While that could be true in some cases, having an FWB isn’t always a bad thing. If two people are in agreement and are on the same page, things might work. Just remember, if handled honestly and maturely, it could be a great way to fulfill two people’s needs without all the heartbreak and drama.

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