Sex Between Friends Is Anything But Casual
The Rules Of Friends-With-Benefits
By Frank Kermit
Sex between friends! There are some different names this particular relationship structure goes by. Sex-friends, Sex-buddies, C.S.B.F. (casual sex between friends) are among the less vulgar terms. Virgins, or those people with just a little sexual experience, call them "practice partners". The one that seems to be the most popular is F.W.B (friends with benefits). It really does seem like a good idea at the time. Neither of you are in serious relationships. You are both friends. You like each other...enough. You feel comfortable and trust each other. You are lonely, horny, curious or just bored. However, like any relationship structure, there are guidelines to follow and not managing your FWB well, will not only cost you the "benefits" but could also cost you both the entire friendship.
A proper FWB relationship means you only see each other once a week. Twice a week on occasion if you plan a special getaway. One of the biggest mistakes that partners make in FWB is that they try to see each other as often as they can in a short time period. All this will do is confuse the issue. Seeing each other more than once a week is acting like more serious relationship than it is, and can nurture romantic feelings to develop. If you act like you are more than just a FWB, you can expect one or both partners to start feeling, wanting or expecting more from each other, even if you had "the talk". (The Talk is when you talk and both agree that this is just friends having sex, that it will not change anything in your friendship, and you both understand that this is not going to turn into a relationship.
FYI: The talk does not work if you act like you are publically dating regardless of what you agreed to in private before sex.) When you do see your FWB, make sure that it is never on Friday or Saturday nights, as those nights are best left reserved for family and social outings, where you are likely to meet someone that you can have more committed love relationship than that with a FWB.
It is key to remember that FWB is a time-limited affair. You are only together for as long as it takes for just one of you to meet, date and get serious enough with another person such that being FWB would become an act of infidelity to the new partner. Once your FWB finds someone new, or you do, you stop being FWB. If you have managed it well, you will hopefully still be friends. If you cannot wish your FWB to be able to find love and happiness with a potential soul mate that is not you...then be ethical. Do not become FWB.
FWB is a discreet engagement. No one should ever know you even have a FWB. No one should ever be able to find out just by seeing the two of you together that you are being intimate when alone. When you and your FWB are in the same social circle and happen to be at the same party or social event, you behave like friends who are NOT sleeping together.
FWB works behind closed doors when no one is looking. You do not hold hands, kiss or show romantic affection for each other in the presence of your other friends. If your FWB is talking with someone that could be a potential future date for him or her, you cannot express any jealousy. You are not in a public romantic relationship. You are having a private intimate exchange with someone that is a friend. Too the rest of the world, you must present yourselves as nothing but friends. You do not "date" your FWB. You do not attend events "with" your FWB. You can meet up afterwards in secret, but again, keep your mouth shut, as no one should know your private business. In fact, you never even tell your FWB about your other FWB, nor should you ask whom else your FWB has as a FWB. For this reason, use protection and practice safe sex. There are many secrets you can share with friends, but who else is your FWB, and or whether or not you even have one, is not one of them.
Virgins can find lots of benefits as FWB. The opportunity to practice kissing, touching, being sexual, without the pressure of trying to get a partner to keep liking you, adding to that the comfort of being vulnerable with someone that is already deemed a friend has prompted many virgins to lose their virginities through FWB. At least that is the theory.
Some people who lost their virginities as FWB feel it gave them the confidence they needed to take a chance on the future relationships they went into, while others regret not waiting as they wished they would have experienced their first times within relationships that were more meaningfully committed. Be sure you know what you value. There are things you simply cannot take back.
Be mindful that FWB can be educational and very fun. However there are always negatives with this lifestyle. First, great fun can be easily confused with great escapism. Some people thrive as FWB because they have deep-rooted intimacy issues and it is a means to continue that dysfunctional repeating behavior pattern. When fun becomes escapism, the sex stops being satisfying and resorts to just another temporary distraction to combat the entrenched empty feelings associated with intimacy barriers. Ironically, some people only do FWB because they want to see as many people as they can so that they never end up alone.
The reality of FWB is that these time-limited love fits, tend to end quickly and the FWB practitioners tend to end up alone at the worst possible times. For example, no one would want to spend Valentine's Day with a FWB when they could have the potential (not even a guarantee, but just a potential) of meeting someone new for a deeper connection which is why many FWB tend to end abruptly just before or on V-day.
FWB is not a romantic relationship per se, and if that is all you have ever experienced, you will not have developed the social skills necessary to carry you through the rough patches that even the best-committed relationships go through. You can drop a FWB at any time, and it is actually easier to do so than it is to work out your differences. If you have formed that habit of flight instead of fighting to keep your relationship healthy, then trying to manage a more serious relationship later on will be challenging for you if all you have ever known are FWB.
Some people become too reliant on FWB, that they stop being social. It is just easier to continue being with the same FWB and not going out to meet new people. This is a horrible place to be in, because when the FWB ends (and it will), those partners that stopped meeting new people, and growing socially, end up worse off than if they never tried the FWB dynamic.
Even if managed well, as mentioned in this article, it is still very possible to end up developing romantic feelings for the person you are semi-regularly sleeping with. Your heart may not get "broken"...but your heart certainly will get dinged. It takes a level of emotional maturity management that not everyone has the capacity for. FWB is not for everyone.
Eventually, chances are very high that one or both of you will end up in a serious relationship down the road. The chances are also very high that your future spouse or partner will not want you to continue a friendship with someone that you were secretly intimate with. When getting very serious with someone, it may be the time to tell all about who your FWB were, especially if those FWB are still in your current social circle.
This may not apply to all couples, however some people change their open accepting attitudes when not only their hearts are involved, but factor in joint property investments, kids and a lifestyle, such that the idea of spending free time with people that already have established successfully being intimate with their life partner in secret in the past, will cause more trust issues for the future. It will be easier to manage the concerns of the new life partner, than keeping the friendship with an ex FWB is ever worth. Your time as FWB will end at some at some point. If you want to continue to have your FWB, as a friend when it is over, be sure to manage the relationship so that you do not lose, not only your FWB, but also the entire social networks you both were part in. And even then, your friendship will always have an asterisks next to it, so don't expect that friendship to last forever either. Just like any other endeavor that comes with lots of immediate "benefits", in the end, you end up having to pay the price over time for them. Sometimes the long term cost effects weren't worth the initial benefits you were provided.
FRANK KERMIT MA
EXPERT RELATIONSHIP COACH
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