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Friday, October 23, 2020

Relationships: The Pros and Cons of Friends With Benefits (FWB)

Having casual sex with a friend, also known as Friends with Benefits (FWB), isn't for everyone.  Many people need the romance and the commitment to feel comfortable with having sex.  Other people don't like to mix friendship with sex.  But there are also many people who say Friends With Benefits works for them, and those people see certain advantages to having casual sex with a friend. This article will look at the pros and cons of FWB (see my article: 7 Signs Your Relationship is Based on Lust and Not Love).

Relationships: The Pros and Cons of Friends With Benefits (FWB)

The Different Types of Causal Sex
Before delving into FWB, I think it would be helpful to understand the different types of casual sexual encounters from the most superficial to FWB:
  • One Night Stands: Of all the different sexual encounters, a one night stand is the most superficial with the least emotional commitment.  In fact, there's usually no emotional commitment. One night stands usually occur between strangers or people who are only superficially acquainted.  As the name implies, the encounter lasts one time and then the individuals part.
  • Booty Calls: A step up from one night stands, booty calls are usually between people who are acquainted with each other but who don't have a friendship or a romantic relationship.  One person calls another on the spur of the moment to have sex.  Often, the people involved don't sleep together after they have sex, and there's no commitment.
  • F--k Buddies: One step up from booty calls in terms of knowing one another, f--ck buddies are often friends whose primary objective is to have casual sex.  The relationship is often more about sex than it is about friendship.  They might have sex more often than people who see each other for booty calls.
  • Friends With Benefits (FWB): Of all the casual sexual relationships, people who consider themselves FWB define themselves as mostly friends with the added bonus that they also have sex together.
The Pros and Cons of Friends with Benefits

    No Strings Attached vs. Feelings of Emotional Alienation:
  • Pro:You'll have a person to have sex when you want to be sexual with someone.  This can be a very convenient way to fulfill your sexual needs without making an emotional commitment (if you and your friend mutually agree that this is what you both want).
  • Con: Depending upon the two people involved and their agreement about their arrangement, they might not spend the night together or even show affection for each other after they have sex.  If this is what both people have agreed to, there might not be a problem.  But if one person is feeling especially lonely, this sexual encounter could be alienating and feel lonely.
    No Obligations or Constraints vs. Feelings of Insecurity and Inadequacy:
  • Pro: You don't have to worry about obligations towards this person with regard to holidays, birthdays and other special occasions. You're also free to see other people without the constraints of a committed relationship.
  • Con: Since the two of you can have other relationships and be sexual with other people, you or your friend might feel unexpected jealousy.  This could also bring up feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.
    The Possibility of a Deeper Relationship vs. Heartbreak:
  • Pro: What starts out as being only Friends with Benefits could develop into a deeper relationship if both people want to shift the nature of their relationship.
  • Con: Since there is no commitment, it could lead to emotional pain and heartbreak if one person develops deeper feelings and the other doesn't.
Maintaining Boundaries in a Friends With Benefits Relationship
If you're going to be in a FWB relationship, you and your partner need to communicate clearly and honestly about the boundaries and expectations of your relationship and any other relationships that you might be in (i.e., if you're in a primary romantic relationship with someone else).

Even if you have a clear understanding to start, one of the risks of FWB is that you could lose your friend if one of you develops romantic feelings for the other and the other person doesn't develop these feelings. So, it's important to understand that this is a risk.

It's also important to understand that even though the arrangement has the benefit of sex (often frequent sex), part of the boundary setting is usually that there are no other "benefits" like having emotional support during a stressful time.

You also have to prepare yourself that you might get "dropped" when your friend finds someone else where there are deeper feelings.  Or, you might be the person who finds someone else and has to discuss this with your friend.  Even though there was an original understanding that the relationship was only about sex, this can still be painful.

Your FWB Relationship Could Have a Negative Impact on Potential Romantic Partners
Potential partners who might be interested in you could be put off by your FWB relationship because it seems messy or complicated to them, and they might not want to be part of this. As a result, someone you might want to form a deeper relationship with might steer clear of you.

Only You Can Decide If FWB Is Right For You
The decision is yours as to whether you enter into a FWB arrangement with a friend. That's why it's important that you know yourself and what you need. This might be convenient for you if you just got out of a serious relationship and you don't want another serious relationship right now or there's some other reason why you only want to focus on having sex without a commitment.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you're struggling with these issues, you could benefit from working with a licensed mental health professional.

An objective professional won't tell you what to do, but she can help you to sort out your emotions and get a perspective on what's best for you.

Rather than struggling on your own, seek help from a licensed psychotherapist so that you can lead a more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist (see my article:  The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Therapy).

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.