What Are Friends With Benefits?
Because the term "friends with benefits" is a slang one, there is no one universal definition that everyone agrees on. But there are some common understandings about what a friends with benefits situation looks like. About's Guide to Dating explains:
"Friends with benefits refers to an agreement between two people who are both friends and physically attracted to one another to share a sexual relationship. Neither party is considered committed to the other, and both can start dating someone else at any time with prior warning. A friends with benefits arrangement is not considered dating, a relationship or even casual dating by most people who use the term."
But whether this kind of arrangement is called friends with benefits, hook-up buddies, or casual sex, people are going to have a range of feelings about whether sexual encounters outside of a relationship are a good idea. Here are some reactions from GLBT teens.
From a 19-year-old gay New Yorker:
"Honestly I don't mind. Of course, me and this friend would put down rules. For example, if he was having sex with other people I wouldn't want to do anything because of the fact that we can spread things. Both people also have to know that nothing serious can come out of it. It's just sex. Some people seem to get attached. If that's the case, then they should take a break. In the end it's all up to the individual. Advice: If you do start being FWB then USE PROTECTION."
From an 18-year old FtM transgender teen:
"Nothing wrong with sex for fun."
From a 14-year-old gay Southerner:
"As long as both people know that nothing can come out of this and they don't get too attached, I don't see anything wrong with it."
From an 18-year-old college student from Ireland:
"I'm in college, so I guess experimenting is cool and stuff. But I guess when it's your friend, you just take a little more precaution, right?"
Things to Consider Before Becoming Friends With Benefits
If you are thinking about becoming friends with benefits there are a number of things to think about.
- Are both of you really on the same page? If one person wants a relationship and the other doesn't, a friends with benefits situation can get complicated and feelings can get really hurt.
- If the friends with benefits situation leads to the end of the friendship, how would you feel? Is this a risk worth taking?
- How would you feel if you found out that your friend with benefits was hooking-up with someone else?
- Will you be able to take care of your physical health in this situation? Are you comfortable practicing safe sex?
- Do you feel pressured into being friends with benefits when you actually just want to be friends?
- Do you have someone aside from your friend with benefits to turn to for support if you need it?
- If your friend with benefits is also one of your only gay friends, you should think about how you would feel if hooking-up changed such an important connection.
Some friends with benefits situations turn out fine and both people feel comfortable with the boundaries and expectations that are set. In other situations, say when one person is really hoping for something more, then one or both people can feel really bad. Also, be careful, if you feel pressured into accepting the terms of a sexual situation that you really don't want. This is a really good indication that a friends with benefits arrangement is not what is best for you.