Love & Sex

Dating in the Digital Age: 6 Steps to Being a Great FWB (Friends With Benefits)

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You ever notice how, when it comes to identifying a relationship status on Facebook, you have a choice between In an Open Relationship and It’s Complicated? In my experience, the two have sometimes been synonymous. I used to be hasty about rushing into serious relationships, so my current approach to dating is to go with the flow, and not wonder if the next date is my Prince Charming/future hubby. Thinking in this way has eliminated the pressure I used to feel on dates, and I now feel free to really get to know each person before even considering any level of a relationship—acquaintance, friendship, boyfriend, or otherwise. I create a foundation with a healthy friendship, and if there is the potential for romance, I explore it. If we get along and enjoy each other’s company, we spend a lot of time together. A problem I’ve discovered is many men tend to doubt my ability to sincerely remain level headed, while simultaneously balancing genuine emotional engagement with a healthy dose of detachment. They expect me to eventually snap, and profess my undying love for them. Therefore, they feel a compulsion to continuously remind both of us that we are “just friends”, not realizing that exhibiting this behavior is as obsessive and creepy, as the declarations of love and desire for a serious relationship they fear I may secretly have. Call me crazy, but I find it interesting that finding the right FWB can be as difficult and complex as obtaining that whole “Prince Charming/ one true love” relationship fantasy, every girl supposedly desires- but it doesn’t have to be.

The lack of “boyfriend/girlfriend” titles can be liberating. It’s nice to know a person isn’t spending time with you, due to the implications of a meaningless label, rather you are together because it is what you genuinely both want. I feel it makes the time together more meaningful, when there are no expectations beyond good times and lots of laughter. Recently I’ve become great at maintaining healthy FWB relationships—aka ‘friends with benefits’. While this list has been compiled via much trial an error, I have found that it is possible to maintain healthy, successful FWB relationships free of stress, pressure, drama, and heartache. So here are my 6 Steps to being a good FWB:


Unlike a traditional relationship, FWBs require a degree of negotiation. This dialogue absolutely necessary, and must delve deeper than simply declaring, “Let’s have sex, no strings attached, and still be friends in the morning!” It’s like when countries attempt to work out a peace treaty, but instead of land demarcations, you two will have to work out, agree upon personal and emotional boundaries. As uncomfortable as it may be, having this conversation will benefit in the long run, because it will establish a permanent open communication policy between the two of you. Once these boundaries are put in place, it is important to respect them, and communication is key. It is also important to be clear and direct about what each of you really wants from the relationship, because as my mother always says, “To ass-u-me makes an ass of u and me”.

Be sure to outline your emotional limitations and expectations for the relationship, before the sexual activity really heats up, because once you discover that level of intimacy via sex, there is no turning back. Your friendship bond is automatically taken to a higher level of intensity, and this is a fact that cannot be debated or neglected, but accepted. If one or both of you is really not ready for the relationship shift caused by sex, then it can result in hurt feelings and possibly even the end of the relationship altogether. This talk is the only way to ensure that each party is on the same page at all times, however it does not need to be readdressed on every occasion, as this will detract from the simplistic appeal of this arrangement. Only bring it up prior to the first sexual encounter to establish the rules and boundaries, and try not to discuss it again, unless absolutely necessary. Having an FWB takes a lot of maturity from both people; if either person is too uncomfortable to be completely honest and upfront about how they feel or what they want, then it is a sign they are not emotionally secure enough to handle this type of relationship.


Watching old reruns of the Leave it to Beaver, Happy Days, Wonder Years, or even Saved by The Bell, I am reminded of innocent courtship rituals that now seem have gone totally extinct. “Parking” in a secluded place to quietly make out and perhaps engage in some heavy petting expired probably around the same time as the VCR, and long gone are the days of dancing far enough apart to “leave room for Jesus”. We have entered into a new age of sexual politics, for we have entered the age of the Twerk.

I’ve found that for most first dates, guys always pull out all the stops—opening doors, pulling out chairs, offering to pick up the check. Then, as the night winds down, I’m usually met with a brazen proposition, “Hey—so I don’t think I want a real commitment right now, but I really like you a lot and would like to continue hanging out with you causally. So is it cool if I sleep over with you? We can just watch a movie and cuddle… naked??”

UM… EXCUSE ME? Now, I don’t judge those who do put out on the first date, everyone has been guilty of it at some point. At the same time, I feel like even June Cleaver would snap out of her robotic, Stepford wife mode to administer a spanking, if she ever heard Wally or the Beav suggest such a thing to a woman. Since when has a simple kiss goodnight not been enough to conclude a great evening? So flowers at the front door are no longer guaranteed to be on the menu, but a strategic “accidental” boob squeeze mid movie and a couple hickies are?

Men—this is not the right way to set up a healthy FWB situation. Most women are still trying to figure out who you really are on the first date, and the last thing any of us want, is to discover that the FWB we hastily allowed into our beds, is really the next BTK. All murderous double lives aside, how can we allow access to our benefits, if we don’t even know if we like you as a friend yet? Ladies- don’t let the romantic follies of the evening cloud your judgment either. If you are genuinely interested in establishing a healthy FWB relationship with someone, this scenario has “one night stand—hit it and quit it” written all over it. If you let him in, he will consider you a BC, aka ‘booty call’, and it is highly unlikely he will ever call you again. If he does call you, it will only be for more sex. So if that’s not what you are looking for, avoid disappointment by sending him off on his merry way.


It seems like after the first date, all gentlemanly, chivalrous behavior, and even sensible acts of kindness, goes right out the window. You go from theater tickets and clinking wine glasses over a romantic, candlelit dinner, to watching Netflix on a lumpy couch with a greasy pizza, while chugging cheap beers. Lumpy couch Netflix time can be great, but I find it interesting that the male attitude towards dating these days is, “I make an effort one time, and the hunt is over. She is mine to bone and fart in front of whenever I choose, and we never have to leave the couch, ever again”. This is the kiss of death for all FWB situations.

Just because you have reached this new level of comfortability within your relationship, does not mean you have a free pass to let all the romance go. I think most people are afraid to allow for this because they believe that being polite and showing they care in any capacity in an FWB relationship, is an indication of wanting a more serious commitment. This is a completely inaccurate assumption.

Performing thoughtful, good deeds should be inherent behaviors between partners in an FWB situation. You have to try and keep things interesting and know that little random acts of kindness for your FWB is not a sign that you want more from them. In fact, I think the fact that someone willing to provide the comfort and companionship without the pressure of a formal commitment, makes them more entitled to a higher degree of compassion and respect. If you are direct and about your boundaries early on, then there should be no confusion or mixed signals. Truth is, if you don’t keep things as exciting outside the bedroom as the are in the sheets, someone is bound to get bored and move on, possibly even leaving the terms of the plutonic aspect of your relationship floating in the balance.

So if you want to get the goods without putting a ring on it, you have to get off the couch and hang out in the real world, and always be courteous, considerate, and appreciative.


Jealousy a poison to even the most seriously committed relationships, so showing signs of such in an FWB relationship is guaranteed way to ruin it. Yes, knowing that the person you are sleeping with is spending intimate time with others can be a difficult thing to wrap your mind around, however if the mutual respect is truly there, you have to trust that your FWB buddy will not to do anything to violate the terms and conditions of your relationship. If you become snarly and accusatory, your partner will give you the relationship label you never wanted—“That psycho he used to know”.


Remember, the beauty of this arrangement is that you are free to test the waters with whoever you choose. Obviously, there is no rule that states you have to sleep with everyone you date, but if you do happen to meet someone else that you desire to have sexy time with, as long as what you do is not in violation of your FWB agreement, go for it!

Just always be conscientious and respectful of you FWB’s feelings, and if you do decide to have intercourse with someone else, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS PRACTICE SAFE SEX. Be on some form of birth control and if you think you are going to get lucky, carry condoms in your purse. Ladies it’s 2014, we can’t always expect men to be responsible for our vaginal health- protect yourself and BYOC (bring your own condoms).


A common mistake made by participants in FWB relationships, is that though there is no formal commitment, they forget that it is still a type of relationship. The foundation of any good FWB situation is having a friendship, where there is a preexisting mutual respect between partners, as well as honesty and great communication. If your friendship was truly strong to begin with, you should be able to work through any problems and figure out a solution together. For instance, if you do begin to develop deeper feelings for you FWB, there should be no hesitance to share that with them, because you can trust that whatever your partner decides, it will be addressed with sensitivity and compassion for your feelings. Same thing applies if you are no longer interested in having this type of relationship, because you know that you can trust your partner to be civil, mature, and understanding.

Things will only become overly complicated if you are unable to be honest with each other, or are insensitive to each other’s needs. If things are reaching a point where it is getting to be too serious and complicated or intense, get out immediately. Stop having sex and focus on salvaging the friendship. I know this is easier said than done, but sex is easy to get. A good friend is hard to find. If you feel your friendship is at risk, then it’s time to alter the conditions of the relationship.