What is a Friends With Benefits Relationship (FWB)?
Friends with Benefits, commonly abbreviated as FWB is a quasi-relationship where you engage in sexual activity with someone, sometimes for weeks, months or even decades, without being in an ongoing romantic, monogamous relationship.
FWB’s often choose to engage in sexual relationships with multiple partners, more often than not with the full knowledge of the other person. There is no sense of ownership over that individual’s body or actions (though please make sure you are using condoms and getting tested regularly).
This does not mean that the FWB relationship is polygamous, or polyamorous as there is no long term romantic intention, and no commitment to the partner, other than that of a sexual connection.
Most importantly though, FWB is for consensual adults, and vitally, a relationship of equals. Both parties understand the ground rules, and the limitations of the relationship they are engaging in. There is warmth, and affection when you are together.
There is mutual respect, mutual understanding, sometimes some great intimacy when together, and always, always great sex. Incredible sex. Because if the sex in FWB isn’t great, then what are you getting out of it? Nothing, so get out of it !
How can you make FWB work?
The key to FWB working is knowing that it is nothing more than this, that your FWB is not going to “change their mind” and decide you are the right partner for them.
Providing both parties know the limits and boundaries of their relationship, FWB can work well for people at certain times of their life.
You need to be open and honest about your sexual needs and desires. If you are not in a committed relationship, then the least you can expect and deserve is to be satisfied sexually.
Often though, FWB does not end well. Both parties often start off with the same idea and intention, to have “strings free sex” but over time, it is common for one party to feel more attached. And avoiding heartbreak is one of the very reasons that people may choose to engage in sex with someone without having the commitment of a long term relationship.
Are you emotionally mature enough to be a FWB?
Being part of a Friends with Benefits relationship is not for everyone. It can be hard to remember the unwritten boundaries.
It can be even harder to stick to them when you find yourself with deepening feelings.
It is important to know that at any time, your FWB might let you know that they have found someone they want to commit to, and it is within this freedom that you have the relationship in the first place.
You have to be willing to waive goodbye to that great sex, and that great human, when they find someone they want a different connection with, without it breaking your heart.
All fair in Love and War, and all’s fair with FWB.
Bonding With Your Sexual Partner
The hormones released in orgasm such as endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin can often cause women in particular (who seem to gain a bigger hormone hit) to develop strong feelings of attachment.
These feelings are not based on the sexual partner’s personality, morals, values or belief system, but rather the hormones are dictating those feelings of connection and bonding.
If you are entering into FWB, know that the relationship is highly likely to not evolve further, that you are going to have bursts of physical intimacy but not romantic or supportive intimacy, love and connection.
What is a situationship?
A situationship is a form of deception. Where one party believes that they are in a relationship, or building towards a relationship, whereas the other person views it very much as a purely sexual relationship.
Whereas FWB involves two consenting adults making a decision around desire, and sexual needs and fulfillment, a situationship is taking advantage of one person’s strong desire to have a relationship and leading them on while having sex with them.
People who engage in a situationship usually let you know at the start of the “relationship” that they are going to do this.
They usually say “I am not looking for anything serious right now” but then go on to behave very differently.
They will contact you, flirt with you, make you feel special. They might tell you how much they care about you and how interested they are in you.
What they don’t do however, is meetup reliably, or be there for you consistently. You also have a sneaky feeling they are seeing someone else or multiple people, but you can’t put your finger on why.
You often only hear from them when they want to have some Netflix and Chill time. They have never confirmed you are dating, and you never meet up and don’t have sex.
How do I know if I am in a situationship?
Are you worried that you might have found yourself in a situationship?
Are you being fobbed off when you discuss exclusivity, and only seem to hear from your “other half” when they want something from you?
If you don’t have the clarity you are looking for, if you are not sure if you are in a relationship, or are generally confused on your status, then you are sadly not in a relationship.
Maybe you are even too afraid to ask in case it pushes that person away.
If that is the case, what do you possibly do? You ask them.
I can almost guarantee they will tell you “but I said I wasn’t looking for anything serious!”. Making you feel as though you are the one who has made everything up “in your head”, and you may well find yourself heartbroken.
They were a person you had hopes and dreams for, and those hopes and dreams are now gone.
How could someone you have had sex with, spent time with, got to know, not realise just how fabulous a person you are?
It is genuinely not about you. It is about them. Perhaps their avoidant attachment style, perhaps their narcissism, perhaps they just prefer dating multiple people and never picking one.
The quicker you are able to dust yourself off, the quicker you can find the person who does want you, just for you.
Set your relationship expectations early on
How do you ensure you don’t find yourself in an accidental situationship?
Set your stall out early.
The moment someone tells you they don’t want a relationship, they don’t want something serious… believe them. They are NOT going to change their mind.
Thank them for a lovely evening/day/week/month and move on.
Them keeping you dangling until they find someone else, or spending their lives keeping a series of unhappy people in their wake, is not going to change.
Their intentions are clear.
So ensure your intentions are clear. Know what you are looking for, not in terms of height or income or educational level (I talk more about why these things are really unimportant dating criteria), but in terms of values, and relationship direction.
You don’t have to tell someone on a first date that you want to get married and have kids. Well, you don’t have to anyway.
Here are 5 ways to avoid a situationship:
- Set your stall from the beginning: Set out what you are looking for in a relationship, very near the start. Want to get married and have children with the right person? That might not be first date relaxed getting to know you chat, but it certainly is within the first few…
- People who want a relationship, will tell you. When someone tells you, and they will tell you (early on!) what they are looking for: something serious, something not serious, a fling, or “let’s just see how things go”. Believe them.
- Don’t accept not knowing. In your heart of hearts you know when something isn’t right, when you don’t hear from them, when they don’t respond promptly, when you haven’t met their friends or family. When the charm is turned on when you are together, but turned off when you are apart.
- A few months in and not sure? Ask. They can either say they are not sure yet (this is the same thing as saying they don’t want a relationship with you), or they will refer you back to their earlier don’t want a relationship conversation, OR they will tell you “of course you are in a relationship together!”
- Accept the truth. This is vital. You are not going to get the window shopper to change their mind. Get out there and find that person who wants to be with you.
It is tough to date without the help of a matchmaker willing you on and advising you as a trusted friend. However, armed with this information, you can now distinguish between a FWB, a relationship and a situationship. Hopefully avoiding some of the common pitfalls that can befall those seeking a long term committed relationship.
If FWB isn’t for you, and you are keen to avoid joining others in an unsuitable situationship, then matchmaking might be for you. The London matchmakers at Drawing Down the Moon are not only multiple award winning, we are also the UK’s original matchmaking company – established in 1984.
Our friendly matchmakers are ready to hold your hand, and join you on your journey to love. If a serious relationship is something you are looking for, then apply to us now. We can’t wait to hear from you !
Are you ready to find love with your very own London based personal matchmaker? Are you ready to meet your soulmate?