No strings attached: Are “friends with benefits” as complicated in real life as they are in the movies?

Second, the research in this area demonstrates that FWBs tend to have some pretty big communication deficits. A lot of FWBs fail to establish any ground rules whatsoever, and many do not get on the same page about what the relationship is and is not. To reduce the odds of one or both of you getting hurt, communication is vital, and not just up front—it is important that you continue to communicate as the relationship goes forward. It is also important to communicate about safer- sex practices because most FWBs are non-monogamous and they do not use condoms consistently with all of their partners (Lehmiller et al., 2014). Although your FWB is (usually) your friend and you may have a lot of trust in this person, you still need to take proper precautions to protect your sexual health.

Finally, although some people want to maintain long-term FWB relationships, others see them as temporary (Lehmiller et al., 2011). If you are looking at your FWB as the latter, you might want to consider explicitly setting an expiration date on the “benefits,” especially if you have concerns about one of you developing unreciprocated feelings for the other. In other words, if you do not intend for this relationship to last, discuss in advance what the exit strategy is going to be.


“Friends with benefits” represent an increasingly common type of sexual arrangement in the modern world. Although these relationships are most frequently associated with young, heterosexual adults, persons of any age, gender, and sexual identity can have a FWB. People define the term “friends with benefits” very differently, and they often approach these relationships in distinct ways. This, combined with the fact that FWBs have less than open lines of communication, makes these relationships incredibly complex to navigate and can send them down a number of paths. However, there are things you can do to reduce the complications that so frequently arise when friends decide to start having sex. Above all else, if you opt to add “benefits” to your friendship, make sure to communicate so that neither of you later discovers some hidden strings.


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