The friends with benefits arrangement isn't for everyone, and it isn't right for every stage of life.
Some people say it's always a terrible idea. Feelings get involved, someone gets attached and invariably, someone gets hurt.
We are in the age of texting and Tinder. Finding a date is as easy as ordering Seamless.
There have been times in my life when I tried the FWB thing and couldn't handle it. I was insecure, obsessive, and convinced he would fall in love with me—even though he expressly said he “wasn't looking for anything serious.” I convinced myself I could keep it casual when really, deep down, I was looking for a relationship with strong emotional ties.
But there have also been times when a FWB situation was perfect. I was very busy at work, pursuing higher education, or had a lot of familial or social obligations. I craved intimacy and affection but couldn't sign up to any real emotional or time commitments.
Here are the criteria you need to have a successful FWB situation.
1. You feel secure.
When you have a fuck buddy, one of the basic assumptions you make is that it may not be exclusive.
If I'm feeling down about my life, my body, or myself in general, the FWB arrangement doesn't work. I become too obsessed. Why isn't he answering my texts? Is he with another girl? Is she hotter than me? Does he like me?
If you find yourself dwelling on these questions, it's time to move on.
You need to accept that sometimes, the answer is “yes”: he is with another girl and yes, she is hotter than you. If you can't handle that, don't put yourself in that position.
2. He feels secure.
If you get the sense that he's clingy or doesn't have a life, he's probably not your FWB.
Guys have feelings, too, and I never want to unnecessarily hurt them. I've been led on in the past and it sucks. I'm not down to contribute to someone's misery.
3. You're not dating to fill a void.
The best time to date casually is when you feel content in your life and aren't dating to feel whole or complete. Sex just adds to your already full life.
So if you're feeling good about your career, social circle, health, and family, you might just be able to handle having an FWB.
4. You have enough other things going on.
Work! School! Hobbies! Friends! Having a great life outside of your dating life is important to making FWB work.
When you're never lonely on a Saturday night, you might be in the right place to have a "special friend" rather than a "special someone".
When you've got a lot going on, you're less likely to start Internet-stalking, daydreaming, and picking China patterns for the wedding registry.
5. The expectations are clear.
Friends with benefits can be harmful to either party if the expectations aren't clearly outlined.
Have the awkward convo! Define your relationship status as undefined. Make it clear with it's cool to sleep with other people... or not.
Let the other partner know if there is potential for something more serious down the road... or not.
6. Every so often, you can talk about how you feel.
Things change. People catch feelings or meet other people or decide to join the circus.
Let your bang buddy know if you're starting to feel an emotional connection and could see them as an actual partner. Even though it sucks to be vulnerable, it's better than trying to pretend those feelings aren't there. Don't pretend to be the cool girl if you're not feeling that way at the moment.
But don't talk too much! Remember this is a FWB set-up, not a committed relationship. Don't have these conversations all the time. Enjoy the proverbial ride and don't overthink things.
I don't follow any specific Codes of Conduct or rules when I've secured a regular FWB. I'm fine with cuddling, or going out on “dates” or other supposed FWB no-nos.
But I do submit each relationship to the selfishness test. Am I purposely leading someone on? Am I lying or being sneaky for no reason? If it's clear the other person is way more into me and I'm still lukewarm, that is a clear signal that it's time to gently let down the other person.
So, be safe, be confident, be honest and you too can successfully keep it casual.