The appeal of having a regular friend with benefits on call is obvious. Namely, you know that you only have to send a quick text for an easy, uncomplicated hookup — one without any of the obligation and responsibility of a regular relationship. When this kind of attachment works, it works. However, when things start to go awry, they can do so quickly, because the FWB relationship requires a surprisingly delicate balance to maintain and can easily get thrown off balance. So, if you are sensing there are signs your friends with benefits situation isn’t working anymore, it may be time to figure out if this is something you want to work on. Alternatively, maybe your best bet is to call it a day and move on before your simple, straightforward dynamic starts getting too complicated.
How do you know if the time is right to end things? According to the experts, there are definite signs when a FWB relationship is on the rocks. It can be subtle — along the lines of just feeling less satisfied by the arrangement in general — or it could be more obvious, like you've gone and broken the cardinal FWB rule and caught feelings. Whatever the case may be, if you've noticed lately that things with your special late-night friend have not quite been how they used to be, you may want to take a closer look and consider your next steps. Here is what the experts say to be on the lookout for.
It's not just your heart you need to be careful of in this situation — there is also the chance that your friend may find themselves wanting more from you than you are comfortable giving. "Regardless of how committed two people are to the FWB rules, there are very few times when sex stays just sex for both people involved in these situations. Whether out of curiosity, loneliness, confusion or sincere desire, it's likely that, eventually, one of the parties will find themselves wanting more," Brenda Della Casa, career and relationship coach and author of Cinderella Was A Liar previously told Elite Daily. “They may begin to ask to spend more time together buy you gifts or cards to show they are ‘thinking of you,’ contact you more often throughout the day, or you may find the nights together change into something with more cuddles and pillow talk,” she said.
In this scenario, you have to be honest about how you are feeling, said Della Casa. “You need to be clear about how you feel and stop all physical contact from that point on — even if they say they can handle it. To continue to have sex or even kiss is unfair to them,” she explained. “Physical relationships, even just cuddling creates biological responses and releases oxytocin, which is a bonding hormone. Respect your friend and yourself enough to do the right thing and end this aspect of your relationship. Then, take some time apart to reset expectations.”
Just make sure to do so with kindness, Dr. O'Reilly told Elite Daily. "You’re still dealing with a human being and need to show respect for their feelings — even if you’re not romantically involved," she said.
One clear sign that the situation isn't working for you, Armstrong says, is that you are no longer happy with it because you are becoming lonely. “It can be both easy and alluring to get into a friends with benefits situation with someone that you are attracted to and things in your life may be too complicated or busy to invest in a relationship," he explains. "Sooner or later, you may begin to feel lonely as you are really missing that intellectual and emotional intimacy that makes relationships whole. This does not mean that you want these things with your friends with benefits partner, it just means there is a hole in your life that you're really beginning to feel.”
Are you beginning to wish that your friend with benefits was just, well, a friend? If the answer to that is yes, then Dr. O’Reilly said that it may be time to end your arrangement. “The passionate stage of love, which tends to be more lustful, may have run its course; it happens in every relationship. You may miss the non-sexual elements of your friendship, which can take a back seat to sex at times. You may feel a stronger non-sexual attraction and wish to cultivate a different area of the relationship," she explained. "Let them know what you value about your relationship and how you’d like to refocus your energy,” she advised.
The point of a friend with benefits is to meet a very specific set of needs. However, if they either aren't meeting those needs or have stopped, then as marriage and family therapist Kiaundra Jackson previously explained to Elite Daily, this situation may have run it course. "The other person is not obligated to call or text you at all," Jackson said. "The agreement is sex, and most times, sex only!" You are free, however, to speak up about what you need from them. “If you want more then you need to state that immediately, to see if the person is emotionally available to meet those needs,” Jackson explained. However, she warned that you’ll want to prepare for how they may react. "[It’s possible] they will feel pressure and may distance themselves," Jackson cautioned. "This may be an indicator that you want more than what the other person can provide to you." This in and of itself is a pretty clear sign that it's time to move on.
In the end, the whole point of a FWB relationship is to enhance your life and fulfill your needs. If something changes and that stops being the case, it's time to take a closer look at your relationship overall. Is it a situation you want to see transition to something more? Or is it one where you feel like it’s time to move on? Either way, the experts agree you should feel free to speak your truth. After all, you deserve nothing less than what you want and need, whether that be something casual or a full-on relationship with someone who feels the same. So, settle for nothing less than you want and deserve.