Starting a friends with benefits situation may seem ideal at the time: You have a friend you can reach out to whenever you're "in the mood," and you're just two easy-breezy, no-strings-attached friends, hooking up. But if Friends With Benefits and No Strings Attached taught us anything, it's that things can get a little complicated in a FWB situation — especially when one or both parties involved start developing feelings for each other after spending so much time together. Of course, that's not always the case. FWBs can work really well for some people, but if a friends with benefits situation isn’t for you, that's totally OK.
"The real underlying question here [is,] can you separate emotion from sex?," Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, author, The Self-Aware Parent, regular expert child psychologist, tells Elite Daily. "You need to know yourself very well. Take a painful, honest look within, and ask yourself if you can handle a sexual encounter with your 'friend.'" If you think you can honestly handle it, then maybe getting a FWB is exactly what you need right now. If you're not entirely sure, there are a few more ways to tell if a FWB isn't quite for you.
Joshua Klapow, Ph.D. clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, points out four signs that it may be best for you to steer clear of a FWB situation. For starters, he explains that if you simply don't feel right doing it, or hooking up with no strings attached goes against your morals or concept of intimacy, then a FWB may not be in your best interest. "You feel connected to the person in a way that, regardless of what you have said to them, goes beyond physical intimacy," Klapow tells Elite Daily. Additionally, before you start hooking up, if the thought of them having sex with other people makes you jealous, then that might be a red flag. And if "you are entering the FWB arrangement because they asked you to, and you are hoping that you will be able to evolve the relationship from FWB to something more," then maybe you might need to consider pursuing other types of relationships.
According to Dr. Kalpow, physical intimacy can create an emotional bond that's different from a platonic friendship. "So, when we are in a FWB situation we are going to fight evolution," he says. "The more physically intimate the relationship, the more satisfying that relationship, the more likely we are to develop deeper, more intimate feelings for the 'friend.'" Feelings can change between two people, from one day to the next. If you and your friend go from being best buds to best bed buds, your friendship is likely going to change along with it — but that's not necessarily a bad thing! "Once you modify friendship by adding sex and gestures of affection, feelings of vulnerability, desire, and emotional needs get activated," Dr. Walfish says. "It is only natural that the floodgates of wanting more open."
However, if you do develop feelings for your FWB, don't try to fight or suppress them, "no matter what [you] 'declare' [your] relationship is," Dr. Klapow says. When you're in the process of making a final decision about whether or not you should try a FWB situation, it truly comes down to how you feel about it. "If you don’t feel right doing it, if you feel that it runs contrary to how you feel about the person, if you feel jealously, insecurity, stress, then the last thing you want to do is to be in a FWB situation," he says.
Remember to follow your heart and decide what you think you can emotionally handle, when it comes to a friend with benefits. Trust your gut. "It is never a bad thing to go with your authentic feelings," Klapow adds. "If FWB is not a part of that, then don’t force it," — no matter how cute that friend may be.