One summer in college, I shared a string of, ahem, intimate experiences with a work-study coworker. As the weeks passed, I realized I missed the nights where we would eat snacks and watch movies (instead of drink wine and make out in my shower). I wondered how to transition from friends with benefits to just friends and if our friendship would ever fully recover from seeing each other naked.
If you and your FWB always make each other laugh or you've never found anyone you could talk to so easily about your mom, it's common to cherish the friendship part of friends with benz. And whether you tried the "no strings attached" thing and it wasn't for you or you just miss being buds with someone, it's natural to wonder how to get back into the friend zone after getting a little overly friendly. Though changing the dynamic of a relationship may feel intimidating, life coach Nina Rubin shares that there are plenty of ways to ease back into a friendship.
"If you hang out, do things that are G-rated and may even include friends," Rubin tells Elite Daily. "Don’t talk about the sex you had or give innuendos that send mixed signals."
Instead of meeting for a late-night drink or going to their house at midnight to "watch a movie" (@ me), suggest a sober, daytime activity. Going on a walk or hitting up a museum can nix the WB from FWB. If you're not ready to see them one-on-one or you're worried about the vibe, organize a group hang. Inviting other friends out with you can be an organic way to change the tone of your interactions.
Maybe you're not sure what you want from your FWB, but you're really sure you're done with the physical stuff. If so, Rubin shares the importance of setting solid boundaries. "Completely stop hooking up, stop sexting, and change the subjects you talk about," Rubin says. As always, direct and honest communication is the best way to articulate your intentions.
Sitting on your FWB's lap at the bar or sending them cute selfies or Snapchats may feel harmless in the moment. However, Rubin says that being flirty can send mixed signals about what you want moving forward. If you're trying to be "just friends" with your FWB, Rubin suggests treating them the way you'd treat any other friend.
Though venturing into a sexy place with a friend can feel comfortable, Trina Leckie, breakup coach and host of the breakup BOOST podcast, shares that hooking up with a friend can hold you back from pursuing a new relationship. Additionally, if you're not feeling fulfilled by your connection, continuing with a FWB situation can dampen your confidence and keep you from moving on.
If you're starting to feel uncomfortable with your FWB situation or you don't like living in a sexy friendship limbo, Leckie shares it may be time to end the benefits portion of your FWB relationship. "You have to communicate this to them," Leckie tells Elite Daily. "Don't just continue because they want to. Stand your ground."
If you and your friend have been loosely hooking up, and every part of your relationship has been super casual, sitting them down for a formal "we need to talk" conversation may feel a little intense. Although saying nothing at all or continuously pulling away from someone until they "get the hint" can be tempting, Rubin shares the importance of considering people's feelings.
"[There's] no need to ghost, as you’ve been intimate and they likely deserve more tact," Rubin says. "Be honest. Be kind. Tell them that you enjoy their company but are looking for something else (or time alone)."
While blocking someone's number or never speaking to them again can seem like an easy way to end it (and trust me, I've been there), if you really love and cherish your FWB and you're actually hoping to remain friends, Leckie emphasizes the importance of keeping up your communication. "If you still want to be friends, that would mean you would still be in contact, and calling or texting would still be part of that," Leckie says.
Whether you and your FWB used to have the best conversations about TV shows or you always loved going out to eat together, focusing on the non-sexy parts of your friendship can help you express how much you still care about them. Though it may seem scary to really open up to them, being honest about your needs will make your friendship even stronger.
"Tell your FWB that you’re interested in friendship but not the sex aspect anymore," Rubin says. "Respect yourself and allow yourself to move forward."
I'll be the first to say that hooking up with a friend can be super sexy. But if you're starting to doubt your situation, it's always OK to change the script. Maybe you shut down the sexting or opt for a daytime hang with a pack of friends. Regardless, getting clear about your intentions can help you change your behavior moving forward. If transitioning back to being friends feels intimidating, talk to your FWB about what's on your mind. Though the sexy part of your relationship may have come to a close, open communication and emotional support are some of the best benefits a friendship can offer.