OK, I know it's cuffing season and all, but can we talk about FWBs for a second? Because honestly, they can be pretty great. Finding someone you click with on a friend level and, uh, other levels without the pressure of a relationship can be really awesome. But if you suddenly discover a tingling sensation in your gut when you hear about your FWB dating others, you might wonder if it's normal to be jealous when your friend with benefits dates other people. I spoke with clinical and behavioral psychologist Dr. Joshua Klapow. He had some helpful insight into why it's totally normal to experience jealousy when it comes to your FWB seeing other people, and what that might mean about the state of your FWB-ship.
"Physical intimacy creates an emotional bond that is fundamentally different from purely platonic friendships, so developing feelings is normal," explains Klapow. So, if you suddenly discover feelings of jealousy when your FWB talks about other people they're dating, there's nothing wrong with you. And, according to Klapow, it's a pretty standard emotional response. The problem is that, unfortunately, jealousy may be a sign of a FWB situation that could get a little messy. Even if you didn't have feelings for this person at first, Klapow explains that feelings can change, especially with people you're hooking up with.
Although feeling jealous is a normal response, it could be a sign that you're developing feelings for this person and that's where things get complicated. Because of this, he explains that you should not ignore your emotions. "As a general rule, we are very ineffective at denying or reframing our feelings of emotional connection," explains Klapow. "So telling yourself it’s nothing only prolongs the situation, and makes it more difficult to figure out what to do." You don't have to panic, though! Klapow explains to just start by talking with your FWB about what you're feeling. They may be able to offer you reassurance, or they might even reveal that they've been feeling similarly.
So, what gives? Why is it that when you find a really fun FWB situation, your feelings have to get all up in your face? Well, sex therapist Dr. Stefani Threadgill can explain some of the science behind it all. "When we orgasm we release oxytocin and vasopressin, the neurotransmitters and hormones that promote attachment," she explains, "That being said, we all have different attachment styles, which may influence how we deal with casual sex." Given this, it makes a lot of sense that your jealousy could sneak up on you out of seemingly nowhere. Sex, intimacy, and the neurochemistry involved in the process can bring about new feelings that you don't quite understand at first. However, as Threadgill pointed out, it's different for everyone, and not all sex is definitely going to cause you to feel attached to someone.
The important thing here is that you're examining what your feelings mean and that is really good. It shows that you're self-aware enough to work through difficult reactions and come to a better understanding of what you need. And, hey, this is supposed to be about what "benefits" you after all.