Can Friends With Benefits Work?

Updated on January 9, 2018
tamarawilhite profile image

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.

What Are Friends with Benefits?

Friends with benefits are friendships where sex is added to the relationship. While some of the best romances arise from friendships, friends with benefits tries to maintain an emotional distance even as they add physical closeness.

What Happens when You Try to Be Friends with Benefits?

Women need to be careful of the tendency to fall in love with who we sleep with, and sex can lead to a friendship becoming a romance. They also need to understand (and admit it before they have sex) that men are capable of casual sex without romantic attraction while most women are not. Too many women engage in casual sex with men thinking it will lead to love or that it equals love, and then they’re shattered when he moves on to another partner. He’s then surprised, “I thought you said it was just casual, that there weren’t deeper emotions, how can you be angry or upset?”

Fear of the friendship being ruined by casual sex or a broken heart because women instinctively fall in love with their first few sexual partners is why many decent guys get “friend-zoned”. Women need to think about what they want in a partner and not divorce sex from romance. They also need to be open in discussing their feelings with the man who may see a female friend adding sexual benefits becoming a girlfriend; if she then goes off with someone else or rebounds with an ex, he’s angry or hurt.

If he’s a friend and potential romantic partner, don’t enter a “friends with benefits” arrangement because you’re keeping it casual and open. Instead, if you want it to be romantic and start on the path to vetting each other as life partners, ask him to date you, court you or otherwise enter a relationship with an expectation of exclusivity and depth. When you enter a casual relationship, whether sexual or social, you engage in protective behaviors that nearly guarantee you’ll break up. This is why couples that live together with children are three to four times more likely to break up than if they actually married before having kids; the protective behaviors each partner engages in prevents them from coming together for a lifetime.

If you are honest with each other and clear about the relationship, such protective behaviors can allow you to share a bed and remain friends. It also reduces the hurt when that partner leaves, because you knew that it wasn’t intended to be the precursor to a friendship. Such an understanding also reduces the woman’s pain if the one night stand for each other’s sexual gratification is treated as a temporary experience by the other side. Set clear rules like sexual exclusivity to prevent transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, notices as to when the sexual side is over and clear communication about feelings that may develop.



In short, if you want a romantic relationship, do look at your current male friends as potential partners. But don’t add casual sex and expect a long term relationship to arise from a friends with benefits scenario. You’ll only get the long term relationship if that’s the expectation at the start – including sexual relations.

© 2017 Tamara Wilhite


Submit a Comment
  • Helena Gracia profile image

    Helena Gracia 

    2 years ago from #4888 Interior 8 San Lorenzo St. Old Sta. Mesa, Metro Manila

    Well, yes it depends on what benefits would he/she would benefit from each other. Much better if its for the good to the both of them.

  • dashingscorpio profile image


    2 years ago from Chicago

    In all honesty I believe friends with benefits arrangements are better of for people in their 40s, 50s, and beyond.

    Most likely by then they have had the big wedding, had children, been divorced, and clearly know what it is they want and don't want as well as from whom.

    Truth be told seniors probably originated "friends with benefits". Grandma or grandpa has a "friend" oftentimes that their adult children know nothing or very little about. They don't bring this person to family gatherings and the family just assumes they're no longer sexually active.

    Deep down we really don't want to think about it period!

    These people oftentimes are not interested in marriage because they want to protect their children and grandchildren's inheritance, retain their social security/pension benefits if their former spouse died, or they've simply gotten to a place where they cherish living alone and being free to do as they please without having to compromise with a spouse or live in mate.

    On the other hand younger people who still are hoping to get married, have a family, or grow old with someone may be playing with fire when it comes to friends with benefits.

    Odds are one of them has always been romantically interested in the other and was trapped in the "friend zone". An FWB arrangement is a step in the right direction from their point of view until the day arrives where they're told their "friend" has found someone they want to date.

    In many ways a younger person might be better off having a "booty call" or regular "hookup" with someone who they do not spend much time with outside of bed.

    A friend is someone you usually open up to, place a value on their opinion, count on one another when things aren't going well, and share your victories/successes with.

    An FWB arrangement essentially is for convenience. One is able to focus on whatever else they consider a "priority" and take advantage of low hanging fruit to address their needs.

    It's easier for a lover to transition into becoming a best friend than it is for a best friend to become a lover.

    The reason why they were our friend in the first place is because we did not (see them) as relationship material. :)


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