Though recent studies seem to disprove the theory that millennials are hookup-happy freaks, many people bow to the primal powers of lust and find themselves knocking boots with a friend. This is a tricky situation, but—when done properly—can also be amazing. Take it from me: there's a right way to handle this. But there's definitely a wrong way, too.
For those who are not adamantly opposed to this type of relationship, we've compiled 12 essential ways to avoid a hookup nightmare with a FWB (Friend with Benefit). Happy no-strings-attached boning!
1. Be Clear With Your Intentions
Ask yourself, why are you entering this situation? Is it actual romantic interest or something else—like a life transition, breakup rebound or general emotional messiness? Any of these reasons could be fine, but it's best to understand your gnarly motivations going in.
2. Your FWB is a Person, Not a Living Sex Toy. Remember That.
Objectification: women are guilty of it, too! The first word in the term "friends with benefits" is, well, "friends." This means that you have to treat this person kindly, not as a disposable sex object.
3. Never Assume Anything—Always Ask
The key to any successful relationship is communication. From time to time, check in with your FWB to make sure that things are running smoothly. If you feel that your latest rendezvous was more romantic than usual and you can't stop thinking about it, say something; it's foolish to assume your FWB feels the same. Equally, it's silly to roam about carelessly believing that you're both detached. Men especially are often taught to hide their feelings, so you may be oblivious to budding romantic attachment.
4. Discuss Birth Control
Personally, I believe that condoms are critical with a FWB. Safe sex, yo!
5. Don't Call Him/Her Your "Booty Call"
Unless it's part of an inside joke, this phrase is not OK. Sure, it's funny, but it's also loaded with negative connotations. Need we remind you of this?
6. Be Adventurous!
You know that awkward moment when you do something with a partner and he or she recoils...and suddenly, it's all-too apparent that you're not on the same page? In romantic relationships, these situations can be incredibly awkward and hurtful. But with a FWB, you're not as vulnerable...so embrace the weird, freaks! (Whatever that means to you.)
7. Don't Hide Your Relationship (But Don't Flaunt It Either)
Remember that 2005 hit by All-American Rejects? You know, the one that went "I'll keep you my dirty little secret, my dirty little secret?" Yeah, fun fact: no one likes being called a "dirty little secret." If your friends see you flirting and ask what's up, be honest. Then again, don't drag your bangin' buddy out to meet the whole crew: people will ask how you know each other, and the "uh, well..." stammers that ensue will not be comfortable for anyone involved.
8. Accept that One of You Might Fall in Love
Studies show that most people in a FWB relationship (80%) were able to have sex without love, but that doesn't mean it never happens. If love occurs, hopefully honesty will prevail. Feelings may be hurt, but it's better to be upfront at all times.
9. Be Prepared for the Aftermath of Intimacy
You may be the ultra-detached diva, but let's face it: if you have sex with someone several times, it often becomes about more than just sex. The horizontal tango entails exposing all sorts of vulnerabilities, from your weird scars, to what you sound like when you reach the big O, to all of your sensitive spots and various bodily scents. Like it or not, this intimacy creates a bond. Accept this. Embrace this. Move on.
10. Don't Leave a Trail
You may have to bail on a FWB at any given moment. Don't leave any possessions at his/her place.
11. Date Other People
Even if it's just a coffee date here and there, you should be getting out and meeting others. Not doing so can cause you to form a dependency on your FWB. Which leads us to a related tip: don't be clingy. Remember, you're not in a romantic relationship, so text your bestie about work gossip...not your freaky friend.
12. Tie up Loose Ends
When the time comes to end things, make a definite cut. Explain that you don't want to continue the fun, for whatever reason. If you're seeing someone else, tell your (now former) FWB. Your friend will find out, and you will look like a coward for not telling the truth. You also don't want to leave any lingering questions in the air. Otherwise, you may end up over-analyzing your relationship over a bottle of wine and Alanis Morissette one night.
Maybe in the end, FWB partnerships aren't that different from romantic relationships after all...