Friends with Benefits – the Good, the Bad, the Ugly


Here’s a term our grandparents never used. And if they know and understand the term today, they may have some very negative opinions of all that it implies. After all, it is casual sex without commitment, and they most likely see that as immoral, unhealthy, and shameful.

But today’s younger generations are far more open to a wide variety of relationships, gender identities, sexual orientations, and lots of diversity in preferences for partnership. In fact, check out this poly app for all of the options that today’s sexually liberated generations enjoy.

One of these options is “friends with benefits.” Basically, this means that two people who are good friends but not romantically attached decide to have sex, for a variety of reasons.

Why Do People Choose This Type of Relationship? – There are Several Benefits

There can be a couple of reasons why friends decide to add sex to that platonic relationship:

  • One or both of the two may be sexually inexperienced and decide that they can gain that experience with someone who understands and will help them gain the experience to eventually go out on their own. They can then enter a romantic/sexual relationship with more confidence.
  • One or both of the friends may be aromantic. This means they don’t want a relationship that may get “complicated,” but they do have sexual needs. A platonic sexual relationship with a friend might be ideal because it provides the physical release they need.
  • A “friends with benefits” (FWB) relationship, if genuine, means that a lot of the common causes of discord and unhappiness in a romantic relationship don’t crop up and don’t have to be dealt with. The friendship can remain just that with the two enjoying each other’s company and doing things together the way all friends do.
  • If someone is in a romantic long-term relationship, even a marriage, but not sexually satisfied, an FWB relationship may be the answer, as opposed to ending the romantic partnership.
  • An FWB relationship can be a good interlude for people who have just gone through a bad breakup, are not yet ready to date, but who do have a strong sex drive. This may be safer from a health standpoint than a series of one-night hookups.
  • An FWB relationship can serve to relieve stress. When two people are good friends and both have strong stressors in their lives due to career or personal demands, they need to relieve that stress. While there are others ways to do this, sex is certainly one of them.

So, What are the Drawbacks to FWB Relationships?

There is an episode in the TV series “Seinfeld” during which Jerry and Elaine discuss the potential to be friends with benefits. They spend almost the entire show in a discussion about the details of what that relationship would look like. Ultimately, they decide it won’t work. Of course, this discussion occurred in a humorous environment, but the points they made ring pretty true.

Before you enter into an FWB relationship, make sure that both of you have agreed upon the boundaries. This will help to prevent misunderstandings later on.

And while you may feel that this type of relationship is perfect for “where you are” right now, there may be some things you haven’t thought about.

  • You both have to be very careful about your emotions. It’s easy to say that you will not develop a romantic attachment, but it can and does happen. The problem is if this emotional attraction is one-sided. Then, the relationship will have to be terminated, and the end of a great friendship will likely also be the result, and that can be ugly.
  • If both partners are getting their sexual satisfaction from this relationship, they may stop looking for a more fulfilling relationship that will involve love, romance, and ultimate commitment. And they may pass up opportunities for this when they do come along.
  • There may be guilt from the feeling that they are “cheating.” If one or the other has a main squeeze or a spouse, then entering into an FWB relationship, even if only for the sex, will not be a good thing.

Engage in Some Self-Analysis First

The idea of an FWB relationship may be quite appealing. After all, you know this person really well, you feel comfortable being around them, and you can still do all of the other things you’ve always done as friends. Be certain you know why you are doing this, be honest with your friend, set solid boundaries up front, and end the relationship if drawbacks are showing up.