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Friends with Benefits: How’s That Working for You?


Remember the Seinfeld issue in which Jerry and Elaine decided to try being friends with benefits? While there are many variations of this relationship scenario, the comic duo (who, like many considering similar arrangements, didn’t want to lose their friendship) first established some ground rules: no phone call the next day, spending the night was optional, etc. To be sure, a FWB relationship can be tricky, and while experts may not always agree on whether this type of arrangement can work long-term, it’s one that has become increasingly popular over the last decade.

If this is something you and a friend are considering, it’s important to know whether it could actually work for you.

The potential success (or failure) of a FWB relationship really depends on a number of factors, including individual personalities, expectations, and the depth of the friendship to begin with. We already know that the physical act of sex, when approached logically, if you will, offers both health benefits and pleasure. But if “rules” (or guidelines) aren’t first established, navigating the terrain of an FWB relationship can create more problems than solve them. If you decide to go this route (or, if you’re already in a FWB relationship and struggling with it), here are a few tips:

  1. Communicate. Ideally, communication about mutual expectations occurs before sex, but keeping lines open throughout the relationship is essential. How are both of you feeling about the relationship? What if someone else comes along? Has jealousy cropped up? Being able to talk openly about these issues is key to maintaining the friendship, if nothing else.
  2. Be safe. Practicing safe sex is the only way to go. Period.
  3. Keep things in context. If this is truly a FWB relationship (and not the hope of something more permanent), keep your emotions in check by not engaging in “romantic relationship” behavior, such as spending the night, keeping personal items at his/her place, or checking in with each other throughout the day.

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