Your relationship was awesome and your breakup was amicable—so much so that you’re wondering if you could be friends with benefits. The situation can work, but you’ll have to bear the following things in mind so that it doesn’t end up in disaster.
- Know the right term. There’s a difference between being called “friends with benefits” and having “no strings attached.” The latter means that you’re just having sex, nothing else. If you’re out of a relationship with your GF, you might have a friendship and maybe even other things, such as emotional attachments. How much do you really want? You and your ex should talk about this and define your setup before you proceed so you’re both on the same page.
- Look before you jump. If you’re just out of a breakup, it might not be the right time to jump into a FWB setup. Look, there’s no such thing as a breezy breakup, even if you and your GF have managed to keep things amicable. Give yourselves some time before you start something new. You still have to process what happened, or your GF does, so don’t make things messy by bringing lots of sex into the situation right away.
- Make sure you’re both over each other. Sex can inflame emotions, and you never know if your ex-GF is properly over you or not. That’s why it’s really important to have a talk before you decide to be FWBs. If you want nothing more than sex, then now’s the time to be clear and honest about that so that no one gets hurt.
- Always use protection. You might think you know your ex’s STI status or that she’s not having sex with other guys, but how do you really know what’s going on with her? Unless you’ve decided to be exclusive and you only recently got tested for STIs together, then you shouldn’t make assumptions about your safety or put your health at risk.
- Keep the line of communication open. You might know where you and your ex stand on the FWB setup now, but what about in a few weeks or months? You never know when things will change for either of you. You might meet someone else, for example, or your needs related to your ex might change. Same goes for her, of course. That’s why when you’re FWBs, it’s really good to check in every now and then and see that you’re both still on the same page.
- Set some important rules. You might think the situation should be light because you’re just having sex and nothing more, but there are some potentially sticky situations that could come up which you need to prepare for. For example, will you be sleeping over at each other’s homes? Will you meet only for sex, but not for dinner afterward? Will you be each other’s plus-one at events if you need a partner, or does that feel too much like what a romantic couple would do? Set these rules with your ex before you jump into being FWBs so there are no awkward situations that arise.
- Decide how it will end. Reality check: you’re not going to be FWBs forever. Sooner or later, this situation will have to end and the fun will run out eventually. With that in mind, it’s actually a good idea to talk about your FWB “breakup” before it happens. For example, what will make your ex want to end the situation? And how would they like to end things? Will you go back to being friends without the benefits, or will you make a clean break? People can have really different ideas for how to handle the end of a FWB setup, so it’s important that you figure that out for yourselves. That way, it’ll be fun without the drama when it ends.
- Be okay with it changing your friendship. Your friendship will probably change once you’ve been FWBs, and it’s important that you’re both okay with that, even if you don’t know exactly how it’ll change things. But, relax, it’s not all doom and gloom. A study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that when over 1,000 college students were surveyed about having been FWBs, 50% of them reported feeling just as close or even closer to their FWB partners than before they got together. Nice one.