The well known friends with benefits and fuck buddies may seem interchangeable but truth be told they both are very different. “Fuckbuddy” tends to point to someone whom your relationship is 100% defined by sex whereas there’s more history with a friends with benefit. What came first, the chicken or the egg? Without a doubt the friendship came first and the booty second.
Most who partake in a friends with benefits relationship tend to be concern if the arrangement will ruin the friendship as sex is added to the equation. Especially when one party decides they no longer want to be having sex. What happens then? Has the thought of what happens to my pal? How do I get out of this without losing my pal? crossed your mind…
According to Aaron, MD, a sexologist and sex therapist in NYC it all boils down to how the FWB relationship has been progressing. “You’ve got to look back and see where you’re both at, what has been said so far, and what is the other person thinking,” he says. Hence why it is essential to have open communication at the beginning and throughout this kind of relationship.
“If you don’t want to be in a relationship, and never see yourself getting into a relationship, you have to be clear about that,” he says. “And it’s a good idea to check in throughout and see how you’re both feeling.” That way, if and when someone starts to catch feelings, or one party feels like the sex is becoming too important, it’s out in the open.
Always be real with yourself when it comes to FWB, do you know what you want from this and what to expect? What stands to go away if you break off the sex? All of these are things to ponder on. “People aren’t always honest with themselves about the secondary gains of a relationship,” says Susannah Hyland, a psychotherapist in NYC. “And a secondary gain can be anything that you’re getting. So, sure, you enjoy having sex with this person. But that’s also someone you’re waking up next to, and maybe that’s a level of intimacy you’re going to miss.”
“If you end things sexually with someone, but you’re still sending them late-night texts ..that’s sending a mixed message” – Susannah Hyland, Psychotherapist
Forgetting these “secondary gains” can lead to messy post-breakup situations- and it’s these situations that can muddle, and eventually ruin a friendship. “If you end things sexually with someone, but you’re still sending them late-night text messages or throwing your arm around them when you’re sitting next to them, that’s sending a mixed message”, Hyland says. “The other person could think you’re still interested in them sexually or romantically, which can lead to issues.” Hence why it is crucial to set the boundaries as soon as things end.
If you’re the one doing the breakup than Dr Aaron suggests using the ever-popular “sandwich technique” – in which you blunt a harsh truth by telling it between two positives.
E.g. “I really care about you, but I’m afraid the physical part of our relationship is starting to be too important, so I think we should pull back from it. I’m doing this because our friendship means so much to me.”
However do bear in mind that you can’t predict how the other person is going to react, and there’s no guarantee of a positive outcome. “You’re dealing with an autonomous person” says Dr Aaron. “This isn’t your standard break-up, which you can typically predict. You want to treat it delicately if you want to save the friendship.” As always, honesty is the key- and the best way to ensure that the friend still exist when the benefits don’t.