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Friends with Benefits?

Being friends with benefits seems like a great idea … at first. There are no obligations and no strings attached. But eventually, it gets confusing.
— Mollie, 17

Friends with benefits (FWB) or “hookup buddies” are friends who hook up with each other but don’t have an “official” relationship. Hooking up can include just kissing, outercourse, or even sexual intercourse. According to Eli, 18, “FWB is perfect. You don’t have a BF or GF griping at you and you don’t feel like you owe anyone anything.” Sure, it may seem like the ideal setup for someone who doesn’t want a commitment. But before you dive into FWB, ask yourself, do the benefits really outweigh the risks?

Risky Business?

“There are way too many risks involved when you are FWB,” says Sondra, 17. “Even if you try not to let your feelings get in the way of having a good time, it’s likely that you are going to end up getting attached. When you fool around with someone, any feelings you have for the other person get more intense. And there had to be something there if you wanted to hook up in the first place, right?”

And then there’s the jealousy factor. What happens if you really want your FWB to be your girlfriend or boyfriend, but they don’t feel the same and find someone else? Ouch! So what’s the bottom line? If you have feelings for your hookup buddy, it’s best to communicate those before you start a physical relationship. Or, if you find yourself developing feelings for her or him once you start hooking up, take a step back and make those feelings known. Otherwise, you may be headed for heartbreak!

Friendship Fallout

Losing that friend is another potential risk of being FWB. “Once you start hooking up with a friend, you are in this weird limbo of not being just friends anymore, but also not being together,” explains Mollie. “It’s kind of hard to go back to normal if you hooked up.” Before you get physical, ask yourself if hooking up is worth the risk of ruining your friendship.

Playing It Safe

Even if your relationship is casual, you still need to be serious about protecting yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. That means using a latex or female condom if you have vaginal or anal intercourse, and a condom or Glyde® dam to reduce the risk of infection if you have oral sex. So if you’re worried about ruining the mood by talking about protection with your FWB, maybe it’s time to take things more seriously!

How Do You Really Feel?

Being friends with benefits may seem like an easy way to have some fun, but all relationships have emotional and physical risks, even when you try to keep things casual. Before you decide to be FWB, here are some things to think about:

  • Do I have feelings for this person that will make this situation more confusing?
  • Am I prepared to deal with a change in our friendship, or losing the friendship altogether?
  • Can my hookup buddy and I communicate about safer sex?

Most importantly, ask yourself if FWB is what you really want. Some people “settle” for FWB when they actually want a more traditional relationship. Remember, honesty is the best policy — with other people and with yourself!