Rules of Engagement: 5 Things Friends with Benefits Is NOT
A friend of mine was recently thinking of delving into new territory: the complicated land of friends with benefits. She's been in a bit of a drought but has a hectic schedule, so she isn't looking for anything serious. Thinking this setup could give her the best of both worlds, she asked for advice on how these relationships work—as if I'm some sort of expert. But the more questions she asked, the more I realized she’s just not cut out for this type of situation. In an effort to prepare her before she took the dive off the deep end, i.e., stop her from getting her feelings hurt down the line, I had to lay out five things friends with benefits are not entitled to.
No. 1: Dates
If "friends with benefits" meant a man was going to take you out and spend money on you, it would be called dating. That’s not to say you can’t ever grab a bite to eat—on the way to the house—but traditionally, wining and dining is not a part of the equation. If you want food, you’re going to have to get it on your own time and own your own dime, before it’s supposed to go down.
No. 2: Casual Conversation
"But can I call him just to talk?" When my friend asked that I had to pull an elementary school teacher move. Sure, you can, as in you have the ability to. But if it's too far before the sun goes down, don't be surprised if he doesn't answer. Conversation with a friend with benefits buddy will most definitely be causal. It should go something like this: “What are you doing? Nothing? Come Over.” Or, “Are you busy? OK, I'm on my way.” You've probably got about a 3-5 minute max on any phone conversation before you get to the bottom line: when are we meeting up? The same goes for texts. Sweet “Good morning,” “Goodnight,” “Hope you have a good day” texts aren’t really a part of the deal. You can send them if you like, but don’t expect it to be reciprocated.
No. 3: Cuddling
This isn’t automatically off the table, it's just a matter of how it happens. Cuddle time after sex? Possible. Cuddle time just because you want a man to hold you? Nah. You might be able to pull that with a boyfriend, but a man who's just a friend will not consider putting his hands around you and watching you sleep a benefit. Depending on the terms, your FWB might not even stay the night. If that’s the case, you may have to get used to rocking your own self to sleep.
No. 4: Demands on Time
“So, basically I can just call him up anytime I want it, and he'll come?” Not exactly. Ideally, that’s what would happen, but it doesn’t always. One of the benefits is being able to do as you please when you please. If you’re the only one your FWB is sleeping with he might be quick to jump in the car and drive over at 1am, but if not (or if he’s simply not in the mood), you really can’t be mad at that.
No. 5: Tantrums
This brings me to my final point—what you can and can’t get mad at. What people love about friends with benefits is that it (theoretically) eliminates nagging, arguing and all of the other negative stuff that can weigh a relationship down. Right along with not making demands on time, you cannot assume the behavior of a girlfriend in terms of going off on a man you're just sleeping with. If he does something disrespectful or violates your FWB agreement, then yes, by all means, have at it. But questions like “Why didn't you pick up the phone?” “Where were you?” and “Who is she?” don’t fall under your authority. On the flip side, he doesn’t get to ask you these things either because you’re a free agent too.