Sex and Intimacy Part 3: Friends With Benefits

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Hello Keepers,

Here is Part Three of My Five-Part Series, Sex and Intimacy.  This topic is of major importance as there are so many definitions and interpretations of this topic and I wanted to offer some perspectives by discussing topics related to sex and intimacy that many of us have experienced, questioned, cherished, and even regretted. 

This week’s topic is Friends With Benefits.

I would like to define Friends With Benefits in a way that I hope will bring about the right dialogue between men and women on this subject.

Background

I recently took part in a lively discussion centered around the topic of sex which in essence began as a general question as to what it meant when a man tells his ex that he will continue to sleep with her even if she gets with someone else.  It was quite revealing when I noticed that automatically the women in the group began to blast the man as selfish and disrespectful and was just as telling when other guys started saying the ex man had basically placed the ex woman into the realm of cutty buddy.   However, through it all, what I came to realize is that there are many people out there that simply are either confused, misinformed or just do not know the difference between a sex partner and a Friend With Benefits. So here we go:

Sex Partners Definition

First, sex partners DO NOT have to like one another. In fact, sex partners do not have to be friends or even really know one another all that well. To be clear, a sex partner is one step above cutty buddy/f_*k buddy. The difference is you may be with a sex partner more than 10-15 minutes doing the deed and you may actually walk her to her car afterwards and /or give him gas money to go home. There is generally no random phone calls about how a person’s day was or any of that unless that call also includes setting up the date and location for the next sex action. Other than a passing interest in making sure that the other person remains locked into the sexual agreement, there is rarely any other feelings involved.  So in essence, a sex partner is scheduled much like you would schedule going to the doctor or a woman going to the salon and just like going to the doctor or the salon,  you will likely not hear back from your sex partner until it is time for the next appointment.

Friends with Benefits Definition (FWB)

A friend with benefits is much more than merely a sex partner. In fact, there are likely times when there is no sex involved at all. If you look at it on the surface, a friend with benefits is close to looking like a relationship, except without the commitment and likely less deep feelings.  To be a friend with benefits means that you were in fact, FRIENDS first. I capitalized that because far too often people use the term “friends with benefits” and yet the two parties really are not friends at all. Basically somebody is trying to candy coat what they really are which is sex partners.  Friends hang out. Friends  have some things in common. Friends enjoy being around one another. Friends have spirited conversations but still remain respectful of one another.  Friends do not care who pays for dinner. Friends actually like to hear from their other friends. But most importantly, friends are genuinely concerned and care about each other. With friends with benefits, sex is a byproduct of all the things I just mentioned. It is not the expectation as much as the anticipation of what happens at the end (or beginning, or middle) of a great time spent together.  Usually, at the end of your time together, one or the other person will call or text to let the other know they got home safely or will call the next day.

I am not writing this article to condone either type of relationship because for KeepingIt100 we believe in frank discussion that is honest without judgment. However,  we believe in fostering positive black relationships that lead to marriage, and If both parties willingly agree to something (no matter what it is)  then that is their decision.  

All I can tell you is to love yourself, know your worth, be careful, keep the lines of communication open, be totally honest about any changes that may be happening with the arrangement and stay protected. Feelings get hurt when folks stop effectively communicating.

Considerations

Given that people are waiting longer to get married, friends with benefits scenarios are popular and people are more cautious to actually “commit” due to past hurts and challenges with previous relationships. 

The main issue when it comes to friends with benefits, is that usually one half of the pair wants something more, whether from that person, or in life in general. 

When you’re in a friends with benefits situation, typically a relationship ensues. You like this person, you like sleeping with them, but somehow they don’t quite fit the bill for what you want in a mate. The difference between this and an affair however, is that one person typically has feelings, while the other is biding their time until something better comes along. Therein lies the problem with the business of Friends With Benefits.  

We should never take for granted the fact that everyone isn’t for everybody. Some people weren’t meant to be together long-term. However, past a certain age, spending your time with Mr. or Mrs.  “would be right except for XYZ reason,” only prolongs the inevitable: a friend, true mate, or both friends closing themselves off to the potential of something real.

Most of the time in Friends With Benefits scenarios, two people would actually make a great team. Compatibility is typically high, and so is the chemistry. This is why they are so addicting.

Many times the sole reason these situations don’t work out is because one partner feels like they deserve better. In the past, men and women would work together to become better versions of themselves through partnership and commitment. 

Because we’ve been given unprecedented amounts of freedom in life these days, we feel we can afford to wait on a partner we perceive as “perfect” and keep sex only buddies in the meantime. (Again no judgement toward anyone)

Reality check, perfect doesn’t exist, and if that’s what you’re waiting for, you’ll be waiting forever.

Many women will keep men in the friend with benefit zone because they aren’t perfect on paper. 

Just as often, guys will pass up potential mates based on what their friends think is hot. 

While there’s a myriad of reasons why people deem others not dateable, and the line and boundaries drawn in a Friends With Benefits relationship are never crystal clear. 

Suggestions to Move Forward if You are in a Friends With Benefits (FWB) Situation That You Would Like to Change

There are always some loopholes, whether it’s one person (or both) falling for the one person they swore they’d only like sexually. It could be feelings, jealously, complications, or whatever your personal experience with your FWB turned out to be.

Here are a few signs that might indicate he/she doesn’t want to solely sleep with you, but he/she also wants to be a major part of your life:

1. He/She  always ask you about your day.

2. He/she  will bring up topics from the last time you saw each other.

3. He/She does random things like surprise you with a small gift/token

4. He suggests sleeping over:  If all he’s after is a FWB relationship he really shouldn’t suggest sleeping over, simply because that takes the whole ‘benefits’ thing to a whole other level (you’ll, like, actually be sleeping together). If you think you’re mature enough to have a FWB relationship you should be mature enough to realize that females tend to get attached and by having her sleep over you know that she will start thinking you want more. So just know if you’re asking her to stay the night she isn’t the only one who is starting to get hopeful.

5. He/She starts to ask if you want to do things with him/her.

6. He asks you to go to family functions with him, if he brings you to his cousin’s wedding or to a family BBQ or to meet the family for a special occasion, that’s him showing interest in you, that’s him showing a lot of interest in you in order to bring you around to introduce you to his whole family.

7. He/She confides in you.

8. He/She brings you around to hang with his/her friends.

9. He/she asks about the other men/women in your life.

10. He/she cares about you: If you’re having a bad day, he/she is there for you. 

I’m no expert, but these are all pretty good indications he/she  wants to be more than Friends With Benefits, at the end of the day, feelings are unpredictable and he/she might be one of the few who actually see something more than just consensual sex with you.

If you do not see any of these signs and you are catching feelings it’s time to decide what is best for you and it’s worth starting to have a discussion with your FWB and remember, love yourself first and be honest about what you want in your life and/or with that person. 

Every kind of relationship is a learning experience, no matter how it starts or ends….and both men and women are equally as vulnerable when it comes to catching feelings no matter the situation.

Just KeepingIt100,

– Stephanie

Stay tuned for the next two topics:

Part IV: He Says/She Says

Part V: Relationship Goals

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