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5 Essential Friends-With-Benefits Rules

So what exactly is a ‘friend with benefits’? In short, a friend with benefits is a friend who you also have a sexual relationship with. Usually, there’s a mutual understanding that the relationship will not involve any commitment or emotional attachment. In order to set it up for success, you should consider friends-with-benefits rules.

Friends-With-Benefits Rules blog cover

So what exactly is a ‘friend with benefits’? In short, a friend with benefits is a friend who you also have a sexual relationship with. Usually, there’s a mutual understanding that the relationship will not involve any commitment or emotional attachment. In order to set it up for success, you should consider friends-with-benefits rules.

When handled in the right way, a friends-with-benefits setup can be a fulfilling, positive experience. But they can also be complicated.

Why friends-with-benefits rules are important

Having rules for friends-with-benefits arrangements is important to ensure the boundaries of the relationship are clearly established and respected. Setting expectations will help to keep everyone involved comfortable and make sure all parties know what they can expect from each other.

Additionally, friends-with-benefits rules help to create a safe space for both parties to express their feelings and communicate openly. Just because you are in a sexual relationship with someone, it doesn’t mean you can’t also communicate your wants and needs.

It’s beneficial to create this safe space for expression right from the very beginning. This is because you can’t always predict how someone will react in certain situations and it’s important to set these boundaries before you find yourself in a difficult or uncomfortable situation.

In fact, friends-with-benefits rules can also make sex between the two of you more enjoyable. This is because when both parties are clear about what they can expect from each other, it’s easier to relax and just enjoy the experience.

5 essential friends-with-benefits rules

If you are in a friends-with-benefits arrangement, or if you are looking to enter into one, there are a few rules to keep in mind.

1. Set expectations at the beginning.

Be open and honest with each other. Be open about exactly what you’re looking for. And if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, then let them know. It can be hard to have a direct conversation like this with someone that you’re casual with, but it’s necessary in order to have the best situation possible and to minimize the risk of either of you getting hurt.

2. Practice safe sex.

Perhaps you both agree that you will openly discuss sexual relations you have with other people. Or perhaps you’d both prefer not to know. Either way, when you’re in a friends-with-benefits setup, you’re not sexually exclusive, so it’s important to practice safe sex. This will help you to protect yourself against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

Couple in bed

3. Have regular check-ins.

Even if you set clear expectations and boundaries from the very beginning, people’s feelings can change over time. It could be a number of things. When you first started hooking up, you might have just gotten out of a relationship and not been ready to start a new one, but now you are. It could be that you didn’t expect to become so emotionally attached. Whatever the reason, it’s essential to have regular check-ins and to respect the fact that either of your feelings might change at any point. Again, this is another one that should be included in your friends-with-benefits rules.

4. Be honest.

It’s just as important to be honest with yourself as with others. Friends-with-benefits situations can be a positive, healthy experience for both parties. However, sometimes you do catch feelings. If this happens, you can end up trying to convince yourself otherwise. This just results in more hurt further down the line, so it’s important to fully accept your feelings if this is the case. Additionally, if you know you want something more, you should tell them. Yes, you are risking rejection, but if they aren’t on the same page, it’s better to end things before you get in even deeper. 

5. Decide whether it’s worth the risk.

When you enter into a friends-with-benefits situation, you are risking the friendship. There’s a chance that it doesn’t work out how you both hoped. Usually, this involves one or both people catching feelings. If you’re both on the same page, then it tends to be pretty simple, and your friendship can stay intact. However, if you’re not on the same page at any point, it’s likely that the friendship will be damaged or even end completely. Each friends-with-benefits situation is different, and it’s up to both of you whether you want to risk losing your friendship. 

Overall, a friends-with-benefits arrangement can be an interesting and exciting experience if it’s dealt with in the right way. But before entering into one, it’s important to be mindful and intentional with your actions.

6 positives of a friend-with-benefits arrangement

We’re a positive bunch over here at So Syncd, so let’s first take a look at six potential positives of having a friend with benefits.

1. You get your sexual needs met.

Sex is a natural, fundamental human need. It has many health benefits, such as boosting our mood and relieving stress. It’s a good workout, too. Being the happiest, most fulfilled versions of ourselves involves a whole host of our needs being met, including our sexual desires. A friends-with-benefits setup can help with this. 

2. It can be safer.

If the alternative to having a friend-with-benefits situation is having regular one-night stands, the former is generally safer. Even if you practice safe sex and use the necessary protection, there are more risks associated with being alone with someone you barely know. Safe sex should be one of your essential friends-with-benefits rules.

3. There is less pressure.

In a true friends-with-benefits situation, there isn’t pressure to meet up or communicate on a regular basis. If you both happen to be free, then you’ll get together and have a great time. If not, there’s no obligation to fit each other into your schedules. Additionally, you don’t have the pressure that comes with early-stage dating that involves you both trying to work out if you could see yourself sharing a future together.

4. There’s a sense of trust.

Friends-with-benefits situations usually involve an element of trust and emotional connection. Even if you aren’t emotionally invested enough to want a relationship, you’re not a robot, and there will still be a connection that goes beyond something that is 100% sexual. This isn’t a bad thing as long as your level of emotional attachment stays below the threshold of wanting something more. Trust makes for better sex, and this safe space offers a great opportunity to explore your sexuality. 

Cozy couple

5. You maintain your dating freedom.

While you’re getting your sexual needs met by the friends-with-benefits situation, you are still free to date and explore different types of connections with different people. This can be a double-edged sword, though. If you are looking for a relationship, the comfort of a friend-with-benefits situation can make you less likely to put yourself out there and make an effort to find a relationship. So it’s something to bear in mind.

6. There are no games.

Healthy friends-with-benefits situations are open, honest, and respectful. There’s no beating around the bush. If you want to see them, you’ll let them know, and vice versa. There is no overthinking about things like whether they might be losing interest, why they’re taking so long to reply, etc. The simplicity can be refreshing. 

You now have a good idea of the potential positives of having a friend with benefits. Now we’ll move on to what can go wrong and why you need friends-with-benefits rules.

6 potential challenges of a friends-with-benefits arrangement

It’s not all sunshine and roses with friends-with-benefits setups, though. Here are six potential challenges to keep in mind.

1. There can be dishonesty about intentions.

Sometimes people get into a friends-with-benefits situation with someone they’ve liked for a while and want a relationship with. The thinking is that if their friend spends time with them and they have great sex, they will want a relationship too. While this can happen, it’s rare. If you are being dishonest about your intentions for how you want things to play out, you can end up getting hurt in one way or another.

2. There can be a lack of clarity.

Another common issue is not setting clear boundaries at the beginning. This is where friends-with-benefits rules come into the picture. You should make sure that your expectations and wants from the situation are aligned. Friends with benefits situations can take different shapes for different people. There’s no one right or wrong way to do it, as long as you’re both honest with each other and you’re clear about what does or doesn’t make you happy.

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3. You can end up catching feelings.

Even if you enter into the friends-with-benefits situation with no expectation or intention of wanting more, feelings can change over time. You might find after a few months that you connect in a different way and you realize you do want a relationship. This is one of the biggest pitfalls of a friends-with-benefits situation. If you’ve taken all the necessary steps at the beginning around laying out boundaries, it can be easy to assume that you’re home and dry. But feelings can evolve and it’s important to be aware of this.  

4. It’s not always possible to go ‘back to normal’.

When you enter a friends-with-benefits situation, you can be getting your sexual needs met without any of the emotional complications of a relationship. But if and when your friends-with-benefits situation ends or fades out, it can be tricky to go back to being friends. This can be particularly difficult if the friends-with-benefits arrangement ended badly with one person feeling hurt or betrayed. In addition, for some people, the sexual connection you shared can make it difficult to just be friends. So this is something to keep in mind as well.

5. Jealousy can become an issue.

Jealousy can be an issue in a friends-with-benefits arrangement. In theory, it shouldn’t be an issue. And it won’t be if your connection is largely physical. But jealousy can easily creep in if you don’t communicate clearly and you’re not honest with each other. When one person starts to see the arrangement as something more than being ‘just friends with benefits’, it can make things complicated.

6. It can be hard to end it at the right time.

Finally, it’s important to make sure you end your friends-with-benefits arrangement at the right time. Too many friends-with-benefits situations continue for too long after someone has caught feelings. Whoever has caught feelings can be reluctant to tell their friend with benefits out of fear of rejection and disrupting the relationship. But if something has changed for you, it’s important to be honest about it and make sure the other person knows. It might take some courage, but it’s better in the long run.

As you can see, there can be issues with friends-with-benefits arrangements. In some ways, they are more complicated than committed relationships because of the lack of clarity. This is why friends-with-benefits rules are so important.

Friends-with-benefits rules FAQs

Let’s take a look at some friends-with-benefits rules FAQs.

When should we set the friends-with-benefits rules?

The friends-with-benefits rules should be set out before the arrangement starts if possible. If you can, make sure that you are both clear on what you want, need, and expect before things get physical.

However, this isn’t always possible. You might have realized after starting your friends-with-benefits arrangement that you want to do things differently or that you would benefit from more clarity. In this case, it’s never too late to set up some rules and boundaries. So sit your friend with benefits down when you can and lay out the ground rules.

Can rules help to prevent a friends-with-benefits situation from ending badly?

Yes, setting clear boundaries and expectations from the outset can help to prevent a friends-with-benefits situation from ending badly. Open communication, honesty, and respect for the other person’s boundaries are also important.

Setting friends-with-benefits rules can ensure that both parties remain on the same page through the arrangement. It also helps to reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings. While the rules can’t stop you from catching feelings from someone, they can certainly ensure that the situation is dealt way in the best way possible if this happens.

Dangers of Falling in Love Too Fast blog cover

What should you do if they don’t want to set friends-with-benefits rules?

If your friend with benefits doesn’t want to set rules, it’s important to explain the reasoning behind why you want to establish clear boundaries. Remind your friend that the rules are there to protect both of you and ensure a positive experience. You can explain that setting rules can help to ensure that both of you are comfortable and happy with the arrangement.

Ultimately, if you can’t agree on the same terms, it’s best to end the friends-with-benefits arrangement and move on. If they don’t respect your need for clarity and your willingness to protect yourself, it may not be a healthy situation for you.

Final thoughts on friend-with-benefits rules

Friends-with-benefits relationships can be a way to have intimacy without commitment. However, they can quickly become complicated. It’s important to go into them with the understanding that feelings can change over time, and either person has the right to end the arrangement whenever they want.

By following our friends-with-benefits rules, you can maximize your chance of both of you getting the best out of the arrangement.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like our blog about 13 unique types of situationships.

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