Human beings thrive on relationships and there are various types, ranging from friendships and family relations to romantic ones. There’s also another type that exists in a grey area between a platonic friendship and a romantic relationship.
When the term “friend with benefits” is uttered, it’s often accompanied by sniggers and knowing looks. Some argue it’s impossible to maintain a friendship with someone who you’re having sex with but aren’t in a relationship with.
Being friends with someone is relatively easy – adding sex to the mix may complicate things. This type of arrangement is typically a non-exclusive friendship, and the benefits are typically non-exclusive recurring sexual (or near-sexual) activities. It’s the one person you can call when you have an itch to scratch without the emotional labour of a full-time relationship.
Unlike a casual hook-up, where there’s less chance that the two parties will engage outside of sex, a friend-with-benefits relationship has the added risk of one of the parties developing feelings because of the friendship element. While it may be tricky to maintain such an arrangement, it isn’t entirely impossible.
Makabelo Motaung, a relationship expert, says the main reason this type of arrangement fails is because people try to have them with former partners.
“We like fooling ourselves into thinking we’re over people; meanwhile we still have feelings for them and want to prove that we’re worthy of them,” she explains.
Often women will try to force a friend-with-benefits relationship with an ex. But this means they won’t be able to move on with their lives.
“You won’t be able to go out; you won’t be able to do your own thing, because you know it’s been two years and you have nobody,” explains Motaung.
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Just because it’s challenging doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Motaung says there are ways to make this kind of relationship work for you, starting by ensuring there’s no history.
Do it on your terms
In no way should you put a stop to your life. Motaung says things should happen solely on your time and when you’re available.
“It happens on my terms; it happens when I want it,” is the attitude you should take she says. “And don’t hide that you have a life and that you’re dating. If a call comes in and you’re with him, don’t hide the fact that you’re going on a date.”
Don’t stay over for cuddles
“Sometimes we want to cuddle; we want to take him coffee in bed or make him dinner before he comes over – no!” she says. Motaung adds that as soon as the act is over you should put on your clothes and leave. “Even if it is 3am – go. Don’t stay for cuddles.”
Try not to develop feelings
This is a very difficult one. “When we develop feelings, some of us lose our ability to have common sense. Remember, it’s not love; it’s not anything,” she says.
A friend-with-benefits arrangement works best if you aren’t feeling sad about him not calling you as much as you’d like or that you’re his dirty little secret.