Friends With Benefits vs. Casual Sex Partners (Rules, Benefits and Risks)


Friends with Benefits, or FWB, can be a great happy medium between a serious relationship and a one night stand. We all have sexual needs, but you may not be interested in a steady dating relationship. One night stands carry some risks, and if you want sex on a regular basis, it can be difficult to find. You can solve this problem by becoming casual sex partners, which is when you hook up on a regular basis instead of just one night. Both options have their own benefits as well as risks.  Here’s an honest in-depth look at Friends with Benefits and casual sex relationships, from someone who has had plenty of both.

Why Is Casual Sex So Popular?

Casual sex relationships in the form of friends with benefits or casual sex partners has become very popular. There are several reasons for the rise of no strings attached sex.

One reason for the rise of casual sex relationships is that younger people are delaying getting into serious relationships and getting married in favor of starting their career. Young professionals may not feel like they have the time for a serious relationship, or they may not be ready to settle down.

Opportunity is another big factor here. With a plethora of dating sites and mobile apps like Tinder, it’s easier than ever to find someone to hook up with. People may not want to commit because they don’t want to miss out on other sexual experiences.

The media plays a part as well. There was a time when married couples slept in separate beds in sitcoms. Now there are movies and TV shows devoted to casual sex relationships, and all that it entails. You can also find a wealth of information about how, why, and where to hook up online.

In many ways, it’s reminiscent of the free love culture of the sixties. Unfortunately, unwanted pregnancies and STDs had the nation frowning on casual sex again before long. Now sex education is a part of most school curriculums, and you can get free condoms at the health department. The ease of having sex without the risk of unwanted pregnancy and STDs has also helped to bring casual sex relationships into the mainstream.

These factors have come together to create a “hook up culture” where it’s much more socially acceptable to have sex just for the sake of sex than in decades gone by.

While many studies have looked at the increase in casual sex relationships among college age individuals, there is another age group often overlooked. Divorce and adultery are becoming more socially acceptable as well, giving older adults a sexual freedom that they didn’t have the pleasure of experiencing in their younger years. The rise of terms like “cougar” show that older adults are taking opportunities to hook up just like their younger counterparts for many of the same reasons: social acceptability, opportunity, and decreased risk.


What are Friends With Benefits

Many of the potential problems that can arise from being friends with benefits can be headed off by being clear about what the term means. The first word here is “friends”. This implies that you and the other party are genuinely friends before any type of sex is involved. There are both benefits and possible risks involved when you become sexual with a friend, which we will cover a little later. Of course, “benefits” means sex. This doesn’t have to be intercourse, but it’s generally part of the package. It’s about whatever type and frequency of sexual relationships you are comfortable with.

When two people are friends, they should be honest with each other. This extends to being friends with benefits. You both need to be clear that you are friends meeting each other’s sexual needs, and that this doesn’t mean that your friendship has blossomed into a romantic relationship.

What Are Casual Sex Partners

Casual sex relationships encompass one night stands and “acquaintances with benefits”. This is a purely sexual relationship. If you choose to have a casual sex relationship with someone, it’s like a continuous one night stand. You are interested in each other for sexual pleasure. You aren’t going to call them and ask them how their day went. You will likely know very little about their personal life. You aren’t concerned with their feelings, and you may not even be concerned about their sexual satisfaction.

Which One Is Right For You?

Are you wondering which one is right for your situation? To understand which one is right for you, you need to understand the benefits and risks of each type. It will also depend on the person that you are interested in. If you already have a friend and there’s a mutual sexual attraction, then friends with benefits is probably your style. If you are looking to meet someone new for the arrangement, then you could choose either. Of course, there’s nothing in the rule book that says you can’t have both at the same time.

Benefits of Friends with Benefits

The most obvious benefit of this arrangement is the sex. However, the benefits run deeper than just sex: we tend to be comfortable around our friends, we know we can be ourselves without fear of judgement, and you don’t have to worry about putting your best foot forward in the way that you would in a dating relationship. You also know each other well before you get into bed. You have an idea what to expect, and you know each other’s likes and dislikes. You can go out to dinner or other activities without worrying that it will be misconstrued as a date. You are friends hanging out. If it happens to lead to sex, then that’s just an added benefit.

Most people believe that sex ruins friendships. However, statistics show that 74% of the time the friendship remains the same or even better after the “benefits” have ended. In my personal experience, I’ve found that it gives friends a way to connect on a different level, and it can actually strengthen the relationship. Having sex with someone that you have some type of emotional connection with makes the sex better as well. Being friends means that you will want to please each other sexually, but you won’t feel the pressure to perform that you would feel in a romantic relationship. To put it simply, friends with benefits can have some awesome sex.

The Risks

The biggest risk to having sex with a friend is losing the friendship. 10% of friends with benefits end with the couple being romantically involved. 64% of friends with benefits end for other reasons, but the friend relationship isn’t harmed. Unfortunately, when 26% of friends with benefits ends, so does the friendship. Many times, this is because people don’t follow the rules. More on that later.

The other risk is that if the relationship goes bad, you may run in the same circles or have mutual friends. This puts you in an awkward situation of having to be around them. The other risk is to your reputation. Some people are concerned about their reputation, and others aren’t bothered by it. Friends with benefits are very common these days, but there is still some stigma attached. Your friends will know the same people you do, and they may tell them some unsavory stories if things go bad.

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The Rules of Friends With Benefits

So you’ve considered the benefits and risks, and decided you would like to have a friend with benefits. You can greatly increase your chances of having a successful friends with benefits relationship that ends on amicable terms if you follow the rules.

1 It’s Not Dating

This is one of the biggest and most avoidable mistakes people make when it comes to friends with benefits. If one person is looking for sex with a friend, and the other is looking for a relationship, things get complicated and messy. Sure, there’s a 10% chance of you falling in love and living happily ever after, but odds are that it will end your relationship completely.

When one person already has romantic feelings for the other, sex is bound to magnify them. You end up with one person being clingy, jealous, and controlling, which is exactly what you are trying to avoid. If you are romantically attracted to someone you are considering being friends with benefits with, don’t do it. If they aren’t willing to be romantically involved with you, do not go to bed with them. It will mess up your friendship. If the person you are considering has romantic feelings for you, keep the relationship strictly platonic.

2 It’s Going To End

Go into the relationship with the understanding that it has an expiration date. The benefits portion of your relationship will only last until one of you finds a partner or you get bored of it. Understanding it’s a temporary arrangement helps keep you from getting too attached.

3 Don’t Kiss and Tell

These relationships are better if you keep them a secret. Part of it is simply the thrill of sneaking around. Being around each other in a group of friends and sending dirty texts that only the two of you know about. It’s hot. Trust me. Don’t ruin it by telling everyone. Keeping it a secret also makes it much easier when the benefits reach their expiration date.

4 Talk About Sleep Overs

This is your friend, so you should be comfortable talking to them about anything. You need to set the ground rules on sleep overs before you start hooking up. Will you spend the night and cuddle? Should you duck out as soon as the festivities are done? It really depends on your relationship. Be careful, though. Sleeping over can lead to feelings, so proceed with caution. Of course, there are times when sleeping over is just more convenient. If you’ve been drinking all night, it’s safer to stay over.

5 Don’t Get Jealous

You don’t own your FWB. This means they are free to sleep with other people. You do need to discuss this possibility ahead of time. Do you talk to each other about sleeping with other people, or do you have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy? This is a personal decision between the two of you. Some people would rather know, while others would feel completely disrespected. Regardless of whether you decide to kiss someone else and tell, you are not allowed to get jealous. This will make you come off as clingy and needy. This is one of the behaviors you are trying to avoid by having a FWB instead of a romantic relationship. If it goes too far, it can have a negative effect on the friendship.

6 Keep It Fun

You don’t have the pressure to be perfect like you would in the beginning of a romantic relationship. Feel free to try some new moves or even act out your fantasies. Sex with your FWB should be a no pressure playground where you both feel comfortable enough to do things you might not do with someone else. That being said, FWB should always aim to please. Don’t leave your partner hanging. You should care enough about your friend to want them to be satisfied.

7 Realistic Expectations

Understand that your FWB has a life outside of sleeping with you. You shouldn’t expect them to be at your beck and call at all times. Too much sex will make things boring anyway. If you hit them up for a late-night booty call and they aren’t up to it, that’s the nature of the relationship. You have sex when it is desired and convenient for both of you.

8 Keep Hang Out Time Hang Out Time

If it’s a friend that you actually enjoy spending time with, keep things platonic when you are out. If you go out for a burger together and you are chatting, you are friends. If you are holding hands and making googly eyes at each other, that is not hanging out. That is a date, and it’s a problem.

9 Be Honest

The two of you are friends, so you should be able to talk. If you’ve found someone that you would like to get serious with, let them know. You should also be honest in the bedroom. Let them know what you like, and what you don’t. Teach them exactly how you want it if they aren’t getting it right. This is one of the advantages to this type of relationship.

10 If You Fall….

Let’s face it. We are all human. This means that sometimes we fall for someone without intending to.  This is the number one rule. If you start falling for them, do not, I repeat do not, continue in the FWB relationship. Your feelings will only get stronger, and it will make things messier in the long run.

In this case, there are two ways it can go. You can let them know, and hope that they feel the same way. However, don’t make them feel pressured. That can end your friendship. Either they feel the same way, or they don’t. Hopefully you can keep the friendship intact, either way.

The other option is simply to tell them you aren’t interested in a sexual relationship anymore. I know I said to be honest. But you may want to lie here. You may need to simply stretch the truth a bit. Tell them you are ready to pursue a serious relationship. This gives them the opportunity to step up to the plate, but doesn’t pressure them to do so. Not openly admitting your feelings can also keep from making the friendship awkward.

Either way, you have a choice to make. Can you handle being around this person without being with them? Can you handle seeing them with someone else? If the answer is yes, then you can remain friends without the benefits. If it’s too hard for you to be around them, you may have to break off the friendship. You can always try taking a step back and withdrawing from them for a month or so. See if your feelings have changed in that time. You may find that your burning desire fades as time goes on.

Benefits of Casual Sex Relationships

Casual Sex relationships don’t carry the same risks as a FWB. You aren’t likely to get emotionally attached, because all you do is have sex. You may feel even more free in this type of arrangement, because you don’t have to consider the other person’s feelings. Your interest in each other is strictly sexual. Sex without attachment sounds like the best thing ever, but it carries its own risks.

Risks of Casual Sex Relationships

The first risk of casual sex relationships is that you don’t know your partners well. This can be a benefit, but it’s also riskier. You don’t know if you are safe around them, if they have an STD, or a crazy ex that will try to kill you. You may find that the sex isn’t as good in this type of relationship, because there are no feelings involved. Generally speaking, although not always, some sort of emotional connection makes sex better. You may find yourself with a very selfish lover who is only concerned about their own satisfaction.

It can also have a negative impact on your self-esteem. FWB encounters are less likely to make you feel bad about yourself, because you have a platonic emotional connection. The effects of casual sex in all its forms, including FWB, depends on your beliefs about it. If you feel casual sex is perfectly acceptable, then your self-esteem may go up, regardless of the type of sex you engage in. If you were raised to believe that there’s something wrong with sex without commitment, then your self-esteem could be negatively affected. You may find that the more casual the sex, the worse you feel about yourself.

The Rules of Casual Sex Relationships

The rules of casual sex relationships are simple. Don’t do anything but have sex. This isn’t someone that you should be getting to know on an emotional level. You shouldn’t be hanging out. They are there for your sexual pleasure only. You should be careful to respect them as a human being, however. Don’t look at them as a sex object to the point that you don’t give them the same respect you would to any other acquaintance. Whether either of you are sleeping with someone else shouldn’t come up. You should practice safe sex, especially in this type of situation, because there is no expectation of monogamy, and you don’t know their sexual history.

A Psychological Point of View

Looking at these relationships can help you understand the differences between friendship, friends with benefits, romantic love, and casual sex relationships.

Romantic love is a complicated affair that has two main components. The first is enjoyment or attraction to the others personality, attitudes, and personal views. The second is physical attraction. These factors come together to create a romantic relationship. Certain commitments are inherent in these relationships. You commit to being faithful to the relationship, spending time with the other person, and making them feel cared for and wanted. These commitments comprise the “strings” that those in casual relationships are seeking to avoid.

Friendship is also a commitment to care for the other person, but the commitment isn’t nearly as intensive as romantic love. There isn’t any expectation of exclusivity in a friendship. You can have as many friends as you wish, normally without any jealousy.

Friendship with benefits is a middle ground between friendship and romantic love. Over 50% of people in their 20’s have had at least one of these relationships, but other age groups are engaging in it as well. It’s prevalent among those who aren’t ready for the commitments of a serious relationship, and those who have just gotten out of a long-term relationship, especially divorce, and are experiencing the freedom of being single for the first time in many years. It’s also common among people who are still married, but aren’t satisfied with their sex life. For married people, the emotional component of friends with benefits makes it riskier for their marriage than casual sex relationships. They may find their friend with benefits meeting their emotional as well as sexual needs that they aren’t getting met at home, which has a greater chance of destroying a marriage than a purely physical relationship.

With romantic love, the friendship aspect and the sex aspect are generally given equal importance in the relationship. With friends with benefits, the friendship aspect is the main part of the relationship, and the sex is seen as an added benefit. With casual sex relationships, very little importance, or none at all, is given to the friendship aspect, and the focus and reason for the relationship is sex.

Friends with benefits aren’t meant to last forever. The benefits end when one person finds someone else, or when one person develops romantic feelings for each other. There are times when both partners will develop romantic feelings. You shouldn’t get into a friends with benefits relationship seeking a romantic relationship, because of the high risk that they won’t feel the same way. However, it still happens sometimes, no matter how many rules you place on the relationship. The good news is if both partners are interested in pursuing the relationship, being friends first can be a great basis for a relationship. The bad news is that if the feeling isn’t mutual, it can result in hurt feelings and the loss of the relationship.

Which One Is Right For You?

Which one of these arrangements is right for you? Consider what you are looking for. Are you looking for an emotional component, or simply to get laid? FWB will give you an emotional connection, without all the headaches of a relationship. However, you run the risk of losing a friend or falling for them. Casual sex relationships carries a much lower risk of getting emotionally involved, but it carries more physical risks. Hopefully you’ve figured out which arrangement you would prefer, so let’s find out how to go about getting one.

Choosing a Friend With Benefits

If you are considering a FWB relationship, you may already have someone in mind. It isn’t practical to find someone, become friends with them, and then propose a FWB relationship. Don’t rush into the first person who comes to mind, however. Here are some guidelines to help you determine if the friend you are considering is a good fit for a FWB relationship.

First, there should be some sort of mutual attraction. If you think that they like you in romantic terms, steer clear. The same goes for anyone that you would like to ride off into the sunset with. What you are looking for is physical chemistry with someone that you enjoy hanging out with.

They should be available, but not too available. There’s no point in hooking up with someone who will never have the time or energy to have sex with you. You also don’t want someone who doesn’t have anything to do but hang out with you. Be sure the person you are interested in has a life, but it isn’t too busy to make time for you.

If you have a particular friend in mind that meets these guidelines, here’s how to cross the line from friends to friends with benefits.

Get Them Alone

You don’t want to get them alone so you can hop into bed, at least not yet. You need to get them alone so that you can make your proposition. Talk to them as a friend, but give them a flirty smile. Let your chemistry flow. Be completely honest here. Let them know why you would like to have “benefits” with them. It’s also a good idea to give some reasons why you aren’t interested in a relationship with them, but be careful here. If you tell them that you just aren’t ready for a relationship, and end up seriously dating someone a few weeks or months later, it will result in hurt feelings.

The best thing to do is to tell them that you two make great friends, but you don’t think you would work well as a couple. This lets them know that you are attracted to them, but doesn’t give them room to hope that it will turn into something more. If you’ve chosen the right person, they will sincerely agree with you, or they will tell you that they aren’t interested in pursuing a relationship with anyone anytime soon.

Hopefully they’ve just consented to be your FWB. Now it’s time to lay down your rules. The rules I mentioned earlier are a good starting point. It’s also a good idea to talk about what conditions will end the arrangement. It should be expected from the beginning that your arrangement will end if one of you gets serious with someone else, or if the sexual attraction fizzles out over time. Talking about this also helps you both keep in mind that it will end.

Another way to do this is to actually set a date for the sexual benefits to end. This can make your hook up sessions hotter, because you know your time is limited. It also makes it easier to end it without hurt feelings and awkward conversations. Just be sure that you can both commit to the timeline and the end date.

Once you’ve got all the boring rule stuff out of the way, you are good to go. Go ahead and seal the deal before they’ve had too much time to come up with reasons why it’s a bad idea. Make sure that they enjoy themselves, and you have a FWB.

Finding Casual Sex Relationships

These relationships are easier to find than you might think. Just start talking to people that you feel an attraction to. Begin talking to the people you run into in your everyday life that you find attractive. If the conversation goes well, you can ask for their number or ask if they want to hang out. Don’t jump right into sex. You want to get to know them a bit first. Look at it like a long term one night stand. When you are looking for a one night stand, you don’t just walk up to someone and ask if they would like to go to bed with you. You talk to them. Get to know them. See how they respond to flirting, and hopefully nature takes its course.

With this type of relationship, you want to ask them if they are up for the same thing you are before you go too far sexually. Let them know how hot you think they are, and that you would love to see them on a physical level. In this case, it’s best not to go into reasons why you just want sex. Just be upfront about your interest in being sexual. If they are interested, then you should lay down a few ground rules before you jump in the sack. Remember that you don’t want to come off as someone desperately seeking sex. Play it cool. Make it about your mutual sexually attraction instead of your personal needs.

You want to keep the relationship extremely casual. No in depth conversations about your life. You don’t want to make them feel used, either. Treat them with respect. Take a little time for conversation and foreplay, and make sure that you meet their sexual needs as well.

One thing you can and should talk about is sex. Your fantasies, what you like and don’t like. Anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable trying or sharing with someone you are dating, now is your chance to try it without worrying about how it will make you look.

Once the casual sex part of the relationship is over, you have no reason to see each other. This is perhaps the biggest advantage to this type of relationship. You don’t have to worry about awkward social gatherings after you stop sleeping together. You don’t have to feel guilty about ending the sex. You just stop seeing each other, which keeps it from becoming awkward or messy.

The World Wide World of Hookups

Part of the reason why hooking up is so popular today is because the internet gives us easy access to people with the same interests we have. Before you jump into hooking up with someone you met online, you should be aware of the dangers that you can encounter.


The first type of impersonation we will look at is catfishing. No, we aren’t talking about fishing at the lake. Catfishing refers to people online who pretend to be someone that they aren’t. Some people do it for fun, and others do it because they don’t think anyone will like them as they are. Some also do it because they are sexually confused, so they pretend to be a different gender than they are physically. Finding out that the girl of your dreams was a guy or vice versa can be hard to deal with if you are heterosexual, especially if you’ve developed a sexual attraction to them.

Blackmail is also a type of impersonation, though it’s usually a more organized affair than catfishing. Blackmail usually involves getting you to perform a sexual act online via video which they record without your knowledge. Then they threaten to put it online or share it with people you are close too, unless you pay them.

The good news is that these precautions will help protect you from any type of impersonation. First, you should run a google search on their image. If someone is faking who they are, they will get the picture from somewhere. A Google search will show you anywhere the picture shows up. You can also ask them to send you a picture doing something specific, like holding up a peace sign or something else that you wouldn’t normally see in a picture. Video chatting is another way to make sure the person is who they appear to be.

Of course, these measures will only show you that the person is who they appear to be physically. You still must use common sense and look for any red flags that indicate they may be lying about other things.


Gold Diggers

Gold diggers are another group you should be on the lookout for. You can find them in the dating world, but they are more common online than in everyday life. Gold diggers aren’t necessarily a bad thing if you can afford them, and you don’t mind paying for their company. They will likely be very agreeable to whatever you would like to do, online or off. They are also unlikely to get emotionally attached, because they are after material benefits instead of emotional ones. Essentially it’s like taking home a stripper. They are a lot of fun, and a great boost to your ego. As long as you can afford them.

If you don’t want to hook up with a gold digger, be on the lookout for anyone who asks you for money or gifts. They may have what sounds like a legitimate reason. Maybe they need gas money to get to their grandma’s funeral or they need to get their car repaired. They may expect you to spend money on them by taking them somewhere expensive. Just remember you aren’t dating them, so you shouldn’t be expected to spend any money on them at all, unless it’s a hotel room. Guys, it’s always the polite thing to do to pay for the hotel room.


Where to Look Online

You can find FWB or casual sex relationships online. Many dating sites, like POF (Plenty of Fish) and OKCupid let you list the type of relationship you are looking for (including hooking up) in your profile. If you are looking for a Cougar or a Sugar Daddy (gold digger) type relationship, there are websites specifically devoted to those online. There’s also websites devoted to casual sex and even extramarital sex.

Facebook is another great place to find the relationship you are looking for. People you are friends with on Facebook but don’t know very well or friends of friends can both make good sex partners.

There are also mobile apps, with Tinder being the most famous. Tinder sends you pictures of singles near you, and you swipe left or right to show your interest or disinterest. If you are mutually interested, then you are allowed to communicate via the app. Tinder is different than most mobile dating apps, especially the ones designed to hook up, because Tinder has lots of female users. This increases the odds of men finding a successful hook up. Tinder is more conducive to one night stands or casual sex relationships because there’s usually little getting to know each other before you meet each other for the first time. Most people who use Tinder are looking for a hook up instead of a love connection, and the app makes it easy to find someone to hook up with near you on the spur of the moment.

Now you know all about Friends with Benefits and casual sex relationships. Remember to be honest, safe, and play it cool, and enjoy your new experienc

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