Following up my piece yesterday on "The 4 Stages of Every Friends with Benefits Relationship", today I'm going to get into the nuts and bolts of running your casual relationships by giving you 8 friends with benefits rules that are absolutely mandatory you follow... to not have everything go to hell in a hand basket, that is.
Friends with benefits are lots of fun, but these relationships are also loaded with the potential to get messy on the turn of a dime. All it takes is a little bending of the rules, and you can very quickly find yourself:
With a friend with benefits who's falling in love with you
Falling in love with your friend with benefits yourself
Experiencing confusion in your social circle about where you stand
Enjoying reputation damage or drama or other bad effects from things gone awry
Break the rules, and you're playing with fire without a fire extinguisher handy.
Adhere to them, and, well, let's just say you're handling fire in a responsible, fun, and mostly safe way.
So what are these rules you've got to stick to, anyway?
Sex is, of course, your bread and butter in a friends with benefits relationship. If you're not having sex, what's the point?
Problems arise when you're being loose in how you set things up... and if you're not careful, it's all too easy to transform a casual relationship into a committed relationship by failing to follow the friends with benefits rules about sex.
Here are the three (3) on the subject that you absolutely must follow.
#1: Have Sex Every Time You Hang Out
She comes over to your place? You have sex.
You go over to her place? You have sex.
This one is an ironclad, unbreakable rule of friends with benefits relationships, for very good reason: the only reason you're even IN a friends with benefits relationship is for the benefits. Are you spending time with this person for:
- Her sparkling personality?
- The deep personal connection you feel with her?
- Your prospective future children's sakes one day?
No, right? Then you need to make sure you sleep with her every time you see her, for several key reasons:
If you see her for sex, then don't have sex, she'll begin to lose interest in you as a sexual being, and the relationship doesn't have long to last in its current form
If you start spending non-sexual time with her, there's not much else to do there but build your non-sexual relationship with one another... and that's things like your platonic friendship, or a deeper romantic bond. For obvious reasons, these things are setting you on a path you don't really want to go down
Why might you encounter resistance to sex with a friend with benefits? The most usual reasons are either that she's falling for you, and wants to make you chase her more in order to transition you into a committed relationship... or she's met someone else, but she'd still like to keep you around... just, not as a lover, but rather as friends. *shiver*
Either way, if you encounter resistance from friends with benefits, use your standard resistance-overcoming tools (turn her on, address her objections, etc.), but if that doesn't do the trick, it's probably time to end that hang out session, and think long and hard about whether you want to see her again, and if so, on what terms. It shouldn't be difficult with a friend with benefits, and if you've found someone cool (and it's not in one of those later stages we discussed in the last article), it won't be.
#2: No Sleeping Over at Your Place
Here, the rules differ between the man's place and the woman's place:
- The man's place is off-limits for sleeping over
- The woman's place is okay for sleeping over
Why's that? Because letting her stay over at your place makes her feel very comfortable with you, and gives her a feeling of control over you. Not so bad, you say? Well, establishing long term relationships involves a lot of women wresting control from men, pinning them down to a degree, and feeling increasingly certain they occupy a central place in the man's world.
And there are few things that advance this feeling more than
spending the night... then leaving sometime much later the next day.
Things are starting to seem pretty serious, now!
If she leaves after you sleep with her, she implicitly knows that:
- You might see someone else after she's gone
- You might have a date (or dates) lined up the next day
If she sleeps over and dawdles around the next morning though, throw those out the window.
There's another thing, too: men with a lot going on in their lives don't LET women who are friends with benefits stay over. They legitimately just have too many things to do, and as fun as she is to hang out with (and sleep with!), having her stick around too much longer is cramping their styles - if you're a man, you probably enjoy talking with other men more than you enjoy talking with women; and if you're dating multiple women, you're actively trying to minimize the non-sex time you're spending with them, usually, so they don't expand to consume your entire schedule and leave no time free for work, downtime, or sex with other women.
In other words, if you're a man letting women stay over at your place, you're telling those women:
- That your schedule isn't really THAT busy
- That you like them enough to let them impose
- That you're probably more interested in something serious
Letting female friends with benefits stay over at your place just sets all the wrong kinds of expectations - don't do it.
#3: Keep It to Once Per Week
... because if you're seeing her more often than that, it's not really a casual relationship, is it?
You might think this is a friends with benefits rule you can bend and get away with. Nah-uh. This one's ironclad.
The fact is, in almost every friends with benefits relationship, SOMEBODY falls for the other person, and in most friends with benefits relationships, that somebody is the girl.
She's just looking for a reason to let herself go crazy for you.
And if you start inviting her over more than once a week, even just some of the time, guess what? She's going to start to wonder if you really like her.
And thinking that you might really like her is all the permission she needs to start to really like YOU.
What if you're going to only break this rule occasionally? Like, sometimes booty call her twice in one week, and other times just not call her at all during a week?
Even worse. Having a broken / unpredictable pattern just makes her spend more time thinking about you and wondering if you're going to call, and when you will, or why you didn't... which is more investment by her, and more juice to make her fall in love.
Shouldn't need to be said but I'll say it anyway: obviously, DON'T take close friends / neighbors / immediate social circle members as friends with benefits. You're just asking for an impossible task keeping it to once a week maximum in that case... and keeping it out of serious relationship land. You've been warned.
Sex is only the first area requiring your attention in the friends with benefits rule canon. In fact, there are more rules you must stick to to avoid a pleasant and drama-free (as much as possible) casual relationship - five (5) more of them, in fact.
In no particular order, here they are:
#4: Steer Clear of One Another's Friends
Nothing says "we're in a relationship" quite like hanging out with one another's friends. If you're in the same social circle, it's even worse; the forces that want the two of you to stop being casual and start being exclusive (white knights; friends of hers who know she really likes you; etc.) conspire to "keep an eye on you" and limit your choice with other women, hoping to box you into something more committed, while the girl herself begins to feel increasingly comfortable treating this casual relationship like a serious relationship... after all, you two spend so much time around one another in front of friends, it's almost like you're boyfriend and girlfriend anyway, isn't it?
Spending time with her friends means that they're going to start gossiping about you, prompting her to "get serious" or ditch you, and potentially risk her social reputation as people wonder what's going on with the two of you, or shame her for engaging in a non-traditional relationship.
Spending time with YOUR friends means she starts feeling like you've given her your "stamp of approval" - after all, meeting his friends is a pretty big deal, isn't it?
You might be the connector type, who likes getting the different people in his life together and introducing new people. That's fine, just don't do it with friends with benefits. You can do it with everyone else instead.
There's one other reason why not to introduce friends with benefits to your friends, or meet their friends, too: boundary control. If things go south between the two of you, you're going to want to cut contact and make a clean break - but if she has all your friends on speed dial, that's probably not going to happen.
#5: Ditch the Cute Couple Stuff
Last time, she just came over to your place and the two of you soaked the bed together.
So maybe this time it'd be nice if you went out and got a nice seafood dinner?
Not so far - couple stuff is for long-term relationships... not casual ones. Not even for budding ones that you'd like to become long-term (see: "How to Start a Relationship with a New Girlfriend").
That includes things like:
- Going out to dinner
- Going to the movies
- Going to events / parties / activities
- Kissing outside of the bedroom / not leading to sex
- Calling her "just to talk"
- Texting her about anything other than meeting up (for sex)
- Chatting her up on IM or social media
- Posting pictures of the two of you on social media
... and anything else that might possibly be construed as a sign that the two of you "are an item."
If you need someone to do these things with... get a girlfriend. Don't do them with friends with benefits.
#6: Spend the Holidays Apart
We talked about this a bit "What to Do with Your Girlfriend on Valentine's Day", but let's look at the reasons more here specifically as apply to friends with benefits. This one could conceivably have gone under the last sub header, but it's important enough that it deserves its own. Do not spend the holidays with someone you're in a casual relationship with. This is for multiple reasons:
It seems like a loud, clear sign that things have "moved to the next step." You don't invite someone to spend the holidays with you unless you're either pretty lonely (in which case, you're vulnerable to the relationship being moved forward), or you genuinely want to spend the holidays with them (in which case, it's safe to assume that moving the relationship forward IS your intention)
It ties all manner of emotions to you in the mind and heart of your friend with benefits. She was feeling so lonely... and then you called! You're her savior! If you don't want her falling in love with you (and if you want things to stay comfortable and drama-free, you don't), you want to minimize the strong emotions she feels as much as possible. Spending time together during the holidays is a big no-no
It elevates both of your importances to one another. The holidays are times to spend with loved ones, and those you're closest to - the subtext if you're spending that with one another is that you are among the most important people to one another
Does that mean that seeing your FWB even once during Christmas week violates the friends with benefits rules you've agreed to adhere to? YES! If it's genuinely part of the holidays, and she has off from school or work, and you do too, and most people do, it's technically part of the holiday... just don't go there. You can wait 7 days to see her again... and if you can't, well, maybe you ought to have her as a girlfriend and not a casual sex partner after all.
#7: Real Relationships Must Stay Off Limits
One of the greatest tragedies in dating and romance to me is when two people who are not good enough for one another as long-term relationship partners enter into a friends with benefits relationship, become complacent, stop going out and meeting new people, and eventually settle into a committed relationship because, well, that other person is a nice person, after all, and besides, it's too much WORK to find someone else!
You MUST not settle into relationships with your friends with benefits. That means you continue to meet new girls, continue to sleep with them, and keep your prospective partner pipeline full. Don't let sex on speed dial make you lazy.
It's worth noting that many subpar women snag men above their usual range by employing this (clever-yet-nefarious) strategy:
Sleep with man
Accept casual relationship with man
Be nice and sweet and accommodating enough that man grows content
Let enough time pass that all of man's other options fall away, and he quits cultivating new ones
Allow the relationship to naturally segue from casual to committed, by gradually chipping away at man's boundaries (e.g., leave increasing amounts of stuff at his place; then eventually leave yourself there too, and cancel the lease on old apartment)
While this can be a comfortable way of ending up into a relationship, it always ends up being a relationship you're ambivalent about, because you know you can probably do better... but you're just a little too content to go do so.
It's the difference between being with a girl you've got great chemistry with, and a girl you just get along with well enough to not go out and start chasing down alternatives.
Sort of like taking jobs. A crappy job you won't stay at; and a dream job you'll be thrilled to stay at. But what's really a damning puddle of employment quicksand is the job that's just okay, but satisfies you just enough and pays you just enough that you don't feel like you really have to go looking for another job... after all, that's so hard, while staying here is so easy...
Don't fall into that trap. Use hard rules, and forbid yourself from entering serious relationships with casual partners... unless you want a life of mediocrity and "What if?"
#8: When She Wants to Go, Let Her Go
Just as we discussed in the "4 Stages" article, there comes a time in every casual relationship where the relationship must end. And, as noted in that article, there are precisely three responses you can have when a woman announces she "can't do this anymore" and "needs something with a future":
- Let her go calmly and peacefully, with understanding and without protest
- Struggle to hold onto her without giving in, to keep things what they were
- Capitulate to her need for a more committed relationship and give her one
The one we want here is #1: just let her go.
Struggling might keep her around a little while longer, but it only delays the inevitable.
Capitulating and giving her a committed relationship is in direct violation of our friends with benefits rule #7.
But letting her go calmly and peacefully? That one's interesting, because...
... much of the time when you let a friend with benefits leave peacefully, she comes back of her own accord later anyway!
How can this be so? Why does it work out that way?
A woman is always in need of a good lover; one whom she finds attractive, likes being around, and has powerful, orgasmic sex with. If that's you, and if you didn't sully her opinion of you with pleading, groveling, or fighting on the way out, when she tires of dating a boring nice guy who gives her security and commitment but can't make her cum like an asshole can, guess who she's going to get back in touch with?
That's right, her #1 stud - you.
It's pretty amazing how many women come back to spark things up with you again after they'd previously ended them to go find something "more serious." Well, that's that, then, you think, and let them go... only for them to come back half a year later with a big, sexy smile and none of those doubts and concerns they had back when they ended the arrangement with you. Now they're ready for another round with you, and it's right back to how it was before... back in the good stages.
So what do you do when she tells you she needs something more serious and can't do this anymore? You tell her:
- You understand, and that's totally cool and fine
- You wish her the best of luck; she deserves someone great
- And in any event, she ought to stay in touch - your door is always open
Sometimes it might take her a while to circle back to you; sometimes it might be soon.
Either way, if you're doing what you're supposed to be doing and keeping your pipeline full, you're not going to worry about it too much at all - as she rotates out, someone else rotates in... and when she's ready to hop back on the bandwagon, well, great - you've always got a spot for one of your old favorites.
Obey Your Friends with Benefits Rules Devotedly
Don't get sidetracked.
Don't start thinking you're special or different and don't need the rules.
Don't assume that this girl you're hanging out with is looking out for you, or won't try to sneak her way into roping you down when that isn't what you wanted.
These rules are here for a reason - to help you navigate the trenches of friend with benefits territory. Relationships are tricky, and sleeping with new people is tricky - but an ongoing casual relationship can be one of the trickiest of all, and oftentimes because it seems so UN-tricky, so uncomplicated, and so straightforward.
If you stick to the rules though, it will be those things - easy as pie.
And then you and your casual partner(s) can enjoy each other, have a great time, and not have to worry about things going crazy or blowing up in anybody's faces - after all, those benefits you get with that cute new friend of yours are supposed to be carefree and fun!