In the age of instant gratification, longterm commitments can sometimes seem burdensome. Presenting to you, an insight into the weird contrast of being ‘friends with benefits’.
Friends with Benefits, in simple terms, is being friends with the added benefit of a sexual relationship, sans the feelings. In theory, it seems like the perfect idea: you are sleeping with someone you trust and like enough, who has mutual respect for you, but there’s never the added baggage of emotions and commitment. However, contrary to the simplicity it promises, it is a relationship that requires utmost care while being dealt with. Friends with Benefits (FwB) is an interesting dynamic, for it falls between romantic attraction and sexual attraction. There are people you could be romantically compatible with, and there are people you could be sexually compatible with; while there are people who you might have the hots for, they don’t need to be the same people you visualize a happily ever after with. In those cases, if you and they are interested in being around each other sexually, having a chilled out (but a well discussed and thought out) friends with benefits relationship can do wonders.
Like all healthy relationships, the key to a healthy FwB relationship is understanding and communication. For a friends with benefits arrangement to work, you have to know each other and understand what feelings the emotional and sexual dynamic evokes in you. It is also important to communicate about what each person expects and where each is, as the relationship evolves. A third-year student, shared, “Given the difference between sexual and romantic attraction, along with the fact that some people are better as friends, I think a friends with benefits arrangement is ideal. Labeling relationships always leads to unnecessary expectations, which friendship is free from. I find that it is quite liberating in that way. The only thing that one should always keep in mind is that it stays consensual and that there is complete clarity on the terms of the agreement”. But, before getting into one, it is very important to check if you’re both on the same page: that you’re neither looking to commit to the person nor do you want them to commit to you. This helps to avoid misread signals and hurt down the line. It is also important to both remember and remind that this relationship would not develop into anything more intimate.
The romanticisation of friends with benefits in popular culture does not help either. While all FwB might begin with communication and understanding of the equation between the two partners, it is also very likely that one of them might develop feelings down the road. Stringing along the other person, and being the one strung along, are both unhealthy mentally and emotionally. And among all of it is the greatest fear of them all: losing your friendship over this new dynamic.
“FwB is all fun and games until one of them catches feelings and if you’re anywhere like me, you are doomed. I have had my fair share of encounters but a sense of companionship and the possibility of something more always loomed largely. To each its own, but I have gone from liking to majorly disliking friends with benefits solely because I have zero control over myself,” said Anandi, a first-year student. While a friends with benefits relationship is not the most convenient dynamic to initiate, apt precautions on both the partners sides with a truck full of communication and understanding can sustain the relationship. Regardless of the relationship dynamics, being sexually involved with someone is a churning pot of emotions: emotions build, as does trust, intimacy, connection, and familiarity. If there is room to work through challenges to maintain the friendship, even at the expense of the benefits, then you are in a successful FwB relationship.
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