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Friends with benefits: Yay or nay?

We were intimate friends before and now we were intimate friends who were intimate. Easy breezy, right?
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Cynthia Loyst, April 30, 2013 7:28:54 AM

Dear Cynthia,
I have a friend who I’ve known for years and both of us have been going through a bit of a dry spell. Recently we were out and had a few drinks and ended up making out for a bit. I’m thinking that this could be a perfect “friends with benefits” situation but wondering: How do I broach this with him? I am not looking for something serious right now.

Friends With Benefits. Casual Sex. Hooking Up. The Zipless “F*#k”.

No matter what you call it, the idea of intimacy with “no strings attached” has been around forever.

On paper it sounds great: friendly people who are able to scratch each other’s itches when they want…why not? Monkey’s do it all the time. The problem is that we’re not monkeys and our itches are often much too complicated to simply be scratched away.
When I was at university, I was going through a lengthy dating drought due mostly to sheer exhaustion from the bar scene. I found myself going out regularly with one particular friend of mine that I’d known for over six years. During this time period, we were both single so he and I would get together and drink beers, cook dinner together, dance to Macy Gray in the kitchen, play “The Legend Of Zelda” and throw in his VHS collection of Twin Peaks and pour over our respective love woes.

One night (after a few glasses of wine), I drunkenly said to him: “Hey, how come in all the years you’ve known me, you’ve never flirted with me”. He sheepishly responded by saying something to the effect of he never wanted to let that make our friendship uncomfortable. Over the next few weeks, we openly wondered:

“Should we try this out?” “What will happen if we do?” “What will happen if we don’t”.
After much hemming and hawing (I’m not even sure what hemming and hawing is but that’s for sure what we were doing), we decided to give it a go.

At first it was perfect. We were intimate friends before and now we were intimate friends who were intimate. Easy breezy. All I was thinking was: “Why didn’t we do this sooner?”
But then, things took a decidedly sour turn.

He thought I was acting distant. I thought he was acting weird. He thought I was going to leave him. I thought he was acting too clingy and dramatic.


And left in the aftermath of that blowup were just the memories of a great friendship shattered by intimacy.

It’s been over10 years since then and we still don’t speak. I have few regrets in life, but this is definitely one of them.

I’m not saying that perhaps it isn’t possible for friends to have “benefits” who are able to truly move on in separate directions once that agreement ceases to make sense. But I think the chances things going very wrong make it something worth weighing out carefully. If you really do want to try to take the ‘FWB’/’NSA’ plunge – here are three tips to keep in mind that I wish someone had told me before I tried it out.

1) Trust your gut
If you secretly are harboring hopes that this turns into a serious relationship or your spidey senses are telling you that your ‘friend’ might have those kinds of feelings for you – stop right there. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. If you value the friendship at all, don’t let intimacy make things messy.

2) Lay out the rules up front
If you feel like you’re on the same page, make sure to lay the rules out in painstaking detail. Communication is going to be of utmost importance (i.e. are you going to be dating other people or is this just until you start dating other people? Is this a random thing, or will it be regular? How will you know when it’s over?) Discuss, discuss, discuss. Hell, draw diagrams. Just make sure you’re as clear as you can be all along the way.

3) Don’t underestimate the power of chemistry
Let’s face it: We’re animals. There are certain brain chemicals released during orgasm that heightens feelings of bonding and trust between sexual partners – so even if you don’t start off particularly attached to each other – even the most clear sighted of us can find ourselves suddenly blinded by science. You have been warned.


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