THERE WAS ONCE a time when you and your Psych 101 classmate could go from hitting the books to hitting the sheets without having to define “where this is going.” But if you’re older, somewhat wiser, and still not ready for commitment, what’s a guy to do?
“Post-college you may still have female friends who really want to get laid but have a hard time finding a guy they can trust with whom to have that relationship,” says relationship expert Natasha Burton, author of 101 Quizzes for Couples. So, if she’s got what you need, but she says she’s just a friend, there may be hope for you yet.
Still, there are many, many ways a “friends with benefits” relationship can quickly turn into a disastrous, friendship-ending fiasco. Check out these tips on how to make sure everyone is satisfied—and nobody gets hurt:
1. Choose wisely
You may already have an idea of which of your gal pals could be game to be friends with benefits. But, this isn’t entirely no-strings sex: The string is your friendship. “Be careful not to create a FWB relationship with a girl who has a crush on you,” Burton says. “Even if she agrees to the terms, she may hope that you’ll eventually want a relationship with her.”
Also, avoid family friends and co-workers. You don’t want to make family functions awkward or tarnish your reputation at work. “Women who are open about their sexuality are likely the best bets for FWB scenarios,” says Good Vibrations sexologist Carol Queen, Ph.D. “They can separate physical from romantic attachment.”
2. Know the deal
A match.com study showed that FWB relationships have been on an upward trend over the past few years. But while these types of relationships are common, they usually don’t last. Further results showed that 44% of FWB situations blossom into real relationships. On the other hand, a Michigan State University study found that 26% of FWBs don’t even stay friends. And check jealousy at the door: San Jose State University researchers reported that 50% of FWB tandems fizzle because one person finds someone else.
3. Set guidelines—and stick to them
You both need to be honest about how you’re feeling to avoid miscommunication. “Communication is key, even when you feel awkward,” stresses Burton. “Set rules that work for exclusivity and anything else, but a) agree to them, and b) stick to them.” The same San Jose State study found that 15% of FWB setups turn sour when feelings develop. “The point is to have fun, and not get attached,” Burton says. “Feelings won’t go away, they’ll get stronger.”