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FWB Dating: How to Make a Casual Relationship Work

A couple who are fwb dating, making out in the corner of an outdoor party.

Friends With Benefits (FWB dating) or a “situationship” are both terms for a no strings attached/hookup form of dating. There are a lot of grey areas when it comes to dating vs. hooking up vs. being in a committed relationship, and a lot of different ways to be FWB.

The most common reason people indulge in being friends with benefits is to enjoy the advantages of having regular sex with someone you know and trust (not a complete stranger) without the complications of a committed relationship.

Here are a few things you should know about being Friends With Benefits before diving in:

You can have your cake and eat it too.
In an FWB situation, there are no strings attached. This means you’re free to come and go as you wish and vice versa. You and this unique partner can do what you both want without worrying about feelings getting deeply involved. You’re single and can still do single stuff.

You also don’t have to think about the insecurities you may have had in previous relationships. Cheating, lying, or commitment shouldn’t be something to stress over. You can have the friend aspect that you may want, and the intimacy that comes with that, because FWB allows you to be friends with a little more on the side. Intimacy is all you both want—nothing more. There aren’t any expectations, since you two are just having fun.

But watch out, FWB can easily turn into friends with drama. 
This dating style can sometimes end up being messier than it was intended to be, especially if you’re being secretive about your FWB situation rather than being private. Being private about your situation can be a good thing—it means that other people know that you’re together, so you’re not sneaking around. You just don’t broadcast all the highs and lows of your dating situation. Secrecy, on the other hand, is when two people are together in some way but decide to hide it for fear of being judged or exposed.

Knowing when to stop being FWB can get tricky.
Most people usually don’t have a calendar or a timeline of when they don’t want to be FWB anymore. Once your goals and feelings begin to change, being FWB can complicate things when one or both of you start to have different needs.

As a result, things can get one-sided fast. One partner could be gaining feelings or doing more of the work in the relationship. With these kinds of relationships, it’s harder for both partners to be on an even level. You are not together, and there are no real titles for what you’re doing or who you are with each other. That’s like going to the grocery store and getting everything that you need but deciding not to call it grocery shopping.

Boundaries make FWB work. 
You need to establish a set of boundaries, even for a FWB relationship. Especially with a FWB relationship! Make it clear what you want and expect. It sets a balance between pleasing yourself and pleasing the other person. You set the standard for how other people treat you, rather than just having high expectations that they will do the “right” thing.

For example, one person might decide to appear as they are in a relationship on social media while the other may choose to hide that person from social media. You can avoid this disconnect by having a set of rules so that you’re both on the same page. (ie. no social media posting about each other or no conversations among each other about a future relationship).

Just like all relationships, being FWB has its ups and downs. You’re not fully invested, but you’re also not fully free either. And because it’s a decision made by both people, either partner has the freedom to walk out the door whenever they please.

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