Q: I’ve just started a “friends with benefits” thing with somebody, but I think I’m maybe starting to develop feelings for them. Like, I still don’t want a relationship or anything, but I get butterflies when they text me and I feel like we’re getting pretty affectionate when we’re together. Should I cut things off?
Good question! Honestly, only you know if you should cut things off. But we will say that having some feelings for the person you’re hooking up with is not necessarily a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean that you’re doing Friends With Benefits (FWBs) wrong!
For people not familiar, FWB relationships are usually between people who want to have sex but don’t want to deal with the things that come with a more involved relationship (spending lots of time together, meeting friends/family, etc.) — they want to keep things casual. And that’s totally great! But just because a relationship is supposed to be casual doesn’t mean that people don’t or shouldn’t have some kinds of feelings for each other.
Like, it’s called FRIENDS With Benefits for a reason. People tend to want to hook up with people that they’re attracted to. And even if the relationship is *just* for sex, it’s totally not a bad thing to like this person. (Like, is it so bad if you like the people you’re getting intimate and sexy with?) Casual doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy being together, or don’t feel close or romantic sometimes. All that stuff is totally natural! It just means you have some limits in place on how you want the relationship to impact your life. But you can feel however you want about the person. You can totally like each other and be friends.
If you’re worried about falling for the person, you can always set up some rules to keep things from becoming too romantic. You can try things like:
You can also renegotiate these boundaries anytime. If sometimes you’re not feeling so worried about catching feelings, then maybe you can see each other more often or allow for cuddling (because that stuff can be nice, even if you’re not in a “Relationship”). If you’re feeling too confused about your emotions for the other person, then it’s totally cool to back off a bit and not be in touch for a while.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that you can’t always totally control how you feel. Lots of people go into FWBs because they don’t want to deal with the drama or pain that can come with a big break up, but things happen. People can get attached to each other, even if they’re not bf/gf/partners/whatever. One thing to think about is that if you’re at the point where you’re worried that you’ve got feelings for the person, cutting things off is probably going to be a bit emotionally complicated already. Some people have the instinct of cutting it off before it gets more serious. Some people just ride it out but still keep to the boundaries they’ve set up for the relationship, and then just see what happens. There’s no one way to deal with it, so whatever works for you is worth trying.
In general, though, people get into FWBs because they’re supposed to be fun and low stress. It’s okay if you feel a little thrill when they text you, or if you’re affectionate or attentive when you’re together. The important thing is that you both respect each other and the boundaries of the relationship. If that’s happening, then maybe you can trust that you’ll both handle and address feelings that come up together.
If you have questions about this topic, feel free to contact one of our peer educators. [Link]
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