Beer without alcohol, Coca-Cola without sugar, and a relationship without obligations. Do those things taste the same as alcoholic beer, sugary coke, and an obligation-filled relationship? Based on their personality types, preferences, and previous experiences, some people choose to be in a relationship that is strictly sexual. It’s about having more fun and less drama. Sex without love is an extreme sport, and there’s not a single game in which your heart should get any points.
One type of casual relationship that has become very popular over the last decade is an arrangement called “friends with benefits.” A friend with benefits is not a friend who gives you money. It is not a friend who buys you presents and takes you out to dinner. It is a friend who offers you sex… emotionless but phenomenal sex. [Read: How to finally find the casual sex buddy of your dreams]
This combination is more about being in a relationship with rules than being in relationship with one another. Even more, it’s about having a relationship with sex. It is more than friendship, less than a relationship, and it lands you somewhere in the middle of… nowhere.
16 things that happen when you’re stuck as friends with benefits
To survive in the friends with benefits zone, you have to be armed with cold reasoning as a strong shield to protect you from any romantic feelings. But what happens when you involuntarily let your guard down and allow emotions in? What does it feel like when the direction you’ve chosen turns out to be quite disorienting? You are still in your friend zone, but far from your comfort zone and without a compass.
#1 Lightheadedness turns into a headache. The initial thrill of no-strings-attached sex eventually wears off, and you start to think about what’s missing in your life. When the idea of needing something more in a relationship starts weighing you down, you start to wonder if your friend with benefits can become a potential mate due to the strong foundation of your friendship, or if you’re better off with a clean slate and someone new. [Read: How to start a friends with benefits relationship]
#2 You want to talk about being something more, but you can’t. All cards should be on the table, but when the uncomfortable topic is out there, you want to hide under the table. It is crucial to stay honest. Still, sometimes it seems like there is a Bermuda Triangle between your heart, your brain, and your mouth. You have the words and intentions, but you’re afraid of pushing your partner away. [Read: 10 definite signs it’s time for the relationship talk]
#3 There is a constant danger of crossing settled boundaries. In a perfect world, having sex with your friend would be like travelling to another country: it is new territory, there are some boundaries and rules you need to respect, but once you come back home, you have no obligations toward the foreign country. But this is not a perfect world, and your friend is not a foreigner. Even though you are willing to accept the distance, you may have brought your emotional passport with you. [Read: 25 rules of being friends with benefits]
#4 You are thirsty for drunk texting. Where do you see yourself after ten vodka shots? If you see yourself writing out an emotional novella of a text, detailing all your pent up feelings, curb the urge to send it! It’s bad enough to not be sure of where you stand in your relationship, but it’s even worse if you’re both lost and drunk. Sober up, think it over, and ask yourself if it’s the right time to have an “exclusivity” conversation.
#5 Whatever the occasion, the only gift you’ll be getting is an orgasm. It could be the anniversary of the first time you hopped into bed together, or it might even be your birthday. But in place of a romantic date or a thoughtful gift, you get a tumble between the sheets that culminates in a shared climax. It’s hard to complain in the post-sex haze, but the emptiness of emotionless sex can start to feel stifling. [Read: 10 things your friend with benefits does that look like love]
#6 It’s awkward when you have to act like you don’t have “benefits” in your friendship. You might hang out with the same group of people, and some of them might not fully understand your relationship. You can be sitting across from each other, imagining each other naked, but you can’t get cozy with one another due to the lack of romance in your arrangement and its secretive nature.
#7 You would love to spoon, but they never sleep over. In a parallel universe, you’d be sleeping parallel to each other. In this universe, you are daydreaming about them sleeping next to you, but you wake up alone and missing your big spoon. There may be times when you end up spooning *albeit accidentally*, but those times feel few and far between.
#8 You miss hugging and cuddling. In the world of casual relationships and emotionless sex, cuddling is akin to trying to cross the line from friends to partners. As great as the sex is, it’s easy to miss the intimacy of holding each other without the need to take your clothes off.
#9 You forget you are actually single. When you have a friend with benefits, you miss some signals from other singles around you. Your mind is wrapped up in the security of always having someone you know you can sleep with, but the promise of sex blinds you to the promise of something more from someone else. [Read: How to properly break up with a friend with benefits]
#10 After a while, even mind-blowing sex can’t fill the void. The first rule of friends with benefits club is: don’t expect anything. Of course, your heart is a rebel. Suddenly, the cheesy dates and lame little terms of endearment no longer seem so cheesy or lame, to the point where you’d give up a night of passion for a romantic night in.
#11 The ultimate bane of being friends with benefits: you start falling in love. At the beginning, you both shunned romantic feelings. But now, you wish you hadn’t been so hasty to drive the possibility of a real relationship away. You’re stuck with a dilemma: go back on your word and admit that you’ve fallen for your friend, or keep up the pretense just to keep them around.
#12 It is difficult to learn not to take NO personally. You misinterpret I don’t want a relationship as I don’t want relationship with you. It’s not you, it’s what you agreed to. This is not a platform for building self-confidence. If your self-esteem plummets because of the rejection ingrained in this situation, you need to walk away.
#13 Being stuck in the friend with benefits zone makes you feel used or jealous. You don’t expect to feel this way–it just happens when you don’t prepare yourself for it. Relationship status update? “My other half may be getting romantic with someone else, while I can only stay in his bed and out of his heart.”
#14 There is pressure to not feel any pressure. If only they could somehow call me all the time… but also leave me alone all the time. You are struggling to find a balance between being a great partner and not being too invested. One benefit of being friends with benefits is that you’re free from the pressure of emotional attachment, but the lack of emotions in your arrangement can start to wear you down.
#15 You can lose a dear friend. They used to be a good friend who gave you what you wanted, but now that you want something more, you see them as selfish and stubborn. You know they really aren’t, but you feel frustrated that they don’t want the same things as you. That’s where the rift starts to form, and your dissatisfaction with your arrangement will eventually push you even further apart.
#16 Being stuck in the friends with benefits zone can be depressing. Reluctance makes you angry. You know it’s not fair to take it out on them, so you start directing anger at yourself. The saddest part about being depressed in the friends with benefits zone is that you have to pretend that nothing’s wrong.
This is what happens when you replace platonic love with a platonic f*ck. Friends with benefits often find themselves in a paradox of having implicit communication about their explicit relationship. It becomes a silent pact for which no one reads the terms and agreements.
[Read: Your ultimate guide to surviving the hookup culture]
Think long and hard before you decide to become a friend with benefits, because there is a possibility you may end up without benefits, without a relationship, and without a friend.
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