I’m not an expert on love but I am endlessly conducting failed experiments on sex, dating and the best kind of biscuits to fix a broken heart. When it comes to maintaining a friend with benefits I think I’m pretty close to a major scientific break through.
Here are my findings:
Don’t Fuck With Your Friends
Your ideal FWB is someone you quite like and have stuff in common with, but has one massive, fuck off, unignorable flaw. For example, their favourite book is Atlas Shrugged. Or they don’t know the difference between ‘to’ and ‘too’. Or they wear a celebrity perfume. Something that won’t stop you wanting to bone them but pretty much guarantees that you won’t fall in love with them. Your friends’ friends are usually the best hook up source because they have a built in character reference (your mate) and there’s a good chance that you’ll have a decent amount of chemistry with them. Make sure your friend is not actually looking for a husband/wife for the person they’re setting you up with or secretly in love with them. That can only end well if you’re an aspiring scriptwriter gathering ideas for a revival of Sunset Beach. It’s best to avoid shagging people who are your actual friends. If you have set up an ‘arrangement’ with a mate and not ended up dating, falling for each other, breaking up and spending the subsequent six months walking around like sad drunk zombies I would LOVE to know how it’s done. (It’s not for me. It’s for my, er, friend.)
Don’t Be Shy
When you’re dating someone you really like, the magic doesn’t always happen straight away. You can spend hours obsessing over lighting, lingerie choices and how to hold your stomach in at different angles, because if you hope it’s going to go somewhere then you want to maintain the illusion that you’re perfect for as long as possible. And that can lead to bad things like forgetting to actually enjoy yourself. The whole point of having an FWB is that you don’t care what your “friend” thinks of your Spiderman duvet cover or Hello Kitty knickers. There is no need to check that you’ve removed your vibrator from under the pillow or that there are no empty packets of Monster Munch under the bed. You’re not there for a long time, you’re there for a good time, and as long as everyone is happy and consenting than you can do whatever the hell you want. If you want to be buggered with a spirit level by someone wearing an Ann Widdecombe mask you damn well ask for it. And if the other person isn’t up for that you can politely call it a day with your heart and genitals in tact.
Fall In Love. With Someone Else
Unless you have a heart of asbestos or you’re the kind of idiot determined to resist all social conditioning in order to prove a point about your own coolness, you probably like being in love. Being in love is ace. Quite a few people think having an FWB is like a hassle free relationship - they want the good bit of love (hugs, holidays and hook ups) without having to deal with what happens when their partner is having a crappy time at work or their parents get sick. When you’re regularly sleeping with someone and there’s absolutely no-one else on the horizon, you’re going to start fantasising about cooking dinner together and going for walks in the park and winning shit prizes on Hook-A-Duck at suburban fun fairs. The best way to nip this in the bud is to be a little bit in love with someone else. Exes are good, as are people in the office that you like but you’re past the point of doing anything about it. Celebs will work if you’re really stretched. Let your friend know - don’t say “I’m fucking you but I’m not in love with you because you are inherently unloveable and I’d be with Laura from Accounts if it wasn’t for her bastard husband John.” Better to go for something like “I really fancy you but I’m into someone else in a doomed sort of way and I can’t be in a proper relationship for a long time because I’m a bit of a mess.” It’s probably true.
Maintain A Physical As Well As An Emotional Distance
It’s obvious, but in a world where people with nut allergies eat Nutella from serving spoons and iron their shirts after they have put them on, there is no harm in stating the obvious. DO NOT HAVE SEX WITH YOUR NEIGHBOURS OR HOUSEMATES. When it all blows up in your sorry face you might have a story worth flogging to Take a Break but you’ll have to involve spouses, small animals and unborn children in order to make that worth your financial while. You don’t want your friend to be near enough to take in parcels for you or to start turning up in the same bars as you. Unless you want to bump into them when you’re out and have to introduce them to your friends and colleagues as your slampiece.
Don’t Bond When You’re Not Boning
If your trips to the bedroom are interspersed with trips to Wagamama and the zoo, you are not fuck buddies, you are dating. Both parties might try to claim that you’re ‘just hanging out’ but every meal you eat together that doesn’t involve Domino’s and a duvet brings you closer to detonating the bomb of potential relationship doom. Don’t see your FWB more than once a week, don’t be Facebook friends, don’t follow each other on Twitter and don’t text each other stupid jokes you read on Popbitch. If you must, you can add each other on Google + on the condition that you make a specific sex circle and keep them separate from everyone else. (Also, don’t accidentally add your Mum to the Sex circle.)
An FWB is not a long term solution for horny commitment phobes. Nor is it an alternative to, ahem, spunking all your money on Kleenex and Duracel. But having a regular hook up is nicer than haunting your local Oceana and hopefully pawing the people who fall out of it at 4AM. Even though you won’t be boffing your BFF, you need to think of your FWB as you would a proper mate. Treat them with respect. When you’re ready to move back to the world of cuddles and sofas and stand up fights in Ikea, let them know. And keep in touch. The next one might not be The One, and if it doesn’t work out you’re going to need a good friend.