5 Signs Your Friends With Benefits Relationship Isn't Working

mbg Contributor By Monica Parikh
mbg Contributor
Monica Parikh is a former attorney turned dating coach. She is the founder of School of Love NYC, where she teaches classes on breakup recovery, social-emotional skills, and relationship psychology. She has been featured on Bustle, Man Repeller, Marie Claire, and others.

A friends with benefits relationship is a relationship where two people are friends who also have sex. It can be a healthy, mutually satisfying way to connect with someone, enjoy physical intimacy, and have fun with a friend without romantic connotations.

However, many people can misunderstand what it means to be friends with benefits (FWB), thinking it involves absolutely no responsibility or care for the other person or thinking that it's a stepping stone to a romantic relationship. That's not what this type of relationship is about, and these misconceptions can lead people to getting hurt in these FWB situations.

If any of the below criteria apply to you, your FWB relationship is probably not working and should be ended.

1. You want them to be your boyfriend or girlfriend.

Some people enter an FWB situation hoping the relationship will turn monogamous over time. This rarely occurs. If you're unhappy with the casual nature of the relationship but hope that he’ll change his mind, your best bet is to exit this relationship.

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2. The sex isn't very good.

This arrangement is all about sex, so if it’s mediocre, what is the point?

Good sex is dependent upon a variety of factors — chemistry, compatibility, communication, and a mutual desire to receive and give pleasure. If you aren't sure, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you enjoying the sex?
  • Do you feel safe and uninhibited?
  • Is your partner interested in your comfort and pleasure?

If you’re answering “no” to the majority of these questions, pay attention. Too many people use sex to fill an emotional need, including the desire to feel connected and attractive. Unfortunately, bad sex coupled with a lack of intimacy might very well make you feel worse than before the encounter.

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3. They're not very nice to you.

Even in a no-strings relationship, you should expect kindness and respect. All too often, people accept shabby treatment because they don't feel worthy of more.

Are you:

  • Feeling belittled and ignored either before, during, or after the act of sex?
  • Engaging in behavior outside your comfort zone?
  • Fearful of expressing boundaries?

A “yes” to any of the foregoing is cause for alarm. Take a breather. Pay attention to how you're feeling. Your emotional integrity matters.

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4. You're doing it mostly because all your friends are, too.

Casual sex outside of a relationship is not for everyone. Despite the fact that many of your friends are doing it, you might still feel uncomfortable. Being friends with benefits requires real self-awareness, empathy, and the ability to communicate openly with your partner. It also requires a relationship where you earnestly don't have romantic feelings for your partner.

Know yourself. If you feel like crying after each encounter or wanting more commitment, talk to your partner and let them know how you're feeling. You may need to disengage if you're developing romantic feelings or feeling uncomfortable with sex without romance.

5. You're doing it to fill a void.

Some people hang out with a casual partner, even when they want something more serious, because they hate being alone. If you're using a friends with benefits relationship as a fill-in for something more committed, you may find yourself feeling more saddened than comforted by your friend's company.

Having a friend with benefits also doesn't substitute for having rock-solid self-confidence and self-worth, regardless of your relationship status or who you're sleeping with.

Sometimes you need to let go of people and situations that are unfulfilling so you can make space in your life for what you're really looking for and what you really need.

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Monica Parikh
Monica Parikh
Monica Parikh is a former attorney turned dating coach currently residing in New York City. She...
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Monica Parikh
Monica Parikh
Monica Parikh is a former attorney turned dating coach currently...
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