Relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein LCSW and I often counsel women who are stuck in unfulfilling relationships. Despite their best efforts to push, cajole, or demand progress, their relationship remains stagnant. More often than not, these women are dating emotionally unavailable partners. One type of emotionally unavailable partner is a “friend with benefits” (hereinafter FWB).
An FWB is a sexual partner who wants gratification without strings attached. To be clear, these two people aren’t dating, going to dinner, or meeting each other’s friends or family. They do not provide emotional support to one another. The only thing on the table is sex. And it comes without the expectation of monogamy.
While an FWB situation can be mutually satisfying, this is the exception rather than the rule. As a relationship therapist with 20 years’ experience, Aimee attests that women in these dynamics often suffer tremendous emotional trauma:
“There is an enormous divide between intellect and emotion. While many women think they are capable of being 'cool,' they're often surprised when deep feelings develop. Sex releases oxytocin — the body’s love drug. When oxytocin is released, a woman will feel emotionally bonded to her sexual partner. Many women begin to find themselves overwrought by unrequited infatuation.”
At School of Love NYC, we are sex-positive. If you’re currently in an FWB situation and it’s working well for you, then by all means, enjoy yourself. However, if any of the below criteria apply to you, we suggest you rethink your strategy to prioritize your emotional needs: