Love -- who needs it? According to Lifehacker reader Polly, a 'friends-with-benefits' arrangement leads to more fun, less heartache and better sex. But it can also be an unpredictable minefield that needs to be navigated with extreme caution. Rule #1: never fall in love . . .
Sex picture from Shutterstock
My name is Polly and I'm a big believer in the concept of sex buddies. Some people prefer the phrase 'f*ck buddy' while others go with 'friends-with-benefits'. Whatever you call it, it amounts to the same thing -- a trusted acquaintance with whom you engage in no-strings-attached sex.
Finding a willing and able sex buddy is only part of the challenge though. If you don't set proper boundaries it can actually be more volatile and unpredictable than a proper relationship (and this is coming from a fiery Italian).
I've therefore decided to share my experiences in the hope that it will help you to stay happy, healthy and sexually satisfied with the casual partner of your choice. I've also included the eight main rules that I've learnt along the way.
But first, let me give you some background information so you know where I'm coming from. (Excuse the pun.)
How I fell into it
I was involved in a very serious relationship straight out of high school which lasted for almost ten years. We moved into an apartment together, we matured as adults together and it was a very big, important chunk of my life.
When the relationship ended, I didn't want a new boyfriend straight away and I definitely wasn't ready to fall in love again. I needed time to heal and I also wanted to enjoy being single for a while.
But like the vast majority of us, I still had sexual needs which suddenly weren't being fulfilled. This is clearly unacceptable.
I stumbled into my first sex buddy relationship almost by accident: I walked into a bank and he was working there as a teller. Because of the setting, he had to be professional but there was this playful flirtation underneath that I decided to take and run with.
He gradually started to switch our talk from professional to personal and I found his confidence very attractive. But at the same time, he was still there to serve me as a customer so I felt in control and could steer the conversation in the directions I wanted.
We ended up exchanging numbers and we both knew from the beginning that we weren't looking for anything exclusive. Once I felt I could trust him, we started meeting up for sex every chance we could get. And it was great… for a while.
Learning the rules
Sex picture from Shutterstock
Because it was the very first time I'd done anything like this I didn't know the dos and don'ts. I eventually broke Rule Number 1: "never fall for your sex buddy."
By the time I became emotionally attached to him we were both involved in other casual relationships, which made things even more complicated. As you can imagine, it got quite messy. I've since learned that you can't really "upgrade" a f*ck buddy into a boyfriend -- if they were interested in something more they wouldn't be in this kind of relationship in the first place. It might happen in movies but it hardly ever happens in real life.
At the end of the day, you're better off just being buddies (hence the phrase "f*ck buddy"). Don't confuse the situation by acting like a romantic couple. Instead, treat them like a friend who you just happen to have sex with. This will make things much easier.
Which brings us to Rule Number 2: keep it simple. Don't obsess over what they're doing/thinking and refrain from constantly talking about your emotions. You'll just suck the fun out and turn it into a bad relationship. Instead, keep it light-hearted.
Rule Number 3 is "keep them separate". I personally would never invite my sex buddy to hang out with my friends or family -- that's too close to being a proper couple and can lead to annoying gossip and speculation. Likewise, you shouldn't talk too much about your social life with your sex buddy; it's better to keep some separation between the two. Basically, treat them like a colleague that you're really friendly with.
Rule Number 4 is "don't ask, don't tell". One of the advantages of friends-with-benefits is that the relationship isn't exclusive -- you're free to pursue and taste other fruits. However, we all have egos and insecurities, so it’s better to keep these outside conquests to yourself. In short, don't rub it under the other person's nose if you're having sex with someone else. Show some tact and etiquette.
Rule Number 5 is "my house, my rules." It's nice when your f*ck buddy invites you over for the night -- but you shouldn't expect it. If you assume you're staying and they ask you to leave things can turn sour very quickly. If you do stay the night, it should happen naturally. Don't make things awkward by turning it into an issue.
That said, the guy should definitely offer to walk or drive the girl home to ensure she got there safely. Likewise, if you ring up the girl for a booty call in the middle of the night, you should arrange a taxi for her. Little things like this will help to keep her happy and the arrangement will continue to flourish. The requests to meet up shouldn't all come from one person either -- you should both be putting in the effort to show you care. This falls under Rule Number 6: "respect your sex buddy". A little respect goes a long way!
Even after a sex buddy arrangement has been established, it can still be pretty awkward to just ring up and request sex (especially if the other person knocks you back for whatever reason). So when I feel like having sex, I'll usually invite him over "for drinks" or "a bite to eat". We both know what I'm really asking for but it takes the pressure off and makes it sound more casual. This is Rule Number 7: "learn and use double-speak!"
Rule Number 8 is arguably the most important: "always be great in bed". You have to click sexually and have that immediate attraction; otherwise what's the point? But it's more than just good sex: a successful sex buddy relationship requires constant sexual tension and passion. You need to make my knees feel weak and orgasms are 100% mandatory.
Obviously, everyone is different and there will be all kinds of different rules that are unique to each relationship, but these are the main ones that it pays to be aware of.
Getting started (and knowing when to pull the plug)
One of the trickiest things about starting a sex buddy relationship is ensuring you're both on the same page. Obviously, you don't just walk up to a table, tap someone on the shoulder and say "okay, we're going to be f*ck buddies." Instead, you need to establish a rapport with someone you get along with and then work up to it.
It's essential to let them know as soon as possible that you’re not looking for commitment. You need to make that crystal-clear from the beginning or they might get confused about where the relationship is going.
Ending things is usually simpler: If you're doing it right and nobody gets emotionally invested, your sex-buddy relationship should die a natural death. You'll either get bored, find someone else or decide you want to move your life to a different level.
Have your own sex buddy advice? We're all ears (and other orifices) in the comments.