So, you’ve found yourself with a friend with benefits.
I say “found yourself” in regard to friends with benefits here not just because I have been getting into pop psychology lately (though I have, and I will be happy to tell you everything I know about the rejuvenating powers of guided meditation!), but because, if you are like most people, I suspect you did not enter this relationship (well, non-relationship) with a specific goal in mind. This is what happens to everyone, right? Instead of the meticulously pre-planned arrangement that movies like Friends With Benefits and No Strings Attached tend to portray, it’s more likely that this friends with benefits situation just sort of…happened. Like, you hooked up with this person once, and you both liked it, so you did it again. And again. And again, until it became a nebulous sort-of thing that has no definition, really, except for the fact that it keeps happening. Which is great! Especially if you are into nebulous sort-of things that never really end because they never really started.
If not, however, most friends with benefits arrangements generally tend to get to a point in which they need some definition–as in, like, a clear-cut answer as to whether you should take things to the next level or end them altogether. Here are some signs that it might be time to end it:
You Freak Out If You Think About Them Hooking Up With Someone ElseA tiny bit of jealousy is normal in a friends with benefits situation. But if it's gotten to the point where you conjure up images of them hooking up with other people just to get a rise out of yourself, or assume that they're getting with the girl you saw them have, like, a ten-second conversation with, this is...not great. Take a deep breath, drink some water, and try to figure out if the jealousy is due to over-possessiveness or catching feelings--depending on the answer, you can talk about cutting it off completely or trying to be in a more exclusive relationship. Image source: iStock
They're Jealous Of You But Won't CommitSince a friends with benefits arrangement is, by nature, generally not exclusive, it's not absurd to assume that you can both hook up with other people if you want to. But perhaps you're following suit with this arrangement--but whenever you get with someone else (or even just, like, text someone else), they get super mad. In response, you might suggest that you make things more serious--but then, they balk and maintain that they don't want anything serious right now. Sound familiar? Basically, they want you to be all theirs, but they also want to be free to hook up with other people. This, obviously, is not fair at all, and if it's the case for you, break things off with them ASAP. Image source: iStock
You've Been LurkingOr, to be more precise, you've been lurking--AKA stalking their entire internet presence--and you do not like what you've uncovered. Like, you sidle over to check out the tweets they've liked, or Instas they've double-tapped, or photos they're tagged in, and each interaction they have with another girl feels like a tiny stab in your heart. Lurking in and of itself isn't necessarily bad (it's a natural thing to do when you're bored, so you shouldn't feel guilty about doing it every now and then) but if lurking your FWB causes you intense jealousy or literal physical pain, this could be a sign that you're in too deep. Image source: iStock
Only One Of You Is In ControlDoes one of you control the hookups, your texting conversations, and your hangouts, and the other is just expected to...go along with it? If so, this relationship is a lot of things, but it certainly isn't a friendship--anything that's based solely on one person's terms isn't great for anyone. So, if you're feeling a little uneasy about your friends with benefits situation, and you're not really sure why, think about who's demonstrated the most control throughout--if it's vastly disproportionate, and you feel like you're lacking agency, that's not great. Image source: iStock
Non-Dating Behavior Annoys YouI'm pretty against booty call behavior in general--like, even if a relationship isn't clearly defined, it's not exactly courteous to only send texts to someone past midnight--but if it works for you, it works for you. But if they're consistently doing things like ignoring you all day but sending a late-night "wyd" to you, and you're consistently upset by it (but still continue to answer every one of their late-night texts), this is...not ideal. It's not fun to be used. If you've demonstrated that you care about them and they continue to only text you when they want to hook up, this is a sign that they're taking advantage of you. Image source: iStock
You Define The Relationship DifferentlyLike, say, you think of the relationship as purely hookup-based, but they've introduced you to people as their girlfriend. This is an obvious example of relationship discord, but could be a little less clear-cut, too--maybe you think that being friends with benefits means that you stay exclusive, you just don't put labels on things, but they assume it means they can hook up with anyone. Or they think they should text you a lot, but you'd prefer to keep the communication minimal. None of these beliefs are wrong! You just need to talk about them to see if you can get on the same page. If not, it might be time to end things. Image source: iStock
You're Not Feeling It AnymoreI mean, duh. This should be a no-brainer, but sometimes it can be hard to cut things off with someone if you genuinely do like hanging out with them, but don't really feel motivated to hook up with them anymore. You're better off in the long run, however, if you end things as soon as you feel like taking hookups off the table. This way, you can see if they want to go back to being just friends. This isn't a guarantee, since hooking up can make things complicated with friends, but hopefully they'll be able to go back to being regular friends with you, too. Image source: iStock
Have you ever had a friends with benefits situation? Do you have any advice? Let us know in the comments!