The movies make it look so easy: Girl meets boy, girl and boy become friends, girl and boy begin hooking up, then girl and boy confess their love for each other.
As if life could ever be that simple. No matter what films like Friends with Benefits and No Strings Attached will try and sell you, the actual act of sleeping with a friend can get complicated.
I mean, how do you end things when one starts to lose interest? Or, most importantly, how do you even begin such a relationship?
After all, asking a person to take your friendship to the sheets isn’t necessarily simple. Unlike random hookups and one-night stands, you have to deal with rejection and thwarted feelings.
So before you take that next step, try and figure out why you even want a casual relationship. Sure, college is a time for exploring and living your life before you get tied down to a job, spouse, 401K and a dog named Skip. But not all people are built for such a relationship. Intuition can get foggy, feelings can get hurt — friends with benefits are not for the faint of heart.
If you’re down for the risk then there are loads of options out there for the Lothario/a seeking a friendly counterpart. Just make sure that you choose the option that best fits into your life and relationship, as there’s nothing worse than messing things up with a friend.
Some people go straight for the jugular and are able to ask their wannabe partners with a completely straight face if they’re down for a casual relationship.
Take the case of Subject A: Asked by an acquaintance if she wanted to be friends with benefits, Subject A agreed and the two enjoyed a rather fulfilling sexual relationship.
Subject A’s situation worked out in her favor, mostly because her sex buddy was someone she wasn’t necessarily best friends wit. Instead, he was someone with whom she enjoyed a friendly relationship.
You should definitely not ask a good friend out of the blue if they want to be purely sex buddies — it’s basically a slap in the face to the foundation of the actual friendship you two have built over time.
As Subject A said, “It was great while it lasted, because no one developed feelings or was hurt.” The plus was that her beau was a guy that she trusted, but didn’t have actual romantic feelings for, so the relationship was able to end on good terms.
Just make sure that intentions are clear: This is strictly a hookup situation. Try to keep things casual with such a partner. Don’t ask them out for coffee or dinner unless you actually have feelings for them. Try not to text them during daylight unless it’s a pertinent academic question.
If feelings begin to form, make sure you tell the other person as soon as possible. There’s nothing worse than offering yourself as a sacrifice to the god of heartbreak and false hope, so it’s better to rip off the Band-Aid and see what happens.
In the event that you find yourself off campus for a bit of worldly travel — and you find yourself a bit lonely — try to stay clear of any red light districts and instead find a friendly (and sexual) companion.
In Subject B’s case, traveling back home for the summer meant some fun in the sun with no strings attached. According to him, a hookup with a work colleague just happened one night, and the sexual relationship continued throughout the summer.
The word “relationship” was never spoken, probably because the two pretty much knew that they weren’t in it for the long run. Sometimes a discussion never needs to happen for you two to be on the same page.
Subject B was a huge fan of the friends with benefits dynamic. “If you play your cards right [these relationships] can be a lot of fun,” he said.
Still, there have been instances of students falling in love abroad and somehow managing to continue the relationship, even with an ocean between them. Congratulations, sincerely. But it’s rare that such a miracle could happen, so it’s better to stick on the safe side and have a few months of fun instead of setting yourself up for heartbreak.
But when involved parties are actually decent friends, different rules apply. Chances are that the two have been fighting sexual chemistry for a while, and, thanks to a heavy chug of liquid courage, have finally sealed the deal.
This is where it gets risky. Even though you might want a casual hookup relationship with the friend, don’t tell him or her that right off the bat. There’s always the chance that the other person actually has feelings for you based on the friendship, and by shunning those feelings you’ll only hurt him or her.
Subject C was a freshman when she met her current boyfriend. The two weren’t ready to make things “official,” so they continued hooking up for seven months.
And though the two are happily together now, Subject C says that she was ready to be his girlfriend around four months in, and she made it known. But, according to her, “He was really ‘fratty’ about it and would say he still wasn’t ready. When he said that, it almost made me feel used.”
Eventually, Subject C’s beau got his act together and realized that he wanted to be with her. If you personally realize that you don’t want to date the person you are casually hooking up with, however, and he or she is obviously developing feelings, then put the kibosh on it immediately.
Apparently, the best relationships come from being friends first. And having a friend with benefits is one heck of a bridge to cross over to happily ever after.
Sheridan Watson is a junior majoring in critical studies. Her column “Lovegame” runs Thursdays.