Mar 18 2015 4:30pm

Why Can’t We Be Friends (With Benefits): A Guide to Friends with Benefits

Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha YoungIn my quest to help all H&H readers out with all their needs, I’ve come up with some helpful advice on “Friends with Benefits” (for street cred, I’m using the acronym FWB). In a nutshell, FWB is when two friends embark upon some kind of mutually fulfilling sexual arrangement without any expectation of a romantic relationship.  It’s all the sweetness of the “friends to lovers” trope with the added sexiness of a no strings attached carnal arrangement.

Some of you may be adventurous enough to consider a practical application of these tips out in the field.  In which case, I wish you the best of luck. But for the more timid, this guide can merely serve as a taste of the zeitgeist, giving you some helpful recommendations on what to read or watch if you want more of the FWB trope. Either way, this post is intended to offer you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about FWB but were too afraid to ask.

1.    It changes the way that friends see each other

In Samantha Young’s Before Jamaica Lane, Liv makes sure to think of her friend Nate in strictly platonic terms:

“Nate would never see me in a sexual way, so there was no point in even allowing my thoughts to go there. I think I knew more about the real Nate than most people did, so it wasn’t hard to put him in the friend zone.”

As it turns out, there’s a little bit of territory in the friendzone that leaves space for friends with benefits.  Soon, Liv is thinking very non-platonic thoughts, “Nate was all sex and charisma”.  Before long, the two are sexing everywhere like monkeys.

In Gina L. Maxwell’s Tempting Her Best Friend, Aly is secretly in love with her friend Dillon when the two decide they will scratch each other’s itches.  The serious heat between these two opens up Dillon’s eyes and helps him realize that he is totally into Aly.

2.    It can be really really hot

In Jaci Burton’s Changing the Game, sports agent Liz ends up in a FWB situation with pro baseball player Gavin Riley.  Not only is the cover of the book lickable, but the sex is explicit and steamy—and it’s sex with a purpose, it’s how we start to feel the connection between the characters. Seriously, with a friend that hot, who wouldn’t want to benefit?

In No Strings Attached, starring Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman, the sex is so hot that Adam presents Emma with a gift, a balloon with Congrats emblazoned across it.

Emma: “Congrats? For what, having sex with you?”

Adam: “Yeah. You did a good job, so I…. I thought you deserved a balloon.”

Hot. And who doesn’t love a post-coital gift?

3. When you can’t find a friend, consider an “enemies with benefits”

It turns out you don’t actually have to even like each other as friends. In Kody Keplinger’s The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend we get “enemies with benefits." The same rules apply—it’s an sexual arrangement where two people hang out without any expectation of a romantic relationship.  This is a handy alternative to those of us without friends who still want to benefit.

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning4. It can be… educational

Over the years, we’ve all learned a thing or two from a friend. Whether it’s a true life lesson about friendship, or maybe just a helpful casserole recipe, it’s definitely possible to tap a friend for help learning a new skill set. In You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me (the book by Sarra Manning, not the excellent Dusty Springfield song), we have Neve, who has recently lost some weight and realizes she needs to become an experienced sex goddess to chase down her crush. She enlists the help of her colleague Max for some very instructional FWB.  Neve decides it’s like the “pancake relationship”, the one you toss out before you fall in love. Part scrabble opponent, part sex tutor, it’s the perfect friendship with benefits, where the instructor is your friend and the homework is actually fun.

5.    Be clear about the arrangement

In Colleen Hoover’s Ugly Love, neighbors Miles and Tate form a FWB and outline their rules to each other:

“Don’t ask about my past,” he says firmly. “And never expect a future.”

I absolutely don’t like either of those rules. They both make me want to change my mind about this arrangement and run away, but instead, I’m nodding. I’m nodding because I’ll take what I can get.”

“Well, I only have one rule,” I say quietly. He waits for my rule. I can’t think of a rule. I don’t have any rules. Why don’t I have rules? He’s still waiting. “I don’t know what it is yet. But when I think of it, you have to follow it.”

In the film Friends with Benefits, starring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake both characters are very clear about what they want:

Dylan: “I’m just gonna work and f**k. Like George Clooney.
Jamie: “I’m just gonna shut myself down emotionally. Like George Clooney.

Okay, so now that Clooney has settled down, the reference is a little dated, but the point remains. Any FWB arrangement needs clear rules, because…

6.    You will totally fall in love

According to French proverb, “True love is friendship set on fire.” I’m pretty sure this is true because I saw it on pinterest and also because all these books and movies prove it. When it comes to FWB, get ready for an epic Happily Ever After!


Learn more about the books mentioned in this post:

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger
Changing the Game by Jaci Burton
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning
Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young
Tempting Her Best Friend by Gina L. Maxwell


Jane Kriel, lover of chocolate and all things Sweet Valley High.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. wsl0612
My absolute favorite FWB is "When Joss met Matt" by Ellie Cahill, it's wonderful!
Jennifer Proffitt
2. JenniferProffitt
LOVE Samantha Young's Before Jamaica Lane. That book cemented my love for her as an author!
Manda Collins
3. mandacollins
Love _Before Jamaica Lane_ so hard! Another couple of great FWB books are _Touch and Go_ by Mira Lyn Kelly and _Just One Night_ by Lauren Layne. Both of which I discovered when I was looking for more FWB stories after I finished BJL. True story.
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