“Friends With Benefits”: Is It For You?

How to decide if it's pressure-free fun or a sign of commitment phobia

Dear Monica, I have had a series of bad relationships with men and I have decided that single life is the way to go. I am not planning on being celibate, just not attached. Is “Friends With Benefits” such a bad thing? — S. G.,  Penn Wynne

It sounds like taking a step back from the world of serious relationships is in order. The last thing that you want to do is turn into the typical female stereotype who is so jaded against men and angry at the world. When the time is right, re-enter the dating world with a smile on your face and a clear head. It makes total sense for you to have some fun without the pressure of a boyfriend. “Friends With Benefits” can be fine as long as you know what you are getting into.

Friends are, by definition, people who you can relate to and be at ease with. This sounds like just what you need. It’s fine to add on some physical contact. In the short term, this scenario can offer you many of the positives of a relationship—someone to go out with and feel comfortable around—without worrying if he is going to call the next day. Here are some things to consider when moving from “just friends” to “friends with benefits”:

  • Since he is just your friend, you should not be concerned about hair, make-up and clothing.
  • Always protect yourself (and I don’t mean from a broken heart).
  • Do not fool yourself by trying to put any type of relationship parameters on your “friend.” If he tells you he can’t meet you on Friday because he is going out with someone else,  you have to be able to accept this. By definition he is not obligated to you.
  • The beauty of this relationship is that you can piggyback off each other’s friends and maybe meet someone who has the potential to be more than just your pal who you sleep with.
  • This is not the ’60s so you may want to pick just one friend to have your benefits with. The last thing you want is to be the “go-to gal” for guys looking to hook up.
  • Consider the factor of time. Days roll into weeks, weeks roll into months, and so on. If this friendly connection sustains over time, there may be something more to it.

“Friends With Benefits” is a short-term solution to the needs of your social life. If you are truly looking for commitment down the line, take this hiatus to evaluate what you are (and are not) seeking in a man. What distinguishes a “friend” that you are sleeping with from someone who has the potential to be your significant other? It is not uncommon that when friends get physically and emotionally involved it turns into a long-term relationship. Maybe these are the best kinds of friends to have.

Monica Mandell, Ph.D. is the Director of the Philadelphia office of Selective Search, the premiere (off-line) upscale matchmaking firm for the most eligible singles.  Please send your questions to: monica@selectivesearch.com