Oxford's oldest student newspaper

Independent since 1920

‘Just Good Friends’

Is it possible to be Friends with Benefits and it not end in tears? Here's how to keep your heart safe.

Can have sex someone and still be just friends with them in the morning? Does it ever really work out? Is a broken heart guaranteed? I can’t answer these questions for your specific situation, however, I can tell you about my experience, and how we are still friends to this day, both with our respective hearts intact. 

Before I dive in to my story and how I happened upon this particular arrangement, I think an Urban Dictionary definition may be in order for complete understanding. 

Friends with Benefits: 

             Two good friends who have a sexual relationship without being emotionally involved. Typically, two good friends who have casual sex without a monogamous relationship or any kind of commitment. 

(see also) 

                  Two close friends who think it would be a good idea to have sex, until one falls in love and gets their heart broken when the other doesn’t want a relationship. 

So, being Friends with Benefits doesn’t actually sound that beneficial does it? Our understanding is mainly inspired by Hollywood and the unrealistic portrayals of perfect people falling in and out of perfect love. In fact, most films will either sell you the idea that being FWB with someone will lead to you being desperately alone and crying under the neon lights of some city street lamp, or that you and this *(presumably) guy will fall in love and never leave each other’s sides ever again. In fact, Hollywood’s biggest (and most well-kept) secret is that there is actually a third option: sleeping with a friend and remaining just that; friends. 

‘How is it possible??’ I hear you screaming. Well, it’s actually kind of simple. But, before we get into that, let me give you a bit of my story, and how it’s helping me to write this article. 

I first met this particular friend around 2 years ago. We worked for the same place, although had slightly different jobs so I’d only see him on lunch breaks or the occasional clean-down. He was also quite a good friend of my family and we eventually fell into the same friend circle. At first, I will admit I had a crush on him. Every girl he came into contact with swooned at his feet, and he knew it. Not in an arrogant way, just in the way that he knew you were wrapped around his finger, and he’d laugh at you in conversation, eyes glinting as the smile worked its way up his face. He strutted about in sleeveless tops in the summer months, effortlessly showing off the type of muscles that were only built by hard manual labour. His skin was permanently tanned, and he was the type of guy who went on beach crawls to clear rubbish from the shores and took two-moth long trips to Africa to help with conservation and live in the wild. We nicknamed him ‘Jungle Boy’ and he lived up to every inch of the name. You probably have an image of him in your head by now, and you’re wondering how I’m still not helplessly in love and heart-broken by this guy. In fact, it might sound even less plausible if I was to tell you that, at the beginning, I was pretty much in love with him. But this feeling wore off, not in a negative way, just in the sense that I realised why we’d never be good as an actual couple but worked well as friends that sometimes slept together. 

I knew from the beginning he was a ladies man, obviously. And I knew from rumour that he did tend to leave a trail of broken hearts behind him. So, I kind of recognised what I was getting myself into, and I made the conscious effort to keep my brain from romanticising things. At first, this was more difficult, and I was left feeling a little empty when he’d leave with a quick kiss on the lips (out of politeness I always felt) and a smile as he closed the door behind him. When I’d see him later on that morning, in work, I would always fumble for something to say and I felt like I had to re-train myself in our friendship. Of course, at some point all of our other friends found out about our unspoken agreement, but it was never really brought up. It was almost like they were avoiding the subject, waiting to see my heart get broken. 

However, I noticed, the more he stayed over, the less I wanted him to. I still loved his company, but I didn’t like the expectation of sex anymore. I knew his moves, knew what he was asking without saying it. He’d walk me home, an arm around my waist, or rest a hand on my knee whilst he was talking to me. The first (and last) time he slept the night, I couldn’t wait for him to leave, purely because I wanted my own company. Our agreement was never formally dissolved, but he doesn’t hang back after the rest of our friends leave after a party anymore. And I don’t want him to. I’m happy with what happened between us, but I’d never want anything more. We are two puzzle pieces who weren’t intended to fit the picture that way, despite Hollywood stereotypes. 

So, how do you survive the same thing? My biggest tip would be to friend-zone them in your head and your heart before you begin anything sexual. If you can’t bear to think of them with someone else or think that they’ll fall in love with you over time you’re already in too deep and you will get hurt. No doubt about it. 

Only go as far as you’re comfortable. Set boundaries, protect the friendship over greedy bodily desires. But, most importantly, have fun! Being friends-with-benefits can be an amazing thing, if you keep it at just that. 

*This article is based on a heterosexual understanding of the term, and in no way means to suggest other variations of the male/female friendship can’t also occur. However, this is based off of purely my experiences. 

Support student journalism

Student journalism does not come cheap. Now, more than ever, we need your support.

Check out our other content

Most Popular Articles