Help! FWB FTW? #AskAvery

Dear Avery,

Is friends with benefits a real and viable option in life? People be catching feelings way too fast.

Your Friend,

Have Benefits, Will Travel

Dear Have Benefits, Will Travel,

In a recent car ride back from babysitting a high school grad party, my friend Thomas and I debated if friends with benefits even existed. When he asked me how I define friends with benefits, I explained:

Friends with Benefits (n.)

It’s an agreement with someone you like enough to see regularly, but not enough to go on dates in the outside world. There’s no exclusivity but, rather a commitment to have semi-consistent sex with each other.

To this, he replied, “They should call it acquaintances with benefits.”

To which I said, “It would be way too many syllables.”


In college and beyond, it seems like the lines of what a relationship is and can be have been swirled, broken, and thrown away into a complex maze of avoiding the ‘what are we’ conversation. Back in the day, the options seemed to be (1) one-night stand or (2) boyfriend. But now I’ve learned you can see someone consistently for a year, meet their parents, text every day, and still on paper… be a “single” “person.”

But your question is about whether friends with benefits are even a possibility anymore. I’m here to take you into the tiny room in my doctor’s office and give you the bad news personally.

If you’re a certified sex nerd like me and have done your assigned reading, aka suffering through the science of Sex at Dawn, you know that once you’ve done it with someone, you will have a biological connection with them. We engineered our brains this way in the times when sex was just something to create your personal child labor force so that you’d wanna keep building your army with someone until it wasn’t possible anymore. 

Friends with benefits is a relatively new phenomenon for a time of CHOICE. Seeing hundreds of faces on Tinder every day doesn’t exactly tempt anyone to settle down. But I do believe, as someone who has done FWB time and time again, that it is not sustainable.

If two people have chemistry and like each other enough to see each other more than once (drunkenly at a Halloween party) feelings will evolve: it’s just science. You can go against your biology, and until we breed out catching feelings, (which will take a bit of time) I’d start by changing the language around hook-ups. I’ve been pretty fond of the word ‘lovers’ recently, which at least makes you sound like a Victorian Prince instead of a frat boy. 

If you’re looking for the benefits of no strings attached consistent sex, know it comes with the drawbacks of someone probably getting hurt. If that’s any worse than the risks of a relationship is for you to decide. Or, have you considered therapy?