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Article by Nicholas Velotta

Casual sex culture has brought in a host of new moral and ethical dilemmas; to swipe left or swipe right, keep in contact or ghost, stay the night or skedaddle. Many of us get into a pattern, we develop a casual sex M.O. of sorts. But anytime we decide to be more than casual…then all those set behaviors become upset.

FWB puts us in the exact position that so many of us have dreaded at some point: the gray area. Maybe you managed to skip this phase miraculously. Or maybe you’re like me and always manage to find it, even when you’re legitimately content with the whole “me, myself, and I” routine.

For all those on Team Gray Area, this list attempts to make some of the most common FWB mistakes a little less common in your life.

1- Assuming it will lead to a relationship

One of the key components of being a FWB is the relinquishment of expectations. We are supposedly trading emotion work for different kinds of jobs (if you know what I’m sayin’). That doesn’t mean we can’t have standards—make sure you’re being treated with respect—but we also shouldn’t be expecting our “benefits” to include a future intimate relationship.

It is true that many hook-ups and FWBs lead to some sort of serious relationship, whether it be long-term or short-lived. But that doesn’t mean all of them do…and trying to conjure up a boyfriend via FWB arrangements probably isn’t very beneficial to your mental health. So go into your FWB arrangement without assuming it’s going to be anything more.

2- Ignoring other relationship possibilities

Having said that, you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. If your friend (with benefits) really is a great long-term match for you, then see if he feels the same. Don’t be surprised if he isn’t ready for a serious relationship though, the two of you probably have a casual sex agreement for a reason after all.

Another component to this is making sure you don’t keep blinders on when it comes to other guys you could be dating. Sometimes we let a FWB take up too much time and attention and forget we could actually find a serious relationship (if we want one that is).

3- Being too vague

Aren’t FWB all about being vaguely defined? Only if you want to constantly be questioning what exactly you two are doing here. Set up boundaries, like never staying the night or no “relationship talk”. Do yourself a favor and don’t leave things up for interpretation.

4- Reading into things

What happens when we leave feelings and intentions unclear? Our brain barrages us with nagging questions, or what I call the never-ending quest of “what does that mean?” We recruit friends, send screenshots, and think every move he makes means something. Realize that this isn’t healthy even if he really is being enigmatic. And secondly, most FWB pairings are created to avoid such intensive brain power, so cut it out and just enjoy the fun times. If he continues to be a clandestine douche, drop him.

5- Trying to get information about his other FWBs

Some of us are A-O.K. getting the lowdown on our mans’ other hookups. Personally, if I’m not under the impression we are more than FWB I think it’s actually arousing to hear about his hookups (and maybe we can even one-up them). However, if you know you have a tendency to get jealous, possessive, or self-doubting when a guy you like expresses interest in other people, DON’T GO THERE.

I know it’s easy to think you’re just doing some subtle snooping but it will only bring you pain…and not the fun, pleasurable kind. Skip the heartache and keep your knowledge of his relationships at a need-to-know basis (meaning unless it affects you adversely, like being exposed to STIs, stick to knowing nothing about his sexual liaisons).

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