Before You Try Friends With Benefits Sex, Make Sure You Follow These 4 Rules

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Casual relationships need guidelines too.

Are you single and intrigued by the idea of hook up culture? Maybe you want to be in an open relationship and like the idea of non-committal sex, but things often get complicated in the process.

Because of oxytocin and a whole slew of other factors, maybe sex with no strings attached is sometimes more of an ideal than a realistic endeavor for you, and you are unsure of how to proceed. Maybe you are fine with this whole sex thing and, for you, there is no need to have anything more, but you keep walking all over people's hearts in the process.

Perhaps you are thinking to yourself, "They always say they are okay with being friends with benefits, but then they stop being my friend!" If any of these scenarios seem to fit your situation, then this article is for you.

In a society that is overwhelmingly focused on monogamous relationships and how to "survive" in the dating and single world — as though it is a treacherous and undesirable place to be single and/or dating! — it might feel hard to find support and guidelines which value a different perspective.

Society and media want us to believe that people who engage in polyamory or sex with no strings attached are somehow damaged in some way, either afraid of commitment or afraid of intimacy. While this may be the case, jumping into a relationship just because you had sexual relations with someone is not going to be the remedy.

So, instead of questioning why you have chosen this lifestyle, (this may be for now, forever, or somewhere in between — no judgment!) we need to perpetuate the understanding that leading a healthy, open, honest lifestyle which is non-monogamous is not an entry into a world that is devoid of morals, ethics, and values, as much of society and media would like to suggest it is.

It is absolutely possible to be sexually non-committal and self-aware at the same time. It is important for us to recognize that:

  • We are sexual beings who crave, desire and need physical contact.
  • We are not always going to be in a position to have sexual intimacy with a long term partner.
  • We can have sexual relationships during times of singlehood, or in other committed, open relationships which do not lead to long-term relationships.
  • We can do this in a healthy way that is beneficial to all parties.

In this list, we recognize that whether because of social conditioning or some other chemical reaction, non-committal sex requires guidelines, just as relationships do so that it can be done in the most effective way for everyone involved.

Also, note that these rules require you to be honest with yourself and with your partners. Taking an honest self-inventory to perfect these rules is key in having the most success in your open relationships.

1. Consent.

All sexual activity must have the consent of all parties involved. This is first and foremost. If someone is not consenting, or is not old enough to give consent, this is considered unethical and is very likely illegal, not to mention dishonest, abusive and harmful.

2. The one- and two-fuck rules.

This is putting up boundaries, both for yourself and for the other parties. The longer something continues, the more it will continue to multiply. If you water something, it will grow.

In this scenario, just as the title suggests, you have a rule that you will only "fuck" someone once or twice, whichever number suits you. You will also need to define what "fuck" means. Does this include oral sex, kissing, anal sex, intercourse, all of the above?

Clearly defined rules will save you a lot of heartache and confusion later. Remember to be honest with yourself. Saying that oral sex doesn't count, for example, might just a loophole to cover up your ulterior motives.

3. Infidelity and cheating are not fair play.

This goes for whether you're the single one looking to hook up, or you are the one in some form of open relationship. Since consent is the cornerstone of ethical hooking up, "slutting around" and being open/poly/non-monogamous, if someone is involved and doing something behind someone's back, this is grounds for firing.

If you are an accessory to this, you are guilty too. So, play the game right. Play fair. What this really means is find out who you are dealing with before getting involved. It's only fair.

4. Friends with benefits is not right for everyone.

People go into friends with benefits for many reasons, only one of those reasons being sex. Others need intimacy, connection, and, for many people, it is an underlying need for something deeper.

Now, I'm not saying friends with benefits cannot work for you, but it needs to be treated as a relationship so that the friendship can be maintained.

What do I mean by this? Ongoing and regular communication. You should talk to the friend, openly and honestly, on a regular basis to make sure he or she don't have ulterior designs and to remind them that you are not in it for the long haul.

Because you are not, right? Or perhaps you are in it for the long haul, but you have a primary partner. Or maybe they are not. Just be careful of your own intentions on embarking on a friends with benefits situation, and keep them in the loop.

So, while this list is not an exhaustive list of rules to live by — in fact, I would advise checking back as I may add to this list frequently — it is definitely something to help you get started on the avenue of self-aware, self-actualized, mindful, noncommittal sex.

Moushumi Ghose is a sex and relationship therapist and author.

This article originally appeared in YourTango.

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