Being friends with benefits is growing more common in this day and age.
A surprising number of people say that they have had a relationship limited to casual sex — with no room for emotional connection.
Nevertheless, FWB relationships are notoriously difficult to navigate.
Sexual intimacy can open the door to emotional intimacy, and it can be confusing to disentangle those feelings.
Here is some background on these types of relationships and the top signs you’re more than friends with benefits.
Overview of a Friends With Benefits (FWB) Relationship
So what is an FWB relationship, and what are the official “rules” for one?
A friends with benefits relationship (commonly abbreviated to FWB) is an agreement between two people to engage in casual sex with no strings attached.
The expectation is that there won’t be emotional intimacy and that each party can continue dating other people outside the relationship.
A few other aspects of an FWB relationship include:
- Limiting your relationship to sexual intimacy — no spending time together outside the bedroom
- Not sharing personal details, especially about your past relationships
- Setting firm boundaries about expectations
- Avoiding meeting family and friends
- Not traveling together
- No communication aside from making plans to meet — no casual conversations or texting on other topics
- Being honest about your expectations but avoiding sharing feelings
- Avoiding talking about the other people that you are dating
- Understanding that you can end the relationship at any time
Do Guys Fall in Love With Friends With Benefits?
Stereotypically, women are said to be the ones who can’t separate sex and emotional intimacy, while men can have meaningless sex at any time.
But like most stereotypes, this paints with too broad a brush.
A FWB relationship can lead to an emotional attraction for either party.
Sometimes it’s simple infatuation confused by all those sex-induced love hormones. And sometimes, it really is genuine love — which is what makes FWB relationships so tricky.
Guys can fall in love with their FWB. In fact, some estimates indicate that guys catch feelings more than women do in these arrangements.
Here are a few things you should know:
- FWB relationships don’t necessarily spell success for long-term relationships — studies show that only about 15 percent of them work out.
- But about 60 percent of men say that they’ve fallen for their friend with benefits, as opposed to about 44 percent of women.
17 Signs Your Friends With Benefits Is Falling For You
So how do you recognize the signs that the relationship has moved from purely physical to emotional? Here are some of the top signs your FWB is falling for you.
1. They Can’t Stop Touching You
Obviously, a friends-with-benefits relationship involves physical intimacy. But if the touching extends outside the bedroom, it could signify that your friend is catching feelings.
Most people expect a FWB relationship to have some physical boundaries, so if it seems like they can’t keep their hands off of you, that’s something to note.
If it makes you uncomfortable, make sure you speak up and share those feelings so your boundaries are respected.
2. They Want to Know All About You
One of the official rules of a FWB relationship is keeping personal details to a minimum. It is easy to get pulled into an emotional attraction when sharing stories, especially about past relationships.
If your FWB is asking you all about yourself, it might be a sign that they want to form an emotional attachment.
It’s also a sign if they share these personal details about themselves, such as stories from their childhood or past relationships.
3. There is Chemistry
A friends-with-benefits relationship obviously involves sexual attraction, but that’s not what we’re talking about.
If the two of you fill the air with electricity, even when you’re not getting physical, there could be something stronger going on.
If you just seem to jive in all sorts of ways and it is becoming clear that there is an emotional connection, the relationship might be moving past casual.
Don’t be surprised if your friends notice that magnetism between you two.
4. They Seem Jealous
On paper, a FWB relationship is casual, so it shouldn’t involve jealousy. Most people in these agreements still date other people.
So if your FWB seems uncomfortable or jealous at the prospect of you going on dates, that could mean how they see you has changed.
They might be worried that you might start a real relationship that ends your arrangement — or maybe they just don’t like the idea of having to “share” you with someone else.
5. They Want You to Meet Their Friends
Most friends with benefits relationships try to keep their sexual agreement separate from their personal lives.
In other words, they don’t introduce one another to their friends — and definitely not to their family.
If your FWB is suddenly asking you if you want to come to a friend hangout or a family reunion, that could signal a change in how they see you.
They want other people to get to know you as a permanent part of their life.
6. You Spend Time Together
One of the usual expectations for a FWB relationship is that it is just sex. Outside of the bedroom, there is no real relationship.
So if your FWB suddenly wants to spend time together doing non-sexual activities, it might be a sign that they are catching feelings.
After all, there was no expectation of watching movies together or hanging out at a restaurant when you started your relationship. This change in expectations could signal a change in feelings, too.
7. They Seem to be Dropping Hints
It started out with a casual sentence about how great the two of you would be together, for real. But if the jokes or seemingly casual suggestions keep coming, it could be a sign that your FWB is falling for you for real.
They are trying to test the waters for your reaction and might be nervous that you won’t be on the same page.
If they keep dropping comments, it might be time for a talk about where they see your relationship going.
8. They Act Nervous
It is easy to get flustered or nervous around a crush — not so much around a friend. If your FWB seems to be nervous around you all of a sudden, it could mean that they are unsure of their feelings.
Maybe you catch them turning red or stumbling over their words but before, they were unruffled and confident. If they suddenly act like a middle schooler whose crush just walked up to their locker, you might want to take note.
9. You Have Emotional Moments
If you suddenly find yourselves staring into each other’s eyes or having meaningful lulls in the conversation, it could be a sign that your FWB is catching feelings.
Some say they first noticed this change during sex, which suddenly seemed more intimate and loving.
But be aware that these emotional moments can also be tied to those powerful hormones, which are good at tricking our brains into mistaking emotion for real, lasting attraction.
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A friends-with-benefits situation isn’t supposed to get personal.
So if they are suddenly telling you a lot of things about their life, such as stories from their childhood or details about their family, it could be a sign that they want a more emotional connection.
At the very least, it shows that they feel safe with you. Regardless, it means that they want to get intimate in more ways than just in the bedroom.
11. You Miss Each Other
Do you find yourself thinking about your FWB all day and looking forward to spending time with them?
Maybe you have the urge to talk to them or text them throughout your day. And maybe you just feel an ache in your chest when they aren’t around.
If you’re feeling all of that, there is a chance that they could be, too, especially if they seem to be struggling to stay away from you as well.
12. They Want to Travel With You
One of the official “rules” of a friends-with-benefits relationship is that you never travel together. Why? Because at that point, you might as well be in a relationship.
If you are spending time together and traveling as a couple — while also having sex — there isn’t a lot of difference between that and, well, being an actual couple.
On top of that, traveling often leads to intimate or emotional moments, whether we want it to or not.
13. They Make Kind Gestures
When it comes to friends with benefits, the “partnership” is supposed to end outside the bedroom. But suddenly, your FWB is making small gestures with your comfort in mind.
Maybe they make an extra effort to buy your favorite snacks, bring you food and medicine when you’re sick, or choose a movie they know you’ll enjoy.
In other words, they’re considering your emotional needs — a boundary that most people in FWB relationships think is off the table.
14. They Show Off
Remember when you were in middle school, and you flexed in front of your crush? Well, it turns out that adults do that, too.
Suddenly your FWB is doing things that seem to be trying to get your attention and impress you.
Maybe they are cracking jokes, showing off how strong they are (okay, that one is usually just guys), or trying to make you laugh in other ways.
They’re trying to get your attention and win your approval.
15. They’re Not Interested in Seeing Other People
A friends-with-benefits relationship is supposed to be casual, which in theory, leaves the door open to date others. But suddenly, your FWB isn’t interested in dating at all.
Sure, in some cases, it might mean nothing — not everybody wants to be actively looking for dates at all times.
But if they seem entirely uninterested in the prospect of other partners, it might be because they want a real relationship with you.
16. They Text or Call You All The Time
Suddenly, they aren’t just reaching out when they want to get physical. They seem to text you all the time to tell you about their day, share a joke, or invite you over for non-sexual hangouts.
It shows that you’re on their mind throughout the day, and they want to connect with you emotionally.
It’s important to note if this behavior wasn’t always there but developed gradually over time. If your phone is buzzing nonstop, they might be into you.
17. You Just Feel It
Sometimes, knowing that your friend with benefits is falling for you is just a matter of a gut feeling. You have probably been in real relationships before, so you can sense when a person is attracted to you.
If you have the gut feeling that they are drawn to you in more ways than just physical, trust that feeling.
But it’s up to you to decide what you want to do with it, especially if you feel the same way.
Does My FWB Like Me?
FWB relationships are dangerous by their very nature, so there is no sure recipe for success. It is easy to confuse sexual and genuine attraction, so make sure you tread carefully and speak up if you feel uncomfortable.