How To Establish FWB Rules And Set Boundaries

By ReGain Editorial Team|Updated August 12, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Lauren Guilbeault, LMHC

What Is FWB?

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You may have heard the abbreviation "FWB," but what does it mean? An FWB, which stands for "Friend With Benefits," is someone that you hook up with or have sex with, but they are not your girlfriend, boyfriend, or partner. It's a friendship that crosses the line into physical intimacy without the two of you being in a romantic relationship. A friend with benefits relationship can be tricky. Your connection blurs the line between friends and lovers. That's why it's essential to draw boundaries with your friend with benefits. You need to establish what is and isn't okay in the relationship. That way, you're both on the same emotional page. Here are some tips that you can use to set appropriate boundaries in the FWB relationship. They are ways to keep it less dramatic and more fun. 

Make Sure That You're On The Same Page

With any relationship, it's essential to remain on the same page. You might believe things are going smoothly, yet your partner thinks that you're headed for the end of the road. That's not a good place to be. There are many opportunities for misunderstanding in an FWB dynamic. If the other person thinks that you're strictly their FWB, but you have a secret wish that one day it'll be more than that, that's a problem. You may want to be in a relationship with your FWB. But that's not what's happening here. You entered into the friends with benefits dynamic knowing the rules.

You're not a couple; you're having fun. The same goes for the other way around. Don't think or expect that you're going to be with this person. While an FWB connection could potentially develop into a relationship, it's not what's to be anticipated. If you've agreed on being friends with benefits, remember that that's what the relationship is going to be. There may be a future conversation about it where the two of you decide otherwise collectively, but for now, you're not together in a committed way. Many people enter into an FWB relationship, thinking that they'll end up as a couple, and then get disappointed when it doesn't happen. You need to be sure that you're on the same page about your status as friends with benefits for it to work. That way, no feelings are hurt, and the FWB relationship doesn't become uncomfortable in the future.

Another crucial thing to make sure that you're on the same page about is sexual health. You need to know if your FWB is intimate with other partners besides you. Your health matters, and it's your right to know if your FWB is sexually active with different partners besides you.

It can be awkward to talk about sexual health in an otherwise lighthearted relationship. It can be tempting to want to mess around and enjoy the tough conversations. However, you have to have honest dialogues to grow. It's crucial to ask your FWB about getting tested for STI's and STD's. Pregnancy is another topic to broach. If you're not planning on having children, it's essential to talk about methods for birth control. These conversations don't always have to be heavy; you could get tested for STI's and STD's together to make it a little more lighthearted, for example. Even if you're not in a committed romantic partnership, you still care about each other deeply. Safety is essential, and even if it's uncomfortable for you to bring up sexual health, you need to talk about it with your FWB. Don't be afraid to initiate this conversation because it is essential. If the other person ever tries to cross your boundaries or brush off your concerns related to this topic, you need to reevaluate this connection. Speaking with an online therapist can help you with this reevaluation. 

Make Sure There's Sexual Consent

In addition to sexual health, it's vital to talk about consent. Friends with benefits relationships can be highly enjoyable; especially if you embrace the fact that it's not a serious partnership. It's a lighthearted dynamic where neither one of you is being judged. You can explore your sexuality in an FWB relationship, and try new things with no strings attached. There may be times, however, when you're hanging out as friends, and not doing anything sexual. Especially if you were close friends first without the sexual activity, keep that connection going, and don't forget to have fun outside of hooking up. Make sure that you're keeping an open dialogue about what you both want. Although sex might be a significant part of this relationship, you might not have sex all of the time. Don't expect to have sex every time that you hang out. Remember that it's crucial to give and receive consent every time before being physically intimate with this person.

Be Self-Aware

It's important to remember that it's human to develop emotional bonds with people and that if you do develop romantic feelings for this person, it's natural. Attraction and romantic feelings aren't necessarily something that you can control. However, you can monitor what you do when you realize that you have those feelings for this person. If you find that you're getting attached to a friend with benefits, you have to talk to that person about it. Maybe things are changing for you, or perhaps they're also evolving for your FWB. The connection could be growing on both ends, or one person could feel differently from the way that the other person feels. The more open the relationship is, the better. Both of you must be self-aware. That way, you can communicate if this kind of situation arises for either one of you.

When You Develop Feelings For Your FWB

If you develop feelings for your FWB, speak up. You need to find out if they feel the same way that you do or not. Maybe they're ready to take this friendship to the next level, and if you discuss things, it could lead to that. The transition from FWB to a committed relationship could be a beautiful thing. Friends with benefits relationships don't always stay that way. They're able to transform into a romantic relationship for some people. For that to happen, you have to open the door to talk about it. If you don't talk about your feelings, you might unintentionally cross the boundaries of this relationship. You may be trying to make it something other than what it is, which is not something that you want. If they find out later or start to notice that things are off without you saying anything, it could be bad news for the future of your friendship. It's essential to avoid any secrets or hurt feelings in this connection out of respect for the other person.

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The Friendship Is A Priority

Remember how the FWB started. This person is someone who matters to you. You were friends before any of this happened, so put the friendship in front of it all. Make sure that you prioritize the fact that this is a person that you enjoy having in your life. You don't want to lose what you have as friends. Set the friendship as a priority, and establish that boundary upfront. You and your FWB care about one another. Friendship is an essential part of life. We all want people as friends that we value. It's essential to make sure that your FWB doesn't become more the B than the F; the friendship comes first, and the benefits are a bonus.


What all of this comes down to is that you need to be able to communicate with your FWB. Tell them what you need out of the relationship and make sure that they're telling you what they need. Sometimes, your needs will be different, and that's true for any interpersonal relationship. There will be times that you'd like to be sexually open with other people in addition to your FWB, for example. As a result of this, your FWB relationship changes, and you're just friends again. Sometimes, you won't be on the same wavelength. As long as you talk about your feelings, and establish boundaries for a relationship now. As hard as it is to talk about it, it's something that you have to do. Honesty and communication are essential parts of any relationship, whether that's an FWB relationship, a friendship without the benefits, or a committed romantic partnership.


You might be wondering how to set boundaries in your FWB relationship. There could be a deal breaker for you that will inevitably change the dynamic of the relationship. Let's say that you're the one who is uncomfortable with continuing the FWB dynamic because you know your FWB is sleeping with other people besides you. That's where you set a boundary and say, "I'm not okay continuing this if you have sex with other people." It's is a perfectly valid boundary to set; your emotional limits matter. It's crucial that you set boundaries that you need, and ensure that this is a healthy relationship for both of you. When you establish boundaries with your FWB, sit down with them one on one. Bring up your needs in a calm manner. Let them know that you're doing this because you care about them and want to make sure that this FWB relationship stays healthy for both of you. If you struggle to set boundaries and are anxious about starting the conversation, write down what you have to say beforehand. You can practice roleplaying the dialogue with another friend. You can also talk about boundaries and how you'd like to go about setting them in therapy.

Online Counseling

All relationships have the potential to be confusing or otherwise tricky. Online counseling is an excellent place to talk about anything from difficulties in an FWB relationship to your struggles outside of the relationship. You can talk about boundaries in therapy as well as how to set them and so much more. Search the network of online therapists at ReGain today and find the perfect fit for you.

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