Friends With Benefits

I wonder how many "friends with benefits" are really friends and how many "f--- buddies" are actually buddies?

If you're unaware of the naming convention, a "friend with benefits" (FWB), also known as a "f--- buddy", is basically someone you have sex with and leave it at that - no obligations, no strings attached, no messy emotions.

These are misleading terms because a friend or a buddy is someone you want to hang around with and talk to, while the "f--- buddy" and "FWB" are usually just someone you lie on top of, or who lies on top of you, while you have an orgasm.

You don't tend to buy a f--- buddy dinner or flowers. In fact, you're probably not gonna bother getting out of bed most mornings to drive them home, let alone have a cosy latte at your local cafe.

There's nothing wrong with this; casual sex is as old as religion, and has been practised by enough holy men so you can be sure it doesn't send you to hell.

In my parents' day, it was known as a "fling" - a noun that puts the act into perspective when it transitions to a verb: you fling yourself at someone, then just as quickly fling them away, lest it get "serious".

Again, no arguments from me there; I've done my fair share of flinging and being flung, but then I've always tried to avoid the pretence, when I call someone at 3am, that it's for anything other than sex.

That's why I don't get the whole "friend with benefits" sobriquet.

Are people just kidding themselves? Trying to pretty-up an unattractive fact because, let's face it, someone you shag on the side is rarely your friend.


If you doubt this, fill out the guest list for a birthday dinner with your 20 closest mates and ask yourself if your f--- buddy makes the cut?

No? Didn't think so.

If you really wanted to spend time with an FWB - have them meet your inner circle and family, buy them dinner and flowers - well, they'd be your girlfriend (or boyfriend) and the FWB obviously doesn't check enough boxes for you to make that leap.

Which, again, is cool. I just find the smirking ease with which we label someone a "friend with benefits" a little naive and deceptive.

There's a saying that "a relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least", and I get the feeling that the terms "f--- buddy" and "friend with benefits" are often used by the person who really doesn't give a shit.

On the other side of the equation - the person who does care a little more (and someone always does) - they're telling themselves the two of you are "dating" or "just seeing where it goes".

Hollywood has a lot to answer for in regards to building unrealistic romantic expectations, so it's somewhat pleasing the two recent stabs it's taken at this phenomenon, No Strings Attached (starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher) and Friends With Benefits (starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis) - tell it like it is.

The couples in both these films soon realise that two people having sex with each other, who also hang out and enjoy each other's company are not "f--- buddies" or "FWB". Indeed, the emotional strings are very firmly attached, because that's what you call a relationship.

On the other hand, if you are having sex with someone but not hanging out together, not meeting their mates or doing anything other than turning up at their apartment to shag, try this experiment.

Stop having sex and see if you remain "friends". My guess is there won't be a Hollywood ending.

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here.