How to avoid catching feelings for your FWB

March 14, 2017
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Casual flings are a common part of uni life – a great part, if you’re doing it right. But unfortunately, we humans are conditioned to relate to the physical world, and unless you’re as cool and detached as a hypothermic Don Draper, getting horizontal with someone else runs the risk of catching a sick case of emotions.

If you don’t want to complicate your Friends With Benefits arrangement with all those sordid feels, there are a few ways to minimise your exposure – without minimising your exposure.

Restrict cuddling time to three sighs or less

It might feel nice, but if you’re concerned about catching feelings, the post-coital cuddle is basically a multi-megaton biological warhead. Snuggling up with someone triggers the release of oxytocin in your brain, a hormone which assists in the formation of – wait for it – emotional bonds.

So skip the cuddles and head straight for the shower, lest biology work its pesky magic on you.

No Netflix and chill

Once the terms of the dalliance have been established, talk should be confined to arranging meet-ups and locating Gatorade. Sharing in-jokes and swapping life stories will only add unnecessary emotional angles to your relationship.

To this end, it’s important you resist any urge to spend the morning/afternoon/rest of the movie together. Nothing casual can come from chilling with someone you’re sleeping with.

Don’t add each other on social media

The less your FWB occupies your thoughts, the better. Seeing their face pop up in your feed will only push this balance in the wrong direction and adds yet another vector for messy platonic interaction.

Avoid cross-contamination

Introducing your FWB to your friends is a categorically bad idea, no matter how much you think they’d get along. In fact, the more likeable your FWB, the more isolated you should keep them from the rest of your social life.

Not only will introducing them entail risky and unnecessary socialising, it will also burden you with the knowledge that, should the arrangement come to an end, you will now have to explain where so-and-so is to at least one more person.

Acknowledge the green elephant in the room

Sex, no matter how casual, always involves the risk of jealousy. If you feel a surge of the green stuff coming on, make sure you tell your FWB what’s happening. It may be that the arrangement is longer viable.

At the other end of the stick, it should be noted that flirting with someone else in front of your FWB isn’t cool. Sure, you might not be in an exclusive relationship, but it’s poor form nonetheless, and it risks destabilising the delicate balance required for casual sex.


From the outset, it’s paramount you each know what the other wants. This is the best and surest way to avoid emotional injury.

If you do find yourself catching feelings for FWB, bite the bullet and tell them. You might want to end the arrangement to spare yourself heartbreak, or you might want to start dating. Worst case scenario? You lose a relationship that was only going to cause you pain.

Whichever way it goes, at least you know you’ve been honest and responsible with your feelings and theirs.

Joel Svensson

Business major, journalism minor and freelance writer, Joel pretends to be clever at La Trobe University.

Image: Friends with Benefits official Facebook page