Rule 1: DO think twice about hooking up with your neighbor. There are, without a doubt, many pros to having a FWB living in close proximity: Your walk of shame is substantially less embarrassing, you don’t have to worry about driving home after one too many glasses of wine, and usually you’ll be able to tell if he’s home. On the other hand, when the reality of how your sex buddy spends his time away from you—and vice versa—sets in, that geographic proximity could very well be the downfall of your casual relationship, says Rachel Russo, a dating, relationship, and image coach based in New York City. And after several 3 A.M. sightings of his empty parking space in your building’s garage, you’ll start to wonder how things got so complicated.
Rule 2: DON’T convince yourself the relationship is more serious than it is. “No matter how hard sex buds try not to fall in love, there is always the possibility that one or both parties will catch feelings,” says Russo. “And contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just the ladies at risk of falling and ruining the no-strings-attached arrangement.” It happens to men too. But “if you’ve been sleeping with a guy who confesses that he considers you nothing more than a sex bud, while you dream of making him your boyfriend, it is best to cut ties and maintain a strict no-contact policy,” urges Russo. “Don’t think you’ll change his mind. Just appreciate what you had and move on to the next.”
Rule 3: DO proceed with caution if you meet someone new. You don’t need to hit the brakes immediately with your FWB when you meet someone new, says Amy Spencer, author of Meeting Your Half-Orange: A Guide to Using Dating Optimism to Help You Meet Your Other Half. “Don’t assume exclusivity with a person you like until you’ve actually talked about it,” she says. “Remember, you’re not the only one having casual sex on the side while you date—maybe your new catch is too.” The bottom line here: Don’t make any major decisions until you’ve clarified things with your new dude.
Rule 4: DON’T encourage friends and family to hang out with your FWB.Your FWB should fill the same role as an imaginary friend, says Spencer. He’s there when you need him, but he has no place in your regular social life. Why? Well, first, because a FWB is meant to be temporary. If you start bringing him into your daily routine, you’re creating a long-term connection. And second, because you have to protect your heart. If you see your FWB getting along with your family and friends at a barbecue, for example, you could develop feelings for him. (It’s hard not to when your friends are cooing, “Oh, he’s so cute! I really like him!”)
Rule 5: You DON’T have to sleep over. Jemma, a 25-year-old single woman in New Jersey, says one of her favorite parts of having a FWB is that she doesn’t have to cuddle or have an awkward morning-after. “I can kick him out after the deed is done,” she says. “For me, post-sex cuddling is all about emotional bonding and intimacy—and I have no interest in that with a sex buddy. I love saying goodnight, taking a hot shower and collapsing into bed totally relaxed…and satisfied.”
Rule 6: DON’T get mad if your FWB goes out with someone else. Remember, your FWB is not, we repeat, not your boyfriend. This means if you catch him with another girl on a date, he’s not cheating on you. The same goes for him; you’re free to date whomever you’d like.
Rule 7: DO keep your relationship in the bedroom. After a few sexy nights spent with your FWB, you may start to wonder if you should meet for coffee, see a movie, or do some otherwise date-esque activity. But Shaun, a single 24-year-old guy from Ohio, warns against it: “Unless you are planning to have a more serious relationship, a date leads someone to think that there’s more to the sweaty tryst than just the physical aspect,” he says.
Rule 8: DO protect yourself. You should be practicing safe sex regardless of whom you’re sleeping with, but it’s crucial to be careful with a sex buddy because that’s all he is—your buddy. And your pal could have multiple partners because he is not bound to you. “It is especially important to use condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections [STIs] when engaging in casual sex, in addition to another reliable form of birth control to prevent pregnancy,” says Lisa M. Valle, D.O., a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist at Plaza-Towers Obstetrics and Gynecology in Santa Monica, Calif. She also recommends getting tested for STIs every six months and, ideally, after each new partner.
Rule 9: DO be smart about social media. Hey, maybe you met your FWB on Facebook, but that doesn’t mean he wants the world to know you’re hooking up on the regular. Think twice before posting status updates like, “Bangin’ time last night!” If you don’t want to know what your FWB is up to in his spare time, you might also want to consider not connecting on Twitter and Facebook to begin with.
Rule 10: DON’T think sex is required. When Jaz, 31, who lives in California, started sleeping with her FWB, she says it was “freeing, adventurous, and so much fun that we did it multiple times a week and even met up on lunch breaks for romps in his car.” After a few weeks, though, she got tired of doing it so often and declined one night. Once she explained that it had nothing to do with him and that she wasn’t sleeping with someone else, the guy was fine with it. “From there on out, he never questioned me when I resisted, nor did I overthink it when he ignored a text from me one late night,” she says. “The thing about a sex buddy that is so cool is that if you play it for what it is, no one gets hurts. I suggest laying down the ground rules from day one.”