Looking for a bestie with testes? Sarah Stefanson tells you how to maintain your arrangement without anyone getting hurt.

Maybe you’re between relationships and need to feel the touch of another human being without all the baggage.  Maybe you’re in a relationship, but your partner isn’t into the same kind of fantasies you are.  Can you create a “Friends with Benefits” (FWB) arrangement without anyone getting hurt?

If you’re both single, this is much less complicated.  If one or both of you is attached, it requires a bit more groundwork.  Not only are you treading a fine line with your primary partner, but you also have to deal with everyone’s societally implanted attitudes about monogamy.

 Step 1: Choose The Right Player

Many people have had a FWB situation at some point in their lives, but if this is your first time, the most essential part of the process is choosing which friend you think can have benefits without the whole package.  If you are on good terms with an ex, this is usually a logical place to start.  After all, you know and trust them and have been with them sexually before, so it shouldn’t be that hard to pick up from where you left off.  The ex is a less than ideal choice if there are still hard feelings between you or if you are trying to find a FWB outside of your existing relationship.  Most often your partner is going to be threatened by you having a physical relationship with someone you once dated, no matter how enlightened the both of you are when it comes to open relationships.

Once you’ve exhausted the list of past lovers, look to your current batch of platonic friends to see if any of them are suitable.  The requirements here are: they should be open-minded, relatively emotionally stable, never have entertained a romantic crush on you, are trustworthy and honest and lastly, but importantly, are sexually attractive to you.

Finding the right person to be your FWB can be incredibly challenging.  If your group of friends and list of exes don’t provide any good matches, you can always find someone new.  The internet is an invaluable resource for finding this kind of friend with its innumerable dating websites aimed at a variety of people.  Nearly all the big dating sites have sections for “Intimate Encounters” or the like.  You may have to sift through a lot of sketchy people before you find the right person, but they do exist.

Step 2: Make The Rules Clear

This is essential whether your FWB is the only thing you’ve got going on or is in addition to an existing relationship.  There may be specific sexual rules that you want to enforce.  Some people consider kissing to be too intimate for a purely sexual encounter, while others may want to keep it to a heavy petting situation and not venture into the territory of intercourse.  Whatever you and your FWB are comfortable and not comfortable with should be clearly stated before anything goes down and the rules should be adhered to.  You may also want to institute some rules to keep sex separate, such as not showing sexual affection in front of mutual friends or drawing distinct lines between friend time and sex time so that your time together does not resemble a date.

The only rule that there is really no point in making is, “No falling in love.”  Who we fall in love with and when is very difficult to predict.  Alternatively, a good rule to live by is to keep everything honest at all times.  If one of you finds that you’re having feelings for your FWB, let it be known as soon as possible so you can deal with the situation appropriately.

When you already have a partner, the FWB rules become more complicated and important.  Obviously, your partner needs to have a huge role in setting these rules and whatever they are comfortable with should be respected by you and your FWB.  Trust is key here.  If your partner doesn’t fully believe that you’ll stick to the rules and respect their wishes, you might as well start the screaming match now.  You’ll have to establish how much your primary partner wants to hear about your activities with your FWB as well.  Some people might like to pretend that the extracurricular partner doesn’t exist, while others might get off on hearing the details of your outside encounters.

Step 3: Don’t Play Dirty

Once you’ve established the rules, follow them.  Don’t even try to bend them.  You’re just asking for trouble.  Amendments can be made by both (or all three) of you when appropriate, but if it hasn’t been previously discussed, don’t let it happen in the heat of the moment or you’ll have a lot of clean up to do afterward.

Practicing safe sex pretty much goes without saying, but is especially important in casual encounters with more than one person.  Educate yourself on the risks and protect yourself from diseases and unwanted pregnancy.  These are complications you don’t need in a situation that was designed purely for fun.

Once you’ve laid the appropriate groundwork and made sure everyone involved is safe and happy, you can start enjoying the rewards of your hard work.  Sex with your FWB can be extremely rewarding because though you trust and respect him or her, you don’t have to worry about the daily complications a committed relationship presents.  If you have a partner and your FWB is just outside fun, remember that you have to pour even more enthusiasm into your primary sex life so your partner doesn’t feel neglected.  It’s a delicate balance to achieve, but if you can work it out to everyone’s advantage, you’ll be having more fun than you thought possible!

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Sarah Stefanson has been a writer, editor and owner of publications online and in print. She published Saskatoon Well Being Magazine in her hometown and has been a regular contributor to AskMen.com, TheSoko.com and Cahoots Magazine among others. She is working on her first book of poetry.