Friends With Benefits : The Lowdown on Keeping it on the Down Low (Part 3)

This is the part 3 of a series adapted from our Horny Asians & Other Tales panel discussion held on June 26th, 2021. Hosted by Malaysian Sex Positive Advocate Jasmine King, Jangan Malu June was a series of virtual talks and workshops celebrating self and sexual empowerment.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who was in love with love. She believed in the bohemian ideals of truth, beauty, freedom and above all, love and its power to transform, sacrifice and grow. Then she moved to New York.

She had her first heartbreak and in a fit of rage, decided that she’ll change the rules of the game. The heartbroken would become the heartbreaker. The virginal ingenue would become the seasoned hedonist. The Charlotte would become the Samantha. So she decided to go out and have some fun.

But her transformation to the savvy temptress wasn’t all that smooth. She got herself in trouble various times (if only she had read Part 2: Risk Awareness). On other days she’ll look in the mirror and wonder if she was really having as much fun as she said she was (clearly she should have started on Part 1: Self Awareness). But the biggest obstacle she had to overcome in each and every single casual love affair was: the dreaded catching feelings.

When she first encountered it, she thought with glee “Hurrah, well the sex is great, so let’s just make him fall in love with me!”

That fizzled out fast as Fling 1 ran out the door as he sensed the change in her. That’s why his nickname is now Ghost.

So the second time that happened, she thought “Mmm.. k let’s just suppress it and pretend it doesn’t exist. But the sex is still good so let’s just carry on.” That was a fate that eventually she concurred was worse than heartbreak. Fling 2 would regale her with tales of his other conquests and she would laugh with him so that she could earn the nickname of the Cool Girl®. Secretly she was dying inside and wondered what could she do more to win his love.

Then funnily enough, the opposite happened with Fling 3. He caught feelings for her but didn’t want to tell her. Instead she sensed it as he started to get jealous of whenever she mentioned she was away on a date or she couldn’t come over that evening. As much as she thought he was a sweetheart and would have said yes, it ended when someone else took his shot and plainly said “I like you. If you like me, let’s see where this goes.” And she said yes to him instead.

Finally, just as how Cinderella found her perfect fit, she came across someone new who was exactly just right. They had the same philosophy and values on casual sex and pleasure. They spoke neutrally about consent, boundaries and what they seek to get out of a situationship. They flirted and sexted, felt mutually safe, respected and trusted. Then they met and it was exactly (and more) of what they imagined a sexcapade would be. It didn’t feel right naming him a Fling. From then on, he was called her Lover.

So what is the moral of this fairytale? Well apart from saving her a lot of tears and anguish if she’d just read both parts to the Friends with Benefits guide, the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle in navigating casual sex is the most essential: Communication & Transparency.

It is also the one that’s often dismissed because hey, isn’t that where the ‘casual’ in casual sex comes from? I don’t even talk about my feelings in my actual long-term relationships!

If you’re asking that question, well then you should re-read the fairytale above and note that the best sex and overall experience happened ONLY when my lover and I (Editor’s Note: Yup, it’s me!) sat down with all our cards on the table and expressed what we each wanted to get out of it.

It took away the uncertainty, the mind games and the worry. As established in the previous guides, casual sex doesn’t mean easy sex, and it is a high risk activity. So if all it takes to reduce this risk and get peace of mind, is just several conversations beforehand and checking in during the course of being friends with benefits – then why not?

So if you’re ready to dive in and learn all about the aspects you’ll need to communicate and be transparent about, let’s go:

1. Physical Compatibility

2. Emotional Compatibility

3. Status Changes

1. Communication & Transparency: Physical Compatibility

With all the guidelines we’ve laid out before, it’s probably easy to forget why we’re here in the first place: because we’re horny and want to engage in good sex!

Good sex doesn’t happen magically and what’s sounds amazing for you, might be a total boner-killer for someone else. So here’s where the fun actually starts even before the carnal pleasures begins. Sit down with your potential partner to openly share your mutual desires and set the expectations of what you want from a physical relationship. It begins outside the bedroom so whether it’s through the initial messaging and calls, or getting to know each other in real life over a date, this is when you’ll set up the parameters of what you’re into and what you’re not.

We guarantee that this is the one time putting together a to-do (or who-to-do) list will be a fun exercise for the both of you! Take the time to compare and discover each others:

• Turn-ons and turn-offs: This could range from erogenous zones, outfits, positions, even body parts and touches. Some may love to be nibbled on the neck but for others, it might be an act that’s too ticklish and uncomfortable. On a lighter note, my partners usually find it such a turn-on when I wear sexy stockings but the moment a partner wears socks to bed, my libido goes out the window!

• Kinks and fetishes: So you want to try out BDSM? Make sure you both establish the relationship beforehand, the level of comfort and using safe words/system (i.e. orange, red) during play. If you’re in a position where you might be bound and gagged, ensure that you also have safe gestures that your Dominant is always keeping an eye out for (e.g. tapping 3 times, showing a hand signal, etc).

Soft and hard limits: Discuss honestly what your boundaries are when it comes to your body and sex acts. Some penis-owners are keen to explore the anal region like rimming or prostate play, others may find it a hard boundary. For some, they prefer giving handjobs instead of blowjobs as they might find it too intimate or demeaning. Whatever your preference, please do not feel pressured to partake in an act or ‘perform’ just because it is a sexual relationship. While the experience is about giving and receiving pleasure, it shouldn’t be at the expense of your own boundaries.

• Fantasies to explore together: So you’ve always wanted to role-play as the Student who needs her grades up and seduces the Teacher? Tell them! Does the idea of sex in a jacuzzi get you frisky? Share it with them and see if this is something they’ll like to explore with you. Unless it’s an act that puts yourself in danger or abusive (i.e. pedophilia, bestiality), be open-minded and avoid kink-shaming as they’re trusting you with their secret fantasies. Not your cup of tea? Remember your limits and just say no thank you and move on.

• Using sex toys: Spice things even further by introducing toys with each other, and it doesn’t have to be limited to just vagina-owners only! You can use partnered toys like vibrating cock-rings to add a new dimension to penetration or even penis-centric Sex Toy like Hedonist’s Eros Male Massager on his shaft during a blowjob that’ll blow his mind just as much. Not a fan of buzzy sex toys? You can also bring in sensory play with pleasure accessories like Iroha’s Petit Clitoral Massager that can be warmed up, cooled down and feels like an extra tongue for your favourite erogenous zones.

2.Communication & Transparency: Emotional compatibility

When I met Lover, I did something for the first time that I haven’t done with anyone else. When he asked what I was looking for, I actually told him the truth.

“I’m still healing from a break-up so I’m not ready to date. I do miss intimacy though so I want the boyfriend experience without the strings.”

With others, I might have been less direct and say something along the lines of “Well let’s go with the flow and see what happens next…” But I’ve learned my lessons from Fling 1, 2, 3, nth, to the point that there was nothing to lose by stating my emotional expectations. And in solidarity, Lover shared his emotional expectations and we agreed to embark on a très sexy adventure and what a journey it was!

Of course not everything needs to be laid out in stone, especially when you’re new to Casual Sex and just getting your feet wet in the FWB pool. However we do recommend getting your partner’s thoughts and preferences on:

•. The level of emotional connection: The Boyfriend/Girlfriend Experience v.s. Wham Bam Thank You Mam. While I was looking for emotional intimacy alongside the physical for passion and desire, you may prefer minimal emotional connection in order to keep it strictly physical.

The Frequency of Contact: Do you only speak to each other when it’s a Business Booty Call? Or are you happy to have friendly check-ins and share that funny meme or cute puppy pic you saw on Reddit?

The level of privacy: Do you both agree on keeping it discreet and staying off each other’s social media? Or is it cool to tell friends you’re casually seeing each other? Do you reveal the depths of your soul to this person during pillow talk? Or keep things hazy and agree on keeping real-life details like jobs, companies, where you live out of the picture?

Exclusivity: Even if it’s casual, we recommend being upfront with whether you both are engaging in sex with others. It’s important to know in terms of your sexual health like protection and getting tested regularly. If you’ve decided to be exclusive sexual partners, then it also affects whether you continue using condoms as protection or birth control only. Just remember that only condoms can safeguard against both STIs and unplanned pregnancies!

As the adage goes, the sexiest organ you own is actually your brain as great sex starts all in the mind. If you know yourself well enough and how it might affect you emotionally, both parties can then avoid mind games and drama in a situationship. By getting on the same page on emotional compatibility, when someone’s actions are not aligning with their words that’s when you know it leads to the next point: having the talk.

2.Communication & Transparency: Status Changes

“We need to talk…” is probably the shortest horror story one can come up with. Whether it’s a relationship, personal or even your boss – you can’t help that feeling that shudder of dread and the knee-jerk response “Uh-oh”. That pretty much explains why ghosting is such the norm nowadays that when someone actually communicates politely that they’re no longer interested, it’s almost seen like a unicorn!

I jest but there is truth behind that. Unfortunately I’ve been both the ghoster and the ghostee and while I’m not proud of my spooky inclinations at that point of time, ideally I should have been respectful when it was time to move on. At the end of the day, you are dealing with another human being with feelings and whom you’ve shared very intimate physical and emotional experiences with. Do unto others as you would like to be treated yourself and be the bigger person. There are exceptions to this though. If you feel unsafe with the reactions of your partner (e.g. if he lashes out, gaslights, refuses to accept) then it’s reasonable to go no-contact and remove/block them from reaching you.

That’s the hypothetical scenario that the expiry date to the Casual Sex arrangement has arrived. What happens if it’s the other way around and you actually want more?

If you don’t take your shot and tell them, you’ll never know if they feel the same way. While it might be tempting to keep it to yourself and pretend that you haven’t caught feelings for your sexual partner, it can be detrimental for your mental and emotional health during the relationship. Case in point was the story of Fling 2 when I was pretending to be the Cool Girl®. I spent nights secretly checking out the profiles of the IG models he was seeing after being at his place , then wondering what was missing with me.

Short answer to that? Nothing. I was worthy of being loved as myself and I deserved more than hanging around for attention crumbs because I was too afraid to tell him and hear a ‘No’.

In my latest workshop Sex Ed for Adults with Jasmine King, another question that came up was “ Is it weird to go from fuck buddies to a real couple?”

I think the underlying question that’s insinuated is: “Will it ever work if you fall in love from falling in lust?”

My answer would be: “Why not?”

Relationships start and end in a myriad of ways. You have stories of;
the Meet-cutes (”Oh our hands bumped when reaching for our favourite book in the store!”);
the Evergreens (“We were college sweethearts…”);
the Popular (“Our friends introduced us and we hit it off!”) ;
and even Traditional (“It was an arranged marriage”).

Yet somehow when the story begins with “I was at the club and he was hot so I brought him home…”, somehow that invalidates the entire relationship’s future.

I’ve had friends with benefits who taught me so much about myself, made me feel good and appreciated me for who I am during the duration of our relationships. On the flip side, I’ve had boyfriends who shamed and gaslit me about asking for what I truly deserve and feeling like I needed to keep doing more and more to be worthy of their love.

Moral of the story? The label of ‘real relationship’ v.s ‘fuck buddy’ doesn’t matter – it’s how you feel and the version of you that shows up when you’re with them.

And what if society frowns on it? Well screw them (… ah but they wished ;))

We’ve come (one last pun!) to the end of the Friends With Benefits guide series and I hope it’s been as good for you as it was for me. There’s nothing inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’ about Casual Sex as a concept. It’s all about choice, and it’s ok for you to want Casual Sex and it’s also ok for you to say ’Nah, it’s not for me…’.

The main takeaway from this series that I will leave you with is that access to you and your body is a privilege. Anyone who’s lucky enough to be intimate with you should be aware of that privilege so don’t let them make you feel otherwise. And if drama ever outweighs the pleasure you receive, then it’s ok to play gatekeeper, close the door and walk away.

There are 2 comments

  1. I have a friend who seems like she would potentially be open to a Fwb situationship. Should discussions of a Fwb situation occur only after the first sexual encounter or before? How do I even bring it up when we’ve already been friends for awhile?

    1. Hi there, thanks for writing in! I totally understand it feeling trickier especially if you’ve been friends and you’re not sure if she’ll feel the same way. Be more flirtatious in your conversations with her but remember there’s a fine line between being suggestive and being creepy! I’m a fan of being straight-forward to avoid mind games so you could say “You know, I’ve always had a crush on you… are you seeing anyone at this time?” The conversation should definitely happen before the first sexual encounter just to make sure you’re both on the same page if there isn’t an expectation that you’re looking for a long-term romantic relationship. Just remember to be respectful and empathic at all times (even when you’re feeling hot for her)… good luck!

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