How Long Can a Friends With Benefits Relationship Last

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Discover the factors that can influence the longevity of friend-with-benefits relationships. Learn what you and your FWB can do to enjoy a healthy casual experience.

Casual dating has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially among young adults exploring their sexuality. But how long can a friends-with-benefits relationship last? 

It’s a tricky question that doesn’t come with a precise answer. In this article, I’ll explore some of the factors that can determine the success and longevity of this type of relationship. 

What Is a Friends With Benefits Relationship?

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An FWB relationship is a connection between two people who are close friends yet also engage in sexual activities with each other.

This type of relationship is often seen as a way to get physical intimacy without committing to any kind of romantic relationship or expectations. As such, it can be a great option for those who want to explore the physical aspect of relationships without getting too emotionally involved.  

Why Do People Get Into FWB Relationships?

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They don’t want a commitment

The most common reason people enter friends-with-benefits relationships is the lack of commitment required. In a traditional relationship, there are usually expectations around monogamy, exclusivity, and eventually moving in together or getting married. 

However, in an FWB relationship, there are no such expectations. This can appeal to people who are not ready for a committed relationship or do not want the hassle of dealing with one.

The lack of drama

Another benefit of an FWB situation is that there is typically less drama than in a traditional relationship. That’s because there are no expectations or obligations in a friends-with-benefits relationship, so there is less chance for conflict or misunderstanding. 

The freedom to be themselves

People often feel they can’t be themselves around a long-term partner, so they choose to get into FWB relationships instead. This type of connection allows them to be free from the pressures of a traditional union, such as having to constantly impress their partner or always being on their best behavior. In a friends-with-benefits relationship, you can relax and be yourself, which can be a refreshing change for many people.

They’re hoping it will turn into a real relationship

Many people enter a friends-with-benefits dating arrangement because they have already caught feelings for the other person. They believe that becoming physically intimate will make their “friend” fall in love with them too. But while the best relationships are those in which the partners are first and foremost friends, an FWB relationship can be tricky to navigate in the presence of unrequited feelings. 

How Long Can a Friend With Benefits Relationships Last?

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How long do friends with benefits relationships last, depends on different factors, such as whether both parties are clear about their intentions, how emotionally invested they are in each other, and how comfortable they feel about the situation. 

Generally speaking, if both parties are open and honest about their feelings and intentions, the friendship has a better chance of lasting longer than if one or both parties are not being truthful or are hesitant to communicate openly. 

When it comes to data, a 2-year 2-part study of 191 people in FWBRs that began in 2020 revealed some interesting statistics:

  • Only 15% were able to build a romantic relationship with their FWB partner after the first year
  • Nearly 25% stayed in the same situation as before
  • 28% decided to be just friends without any benefits 
  • and 31%, unfortunately, had no contact at all after the first year finished

The second part of the study showed that 40 percent of those participants who stayed in the FWB after the first year chose to keep being FWBs, indicating that these types of connections can last. An impressive 60%, however, found themselves firmly back on platonic grounds.

A Canadian study of 281 undergraduates aged 18-40 revealed their experiences in friends-with-benefits relationships. Results showed that:

  • 38% reported positive outcomes
  • 37% classified their experiences as neutral
  • 40% indicated they wouldn’t enter an FWB relationship again

Furthermore, emotional complications were experienced by both sexes, which resulted in severely negative experiences for 22% of the participants. Surprisingly (or not), men had greater expectations entering into this kind of relationship, hoping they would go from no strings attached to a fully committed union.

Here are a few other things that the study results showed: 

  • 14% of FWBRs lasted more than four months
  • 32% managed to stay together between 4 and 6 months
  • 24% stuck around for up to 8 months before calling it quits
  • 17% made it until 10 months but couldn’t go further
  • 7% stayed together within the year 
  • Only 6% were able to hold out between 12 and 24 months

Another interesting finding says that women are less likely to practice exclusivity in an FWB relationship than men, indicating significant changes in the traditional roles of men and women and a more complex interplay between gender identities in modern relationships. 

How To Know It’s Time To End the Relationship

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One of you starts wanting more from the relationship

Whoa, feelings; they can really creep up on you when you least expect it! 

When you’re in a casual relationship, and one of you starts to feel more than that, things can get awkward. If your feelings start shifting from merely platonic or friendly to something deeper and exclusive, it’s time for an honest conversation. Pause for a second and evaluate what’s really going on between the two of you — is everyone still on the same page? 

Have the courage to express what you are feeling – if both of you want the same thing, maybe a serious relationship is worth considering. However, if not, don’t be afraid to call it quits fast because unreciprocated feelings just cause unnecessary heartache (and drama!)

You’re not comfortable with it anymore 

People often think casual sex is the holy grail of sexual independence, but it doesn’t always lead to happiness and fulfillment. Plenty of men and women love going for one-night stands – so much so that they become pros! 

But then reality hits; something inside them says this doesn’t make sense anymore. There may be a yearning for emotional connection or stability offered by relationships rather than playing games and having zero expectations. 

And it makes sense: if you’re not having fun with a particular situation, especially one that involves physical intimacy, which can be so risky emotionally speaking, then perhaps, it’s time to let go.

Your partner doesn’t respect you

Regardless of the nature of your relationship, respect is essential. In a friends-with-benefits arrangement, that becomes even more important since, fundamentally, what you have is a friendship, and those require mutual respect.

However, if your partner has started to make excuses when it comes to meeting up or if they treat you like disposable while having their way with you – it’s time for the relationship to end before it causes anyone heartache or pain.

It’s preventing you from going after what you want

Friends-with-benefits relationships can be a lot of fun (and a great way to enjoy all the benefits of a relationship without any of the commitment!), but it comes a time when you start feeling the need for a change. 

Knowing when it’s time to cut ties and move on from this type of relationship is crucial. And not only because it’ll help you avoid getting hurt but also because the longer it continues, the more likely it is to prevent you from pursuing what would make you truly happy – a more meaningful bond with another person. 

Having an open conversation is the best way to part ways amicably and explore other relationships without feeling guilty. Be honest with yourself and your partner about what you’re looking for. The key here is having an open and honest conversation about why the ‘relationship’ needs to end so that both parties can go their separate ways and still stay friends.

Parting is such sweet sorrow, but respectful communication can go a long way in keeping things civil.

So, how long can a friends-with-benefits relationship last? 

It really depends on the couple and what their goals are. For some people, it works out great, and they later end up dating or in a committed relationship. Others find that it’s just not what they’re looking for after a while, and they move on. 

Either way, if you’re considering entering a friends-with-benefits relationship, make sure you know what you want and be honest with your friend about your feelings.

Markus is a relationship/dating expert and the editor-in-chief of DatingInspector.com. He first tried online dating in the 90s and now has more than 20 years of dating and relationship experience with women from all over the world. After so many years on the online dating scene, he decided to help other men find casual dates or true love online by sharing his top dating tips.

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