If movies about finding a friend with benefits — like that one literally called Friends With Benefits — are to be believed, then you can expect to just fall into a casual sexual relationship whenever you want one. You can also expect your casual sex buddy to end up being your One True Love™, because Hollywood doesn't really believe that sex can just be sex. But real life isn't like the movies, and if you want a sex buddy, then you're going to have to put a little effort into finding one.
Just like looking for a real relationship, you can go about finding a friend with benefits (or fwb, if you're trying to save syllables) in one of two ways: either online or IRL. Going the Tinder route might be easiest if you're a lil' bit introverted, because you don't have to look anyone in the face and ask if they're into casual sex. Just make sure that you're clear about what you're looking for upfront, says Emily Morse, PhD, sexologist and host of the Sex With Emily podcast. But don't be too vulgar or rude. "It’s best not to say, 'I’m just looking for sex,' right out of the gate, because even to seasoned casual daters, that can come off a little harsh," Dr. Morse says. Instead, say in your profile that you're not looking for anything serious right now, or that you just want to have fun.
Then, when you've started talking to someone, spell out what you mean. "I’m all for the direct approach — why waste anyone’s time if you know what you want?" Dr. Morse says. That means being super clear about what you want to get out of this arrangement. Don't just tell your potential fwb that you want casual sex, explain what casual sex means to you. Because friends with benefits might mean something totally different to you than it does to them. And you need to set ground rules before you start hooking up. Do you just want to have sex with this person and nothing else? Or is it okay for you to hang out as friends, too? Are you both going to be hooking up with other people as well? Are you going to hook up at your place or theirs? Are you both going to get tested for STIs before you have sex for the first time? (You really should, cause safe sex is the best sex).
These are all questions you should ask no matter if you find your fwb online or in real life, but they could change depending on the previous relationship you've had with this person. Maybe you have a random one-night-stand and then ask if it could be turned into something more. You can simply say, "I don't want a relationship, but I had a fun time last night and was wondering if you'd want to keep having sex, casually." If that's the case, then the context of those questions doesn't really change.
But if the person you want to turn into a fwb is already a friend or acquaintance, then the conversation gets a little more complicated, Dr. Morse says. "No one is 'off-limits,' but there are some people in your life that wouldn’t be the smartest choice," she says. Coworkers, neighbors, your best friend's brother or sister, and anyone else who's a big part of your life and who you'll see frequently at social events might not be the best idea. "If you have a history with this person, feelings might develop and if things don’t work out, you may end up losing a really good friend in the process," Dr. Morse says. So weigh the risks. If things go south, are you okay with cutting ties from the person you want to turn into a fwb?
If so, then go ahead and approach your acquaintance. Chances are, you've already been flirting, so take the flirting to the next level and suggest a casual sexual relationship. But again, remember the ground rules. They're even more important if you already know your potential fwb. "If you do approach an existing friend about this, you want to make sure there is a way to end the benefits aspect and still remain friends once it’s over," Dr. Morse says. Sex often complicates any relationship, so it might not be easy to retain the friendship. But, if that's what you want, then it's essential to communicate clearly with your soon-to-be sex buddy, and make sure you're on the same page. "If you already know you’re exclusively looking for a fwb, you want to be honest from the get-go so you don’t wind up hurting anyone’s feelings," Dr. Morse says. "If it was a random hookup or if things got too hot and heavy before the conversation could be had, be sure to define things as quickly as you can."