How To End A Friends With Benefits Relationship (But Stay Friends)

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So, you’ve been in a no-strings-attached relationship with a friend, but you want to go back to being just friends?

It can feel really weird going from sleeping with someone to re-entering the friend-only zone…

…but, remember, you were ‘just’ friends before, and you’ll be able to get back there if you both commit to it.

It can be tricky to navigate this kind of ‘breakup,’ but there are ways to make it work!

First, ask…

Why do you want to end this FWB relationship?

Think about why you’re choosing to take a step back from sleeping with your FWB…

1. You’re starting to have feelings for them.

If you’re having feelings for the friend you’re sleeping with, you should probably have a chat with them about it.

You were just friends before all of this, after all, so you know that you can be honest with them.

They may be feeling the same way, which gives you something else to explore, or they may admit to just enjoying the sex itself.

If you want to go back to being just friends after having feelings for a FWB, take it slowly, give yourself some space and gradually start to rebuild your friendship. 

2. You’re starting to have feelings for someone else.

If you want to end your FWB relationship because you like someone else, you have to make sure you’re looking out for your friend’s feelings as well as yours!

It can be all too easy to think that, because things are casual, they’ll be fine if you end things and run off with someone else.

Talk to them honestly about how you’re feeling, make it clear you don’t want to upset them, and then start doing your own thing. 

3. They have feelings for you.

We’ve all seen the movies – FWB gets complicated as soon as someone has feelings for the other person.

If it’s them, not you, who’s developed the feels, you need to be really careful about how you end this relationship.

You know this person and care about them (you are still friends, after all), so you’ll know the best way to speak to them and let them know how you’re feeling.

It might feel brutal at the time, but, if you don’t see things working between you when there are feelings involved, you need to address this sooner rather than later.

4. It’s no longer working for you.

Maybe you’re just not really into them anymore, or the sex isn’t as exciting as it once was.

If your FWB relationship is no longer working for you, you need to be honest about it and gently let your friend know that you’re no longer interested in the ‘benefits’ side of things. 

5. You want to see who else is out there.

You might have reached the point where you want to date other people.

Maybe you started the FWB relationship because you were self-conscious, or wanted to get some experience with someone you’re comfortable with before you start dating properly.

Either way, it’s totally normal to want to meet other people and enjoy yourself!

A FWB relationship is likely to stand in the way of you fully committing to the dating scene, so ending it is the best option in this case. 

10 Steps To Breaking Things Off Whilst Remaining Friends

So, you’ve figured out why you want to move on. But how can you go back to being just friends?

1. Respect each other’s boundaries.

If you’ve both agreed to be just friends again, you need to respect each other’s boundaries.

Maybe that means not telling them all about the new person you’re sleeping with – at least, for the first few weeks while you adjust to being just friends again.

Maybe that means not texting them when you’re drunk and a bit lonely at 2am!

Whatever FWB habits you formed with each other, take a step back from these for a bit and focus on just being friends.

Think about what’s appropriate to share and how you’d act with your other friends. 

2. Stick to your decision.

If you’ve both agreed to go back to being friends, you need to respect that decision.

That means not going back on it!

It can be really easy to fall back into old habits, but try not to.

The more you blur those lines, the more confusing it’ll be for you both.

If you’ve decided to end the FWB relationship because you have feelings for them, for example, sleeping with them again is just going to make things even harder for you.

Stick to your guns, power through and, next time you’re tempted to reach out to them, call a different friend instead! 

3. Keep making an effort with them.

It can be really easy to think that ending a FWB relationship will be easier if you just cut that person out of your life.

That’s definitely not the case, and will probably harm your friendship.

Make sure you keep chatting to each other, meeting up, hanging out in groups etc. – whatever works for you both.

The whole point of going back to being just friends is that you get your friend back – so treat them like a friend, show you care about them, and keep spending time with them.

Make them feel appreciated as a friend. Show them that your relationship was always deeper than the physical connection you’ve recently shared. When you hang out with them as friends again, let them know how much you’ve enjoyed it and how glad you are to have them in your life.

4. Check how they feel.

This one is so important.

If the decision to go back to being just friends was yours, you need to consider how the other person is feeling.

Sure, they might have gone along with your choice or agreed with you, but there may be some part of them that misses that relationship – or even has some feelings for you.

Try to be careful while you navigate the transition to being friends again.

Be mindful of their feelings, check in with them, and be kind.

If they suggest that they’re having a tough time or want to go back to being FWB, maybe offer to give them a bit more space if they think that will help them.

It can be hard, especially when you care about them, but it’ll be best for your friendship in the long run if you can give them the time to heal a little bit now. 

Whatever you do, don’t try to cheer them up with one last round of ‘pity sex’ because they’ll think you’re not serious about ending things. It’ll confuse them and make them think you want to keep having sex with them.

5. Check in with how you feel.

No matter who ended things, it’s important to work out how you feel about it all. It is quite normal to feel sad, even if it’s a decision that you made or one that you agree with.

Even as friends with benefits, sex leads to the release of all sorts of feel-good chemicals and hormones, and losing this intimacy with someone can be a bit disappointing.

It’s normal to grieve this type of relationship. You have lost the sex and the enjoyment that brings – temporarily at least. It can leave you feeling somewhat frustrated at times when you don’t have that same physical release on a regular basis.

But you need to get beneath the surface of this frustration, disappointment, and sadness to understand your true feelings about the ending of the relationship to ensure that you don’t make any rash decisions you might regret.

6. Talk to someone about it.

As with any ending of a relationship, your thoughts and feelings can be a bit all over the place. It can be a good idea to talk things through with a close friend or family member for support and for clarity about the situation.

If you don’t have anyone you can talk to – either because no one knew what was going on or because you are not comfortable talking about it with someone you know – consider connecting with one of the experts from Relationship Hero. This online chat service will help you to sort through your emotions, work out the best way to end things, and deal with the aftermath.

Click here to start chatting with someone now.

7. Communicate honestly.

This is an important part of any friendship, but it’s key to any FWB relationships that are going back to being just friends.

Be honest with each other when you’re talking about why and how you think you can go back to being just friends.

There’s no point lying or hiding things from each other, as this will only make things more confusing or complicated.

8. Keep things friendly.

You might be used to seeing this particular friend on a Friday evening in a bar before you head back to theirs.

Now that you’re just friends, try to avoid things that may trigger those kinds of memories.

Instead of doing things you used to do together when you were in a FWB relationship, try doing things that are strictly friendly!

So, spend more time together in the day rather than in cozy, dark bars, for example.

Of course, you can go for drinks together, but it might help to avoid that kind of thing at first, just to mark the transition back to friendship. 

9. Take a breather.

If there were some feelings involved from either of you, you may want to consider taking a breather for a little while.

Things can get pretty intense and feelings might feel stronger than they normally would because you’ve already got such a great foundation as friends.

You might want to suggest giving each other some space and taking some time to process.

You may need to move on, they may need to move on, or things may just need to cool off a bit before you can spend time as just friends.

This is totally normal and doesn’t mean that you’ll never speak again – it just gives the person with feelings the time to grieve the relationship they were hoping for. 

10. See other people.

We’re not saying you need to sleep with someone new to move on, but it might help to see how you feel about other people in order to gain some perspective on how you really feel about this FWB.

You might realize your feelings for your FWB weren’t really as strong as you thought.

They might see someone else and realize their feelings for you weren’t as strong as they thought.

Either way, it gives you a fresh way of looking at your FWB relationship and will help you get back to being just friends in a healthy, conscious way.

The key thing to remember when ending a friends with benefits relationship is that you were and are friends.

You know each other and you care about each other.

If one of you has developed feelings, you want to see other people, or things just aren’t working for you anymore, be honest.

As your friend, they’ll appreciate that – they know you, after all, so they’re probably pretty in-tune with how you’re feeling!

It can be tricky to navigate this kind of transition, so be patient with yourself and the other person and remember to check in with each other.

You might need a little bit of time apart to ‘reset’ into being just friends, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

Still not sure what to do about your friends with benefits arrangement? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What should I say if they want to know my reasons for ending things?

There’s a good chance the other person will want to know why you want to end the FWB arrangement you’ve got. And you should be honest with them about this. Although they are your friend, you shouldn’t try to sugar-coat your reasoning to spare their feelings. You can’t transition back into being ‘just friends’ again by lying to them. Honesty is a mark of respect, and it will go a long way in maintaining your friendship after the sex has ended.

What if they don’t want to be ‘just friends’ again?

Should your FWB not want to return to being ‘just friends’ because they enjoy the physical side too much or they have developed feelings for you, the best thing to do is to give them time and space to come to terms with your decision. It’s amazing how a little distance can put things into perspective and help them see that your platonic friendship is worth saving.

But if they struggle to accept the reality of being friends without the benefits, you might not be able to salvage the friendship. This is a breakup of sorts, even if you don’t see it as such. And breakups don’t always go smoothly. Sadly, this is the risk you take when you get into a FWB relationship in the first place.

What if they keeping trying to booty call?

If they message or call you asking if you’d like to hook up again, you must stay firm and say no. You may be tempted for all sorts of reasons, but the moment you give in to their request for sex, you encourage them to try again and again. If you say yes once, they’ll be convinced that you’ll say yes again which can lead to difficult conversations and tricky situations in the future.

Why does ending a FWB hurt?

A friends with benefits relationship is still a relationship of sorts. It involves intimacy and connection with someone you already shared a friendship with.

When it ends, it can feel like you’ve lost something from your life. Not only the sex, but the closeness you had with your friend. You may also fear losing the other person from your life forever.

You may even regret getting physical with them in the first place, even if you enjoyed yourself at the time. In hindsight, you may see it as a poor decision that could cost you someone you hold dear.

And then there are the emotions surrounding being ‘single’ again. It may not have been a fully committed relationship, but you weren’t entirely single either. It can feel lonely to have no one with whom you can share that physical connection.

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About Author

Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.