How to Build Healthy Friendships with Privilege

“No, We’re Not Dating”: How to Build Healthy Friendships with Privilege

And how to understand that this format does not suit you at all

Friends with privileges is a relationship format in which partners do not invest romantically and do not build common long-term plans. It may suit people who are not looking for a monogamous relationship. However, partners can harm each other if they do not respect boundaries and agreements.

Who can suit friendship with privileges

According to family psychologist Racine Henry, friendships with privileges can make life easier for those who are comfortable with relationships without obligations. If a person understands that he does not want a romantic relationship, but needs constant sex, this format can close the need for physical intimacy. But you also need to invest in friendship with privileges. Healthy relationships are built on attention, care and honesty.

Sexologist Zhana Vrangalova notes that friendship with privilege helps to explore one’s sexuality. You spend too little time with a one-night stand, and he may not care much about your sexual pleasure. Friends with privileges may have a strong bond and mutual liking, so they will invest more in sexual relationships. 

Who might not like friendship with privileges 

Relationship coach Sarah Louise Ryan argues that the main difficulty is the feelings that arise. During physical intimacy, the body produces happiness hormones – endorphin, dopamine and oxytocin. They, in turn, help to become more attached to a partner, so some may fall in love with friends with privileges. The expert advises avoiding this format if you are easily attached and afraid of rejection. 

Sarah Louise Ryan recommends avoiding privileged friendships if you are prone to jealousy or severely insecure. Otherwise, you may constantly seek approval from your partner. 

Sexologist Sari Cooper adds that friendships with privilege can make people with depression feel worse. Also, a sexologist does not advise those who have experienced sexualized violence to choose for friendship with the privilege of unfamiliar people. If you have triggers that go off during physical intimacy, you can harm yourself and your partner. 

Psychologist Lisa van Raalte warns that sex between friends can change a person’s attitude. For example, he is a great friend, but does not respect your boundaries in sex. Or one of you may fall in love unreciprocally , which can put an end to friendship. 

You should not have sex with a friend you are in love with or who is in love with you. According to Zhana Vrangalova, one of you may hope that later the relationship will grow into something more. In such a case, a privileged friendship can bring a lot of pain due to unfulfilled expectations. 

Things to Discuss When Entering a Friendship with Privileges 

Decide on your expectations 

To begin with, Zhana Vrangalova advises discussing exactly what you mean by “friendship with privileges.” In some relationships, people don’t expect any emotional intimacy and just meet for sex. In other cases, they can be really close friends and spend time together not only in bed. These nuances should be discussed with a potential sexual partner in order to understand how your expectations match. 

Set clear boundaries 

There are several key questions that Zhana Vrangalova recommends discussing with a partner: 

  • How often will you see each other? 
  • Will you spend the night with each other? 
  • Will you only meet for sex or just hang out together sometimes?
  • Will you tell other people about your relationship? 
  • How will you behave in a general company? 
  • Will you have sex with other people? 

Sari Cooper invites you to discuss the practices you plan to try. For example, you’re okay with penetrative sex, but you don’t want oral sex . 

The discussion will make it clear how suitable this format of relations is for you, whether your expectations match, and will save you from misunderstandings in the future. 

Take care of your health

According to Zhana Vrangalova, often in friendship with privileges, both partners have sex with other people. In this case, the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections increases. To avoid this, the specialist suggests discussing how you will protect yourself: 

  • use condoms with each other and with other sexual partners;
  • use only with other partners. 

If you decide not to use barrier contraception, it’s a good idea to get tested for STIs before having sex . 

Agree when this relationship will end 

According to Sarah Louise Ryan, it is important to discuss how long this relationship will last. Until a friend meets another partner? Until he enters a monogamous relationship? 

It is worth discussing exactly how you will act if one of you falls in love with another or simply loses interest in this format of relationships. The conversation will help make sure that both of you are ready for any events and will be able to navigate.

Communicate regularly

Over time, feelings for a person, goals and expectations can change. Lisa van Raalte advises periodically discussing whether the established boundaries suit both of you. For example, at first you agreed to see each other two or three times a week, but later realized that you wanted to limit yourself to meeting on the weekend. 

If you have feelings – do not deny them

Psychologist Racine Henry argues that some people fall into the trap of set limits. Many assume that since two people are not in a relationship, they have no right to experience emotions. But feelings can come. Even if there weren’t any initially and you didn’t want something more, there is no guarantee that the situation will not change. 

You don’t have to deliberately stifle your love. According to sex coach Miysha Battle, your emotions and feelings will accumulate and later can negatively affect you and your relationship with a friend. In this case, Zhana Vrangalova advises to discuss with your partner what to do next. If the crush turned out to be non-reciprocal, discuss whether you should see each other less often or stop meeting altogether. If the two of you are having feelings, decide if you will try to build a more serious relationship. 

How to understand that it’s time to end a friendship with privileges 

Sometimes friendships with privileges may not be what you expected. For example, a friend may stop honoring agreements that were very important to you. Miysha Battle advises you to think about how much you need a relationship in which a person does not comply with the conditions or violates the boundaries. If a conversation with a partner does not help and the situation does not change, it is better to leave this relationship. 

Sari Cooper recommends that you stop having sex with a friend if someone has fallen in love unrequitedly and the meetings are painful. At the same time, a partner who does not reciprocate may consider himself guilty. In such relationships, it is difficult to feel comfortable, and sex can only aggravate the situation.

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