How Do I Find a Friend With Benefits?


Hey Doc, 

So I’m a guy who’s interested in having casual encounters or developing a friends with benefits situation. My issue is that I think I don’t have the right social circle for that. Now I know that this seems like I’m trying to avoid responsibility for my own failures but let me elaborate.

Due to the religious and “cultural” environment where I live, it’s really difficult to find other people who are openly interested in sex in a more casual context. I’ve been carefully trying to drop hints here and there in more socially “safe” situations hoping someone might notice and reciprocate. But I keep running into the same problem, which is that all the people I’m friends with seem to be universally against, or just not interested in that sort of thing. Online hasn’t been much better.

I know that people who are into what I want are out there and exist, but I can’t help but feel like I’ve managed to befriend and meet everyone one else but them. The feedback I’ve gotten from other people is that I’m fun, decently attractive (with some effort), and nonjudgmental (I’m aware I’m describing the bare minimum here)

So what my question is: Am I just somehow not meeting the right people? Am I simply incompatible or don’t attract someone who might be interested? Or are my hints just not as clear as I imagine them to be?

No Strings on Me

There are a lot of possibilities here, NSM, and it’s important to remember that it may not be any one particular issue. Sometimes, when we struggle with finding partners who are looking for the same things we are, the issue can be a combination of challenges.

First and foremost is the cultural issue. While sex is universal and people’ve been having no-strings hook-ups from the moment we came up with the concept of exclusivity and commitment, there are places where it’s much harder – even potentially deadly for many, especially LGBTQ people – to find folks who are both open to a casual encounter and are open about wanting it. While there’re likely people in your community who’re cool with a casual relationship, the more social opprobrium there is against sex outside of marriage (or at least, without commitment), the more likely they are to be guarded and less-willing to raise their hands when someone’s going around looking for a friends-with-benefits (FWB) relationship.

Secondly: yes, it’s entirely possible, even likely, that folks aren’t picking up on your signals. The problem with “dropping hints”, especially in “safe” situations is that there’s subtle and then there’s absolutely freaking unreadable. This actually ties into the social and cultural aspect, at least in part. If you’re having to be covert because premarital sex or casual sex is frowned upon or even forbidden, then you run the risk of being so subtle or so oblique that people have no idea what you’re talking about. When you can’t straight up say what it is that you’re looking for, then there’s a lot of room for misunderstanding, misinterpretation or even just having no idea what you’re getting at. There’s only so much “so what about a little ‘how’s your father?’” or “Are you a goer? Are you a go-getter, wink-wink-nudge-nudge-say-no-more” that you can toss out there before people just stare in confusion.

Of course, it’s also possible that people know exactly what it is that you’re asking about and they’re choosing to leave the hints that you’re dropping where they lay. Because a lot of men react badly to being rejected, a lot of people – especially women – have incentive to give either soft “no”s to men who ask them out. These soft “no’s” are a way of turning someone down without explicitly saying “no I’m not interested, thanks,” by giving some plausible reason why they can’t; it’s often a complete fiction, but it’s a fiction designed to give men the wave-off without necessarily pricking their ego and turning them into giant hulking rage-monsters. Sometimes these soft “no’s” involve logistical impossibilities, sometimes they involve pre-existing commitments or even the classic “I’m just not ready to date right now.” Other times, those no’s come in the form of obfuscating cluelessness, where they deliberately miss or fail to understand what the other person is asking of them. By not even addressing the request, they avoid the potential awkwardness and discomfort of having to turn someone down at all. Men will sometimes take a “I can’t this week” as a sign to keep proposing alternate days and times or “I’m not ready to date” as a sign to hang around until that mythical window of opportunity opens. Pretending to have absolutely no clue what they mean lets people sidestep the question entirely… or at least until someone gets so frustrated that they ask for it straight up and then they’re forced to say “no, thank you” because the guy turns out to be more persistent than the average bear.

However, there’s also a third and fourth possibility: your friends in your immediate social circle aren’t interested, or the way you’re going about trying to find a FWB is working against you.

Here’s the thing: people often have some misconceptions about casual relationships and FWBs and – importantly – how one goes about finding them. One of the most common is that casual relationships and FWB relationships are ways that you can get around doing the usual “dating” process. A lot of people think that, because the word “casual” is in there – or, in the case of FWB, implied – that this is like “Dating: The Good Parts Version”, where they don’t have to do the wine-and-dine song and dance. The problem is, they tend to think that the word “casual” being in the mix means that they can treat the people they’re sleeping with casually… including that whole “skip the courtship process and move straight to the banging” thing.

While there’re certainly folks on Tinder, OKCupid, Hinge and other dating apps who’re down to clown with someone they’ve just matched with, even people who are open to a no-strings-attached hook-up that night don’t appreciate being treated like a human Fleshlight. As a general rule, even people who are hot, horny and in a hurry are going to want to check for sexual compatibility, mutual attraction, safety and that they’re going to be treated with respect by the person they’re thinking of hooking up with. After all, plenty of people have had the experience of hooking up with someone only to get mediocre sex with someone who’ll then turn around and call them a slut or a whore afterwards.

If you’re hoping that looking for something casual is going to mean that you don’t have to play The Dating Game… well, I hate to tell you this, but you absolutely are. Even if you’re just trying to pick someone up at a bar, you need to be able to talk to them, charm them, and woo them. After all, women may well be interested in something casual, but it’s very rarely worth it for them to take the chance with someone they don’t know. Women who are interested in casual sex want to bang someone they find attractive, sure… but they also want to know that they’re going to be physically and emotionally safe and that the sex is going to be worth the potential risks of social or physical harm. And if you’re in a country or culture where casual sex is a big no-no, they’re especially going to be less interested, unless you’re a known quantity.

And the quickest and easiest way to separate the men from the fuckboys is… well, a date. Possibly even two or three.

Now, making this a little more complicated is that there’s a difference between a casual encounter, a casual relationship and a friend-with-benefits relationship. A casual encounter is just that; it’s two consenting adults getting together specifically for sex. Most of the time, it’s a one-and-done sort of situation. Maybe you two met at a bar, there was chemistry and you two decided to go have a one-night stand. Maybe you hit it off Tinder and specifically got together for sex. Folks get their itches scratched and go their merry way. These are often either a one-time event or happen relatively sporadically. A casual relationship, on the other hand, is just that: a relationship where there’s no expectation of commitment, sexual exclusivity or that the relationship is going to be more serious than a couple of folks who enjoy each other’s company – sometimes naked company, sometimes not. These are often ongoing, hence the term “relationship”; even if you’re not in it for the long-haul, or this isn’t going to lead to something more serious, it’s still a relationship with another person.

A FWB relationship, on the other hand, tends to start out as friends. Sometimes the friendship is flirty from the get-go, other times it develops a flirty vibe and builds from there. However, there’s almost always a baseline of mutual attraction that comes before pivoting to being FWBs. Sometimes folks fall into bed together and then decide to do the FWB thing, other times it’s something they talk out in advance… but the friendship and the attraction are almost always there before the subject comes up. And, quite honestly, a lot of people are hesitant to start adding benefits to their friendships. Occasionally this is due to a sincere belief that sex “ruins” friendships, but more often than not it’s because they don’t trust their friend to stay their friend and not treat them like crap once sex is in the mix. Too many people tend to think of casual relationships as less of a relationship and more “sex-on-demand”, and treat even their supposed friend casually. I’ve seen friendships fall apart once sex was involved, because one person made their relationship just about the sex, and the friendship fell by the wayside.

I bring all of this up because the way you’re going about trying to find that casual fling may be contributing to your struggles, especially within your social circle. If, for example, you’re just dropping hints amongst your friends, and you don’t already have that sexual vibe or mutual attraction going with them, then you’re probably just dropping seeds on stone, not dirt. It’s very, very rare that friends who didn’t already have some flirtatious behavior or simmering attraction to suddenly start being interesting in banging just because someone mentioned it as a possibility. If you haven’t already had that connection with someone in your social circle, you would do better to start focusing on deliberately pinging for mutual interest via some light flirting than doing the equivalent of holding up a sign that says “MY BODY IS AVAILABLE, PLEASE FORM AN ORDERLY LINE”.

And, needless to say, if that mutual interest isn’t already there, bringing up the topic – even if it’s just hinted at – can feel insulting if it’s not handled with care and grace. It’s one thing to say “you know, we’ve always had a great friendship but I feel like we’ve got something more going on.” It’s another for someone to feel like you’re saying “I’m looking to get my itch scratched with minimal effort or commitment on my part… so how you doin’?” That may not be what you’re saying, but there’s a non-zero chance that this is how you’re coming across.

On the other hand, if you’re more interested in meeting folks who aren’t already in your social circle, online dating is likely going to be the most efficient route if you want to make sure that the folks you’re meeting are open to a casual fling. Again, however, you want to make sure that you’re not just one more fuckboy in a line of fuckboys who’s idea of flirting is “hey, here is my penis, how about it?” Just about every woman (and many men) out there has had the experience of dudes who want sex, but think that treating them like a person is optional. This, needless to say, means that women who are interested and open to a low-to-no commitment relationship (or even one night stand) are going to be more circumspect. While assholes are gonna ass and dickheads are gonna dick, being obviously open to hook-ups usually means dealing with a LOT of dick pics and shitty messages.

What I would suggest is that, if dating apps are the route you choose, that you treat this as you would trying to find a date – that is, connecting, chatting and going on an actual date to see about compatibility and chemistry. This doesn’t mean that you hide or obfuscate what you’re open to or available for; quite the opposite, in fact. You want to be clear that you’re not looking for a serious relationship that’s leading to meeting-the-family-moving-in-together-2.5-kids. You also want to be clear about what you are looking for and the kind of relationship you’re open to having. Casual could mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, so being able to say “I’m looking for X, I am not looking for Y” is extremely helpful. It also helps separate you from the folks who use “casual” when they mean “I want to get my rocks off without having to actually think about someone else’s needs”.

This is still going to take time effort. While there’re are undoubtedly folks who either want or are open for that kind of relationship, women in particular are going to have a lot of reasons to be cautious, especially on dating apps. And considering you live in an area where sexual expression is still considered to be inappropriate or unacceptable, they’re going to especially be less likely to want to take someone up on that offer until they have good reason to feel safe about doing so. So you’re going to have to accept that this is going to be a longer process than you might prefer.

But there’s one more thing to consider: you may want to do some self-exploration and ask just why you’re looking for an FWB or casual encounters, rather than short term relationships. As I said: a lot of folks tend to think FWBs and casual relationships are some sort of dating shortcut, where you get to have ALL THE SEX without having to invest the time and effort of dating and relationships or having awkward conversations about monogamy and exclusivity. That sort of belief is what undergirds a lot of the “casual means I can TREAT you casually” attitude that folks have and that makes other folks wary. If you’re not interested in monogamy or exclusivity, it’s better to own that straight up. If you’re not interested in dating and only want flings or one night stands… well, that’s legit, but it’s going to be harder to find where you are.

Similarly, if you’re hoping for an FWB because you want the sort of lower-key, less-intense relationship you have with your friends, but also with sex? Then, again, it’s best to be clear about that, rather than dropping hints and hoping that your friends have been secretly hiding a crush on you all this time. And if you don’t already have a flirty relationship with people in your friend group or some mutual attraction, then you’re almost certainly going to have to widen your search parameters and look beyond the immediate boundaries of your current social circle.

The more you understand WHAT you’re looking for and why, the better you’ll be able to craft your approach to finding it… and to let others know what you up for and open to.

Good luck.

This post was previously published on


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