There are any number of reasons why you might be looking for a 'no strings attached' relationship. Perhaps you've just split up with a long-term girlfriend and feel emotionally fragile.
Maybe you want to devote the lion's share of your time to your career, leaving no time for full-on romantic commitment.
Whatever the reason, not wanting a serious relationship doesn't mean you're happy to miss out on female companionship altogether. So if you're looking for a friend with all sorts of benefits, here's how to handle it.
You might want no strings attached fun, but you don't want to hurt anyone. Be honest from the start and let any potential bedmates decide if they're happy with what you're offering.
Luring a string of women into bed with the illusory promise of long-term romance will cause pain and resentment, and your reputation will soon go before you. Being honest about your intentions may lose you a couple of potential bedpost notches, but at least it makes you a decent bloke.
"What men don't realise is that whisper it we like the odd 'no strings attached' thing as well," says Lorna, 30. "But everyone has to be straight from the start."
It's not just about sex
You may think that a no strings attached relationship is primarily about sex, and for some people it is. But you may find it offers a lot more besides.
If you start sleeping with a friend, remember that the term 'friends with benefits' gives equal weight to the 'friends' bit. Don't just make it about sex. Have fun, in the same way you did before the 'benefits' kicked in. Go out together (as friends, not partners). Be there when she needs to moan about the boss. Then, when the benefits end, you might still have the friendship.
But it is about sex (for both of you)
"One problem with agreeing to no strings attached is that the sex can be crap," says Lisa, 32. "The bloke isn't impressing his girlfriend, or someone who he wants as a girlfriend, so he doesn't put in the effort."
It's a fair point. You might want no strings attached for the uncomplicated sexual satisfaction, but guess what, so does she. In other words, bring your A game to the bedroom, else the benefits won't last for long.
If you do, you could be in for a treat. Sex without all the emotional baggage and personal politics of a relationship can be the best sex of all.
Respect her rules
She's not your girlfriend so respect her boundaries. Just because you're feeling amorous at two in the morning doesn't mean she is. No late-night cold calling, and no pressure for impromptu liaisons (ask the question, by all means, but respect her response).
There's another point about boundaries, says Lisa. "A bloke might say, let's keep it no strings attached, but then ask you out for dinner. That sounds a bit like a date. It's a tricky balancing act how do you stop it becoming something more?"
It's not easy, but one simple rule applies. If she seems to want more, and you don't, it's time to get out. And if you start wanting more but she still doesn't, the same is true.
The upsides of the arrangement are many, but there are real downsides too. Emotional attachment is one. And remember, you didn't want a girlfriend at the start, so you can't start expecting her to be one just because you've found out what a great lover she is.
So if she has more than one friend with benefits on the go, you've got to be fine with it. If she falls in love with one of them, you have to wish her well and quietly back away. If she tells you she wants more and it's everything or nothing, then nothing it is.
And the fact is, if you were friends initially, you might not be again. "I slept with a friend a few times when we'd both just come out of long term relationships," says Dave, 29. "It was a mistake. We crossed a boundary and we couldn't be good friends any more."
That's not unusual. Sleeping with friends complicates matters. It has to be exactly the right thing for both of you if you want it to end well.
And end it will. That's the point. If it didn't end it would be a relationship, and if that's not what you want then at some point you have to go back to being friends without benefits.
When that time comes, both of you have to back away quickly and quietly. If she doesn't want to be your once-in-a-while lover anymore, respect it. No pleading phone calls or amorous texts at closing time. If you do stay friends, it might be a good idea to avoid being alone together for a few months after the benefits have ended.
You should also be discreet. Her future boyfriends and your future girlfriends won't be comfortable knowing about your intimate arrangement, and she won't appreciate being gossiped about.
It's a difficult trick, but if you're both focused on the mutual satisfaction of physical needs and at a time in your lives when you really want to avoid commitment, no strings attached can work. But the dangers are real. It risks friendships, and if lust starts morphing into love, it may even cost you a higher emotional price than you bargained for.
Share on Facebook: Share