On cam this week I got into a great discussion about relationships and sex. It got really heated. If you’re having sex with a friend, does it mean you’re in a relationship? If you’re in a relationship but not having sex, does that count? There’s so many avenues to explore.

There are friends with benefits. These are people you have sex with, but without being in a relationship. These arrangements are normally agreed upon by both parties. It’s clear cut and easy to understand. No, we’re not in a relationship, we just having sex with a friend.

Sometimes however you get into situations where it’s not so clear. For instance, what if you’ve had a friend for a long time. A really long time. You’re basically best friends. You flirt a lot and you’re close. You’re not sure if she’s into you though, you’re just really close. But you might have feelings towards her. She might have feelings towards you.

Then one night you both get stupidly drunk and sleep together. What does it mean? Are you in a relationship now? You keep having sex, you’re still close, but neither of you have talked about it. So… are you in a relationship?

The short answer is no. You’re not in a relationship because you haven’t talked about it. Maybe you’re great together, and it’s what you both want. However until you talk and decide together, you shouldn’t assume things.

It can feel especially hard to bring the topic up. If you’ve been friends are a long time it can be scary to think things could crumble. You don’t want to ruin your long standing friendship. But if you have romantic feelings for your friend, and you’ve slept together, you should be open and honest. If you want to be in a relationship with them you need to tell them.

A relationship without sex

I mentioned on cam that I dated a guy for a few months. He was one of the best boyfriends I’ve ever had. However we never had sex during our relationship. Someone says “That’s not a real relationship then. The only difference between a friend and a boyfriend is whether you have sex or not.”

I completely disagree with this statement. Relationships aren’t solely based on sex. They’re not determined solely based on sex. One person’s criteria for what makes a relationship might be different to another person’s criteria, but that doesn’t mean only one of them is correct.

I believe that you’re in a relationship with someone when you’ve spoken to them and agree together. Yes, I want to be in a relationship with you. Will you be my boyfriend/girlfriend? Whether or not you’ve had sex before or after that point doesn’t play a part in it.

When it comes to relationships the best policy is to be open with each other. You need to trust your partner. You need to be able to talk to them and tell them what you think. Setting that standard at the start, but having a talk and deciding to be in a relationship is fantastic. It also means neither of you are confused on the situation.