What is “Friends With Consequences”?

This is a nonfiction post which has also been cross posted to my FetLife.

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Friends with Consequences is a term originally coined by my friend Arran in a conversation where he came out with, “Friends with consequences is the spanko version of friends with benefits”

This was a couple years back, in 2021, and it’s since been used among our circle of friends as an often lighthearted, sometimes somewhat joking way to refer to the types of relationships we often end up having with each other.

We tend to use to it to refer broadly to any friendship between people who recurrently engage in spanking (or related) play together, especially (though not necessarily or always) with a disciplinary headspace.

It perhaps began as as a bit of a joke and a play on ‘friends with benefits’, but it’s proved to be a very useful term.

Often, I find myself in situations where I am certainly not romantic with someone, not having sex, or engaging in a way that feels particularly ‘sexual’, not in a formal dynamic, and yet not really entirely platonic either.

It often doesn’t appear to be, or feel as though it’s ‘in between’ being platonic vs romantic etc either. It just feels like ‘something else’.

“There appears to be somewhat of a lexical gap,” another friend said in a recent conversation about these sorts of spanko friendships.

And I agree, there doesn’t really seem to be any other good existing term available, so it seems convenient to use this one.

Still, having a term available doesn’t always make everything immediately simple and easy to define.

Someone recently asked me how many people I was ‘friends with consequences’ with.

And much like being asked, “how many friends do you have?” this was difficult to answer.

The informality of it, and lack of strict defining of what the parameters are make it hard to decide what ‘counts’, and the term only seems to work when not too strictly defined.

For myself, I would probably consider myself ‘friends with consequences’ with anyone I know well enough, and have had enough past negotiation and/or previous spanko interactions with, that one of us could potentially initiate a form of spanko play (eg. bratting, scolding, giving of a consequence, etc) with the other, without specifically negotiating at the point of play.

To be clear, I’m not saying that further negotiation never happens – just that there is some form of ‘ongoing-ness’ to the way we are able to interact in this way.

But do we need a term at all? Perhaps we should do away with labels.

Well, labels can be useful, including labels that help define our type of relationship with someone. It’s useful to be able to describe someone as your girlfriend, as opposed to your coworker, or to make it clear someone is your brother and not your life partner.

Single lexical words (or short-phrase terms) can often simplify this process, so we can say “this is my girlfriend” instead of “this is a person with whom I am romantically involved” which is clunky, to say the least.

So yes, I do find it useful to fill this lexical gap.

And I enjoy using the term – it feels fun, and light hearted. I like the informality of it, and the way it plays on another well known term, which is relatable, but something not entirely the same.

So here’s to my friends with consequences…

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