A recent study about young adults and their “friends with benefits” (FWB) relationships reported men were more likely than women to have had such a relationship in the past year. Not surprisingly, only a small handful of these situations turn into lasting relationships. Only 24.8 percent of men hoped that their relationship would progress into a committed one, whereas 39.5 percent of women hoped for progression to a committed relationship. But that’s the whole point, right? Three observations were made: the negative reactions created psychological distress as the positive reactions didn’t really have any effect at all. Few, if any of these relationships result in committed relationships, similarly most don’t expect them too, yet they feel “stuck” in the situation. Finally, more often than not, the women expected the relationship to move in a more committed direction, while the men did not.
Most of the time when young adults engage in these sorts of relationship, alcohol was involved. What’s easier than texting your friend at 3 a.m. after a night out and asking plainly “Want to come over”? It’s convenient and kind of fun — and sure there are some upsides for young adults in these situations. There’s an opportunity for unbiased sexual exploration without the fear of being judged; the point is simply mutual satisfaction. There are also some drawbacks. An article published last year by CNN.com points out that you are less likely to be vigilant about wearing a condom with a friend or asking if a friend has been tested, leading to the potential spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
It’s all about expectations and honesty from the get-go in any FWB relationship. If you think you can handle being in a situation where neither party has any desire to take things to the next (read: committed) level and be happy with just sex, that’s awesome. Enjoy it.
On the other hand if you’re anything like a lot of us, sexual intimacy alters your perspective of your sex partner. If you’ve known a person for years and consider them one of your best friends, be wary of taking it to a sexual level. You probably won’t have that friend when it’s all over. Someone is bound to develop feelings and someone will get hurt. The stakes are super high when you embark on sexual exploits with your friends.
As this study pointed out, women more than men expect the relationship to go somewhere else, this doesn’t mean men can’t also get hurt. In fact, many men take the “friend” route in hopes to one day date their friend. Sadly, the study didn’t explore these emotional responses…and maybe they are just that “emotional responses” but that doesn’t make them invalid feelings.
At the end of it all, is it really worth possibly throwing away an amazing friendship just to have convenient sex? Let’s not kid ourselves, sex is great and fun and good for you, but if you are going to embark on a FWB journey, try to do it without alcohol. And be really honest with yourself and your fellow FWBer — it’s just about the sex and if emotions suddenly get involved, something has got to give.
If you’ve secretly been pining after your best from for years, then the best advice is probably not to sleep with them. Instead, try communicating with them about your feelings. After all, that’s what friends are for, right?.