‘Friends with benefits’ is the term that’s been coined for friends who have casual sex without actually seeing themselves as a couple. The phenomenon seems to be hip – between one and two thirds of young adults in some countries have an ‘FWB’, say researchers.
I want to experiment!
Jane, 25, loves having a friend with benefits.
“Of course I'm ultimately looking for a nice guy to date. But until I find him, I think there is nothing wrong with having some fun. Also, with my buddy I can try all kinds of stuff that I'd be more nervous to try with someone I love. Because if it freaks him out, I can always find someone else.
"There are downsides too, of course. I remember feeling horrible when I called him in the middle of the night planning to hook up, only to find out that he'd found someone else. And you need to be sure that you are both on the same page. I'm always a bit afraid of ending up falling for the guy. Thankfully, that hasn't happened yet!”
Especially young people who aren’t yet sure of what they want in a relationship have friends with benefits, scientists found. Men seem to be more interested in these kinds of arrangement than women are. Also, it seems that people who are very stressed or who drink lots of alcohol regularly are more ready to have sex with friends.
Sex with a friend is convenient. Instead of frantically searching crowded bars to find someone who is up for a one-night stand or paying for sex, you can just call your friend. Young people having friends with benefits say that they'd much rather sleep with someone they trust instead of a stranger. That way, they can have sex with someone they know and are comfortable with, but can still stay single. And they don't have to worry about the commitment that comes with a relationship.
We did it! Now what?
An issue that inevitably comes up after the first sexual encounter with a friend is that people have trouble defining what they are doing. Are we friends or are we in a relationship? And where do we go from here? Talking to your friend about what happened and what both your expectations are will be key in a situation like this. Address the issues and see how your friend reacts. That's the only way to figure it out!
Another down part of such an arrangement is that you could end up losing your friend. It seems to be common that when FWBs stop having sex, the friendship crumbles. Even worse: your friend starts seeing someone else. Whether it's casual or not, that often seems to cause hurt feelings or jealousy.
Who wants what?
What might come as a surprise is that having a friend with benefits is good for your stress levels. It makes you more stable emotionally, whereas starting a new romantic relationship causes distress, scientists say.
But… this holds only true for men. More than half the women who had casual sex with a friend in the past said it was a negative experience. That may be because many women who agree to be an FWB have a hidden agenda. About 70 percent of them would actually like to be in a committed relationship. But less than a third of the men want this. Only 10 percent of casual sex friendships end up in a relationship. Good and honest communication is the key to avoiding disappointment.
This article was first published on 7 November 2012. The couple in the picture are models.
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