Friday, May 20, 2011

Friends with Benefits ... Can it Ever Work?

Written by Lauren K.  of Love Kudos
Edited by Lindsay K. 

Since college, we have all become familiar with the term "Friends with Benefits." Many of us have had flings or sampled an arrangement that even resembled, "Friends with Benefits." The question is, can it ever really work and be mutually beneficial for both parties? Before I delve into this topic further, I think it is important to have a framework for what I am referring to as "Friends with Benefits." I am an endorser of the definition below:

"Friends with Benefits" refers to an agreement between two people who are both friends and physically attracted to one another to share a sexual relationship. Neither party is considered committed to the other, and both can start dating someone else at any time with prior warning. A friends with benefits arrangement is not considered dating, a relationship or even casual dating by most people who use the term.

This summer there is a movie coming out with Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake with this exact title. I am a firm believer that when expectations are made clear and both people are rational adults, friends with benefits can work with the following conditions:
  1. Neither person sees a long-term future with the other.
  2. Neither person gets jealous of the other person's dating life. 
  3. You actually like hanging out with each other for non-sexual reasons. 
  4. You are attracted to each other sober.
  5. You can date others, but not be intimate with others, without notifying the other person. (Safety first, plus there needs to be some loyalty here)
  6. You do not see each other more than two times a week alone. (This seems arbitrary and it is.) 
  7. You have the ability to see sex as a physical act only and break out all other emotions from it 
  8. You practice SAFE sex.
  9. You do not celebrate Valentine's Day together alone or any other romantic holidays.
  10. In public, you are friends for the most part and are not PDA crazy. 
If you do not meet the above conditions, you are probably not capable of engaging in a "Friends with Benefits" arrangement.

So, what if one person starts falling for the other, then what? Well, that person needs to share their change of heart feelings delicately with the other person. Be prepared that they may not feel the same way. If they want to remain the status quo and you want more, your best bet is to get out. You do not have to say goodbye to the friendship, but you may want to go on hiatus for a little while.
If that person does want to promote your status to make it a legitimate relationship, take it slowly. You should start going out on dates, with hand holding, and discard the other people you were dating. You can't give it a real chance with others in the picture. Lindsay K. adds, " if you do decide to give it a try, be reminded of what could happen if the relationship doesn't work.  Will you be able to go back to friends with benefits or friends at all?  Someone in the end could get hurt."

We all have sexual needs, or at least most of us do, and want to abide by some of the basic rules in dating, so the "Friends with Benefits" program may be the perfect answer to holding off on sex with the person you want to date.  Lindsay K. disagrees with that logic.  "If you are purely participating in that program because so you're not at that stage to sleep with a person you're actually dating then, I don't think you really like them.  I think it ruins the intimacy you're trying to build with that other person.  I would feel like I was cheating on them."

Suggested list of "Friends with Benefits" genre movies for your enjoyment. None of them end with the status quo:

1) No Strings Attached
2) Love and Other Drugs
3) Friends with Benefits (Release Date: July 22, 2011)
4) Picture Perfect
5) Threesome (A Personal Favorite)

What are your thoughts?


el rubio said...

Casual sexual relationships detract from your ability to focus on getting a regular relationship going. If you're going to have one, fine, but don't kid yourself and think it's going to be something that won't intrude on other parts of your life. If you start seeing someone you want to get anything other than casual with, probably best to cut off any other shenanigans as quickly as possible.

Anonymous said...

I think friends with benefits is a bad idea. Sex is something to be shared with someone you deeply care about not to be casual especially for women

Anonymous said...

The biggest hurdle I've encountered is that most people don't really know how they will react to the situation. We really have no control over our feelings. We may think "sure, I want to sleep with you, and won’t get emotionally attached" and the other may think the same, but few, in my experience, really 'know' how they will react.

Anonymous said...

I am a recently divorced 30-something woman and I've actually had a couple of very rewarding fwb arrangements. The key is that both people are honest, trustworthy, communicative and emotionally healthy. It is also important to limit frequency of contact, because even the best of us will begin to attach to people we see and sleep with on a daily basis.

Both men were friends before and are still good friends of mine now. Arrangements were temporary with the understanding that there was no relationship future for various reasons (life goals, age difference, religion, geographic location, etc).

But on the flip side, it is certainly not for everyone and I had to cut off sexual contact with onw friend who said he was on board with a fwb arrangement but became very jealous, clingy, and passive aggressive after our first sleep over.

All in all, I do not think fwb is categorically a "bad idea". If you are happy with no sex or self stimulation until you find that special someone (assuming that you even want to be in a relationship) then that is certainly the less complicated option. But if you're like me and thrive on human contact then a fwb is a healthier and safer option than casual sex.

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