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Real Life Stories
By: Abiola Lawal
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Is there a special “friend” that you can call on when the loneliness just can’t be ignored? When you just want to release some tension without the stresses of a relationship?

The recent spate of movies featuring single sexy pals hooking up - shows that this topic is quite hot right now. No Strings Attached (2010), starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, and the upcoming Friends With Benefits, [due for release autumn 2011] starring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake both portray friendships that turn into something more.
 
Why the current Hollywood interest in these types of liaisons? Two decades ago, when Harry met Sally, he told us that “men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way”, these days, filmmakers are focusing on making the sex part of a friendship.
These movies highlight the new generation of the sexually active who are reluctant to commit to real relationships for a variety of reasons. Usually - they are too busy climbing career ladders, too scarred by past breakups, or just too cool to tie themselves down. But everyone desires the pleasures (and regularity) of a bed partner whom they can also have a conversation with - this is where friendships can get a little more intimate. However, as is typical with Hollywood the soft glow of true love appears, and these special friendships turn into the most heartwarming of romances, albeit not necessarily always the case with real life special buddies.
 
The term “friends with benefits”, let’s call them “FWB” for now, means friends who have a spoken or unspoken agreement to have sex occasionally, without thoughts of ever pursuing a romantic relationship. This term is a fairly new one, emerging from popular culture in the past 20 years or so.
 
 
Real life experiences
I asked some of my more worldly friends to get an insight into this phenomenon. A lady friend of mine let me in on her friendly debacle.
Lisa * teacher, 30: “At the moment I have two close male friends who I can call on depending on what I fancy. Sometimes I want to chat, sometimes I need a date, and sometimes I really just want go a bit crazy! And it’s cool because you don’t really have to worry about what they want, you don’t have to worry about anything. One of them is a little younger than me which is a real confidence boost. I do find myself having to be more firm with him though to make sure he understands that this isn’t permanent as he can get a bit keen especially if I spend too much time with him. You definitely have to have boundaries in this, make sure that you both know where the other person stands. The other guy who I call now and again is much more relaxed and I would say that we do have more of a friendship then anything else but when the need arises he knows who to call!”
Wow! I didn’t realise you could get it like that but I guess you can! It does take confidence and knowing your own boundaries to make any kind of arrangement like this work.
 
Asking a male friend about this subject I got another interesting insight.
Tom* researcher 28: “I have one girl I always call on when I’m single and not really ready to mingle. She’s cool but to be honest I don’t know why we haven’t gone the extra step. When I think about it she would make the perfect wifey as she’s my friend so I can trust her and talk to her, but she’s also really hot and I have found myself comparing other girls to her especially in that department if you get my drift. I think I’m waiting for her to make the first move as I don’t want to scare her off. Also maybe it’s a bit like having a real life fantasy. You get all of the good bits of a relationship without any of the drama and disappointment”.
 
Looking at Tom's situation it seems that a certain amount of real feelings has to be hidden for FWB’s to work - which is definitely not healthy or fair on both parties. Being FWBs is definitely easy and exciting at first, but are the negatives that come with it worth the promise of casual sex? Check out these pros and cons and decide for yourself.
 
 
FWB Pros
  • Sex with no strings: The most apparent positive point about having a FWB is the availability of easy regular sex, without all the pressures and limitations of a relationship. The beauty of this situation is its clarity, if both sides are honest before going into this, then both will know that it's solely about sex. Using each other in a good way can make sex much simpler and potentially more enjoyable.
  • Not a stranger: Having sex with a person that you already know can make things so much more relaxed and safer. As you have already built a foundation of friendship with this person so you don’t have to go through the dating rigmarole of getting to know each other and can just get straight to the point.
  • No expectations: This is just an arrangement, not a promise. If you’re honest and upfront who can get hurt?
FWB Cons
  • Real relationships: What if you’re FWB meets someone else? You will be left with no one to call on and it could be awkward at those friendly get-togethers when you’re faced with you ex-FWB’s new boo.
  • Sex and feelings: What if sex ruins the friendship? Good or bad, you never really know how the sex is going to make you feel about another person until after you’ve consummated the act. If the sex is really bad it might affect the friendship - which could mean you would lose out. On the other hand if the sex is mind blowing you might fall for this person - which could be good if they feel the same but could also leave you heartbroken if they don’t.
 
Statistics
A 2009 study found that 60 % of college students have been in a "Friends With Benefits" arrangements. The study, published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, focused on why college students have these relationships at all. Researchers from Wayne State University and Michigan State University asked 125 undergraduates why they would or wouldn't have sex with a friend, and what the advantages or disadvantages would be.
Two-thirds of participants said they had been in a "Friends With Benefits" arrangement, and 36 % said they currently were in one. The main advantage these arrangements was "No Commitment" (reported by 59.7 % of participants), another advantage was "To Have Regular Sex" (55.6 %).
“[The Arrangements] were perceived as providing a relatively safe and convenient environment for recreational sex,” writes Melissa A. Bisson and Timothy R. Levine, the study’s lead researchers.
 
 
Conclusion....how do you want to swing?
In my personal opinion (and experience) things always get complicated in these types of situations unless both parties are really honest about what they want from the other person. Stereotypically - it will be the girl who will be down but then over time starts developing feelings especially if she’s getting some of that good stuff. Or it will be the guy who will be all chilled out and enjoying himself until the girl says she’s met someone - so the p***y is off limits, then WHAM he’ll realise he was feeling her along! [Enter possible stalker tendencies] You do have to be careful.
I would suggest having a deep look at what you want in your heart as sex is a very powerful act, especially for us ladies. Make sure you know your boundaries, and what you want out of this kind of friendship. Most importantly show each other respect and have fun!

 

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