Friends who have sexual relations with each other with no commitments and emotions attached are on the rise.
It may have started out as a Western cultural trait, but now South Asians have also followed the trend.
The problem however is whether or not emotions can be kept out of the equation; Boy + Girl = Red hot sex. Even if there is no relationship or monogamy in the foreplay, are there really no feelings involved?
Raj*, 30 from London had a friend with benefits for over a year. He found himself growing emotionally attached to her which led to them beginning an exclusive relationship that lasted 18 months. All in all he was with her for over 2 years, however they eventually split up and are now not on talking terms.
Raj* said: “A part of me doesn’t regret having a friends with benefits relationship because something beautiful came from it, but in the end we broke up and now we don’t speak any more, and that’s what I regret, because I lost a good friend.”
A study on friends with benefits, published in the Journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour, found that almost 60% of university students have had a friends with benefits relationship.
Studies were taken at Wayne State University and Michigan State University in which researchers questioned 125 students on why they would or would not begin a friends with benefits relationship and what the advantages and disadvantages were.
Two thirds claimed to have been in a friends with benefits relationship, and 36% said that they were currently in one.
59.7% said the main advantage was no commitment and the second most popular answer with 55.6% said that the benefit of sex was an advantage.
More than half said they engaged in all forms of sex with their friend, 22.7% said they had sex only, whilst 8% said they did everything apart from having sex.
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65.3% said the biggest disadvantage was the possibility of emotions developing, 28.2% feared it would harm their friendship and 27.4% were worried about causing negative feelings, whilst the worry of STI’s or any other sexually transmitted diseases came in at only 9.7%.
It may be possible for a friends with benefits relationship to work, as long as both parties remain detached, as emotions seem to be the #1 problem to cause the breakdown of such a relationship, as well as a friendship.
The study also found that the majority (84.4%) never initiated a discussion regarding their relationship and 73.3% said they did not discuss any terms or conditions.
The study indicated that the popularity of friends with benefits did not affect traditional romantic relationships, but perhaps suggests that it is the convenience and pleasure which are the reasons for its popularity.
Jasbina Ahluwalia, a relationship columnist, matchmaker and a radio show host, comments on the issue on Houston South Asian Lifestyle Society News:
“Friends with benefits can be convenient sources of comfort, but, and this is a big but, that convenience and comfort oftentimes comes at an extremely high cost. What’s the cost? The greatest cost which comes to mind is debilitating distraction from developing intimacy with a prospective partner with long-term potential.”
“Instead of developing a close relationship with a long-term partner, a person may let precious time pass in the convenient and comfortable ‘friends with benefits’ zone thereby missing opportunities with Mr/Ms Right.”
Kavita*, 26 from Bromley shares her story:
“He was a friend of a friend and we started messaging each other on Facebook because he was selling something that I wanted to buy.
“We started talking about other things, our friends, life, university, work. Before long we were flirting. After two weeks of constant messaging, we decided to meet, and that’s where the trouble began.
“His kisses were electric, amazing, he was like a magnet. I clicked with him during the weeks we were talking. I felt a raw animal passion with him and it was weird because I didn’t find him physically attractive.
“Before long we were sleeping together. His stamina was really poor, I wasn’t having a single orgasm but I didn’t want to stop. I couldn’t stop because I was getting attached.
“In May, I realised I was in love with him and in June he told me he liked someone. Unfortunately that someone wasn’t me… so we ended things. No more benefits but we still spoke.
“Not long after he told me he had decided to date the girl he liked. My heart was broken. He didn’t know how I felt, I’d been seeing him exclusively for 8 months! I was upset, not crying but sad and my heart was broken. For me, a friend with benefits led to heartache. Never again!”
The friend’s with benefits is a difficult situation, and is one that only the two people getting involved in can really decide on whether it best suits their interest. Jasbina Ahluwalia states:
“If you find yourself in a ‘friend with benefits’ situation, ask yourself: while you’re investing your time, energy and potential emotion on a person with whom there is just no long-term potential, who might you be completely missing out on?”
But as many will argue, the whole point of friends with benefits is that you are not looking for something serious. Keeping things casual is not necessarily a bad thing.
If the whole commitment thing does not appeal to you and friends with benefits is something that you would go for, make sure it stays just that. Lay down some ground rules and keep it simple. If you can keep feelings away from sex, that’s great – just make sure the other person can do the same.