4 Reasons 'Friends With Benefits' Couples Are Bound to Get Hurt

friends with benefitsFriends With Benefits was a great movie with Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake (who are, it should be noted, so much more than friends now). But in real life? The FWB arrangement -- in which two friends agree to sleep together, no strings attached -- rarely works. So sayeth a new study published in Emerging Adulthood.

The study author, Kendra Knight, a communications professor at DePaul University, conducted her research with college students (as one does). She sat down with 25 of them, all of whom were in friends-with-benefits relationships. She soon found out that they didn't work as well as one might hope. For a lot of reasons.

The primary reason, of course, was that one person would develop romantic feelings for the other and then be uncomfortable talking about it for fear of appearing "uncool." Why? She pinpointed 4 reasons "friends with benefits" couples get derailed.


1.) They are afraid of seeming vulnerable. If one of the friends admits being jealous of the other person flirting or sleeping with someone else, she looks pathetic, right? After all, she knew what she was getting into.

2.) They don't want to be viewed as crazy. It starts off hot and heavy with both being happy and excited. But then, inevitably, one person falls too hard and bam! He'll get labeled as being crazy or obsessive.

3.) They feel like they're defeating the purpose. Makes sense, right? It's all light and fun...  until it's not! And the whole point was to have a carefree relationship at the start, which it is until the feelings kick in. The problem is that those feelings are often imbalanced, with one experiencing them and the other not.

4.) One person doesn't want to talk. Having your cake and eating it too is a good time, until someone wants to make it more serious and have "the talk." Which can make the other shut down and run for the hills -- because that's not what they agreed to in the first place and the whole thing just got super uncomfortable. Amiright?

More from The Stir: 10 Things You Need to Know About Having a 'Friend With Benefits'

Here's the thing about FWB that everyone knows (and we didn't need a study to tell us): It ONLY works when both parties know -- and are okay with -- the deal. If someone wants more, they will be sad if that wasn't part of the agreement. Unless, of course, the other person starts feeling the same way.

In college and soon after, many of my friends and me wound up in "friends with benefits" relationships that did work. With one guy I dated in college, I saw him on breaks and we'd have fun together. I didn't ever sleep with him because that felt too serious, but we hung out and made out, and it felt an awful lot like casual dating.

Sure, I had a minor twinge when he would date someone else and I know he had one or two when I did, but it worked for us for a long time. And we're still good friends (minus the benefits) today. No problemo.

The issues come up when the boundaries are not clearly drawn. I knew I only wanted sex with people I was in serious relationships with. But making out? Pseudo dating? Sharing a bed on occasion? That was fine without the commitment.

Know your limits. If you can handle no-strings-attached sex, do it. If you can't, don't. But knowing the score is vital. If he says he doesn't want to be more serious, then he doesn't. Don't expect him to change or try to get him to fall for you. Listen to what he's saying, and take it at face value. And then go forth and have fun. It's that simple.

Did you ever have a FWB arrangement? How did it work out?



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