Interesting piece in the Times about the first research study conducted about the friends with benefits phenomenon. Of 125 young adults, 60 percent reported having been involved in a FWB situation:
One-tenth of these relationships went on to become full-scale romances, the study found. About a third stopped the sex and remained friends, and one in four eventually broke it off â€” the sex and the friendship. The rest continued as friends-with-benefits relationships.
Further it found that the common thread in these arrangements was a fear of emotional attachment:
The relationships tend to have little romantic passion, but stir the same fears that stalk lovers: namely, that one person will fall harder than the other.
Paradoxically, and perhaps predictably, the study suggests, these physical friendships often occlude one of the emotional arteries of real friendship, openness. Friends who could once talk about anything now have an unstated taboo topic â€” the relationship itself. In every conversation, there is innuendo; in every room, an elephant.
Pretty spot-on, in my opinion.
During my time at Harvard, I’ve had six friends with benefits. I’m currently friends with five of them and still hooking up with two as of last week (though I’m determined to become “just friends” with one of the two and probably should break it off with the other one too). It can be on-and-off with most of the guys, and I’ve definitely revisited some old flames in moments of weakness/drunkenness. In fact, I recently re-hooked up with my first ever friend with benefits (from high school) after a five-year gap. We’ve been friends for so long after our initial experience that I’d almost forgotten about it altogether. Kissing him again was incredibly strange.
Personally, I don’t think that emotional elephant exists in my relationships, at least not any longer since I’m in the unique position of overanalyzing all components of my interactions with men in the process of writing about them. That makes it difficult to ignore the non-physical aspects of relationships and means I’m much more honest to myself about what I expect from certain people. Of the six FWB, I’ve had romantic feelings for 1.5 (the half being a guy I wasn’t entirely sure about) which is pretty safe if you ask me. As far as openness goes nowadays, I have no doubt my friends with benefits know where we stand. This article actually comes at a really opportune time since I’m feeling an ironic combination of commitmentphobic and hormonal. Time for a new pal?
So any thoughts on the study and the long-term feasibility of these relationships? Sixty percent of you guys should have interesting FWB stories of your own to share …