Pros & Cons of Being Friends with Benefits
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Bed Buddies Beware1 of 11
By Julie Fishman and Meagan McCrary, co-authors of The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags
In honor of the upcoming film Friends With Benefits, we've outlined some of the most common benefits and drawbacks of pairing a physical relationship with a friendship, and asked real men and women to share their perspectives on how this situation has played out in their lives. Read on to learn what to expect before entering into this somewhat tricky scenario.
Pro: It's Easy2 of 11
You already know him, the two of you hang out regularly, your hormones are raging, you're not seeing anyone special at the moment… and we all have needs. "When I was in university, a friend and I ended up being very compatible in the bedroom, which we discussed as being a natural extension of our friendship," says Bobby, 38. "At no point was there any pretense of love, relationships or even 'real' intimacy. It was quite simply friends who occasionally took their clothes off and did naughty things to each other."
Con: It's Too Easy3 of 11
Whether you're too lazy to date or are afraid of being hurt, the scenario can easily become a crutch. "For me, 'friends with benefits' works only if you don't really care about [the guy]," says Aoi, 30. "Good relationships come from giving, but this type of relationship is more about taking." Plus, when you have all the sex you need at your beck and call, there's no incentive to get out there and meet potential suitors.
Pro: End A Stereotype4 of 11
No commitment, no emotional baggage—a straightforward friends-with-benefits arrangement means casual sex without the responsibilities of a romantic relationship. With your independence intact, your life doesn't have to change all that much. Plus, since common belief holds that a woman can't have emotion-free sex, you'll feel like a renegade for breaking the stereotype.
Con: End A Friendship5 of 11
On the flipside, acting totally comfortable with casual sex may lead your bed buddy to see you only as a means for sexual pleasure. "One of my longtime best friends and I decided to try this out once. And things got so awkward, we barely spoke for four months," says Natalie, 23. In this situation, sex oftentimes replaces other aspects of the relationship that you once enjoyed, like long weekend brunches or regular movie nights, not to mention the friendship itself.
Pro: Build Confidence6 of 11
If you're able to take your friendship to the bedroom, then you're probably pretty comfortable with the guy. Typically, the less inhibited you are, the better sex you will have and the more confident in the bedroom you become – not a bad cycle to be caught up in. You may just learn a thing or two from the experience.
Con: Build Confusion7 of 11
While sex creates more intimacy, it also invites more vulnerability, which can confuse your no-strings-attached equation. "[In one situation,] I was the one who only wanted to be friends, and he ended up resenting me for never wanting more," says Natalie. "Eventually I just had to cut things off entirely, and we haven't spoken since."
Pro: Less Pressure8 of 11
"In college it was nice to have fun with whoever I wanted to. There were never any 'have to's,' only 'want to's,' and that is something I wish I had more often in typical relationships," says Caroline. Plus, since you're having regular sex, your hormones won't get the best of you when you start look for a guy with long-term potential: Holding off on the physical part of the relationship allows for clearer judgment when deciding how you truly feel about someone.
Con: More Weirdness9 of 11
If you start dating someone more long-term and he finds out that you slept with your guy friend while your relationship was budding, then both men may feel extremely uncomfortable. Plus, says Caroline, "There's the guilt of putting a temporary hold on the friendship when something serious comes along. And then feeling guilty when you go back to the person. Even though it's a mutual relationship, sometimes it feels wrong."
Pro: Chance for Love10 of 11
Recent research from University of Iowa proves that a purely sexual relationship doesn't negate the possibility for a real relationship in the future, so long as both people are ready for commitment. A friends-with-benefits situation can help begin a long-term bond: When you're not initially concerned with where things are going, the pressure is off and the relationship can unfold naturally.
Con: Chance for Heartache11 of 11
If one person is hoping for a real relationship and the other isn't, your bond may be destroyed altogether when jealousy and resentment ensue. "In my opinion, 'friends with benefits' should have a countdown clock," says J. Sea, 32. "Anything lasting longer than a set period of time (usually a couple months) can only lead to someone getting hurt, and usually, it's the woman."
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