With almost half of college undergraduates engaging in friends with benefits relationships (FWBRs), the current study sought to explore the sexual decision making strategies and potential physical and psychological health outcomes behind these relationships.
Using self-report measures, Study 1 asked 207 undergraduates to rate the importance of motivations, maintenance rules, and future outcomes of FWBRs in their own personal experience and for other men and women. Study 2 sampled 142 undergraduate women who were asked to indicate the percentage of time they engaged in sexual behavior under the influence of alcohol or marijuana and the frequency with which they used safe sex practices in an FWBR.
Both genders appeared equally motivated to begin an FWBR; however women reported establishing permanence rules and avoiding over-attachment in the relationship as significantly more important than men. Men were more likely to prefer that the FWBR remain unchanged, however both genders agreed that a transition to a committed relationship was unlikely. Alcohol use was not significantly more prevalent in an FWBR, nor was the likelihood of practicing safe sex.
Both studies employed the use of self-report surveys from a single university and were subject to social desirability.
Quantitatively examining young adults’ reasoning behind choosing to engage in FWBRs provided insight into their overarching fear of “being hurt” and their preference for “easy access” to sexual experiences. These trends may suggest a shift in dating patterns and a preference for avoiding the emotional complexities of a committed, monogamous relationship.
We wish to thank Ron Downey for his assistance in reviewing this manuscript and Kimberly Welch and Ashley Terich for their contributions to the study.
Scott, C.L., Carrillo, B. and Rivera, I.M. (2014), "“No Relationships, No Emotions, Just Sex”
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
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