Friends With Benefits - More Pain Than Pleasure?

by Loh Yu-Kym 

“A guy would never say no to that!” said a friend when I asked him what he would do if a female friend were to proposition him with a “friends with benefits” (FWB) relationship. “All to gain and nothing to lose!” he added.
 
Most men would think that having a purely sexual relationship with a female friend without the trappings of commitment is a dream come true. But have you heard about the nightmares, though? If you haven’t, it’s only because your friends aren’t telling you. Here’s what you need to know.
 
Things Can Get Confusing
“So, what are we?” The dreaded question every commitment-phobic guy hates to hear. If you think you don’t face this problem if you’re in an FWB relationship, you’re misinformed.
 
According to friends (male and female) who have had special “buddies”, the issue is more often than not inevitable. It’ll either manifest itself in your head, or be brought up by either party at some point in the relationship, a few of them say. And it can get mentally draining.
 
Similarly, in a US study, more than half of the respondents involved in FWB relationships indicated they were consistently asking themselves what kind of a relationship they were in, such as how to make sense of it, should it be labelled and maintained, and how they felt about it. Yet, 84 per cent of them did not initiate any discussion because they felt awkward talking about it, or feared losing a friend should the other want to end the relationship. Consequently, this often led to confusion, jealousy and even depression.
 
You Can End Up Too Attached
Like normal relationships, FWB relationships aren’t free from emotional fallouts and turmoil either. However, the same US study reports that only 10 per cent of such relationships evolve into romantic ones, and more than half had developed feelings for their partners at some point in the relationship.
 
And just so you know, it’s not only the women who become too attached. A significant number of men, too, inevitably fall for their “buddies”. A friend of mine was even willing to forsake his primary relationship so that he could pursue his “buddy”, who wasn’t interested in taking it further. Ultimately, when one party demands more commitment but the other doesn’t, things turn sour and your benefits get cancelled.
 
Guys Still End Up Footing The Bills
It’s typically acceptable to go Dutch, or take turns to pick up dinner tabs when you’re normal friends, but the moment you’re in an FWB relationship, financial expectations change.
 
I knew a guy who questioned why he always had to pay for all the meals and hotel room, and even send his “buddy” home when she earned a higher salary. A female friend once told me: “The guy should pay, of course! If my FWB ever suggested splitting the hotel bill, or sharing the cost of condoms, I’d probably die laughing!”
 
The truth is, although it’s termed “friendship with benefits”, when it comes to picking up tabs and footing the bills, women still subscribe to traditional gender roles because it’s to their benefit.
 
You Could Be Sleeping With A Psycho
A US study found that depressed single women were more likely to have more casual sex than happier singles. Depressed women were likely seeking out sexual intimacy more often, to help themselves feel more secure, says Sabura Allen, PhD, a clinical psychologist. So, if your FWB is such a character, trying to dump her may be the catalyst for suicidal, deviant or criminal behaviour.
 
Have you watched Fatal Attraction? You think you’re able to differentiate between the broken goods and the great ones, but it really isn’t as easy as it sounds, and a slight judgement error may just land you in treacherous waters.
 
You Risk Getting STDs
This is a no-brainer, really. After all, what goes around, comes around – especially sexually-transmitted diseases. “People assume that because this person is their friend, they can trust that he or she will not have any disease and, therefore, may not feel as compelled to practice safe sex,” says Justin Lehmiller, a US-based psychologist. What’s more, “friends with benefits” are 44 per cent more likely to be non-monogamous than people who first have sex as committed partners, he adds. So, you’re exposing yourself to
bodily fluids from an exponential number of people! To quote from the movie Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

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