Experiences and perceptions of young adults in friends with benefits relationships: A qualitative study

Weaver, Angela D.; MacKeigan, Kelly L.; MacDonald, Hugh A.
March 2011
Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality;2011, Vol. 20 Issue 1/2, p41
Academic Journal
Friends with Benefits Relationships (FWBRs) involve ongoing sexual activity occurring between partners who do not identify the relationship as romantic. Although preliminary research suggests that FWBRs may be common, little is known about how young adults experience these relationships. In the current study, semi-structured interviews were completed with 26 young adults with FWBR experience. Positive aspects of FWBRs included appropriateness for their life situation, safety, comfort and trust, gaining confidence and experience, closeness and companionship, freedom and having control, and easy access to sex. Negative aspects of FWBRs included getting hurt, ruining the friendship, and the relationship becoming complicated or awkward. FWBRs were characterized by limited direct communication between partners. Participants perceived little or no risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) within their FWBRs although 44% reported having additional sexual partners during their most recent FWBR and a third reported inconsistent or no condom use. A majority (77%) of the participants believed that a sexual double standard exists in which women are judged more negatively than men for participating in FWBRs.


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