Friends with benefits: can it work?

Brittany JordanSex is fun. As college students, we are notorious for knowing this fact and for having as much fun as we can. That being said, we also want to be as safe as possible with our sex lives, because gonorrhea is not nearly as much fun.

While we want to reap the benefits of an active sex life, there are also plenty of students that are not nearly as gung-ho for a significant other. There are those that are not looking for a committed relationship, and don’t necessarily want to be “tied down” by a boyfriend or girlfriend during a time known for experimentation. Luckily for these folks, sex is no longer synonymous with commitment.

So, instead of the casual hook-up — where you barely know the other person’s name, let alone their sexual past — it seems like having a friend with benefits would be ideal. You’re friends, so you know about them and how they operate, and you also have an idea of what you’re getting yourself into when you hop in between the sheets.

Why is it, then, that the term “friends with benefits” makes so many people cringe?

I think it has to do something with it never working out the way people want it to. In the beginning of this agreement, both parties have decided that they are friends. All that they want to change is their sexual activity, which sounds much easier than it is.

In many cases, one of the aforementioned parties will want to ask the notorious question: “So, what are we?”  This question in and of itself is cringe-worthy; there is never an easy answer. Having a friend with benefits is never black and white. Can you date other people? Can you sleep with other people? Are you supposed to have deeper feelings for that person, seeing as you’re currently enjoying their body on a regular basis? The list of unanswerable questions goes on.

While the noncommittal, “we’re friends but we regularly sleep together” thing can work out for a while, usually someone eventually gets impatient.

Why is that, though? Does a friend with benefits relationship have to have a shelf life?

It’s been said for a long time that women have sex with their emotions and minds; that sex is rarely just the joining of two bodies from the female perspective.

However, talk to the women here at CSU and you may find that that’s not necessarily the case. Women have evolved to be open about their sexuality, and it’s now commonplace for women to admit that sometimes they want to get down and dirty just as much as men. While many still view it as an emotional act — one that requires trust and companionship — it seems that many women are more open to the benefits end of that deal.

But rarely, if ever, does a sex friend deal work out for long. While some may be able to separate the emotion from the physicality, it’s hard to maintain long-term. Maybe eventually you want a loving and committed relationship. Maybe you get tired of that person. Maybe you just decide that the respect you have for yourself has been compromised. Whatever the case, eventually someone’s going to ask, “What are we doing?”

Was it truly easier in the days when sex was viewed as an act exclusively for those that took vows? It may be old-fashioned and outdated, but you have to admit that it would make the gray area a little less intimidating.

However, I do believe that even though it may not work long term, a friend with benefits can be mutually beneficial for those involved for a while at least. It can help ease the pang of loneliness that the single life can bring, and bring a reminder that you’re still sexy even if you don’t feel it at that moment. So, before you ask the tough questions, ask yourself if you are currently benefiting from this relationship and whether you really want to rock the boat or not.

Brittany Jordan is a junior psychology major. He column appears every Thursday in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.