Friends with benefits never works, but we keep trying

Res Stecker
Res Stecker

Throughout our thousands of years of history, mankind has made a lot of advances. We have crashed through every barrier nature has set in our faces. From surviving Ice Ages, to building walls and pyramids, humanity has done pretty well. We have even crossed into the final frontier of space. But, there is one thing that we have not done, despite thousands of years of effort. What is this untamable unreachable goal you ask?

Well, it is successfully executing the friends with benefits relationship.


Way back to the ancient Egyptians, men and women have been trying to maintain the friendship and simply add the juicy fun parts to the equation. In fact, you can bet that if they really existed, Adam and Eve would’ve tried the whole process as well.

Adam surely would’ve been friend-zoned, because how would he know how to talk to women? But, Eve realizing there weren’t many options around likely would have talked Adam into the leaves. She was pretty persuasive after all, and she definitely could get him to eat the forbidden fruit, as we all know. Still, she wouldn’t have been looking for anything permanent; she was in paradise after all. Wouldn’t want some guy holding her back and having to do all those relationship things, like go and gather water together.

At the risk of beating that metaphor to death, the devil is in the details. Humanity has been determined up to today from A&E to try and execute the perfect existence between guy and girl, sex and friendship.

The reason that friends with benefits or FWB is impossible is because of the desire to continue the act. Of course it’s possible to change old friend into new bed buddy, I mean let us be honest, what guy is going to say no to that deal, and what woman hasn’t thought about it? But the very act of doing so will forever change things. It’s instinctually, evolutionarily and psychologically impossible to continue FWB for any amount of time.

The very act of sex releases oxytocin into the body. So much so that a brain scan makes a person look like he or she is higher than Boulder on 4/20. Oxytocin is responsible for building trust; it’s literally the “love” hormone. And we all know the love of a lover is much different than the love you feel for a friend. It’s a chemical instinct then to want to stay with the other person. In other words, someone will always want more.

It is not good practice for our species evolutionarily to “hit it and quit it.” Although it happens quite frequently, in the dark old days we did not really have birth control, meaning little baby of FWB is now in parental limbo. It really takes two to raise a child properly or more successfully, and having a child with a non-committal partner is just bad for life business. Thus, evolutionarily we are programmed to care about who we fornicate with.

Finally, probably as a result of the previous two examples, psychologically we change when we move from just friends, to really really good friends. Jealousy enters the picture. Even though you agreed it would not lead to anything, someone will always get crazy angry when the other “friend” starts a relationship. And thus without even knowing it, you have moved into a zone far past FWB, commonly called the screwed zone. Logically one shouldn’t be mad, they knew what it was going in, but things change.

And things always will change. Men and women can be friends, and they can be lovers, but no one can be both without committing to something more. You can culminate a friendship into sex, but you can never go back to being just friends. Anyone that says otherwise is a liar.

Anyway, apologies to anyone that was about to start one of these misadventures. The intent is not to crush your spirit, the opposite in fact.

In any case, at least we all continue to be human beings, flawed, tragic, yet full of curiosity and stupidly wonderful spirit. Even when we know things are wrong, we cannot help but take the plunge. Friends with benefits is literally the epitome of what is means to be human.


Res Stecker is a senior international studies and history double major, and is happy to write witty whimsical words of wisdom for all. Questions and comments can be sent to