Our hook-up culture today tells us that we have been sexually liberated. We are the offspring to the sexual revolution generation. Hollywood shows us sexual freedom entails casual, non-committed, intimate encounters. This belief has created a popular trend of ‘Friends with benefits,’ (FWB). FWB is falsely sold to us as something simple and enjoyable, like chicken and waffles. But the damage to all parties involved is far reaching and too often swept under the rug.
Those inside and outside of the church can find themselves trapped, or perhaps even desiring to be in a friendship with benefits. Well before you do, you should consider the following:
1) You stay in the gray area you create
There is no black and white in friends with benefits, only a rabbit hole of gray. Questioning the other person in an FWB is extremely limited. Generally, there is a don’t-ask-me-cuz-I’m-not-gone-tell-you rule. You cannot expect to know the other person’s motives, whereabouts, and thoughts about the future. This almost certainly builds a foundation of distrust. If either person wants more out of the relationship, that person, guy or girl, is labeled ‘needy’ or ‘clingy.’ The relationship never reaches a point where it needs to be defined because it has no clear direction from the beginning. But for most,pretending to be nonchalant about someone you’re romantically investing in, gets old and exhausting real fast.
2) You make yourself and/or someone else, your convenience and not a priority
One huge piece of the equation in friends with benefits is the lack of commitment. Physical intimacy + no commitment= Friends with Benefits. Ironically, although it’s in the title, friendship is not even a necessary piece of the puzzle. The two people in the FWB have NO obligation of spending quality time together or dating one another exclusively. This no-strings-attached relationship ensures the other person never owes you an explanation for anything, including who else they may be dating, when they may see you next, etc… And because there’s no real commitment to the other person and no real expectations (other than to do the ‘horizontal cupid shuffle’), you inevitably become the other person’s convenience and not their priority; because in reality we often give higher priority to the things, people, and relationships we are committed to. On the flip side of that, I know making a person a convenience and not a priority appeals to some people. I challenge that group to take a step back and examine themselves. Examine why they want to make a person simply a convenience. Why in essence, they want to selfishly use someone else for their own mere physical gratification and eventually move on.
3) We aren’t wired for it emotionally or spiritually
Our culture tells us that our sexual desires need to be immediately satiated just like our other bodily desires. If you’re hungry, then you eat. If you’re thirsty, then you drink. If you’re itchy, then you scratch. If you’re horny, then you have sex. As much as Hollywood may tell us that sex is just a physical act, deep down we know it’s much more than that. Whether we realize it or not, sex is conjoining: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s no wonder that after two people have sex their feelings and thoughts towards one another dramatically change. Scientific research supports this, in that our bodies release hormones during sex (Oxytocin), that strengthen the social and emotional bond. HOLLYWOOD IS LYING TO US. And as unpopular as this stance may be, the truth is sex was never created to be experienced in multiple short term low-no commitment relationships; that in the end still do not meet our basic need to be loved. I think author Joshua Harris said it best, “Intimacy without commitment, like icing without cake, can be sweet, but it ends up making us sick.” I believe that sex is a beautiful gift, designed to be enjoyed between couples who have made a lifetime commitment to each other, i.e. marriage.
4) You cloud your ability to see your own worth
Whether you realize it or not, you deserve someone who is willing to commit to you, to be vulnerable with you, and to set expectations with you. You don’t have to be anyone’s one stop shop convenience store.
At the end of every friends with benefits relationship, someone will end up hurt… It may or may not be you, but it ALWAYS ends in disappointment.
I say these things confidently after having been in a FWB in my second year of college. I selfishly and naively believed I could somehow benefit from one. It ended with me being hurt and ruined any potential genuine friendship that could have developed. Now half a decade later, I’m currently in a committed relationship with both of us intentionally pursuing marriage. I’ve learned authentic friendship is vulnerable, and the joys of a romantic relationship are rooted in love and commitment