Emerging Adults’ Friends with Benefits Relationships

Friends with benefits is a relationship where friends are sexually, but not romantically, involved (Lehmiller, VanderDrtift, & Kelly, 2011). It is a type of relationship that is growing in popularity for young adults, frequently replacing traditional dating (Bradshaw, Kahn, & Salville, 2010). The goal of friends with benefits relationships is to maintain a friendship while engaging in physical intimacy without romantic emotional attachment (Gusarova, Fraser & Alderson, 2012). Although this type of relationship aims for equality, friends with benefits relationships are controversial due to the presence of a sexual double standard in which men are permitted to have more sexual freedom than women (Conley, Ziegler, & Moors, 2012). In order to better understand modern emerging adult sexual relationships, it is important to consider young adults’ attitudes about friends with benefits relationships and their participation in this form of relationship. Because it is possible that social views differentially influence emerging adults’ attitudes and behaviors, researchers have investigated the ways that peers, parents, and media view friends with benefits relationships. Of particular importance is that there seems to be a discrepancy between the way in which male and female sexual behaviors are not evaluated equally. We began by exploring how social views on FWB relationships are related to male and female emerging adults’ attitudes and behaviors. We then reported on a case study that we conducted to understand more about college-aged students’ Friends with Benefits (FWB) relationships.

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