FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS: MODERN LOVE OR MODERN LOVE’S STIGMA?
Can you actually be in such an arrangement?
IEVERYTHING ABOUT HIM IS GREAT – THE COMPANIONSHIP, THE OMG SEX. EXCEPT FOR ONE DETAIL: HE’S ONLY INTERESTED IN A NO-STRINGS-ATTACHED RELATIONSHIP. BY SAARAH JASMINE
t’s a convenience-obsessed world we live in, and a friends with benefits (FWB) arrangement is one of the most convenient things around, especially for a single girl who wants to enjoy a relationship yet not tie herself down to just one guy. Is it a selfish lifestyle choice or are women choosing to put themselves first? Could this arrangement be a shortcut to finding your one true love... or is just really nothing more than friends by day, sex partners by night? We hear two sides to the story. For Amanda, her FWB arrangement was a way to get over a heartbreak. “I was dumped suddenly by my boyfriend and felt so alone. So when Jason, a good
friend, suggested that we try being friends with benefits, I jumped at the chance. I thought it was the perfect arrangement; I didn’t want to get hurt again but I needed the company,” Amanda explains.
She and Jason agreed to be exclusive to one another to avoid nasty diseases. However, a few weeks in, Amanda started having abnormal vaginal discharge and a burning sensation whenever she urinates. Worried, she visited the doctor and was diagnosed with chlamydia. “I confronted Jason but he denied that he had anything to do with it. I suspected that I had gotten it from him but I also refused to believe that he would lie to me so I let it go,” she says.
Six months later, Amanda found out that Jason had been sleeping with three other girls during the period he had been sleeping with her. “I was heartbroken. He had lied, cheated, and the worst thing was, according to him, I didn’t have the right to be upset because we weren’t in a relationship!”
EVENTUALLY, HE TOLD ME THAT HE WANTED MORE THAN JUST THE BENEFITS PART OF THE RELATIONSHIP. I WAS OVERJOYED!”
What started off as a purely no-stringsattached relationship for Serena became the complete opposite. “I’d been interested in him for a long time, so when he suggested a FWB arrangement, I was all for it. I sneakily thought this was my chance to make him fall in love with me. I had a plan worked out: I would never seem desperate so he would wonder why I wasn’t chasing him. I stuck with one rule – do not pursue,” says Serena.
Playing hard to get soon paid off for Serena, as eventually her cuddle buddy began to call and text more often, and became a little more clingy. “Eventually, he told me that he wanted more than just the benefits part of the relationship. I was overjoyed! We’ve been together for almost two and a half years now.”
IS IT FOR YOU?
Considering whether you should have a FWB arrangement? Read this first!
PRO: No Games Remember all those times you waited for the guy to call? And when he didn’t, you wondered how long you should wait before calling him? Do away with that and instead, embrace the fuss-free FWB arrangement where there’s no need to play games and keep each other guessing. CON: You Could Lose Your Friend If things end badly between the two of you, as most FWB often do, you’ll be losing someone who has become quite dear to you. Just ask Jessica, 24. “By ending my relationship with him, I knew I’d lose him as a friend. But it was a sacrifice I was willing to make because I knew it was time for me to move on.”
PRO: No Obligations “I like not having to check in or being obligated to be my partner’s plus one to gatherings he has to go to,” says Jessica. There’s also all the obligatory girlfriend stuff like meeting the parents, being friendly to the siblings, and cooing over the family pet. As a FWB, you’ll have time to focus on yourself and on things that you care about. Valerie Jaques, a consultant psychologist for Integrated Psychology Network Sdn Bhd, agrees with this. “In a relationship, there comes a time where there is expectation that the partner needs to meet the parents and relatives to see how well they are received and if they fit in. But when the friend comes with benefits, everyone knows that they are just friends and the ‘benefits’ are kept secret.”
CON: No Boyfriend Benefits You can skip all the boring stuff but when it comes to having a date or a shoulder to cry on, you can also kiss all that goodbye. “You know you can’t count on him to do these things for you. It sucks but you knew what you were signing up for when you both
agreed for this relationship so there’s no one to blame really but yourself,” says Jessica.
PRO: No Emotional Attachment Not having a chance of getting your heart broken is a pretty liberating feeling. And if you play your cards right, it could turn out to be the ultimate relationship. Which is a reason why people are more than happy to go with FWBs. Says Jaques, “They have experienced rejection and so this is a defense mechanism to being hurt. We all use defense mechanisms that operate at an unconscious level to protect ourselves from deep woundedness. Those who experienced a lot of hurt and pain would prefer to have arrangements such as friends with benefits rather than invest and allow themselves to experience more hurt and pain and rejection, leading to reinforcement of the deep woundedness.”
CON: Emotional Maturity Required Unless you’re emotionally stable to not equate sex with love, this relationship won’t work out. You need to be able to put your emotions aside and focus only on one thing: The physical element. There’s also the happiness factor that needs to be considered. “I was artificially happy most of the time, not truly happy,” says Olivia, 26. “It made me realise that my love life wasn’t going anywhere.” A FWB arrangement, says Jaques, feeds the physical and practical needs of a person that suggests the person is more like a robot that needs to be oiled, cleaned and polished. “But human beings are not robots or are not just made up of the physical and pragmatic things in life. These are just distractions from the deeper emotional and psychological aspects of the self and relationship,” she says.
PRO: Safety No shady one-night stands with a stranger you met at the pub. Being in a FWB relationship is safer, both physically and health-wise. “At least you’re having sex with someone you trust, and you’re aware of their sexual history,” says Danielle, 25. “I’d much rather be sleeping with a friend compared to a random guy I know nothing about.”
CON: Multiple Partners = Nasty Surprises “A partner passing you a disease is a real problem,” says Jenny, 27. “Especially if you don’t know how many other people he could be sleeping with.” When it comes to casual sex, make sure your number one priority is your well-being.
PRO: You Could Fall in Love A good FWB relationship is based on a strong platform of understanding, mutual respect, and trust. If you find yourself able to build from this base, you could have a proper, promising relationship ahead of you!
CON: You Could Fall in Love You could fall head over heels in love, find out he doesn’t feel the same way, get your heart crushed into a million pieces, and lose a friend. Is there really anything worse than this feeling?
GOING THROUGH THE SAME SITUATION AS MILA AND JUSTIN IN FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS?