FRIENDS WITH BEN­E­FITS: MOD­ERN LOVE OR MOD­ERN LOVE’S STIGMA?

CLEO (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS -

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?

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