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10 logical reasons why a friends with benefits relationship doesn’t work

You have long term relationships and you have one night stands. And you have something that’s in between both of these; it offers neither the benefits of the former and is nearly as dangerous as the latter.

What exactly is a ‘friends with benefits’ arrangement? Many people wonder how this newfangled term came about. It is generally assumed to have cropped up sometime within the past couple of decades, especially as casual sex became increasingly commonplace. With more people wary of commitment, an arrangement where one can have sex as required without the danger of unfamiliarity is probably what led to this situation. Broadly, it can be described as a relationship where two people who know each other fairly well, agree to have only the physical aspect of a relationship, leaving out the responsibility or the emotional trappings of an actual relationship.

It does sound very complicated, so why do so many people opt for it? Here are a few reasons:

  • There is someone always available for sex
  • It doesn’t require any level of commitment
  • It is an open relationship where both people are free
  • It does away with the dangers of having a one night stand with a stranger
  • It offers scope for experimentation
  • It is convenient

But for all these, a friends with benefits relationship rarely ever works, and most are very short lived. Any of these situations is possible: both find other partners and drift away, both partners simply tire of the arrangement or the best possible result: both partners develop feelings for each other and take the relationship to the next level.

Unfortunately, the last scenario is extremely rare and the former ones are the most likely conclusions to such relationships. In spite of the convenience factor, the relationship doesn’t usually work out the way the people involved intended it to. Here are 10 common reasons why a friends-with-benefits relationship doesn’t generally work.

1. It can result in a one-sided romance

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In many friends with benefits arrangements, one of the partners develops romantic feelings for the other, which may not  be reciprocated. Because whatever anyone may say, sex isn’t just sex. It is a very intimate act between two people where both of them are vulnerable in the other person’s presence. In most cases like these, it is the woman who ends up hurt, wanting a commitment that her partner isn’t ready to accept. 

2. It can be selfish

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Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Initially, in a friends with benefits relationship, both partners are all hunky dory about the arrangement. They hang out during the day, help each other in times of need and get together at night for some action. But soon, this routine changes, especially when one of the partners gets busy, starts seeing someone else or makes new friends. Then the only time they call up the other partner is when they want to get physical, and they might not always return the favor. The absence of any strings can lead to utter selfishness and a lack of basic courtesy.

3. It can erode your self-respect

When you are the one at the receiving end of the other partner’s selfishness or when they are never available to meet your needs, you can feel like you’re being taken advantage of. It can make you feel cheap and eat away at your self-respect. The whole arrangement is based on the understanding that each other’s physical needs will be taken care of, and when that is not the case, you can end up feeling like you’re stuck in a lose-lose situation.

4. It can be unsafe

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Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

A friends with benefits association is generally an open relationship, with both partners being free to have other, more serious relationships besides this one. This means that you could be sleeping with someone who is having sex with several other people. Needless to say, this is extremely dangerous, especially since you can’t be sure if he or she is using protection. Many STDs are transmitted by a sexual partner who’s been sleeping with several others.

5. It can ruin your friendship

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Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

You had a friend with whom you could hang out and call upon in tough times. But when the two of you enter this kind of a relationship and it ends for any reason, it is extremely difficult to go back to being just friends. If it ended badly, there’ll be a lot of hostility and unresolved issues between the two of you, and you are left with neither lover nor friend.

6. It can cause social awkwardness

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If you’ve been friends, it’s quite likely that you have a common social circle and a breakup can make things complicated for your other friends. Social events and parties involving all of you will become very awkward. If the breakup was not amicable, your friends will have a hard time deciding whom to side with. Inevitably, some of them might support the other person and this can cause you to lose even more friends.

7. It can ruin potential long-term relationships

Dating one person while in a friends-with-benefits relationship with another, poses some tricky questions. How does the friend feel about it? If they’re single, they’ll be available whenever you call, but will that be the same for you now? Will the relationship be on hold till you figure out what to do with your new date? And most importantly, what will you tell your new partner? It’s rare that the new person in your life will be perfectly okay with your having a relationship like that, since he or she is most probably looking for commitment and loyalty.

8. It can cause boredom

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Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Plain sex without any emotional attachment whatsoever and with the same person, can soon lead to overkill and cause boredom. What is supposed to be an intimate expression of love, turns into something repulsive and tiring. Soon, the very reason you started the arrangement becomes a chore.

9. It can leave you disillusioned

We are all a sum of our past experiences, and that includes relationships. When you have a relationship that is as complex and damaging as a friends-with-benefits one, you become disillusioned with relationships as a whole. This can make you miss out on good opportunities and change your attitude towards new people who desire to connect with you.

10. There is a lot of ambiguity

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This kind of relationship has no clear boundaries, even if ground rules have been set. Each person’s expectations might not be what the other understands, and there is a lot of grey area. It is difficult to explain to other friends, family and people at work. The ambiguity can create a lot of stress and ultimately you’ll realize that it’s not worth it.

There are many who argue that there are ways of making a friends-with-benefits relationship work, provided both parties lay down some ground rules beforehand. They may also suggest that in today’s fickle world, this is the best kind of relationship to have. But truth proves otherwise, and numbers show that very few such relationships cross the 6-month mark. A human being doesn’t desire only intercourse, he/she wants true love and attachment, and this realization is sure to hit everyone at some time or the other. The best thing to do is stay safe; your ‘the one’ is out there somewhere!

Featured image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

A friends with benefits arrangement might seem like a good idea, but it almost never works out the way it was intended to. Here are 10 reasons why not.
Fabida Abdulla

Fabida Abdulla

Fabida is an erstwhile Software Engineer and current Freelance Writer cum stay-at-home mom to her boisterous 6-year-old. In between all the writing, baking, nagging, reading, and cuddling, she manages to blog a bit about her crazy life at Shocks and Shoes. []