The Science Behind Why “Friends With Benefits” Doesn’t Work

Question: If a sexy, trustworthy male friend were to offer you this situation, and you hadn’t yet found your forever guy, what would you say? With many women spending significant portions of our lives single, the “friends with benefits” arrangement can sound ideal. And yet, factually speaking—it’s probably not.

The Thirst-Quencher?

Drive reduction theory shows that when we have an increasing physical need—like sex—then our motivation to meet that need also rises. So if we are horny, we might be motivated to get up off the couch and shave our legs and put on a sexy outfit and hang out someplace where hot men tend to hang out.

Unless of course, that thirst has already been quenched by lots of sex through a “friends with benefits” situation. Then it becomes much too easy to spend our nights eating pizza in front of Hulu until our boy toy arrives.

What’s In It For You?

In repeated studies, over 75% of women say they have an orgasm every single time if they’re with a committed partner—yet that same percent of women says they don’t orgasm with more casual flings.

Um, bummer.

Chemical cocktail, anyone?

Ever wonder why pleasure from sex toys can leave you feeling a little unfulfilled, compared to the physical and emotional satisfaction of sex with a partner? Drugs. Our bodies produce an abundance of chemicals in anticipation of and in response to sex—creating mood-boosting properties similar to anti-depressants.

And the more often women have sex with any one partner, the more of this Chemical Bond-O our bodies release. Meaning? We get stuck on partners even when we don’t want to.

And so, the scientist in me recommends the following:

Ask yourself the following three questions:

  • Are you one of the ¼ of women who can actually have casual sex and not get attached or hurt?
  • Are you among the minority of women who will be sexually satisfied without an emotional bond and/or commitment?
  • And if your FWB is gloriously capable of bringing you pleasure, will you still be motivated to do all the work of finding the right man for you?

If you answer all three questions in the affirmative~great! Use condoms, use your head, and have fun.

But if you’re like most women and answer No to even one of those questions, we’re back to sex with ourselves while looking for The One.

Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., is the author of Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do (2015), which is available now. You can get a free chapter and see more at http://www.lovefactually.co

2 Comments

  1. Kara

    I understand the theory that getting your sexual needs met with a friend might make you less likely to seek out romantic partnerships, but I don’t think that’s the only possible result. As a matter of fact, I think the more likely scenario is that when a woman gets her sexual needs met by a trusted friend, she is less likely to settle romantically. Maybe it will take her longer to enter into a fulfilling romantic relationship, but, in theory, it might be one that she has put more thought into and therefore be even -more- fulfilling and successful.

  2. Kara

    Also, I’m skeptical of the studies that say that 75% of women say they have an orgasm every single time if they are with a committed partner. This is an extreme difference from most other surveys that suggest that many women have difficulty with orgasm, regardless of what kind of partner they are with, and I don’t personally know ANY women that would report having an orgasm every time with their partner.

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