The term "Friends With Benefits (FWB)" refers to a friendship between two individuals, usually a male and a female, who occasionally engage in sexual behavior as well as maintain a friendship. If the pair limit themselves to noncoital forms of sex, then it is sometimes referred to as "Friends With Minor Benefits" or "Friends With Some Benefits" (some form of noncoital sex*). This FWB relationship can be remarkably stable without the pair being lovers or having any long-term commitment. Usually this is done on an infrequent basis if one or the other is in need. Think of this as one possible and occasional outcome of a strong friendship between a man and a woman.
There is a number of suppositions regarding the FWB arrangement. One is that the friendship between the man and the woman does not persist beyond the active time of the arrangement. The other is that the arrangement is mostly an unstable equilibrium since one member of the pair might want to make it into a romantic relationship while the other does not.
I wondered, based on what psychological research indicated regarding extrinsic rewards versus intrinsic rewards, whether the Friends With Benefits arrangement could aversely impact of the duration of the friendship. Research by Deci suggested that if an extrinsic reward is added to an activity that previously been performed for its own sake, the activity (presumably intrinsically rewarded) would lose its incentive value.
However, findings reported in Psychology_Today indicate otherwise. research by Owen, Fincham, and Manthos (2013) indicated that about 60% of university students had a FWB relationship; and less than one in five experienced a breakup of the friendship when the "benefits" ceased to be a part of the relationship. As a matter of fact, 14% actually experienced greater closeness even after sex was no longer on the table (or the bed or carpet, for that matter!) while an additional 35% remained as close.
Obviously, a FWB benefit can have some hazards: one wanting a romantic relationship, while the other does not (or not yet). And, obviously, it would be wise to discontinue the "benefits" part when one of them goes into a romantic relationship. In general, it is perhaps wise to never allude to the former FWB relationship having transpired to family members or to subsequent romantic partners.
Finally, the Friends With Benefits relationship should be kept private; the particulars or even its existence should never be fodder for social media!
*Pardon my possible indelicacy.
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