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Do 'friends with benefits' have safer sex?

Sex buddies may be casual, but they're also careful.

By Kristin Wong Dec 3, 2012 6:14PM

Friends with benefits relationships are known to be ripe with unpleasant possibilities, but a new study has found a silver lining to the casual sex conundrum.

According to a recent poll, friends who engage in no-strings-attached sexual relationships are more likely to use condoms than couples in traditional relationships.

Photo: Karen Moskowitz/Getty ImagesMore on MSN Living: 10 foolproof ways to get in the mood

The poll, which was published in the Nov. 26 issue of the Journal of Sex Research, surveyed 376 people. Most were college-age—in their mid-20s. About half of those polled were in a friends-with-benefits relationship; the other half said they were in a traditional romantic relationship. Subjects in both groups said they'd known their partner for about four years.

Overall, researchers found that friends-with-benefits couples were less sexually satisfied, less likely to communicate about sex and more likely to have multiple sex partners.

More on MSN Living: The real reasons men shut down

It's not news that this type of relationship comes with its share of risks, but it may be somewhat surprising that casual-sex couples are proactive about managing these risks. They may not be committed, but they're cautious.

Justin Lehmiller, a social psychologist at Harvard University, explains that traditional couples are probably less likely to use condoms because they're more committed to their partner. Traditional couples trust that the relationship is monogamous; thus, they aren't as concerned about the health risks.

Researchers also found that friends-with-benefits relationships are fairly common. They point out that half of college-age students have at least some experience in this arena. Because of this, researchers argue that sex education "should consider explicitly addressing the unique health implications of involvement in these relationships."

Photo: Karen Moskowitz/Getty Images

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Tags: sex
Dec 4, 2012 6:43AM
FWB is a good thing when you have no feelings for each other...anyways been there done it, its not my cup of tea LOL

Follow me: http//:lovexsexuality.blogspot.ca
Dec 4, 2012 6:16AM
I really hope I didn't pay for this study.
Dec 4, 2012 5:35AM

Gee, it took Harvard to figure out people who screw around a lot use condoms.  Bet the study was paid for with a government grant.


Wait... who am I kidding - couldn't have been just one grant!

Dec 4, 2012 5:25AM

This is the least surprising news ever.

One of the reasons you settle down into a long term committed relationship, is to stop using condoms.

Thats one of the great side benefits.

Dec 4, 2012 4:31AM
Hmmmm...  I drove over two million miles, flew a plane multiples of that, and never had an accident. The same can be said of sex (no accidents; no condums, either) - but then again, I was never "casual" about sex..
Just stick to one partner,folks and you'll all be safe.sex is really good,but I'm sure you don't want ruin your whole life for a short period of sexual pleasures.
Dec 4, 2012 4:04AM
Kind of makes sense from another angle: a traditional couple would probably be better prepared for an unexpected pregnancy, while a friends with benefits relationship would not be.
Dec 4, 2012 3:54AM
Another one of MSN's award winning articles... It is rare that people engaging in casual sex aren't having casual sex with other people. Lots of casual sex with lots of people=diseases. You hear all you need to know and more about people's diseases living in a small town. 
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