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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.

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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.

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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
62Comments
Dec 4, 2012 3:18AM
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   So apparently as long as you are wearing a condom... divorce rates, single parents, breakdown of family structure and just plain being respectful of your body... doesn't measure up to the benefits you have when wearing condoms and engaging in multiple partners during the same course of time... nice

  No wonder our society is losing it's grip on reality with articles like this, and no wonder kids these days have no idea how to structure their lives with role models like this. 

Dec 4, 2012 2:57AM
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I don't believe in relationships. If it bleeds more than 7 days and doesn't die, I don't trust it. Better just pay a high class call girl who gets weekley checkups.
Dec 4, 2012 2:51AM
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Used to do this...

Turned from it to the living God...and gained forgiveness....

Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
Dec 4, 2012 2:38AM
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It's not necessairly safer when you factor in that chances are the committed couple is more likely to be monogamous.  I'll take monogamoy over a condom any day.  A condom can't protect you from everything - many STD's are transmitted from areas that a condom doesn't cover.  And of course, if you're engaging in unprotected oral sex.....

 

If you are really interested in safe sex, but don't want a relationship, best bet is to agree to be sexually exclusive for a set time period, and get tested before you do the nasty, especially since some STD's can cause cancer. That scares the bejeesus out of me. It sucks to be single sometimes, although,  no one is completely safe - people in committed relationships and even married folks can cheat and bring home an unwanted surprise, and then of course the unsuspecting spouse is clueless because the cheater isn't going to say a word.

Dec 4, 2012 2:21AM
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let me get this right ,,,do I check in with my phone before I "check-in" or ofter I checked out .......HELP ?
Dec 4, 2012 2:08AM
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Heard that gonorrhea has gotten to be resistant to the antibiotics used against it.  Sorry to ruin the party.  Safe is more important than ever. 
Dec 4, 2012 1:56AM
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The poll was filled out by 20 something college aged people.  Do you really think the information is accurate?  376 dudes bragging about a friends-with-benefits relationship doesn't really reflect the millions of other people in this country.
Dec 4, 2012 1:56AM
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This kind of article is irresponsible.  Like it or not it encourages risky behavior.  Is anyone here buy the implication that causual sex parnerships (hook-ups) don't end with babies?  I know plenty, and what a mess, and BIG BUCKS for the guy for the next 18 years.  Maybe causal hhok-up are "less risky", but wait .... what other kinds of relationships are there?  I see two kinds Married and everything else.  Who defines commited vs casual anywhy?  NO they are all causal and a disaster looking to happen.  Ok, it has not happened to you.  Got it! 

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