Can “No Strings Attached” Relationships Really Work?
Is it just the stuff of movies, or can friends with benefits be a fun way to have sex with no commitment?
When Harry Met Sally taught us that men and women can never be just friends. He’s Just Not That Into You showed us how to stop obsessing about every detail and accept there are no exceptions (until of course, the end of the movie). And The Ugly Truth shed light on the true power a woman has over a man, simply with her body.
But what about the notorious “friends with benefits” relationship? Have no fear, our rom com instructional guide about sex without relationships, No Strings Attached, comes out this Friday, starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher.
While the movie is sure to be a hopeless (or is it hopeful?) romantic crowd pleaser – us Bettys wonder if there is any merit or benefit to shagging without commitment. Or really, if it is a possibility without wrecking our (or his) emotions. I mean, don’t most FWBs leave us wondering WTF?
To help unravel the sheets and get to the core of these partnerships that so many women admit being involved in – we spoke to two experts: Manhattan-based fourth-generation matchmaker, Maria Avgitidis or better known as Maria the Date Coach, and Stephanie Florman, a relationship coach who’s been featured on Fox News, blogtalkradio, and more. They give us the scoop on this relationship that’s gaining media action and encouraging hook-ups nationwide:
When did the “Friends with Benefits” relationship become so mainstream?
Maria: Although I’d argue “FWB” has always existed through the history of sex, I believe its “mainstream” popularity became prevalent in the ’90s, mostly due to its entrance in popular sitcoms like Melrose Place and 90210.
Stephanie: I would say there are 3 factors that have made FWB mainstream: First, online dating leads us to believe that the perfect person is just a check box away, so our expectations have increased as we have lost our ability to compromise. Secondly, we live in a world that creates commitment phobic people; there are too many choices and we know that the newer, bigger, better model is just around the corner. Lastly, people are waiting until later to get married or are questioning if they want marriage. In theory, a FWB can fulfill the relationship need, while making it clear that the relationship is not the priority.
Is it possible to have a “successful” friends-with-benefits relationship?
Maria: Yes, as long as both parties understand that a FWB relationship is not a “normal” relationship. Communication should be limited to sex, no sleepovers, and most importantly, not often! I think the reason why FWB relationships don’t last is because some “couples” enjoy the sex, and do it too often, thus confusing at least one party in the relationship into lust/love. If the other party is on the road to FWB, and the other is driving a FWB to a relationship, someone is bound to get hurt… and that someone is the driver.
Stephanie: It sounds great in theory, but it is not possible to have a “successful” FWB relationship because men and women are fundamentally different when it comes to sex. A man is physically designed to have sex with no strings attached. A woman is designed to have sex selectively, which means she cannot have sex and detach — thanks to a little hormone called oxytocin (men have this hormone also, women are just more affected by it). This is the “bonding” hormone that makes the woman want to cuddle, connect emotionally and communicate about the relationship. The female brain needs to talk about relationships like the male brain needs sex.