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The Outcomes of Friends with Benefits

In: People

Submitted By lolalthea
Words 3940
Pages 16
JINS 307
Fall Semester
December 11, 2012

The Outcomes of Friends with Benefits

Friends with benefits usually consist of two individuals who decide to have sexual interactions with each other. The idea of friends with benefits is that two friends want a sexual partner, but do not want to have a romantic relationship. Can two friends have a sexual relationship without romantic feelings occurring? Can friends with benefits maintain their friendship?
Questions involving friends with benefits arise from a myriad of readings involving cross-sex friends. It can be deduced from modern culture that the practice of having sex with someone other than one’s significant other is a commonality. I personally feel that many men and women, when young, are more willing to explore their sexuality. Young adults often don’t want to settle down as soon as possible; they may like to enjoy the pleasures out of life. There are many factors, such as feelings of love and the prospect of marriage, which can change the relationship between friends with benefits. The outcome of the relationship will depend on the individuals involved. There are multiple readings that discuss or portray the outcomes of friends in sexual relationships.
For instance in Sula, a reading that involves different relationships between friends, the author used literary analysis to portray the effect of a sexual friendship between a man and a woman. Sula is a Native American woman who is sexually promiscuous. Even though she has slept with many men, she has never created any type of relationship with them. One day Ajax, a Native American man who lives in the same town as Sula, showed up at Sula’s door because he was curious about her from all the stories he had heard about her life. Sula’s behavior reminded Ajax of his mother because he felt that she was the only other woman whose “life was her own, who could deal with life efficiently, and who was not interested in nailing [marrying] him.”1 Beginning that day, Sula and Ajax became friends with benefits. Ajax would show up regularly bearing gifts, being very nice to her. Sula enjoyed the way Ajax had genuine conversations with her and “did not speak down to her or at her.”2 After a while, she began to feel possessive of him, which was the first indication that their relationship was going to change. Ajax knew immediately that something had changed and knew he would not be staying anymore: “Ajax blinked. In her words, in her voice, was a sound he knew well…He made love to her with the intensity of a man about to leave.”3 As soon as any type of romantic feelings began to appear in the friendship, it was over. Ajax only wanted to have a sexual relationship with Sula and be her friend, nothing more. As soon as he saw that the friendship between them was different: he had to leave and more or less break the friendship.
In another book, Just Friends, which is a reading about different relationships between friends, showed through research that emotions do often cause friends with benefits to fall apart. The research was conducted by gathering qualitative information by asking individuals about their relationships with the opposite sex, and from many books about friends, love, and sex. The author states that it is not unusual for a woman who starts a sexual relationship with her friend to get lost in fantasies of love and marriage. For instance, a twenty-nine-year old woman stated, “Getting involved sexually makes me a little crazy. All of a sudden I find myself turning this guy I’m sleeping with into some kind of paragon of manhood that I can’t live without.”4 Men are less likely to create any romantic feelings toward their sexual partner because their “emotional control is shaken,”5 but “somewhere inside him lives also the memory of the betrayal that cast him out of that warmth.”6 Therefore, men put up boundaries to keep an emotional distance from having a romantic relationship with their sexual partner. On the other hand, research has shown there are some individuals who could mix sex and friendship easily without negative repercussions.7 One twenty-six-year-old woman stated, “It’s no big deal for me to have sex with one of my men friends when I need some comfort or I’m just plain horny. It fulfills a need, almost like an appetite or a hunger, I guess, and it’s comforting if I’m feeling low or something like that. But that’s just friendly, almost platonic, sex—nothing romantic about it.”8
Further research in Women and Men as Friends indicates that emotions can affect the relationship between friends with benefits, but not necessarily in a bad way.9 Research was conducted by gathering qualitative and quantitative information from other researched articles and books.10 The author indicates that being sexually attracted to someone is accompanied by romantic feelings. If an individual acts upon sexual desires, sometimes romantic feelings can occur. The author shows that, when romantic feelings are present, the actual friendship in the ‘friends with benefits’ relationship is not negatively affected. If anything, the friendship becomes more of a romantic relationship causing the two individuals involved in the relationship to be more than just friends. Studies have shown that romantic undertones in adult cross-sex friendships are found by the participants intriguing and that “it is not unusual for a romantic relationship to start out as a cross-sex friendship.”11 Scholars have noted that if friends with benefits do not talk about the possibility of romantic feelings resulting in the friendship, then those feelings are bound to escalate.12 This can cause the friendship to become more of a relationship or create a challenge for their friendship, possibly resulting in the friendship failing. On the other hand, there are individuals that like the sexual challenge in their friendships. The sexual challenge is considered an advantage to some people. In those friendships, the two individuals know that when the sexual bond starts to become problematic they can end the friendship.
Alanis Morissette sings a song, Jagged Little Pill, from personal experience about her male best friend with benefits.13 In her song she states, that even though they are just friends now, she is falling in love with her best friend: “You've already won me over in spite of me, and don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet, don’t be surprised if I love you for all that you are, I couldn't help it.”14 This song shows that people may just be friends with benefits, but there is a possible chance that one of those friends might start having romantic feelings. A friendship is usually a relationship in which people care for each other and enjoy being together. Morissette’s friend, with whom she has a ‘friends with benefits’ relationship, treated her well and always listened to her, “You treat me like I'm a princess…You're the best listener that I've ever met.”15 When Morissette sings about what her friend does for her, she sounds very happy even though she did not expect to feel any romantic feelings for her friend. It is not clear what happens with their friendship, but it is clear that she couldn’t help having romantic feelings for her friend. On the other hand, another song Shut Up and Sleep with Me sung by Sebastian, was sung from personal experience showing that the singer has no problem with keeping romantic feelings out of his sexual friendships. He thinks his friend is boring and doesn’t care what his friend thinks about, “I love your body, not so much I like your mind, in fact you're boring.”16 If friends don’t originally care too much about each other, then having sexual interactions with each other will not ruin the friendship.
The last source that portrays that friends can end up with each other if emotions are involved is in the movie Friends with Benefits. Individual representation of the story was created from the opinions and imaginations of the writers to portray sexual relationships between men and women. The two main characters, Mila Kunis as Jamie Rellis and Justin Timberlake as Dylan Harper, are best friends. They have both had a lot of unsuccessful relationships and all they want is to have a sexual partner without emotions getting involved. They both decide to have sex, with each other stating that they will not allow emotions to get involved. Unfortunately, Dylan Harper falls in love with Jamie Rellis and ends up telling her. She freaks out and ends their friendship. She later realized that she is just scared of having a romantic relationship and decides that she will take the risk. In the end Dylan and Jamie end up being together in an emotional relationship. This movie shows that when emotions form between friends with benefits, both friends can end up having feelings for each other and having a romantic relationship.17
Different resources use different methods to analyze the relationship between friends with benefits. The different methods used in a song include beats per measure, tone, upbeat rhythm and melody, and instrumentation.18 The method used in a movie is an individual representation of a story through opinion and imagination.19 The methods used in books include literary analysis and research that consist of gathering qualitative and quantitative information from other researched articles and books or from asking individuals questions about their relationships with the opposite sex and from many books about friends, love, and sex.20 The research methods used in addressing family relationships is very different than song methods through individual opinion and experience. On the other hand, the method used in a movie is similar to the methods used in a song because they are created from opinion, experience, or imagination.
Michael and Lillian use research as part of their methods to show the outcome of friends with benefits. They both gather qualitative information from other researched books, but Lillian only uses qualitative information in her research while Michael uses qualitative as well as quantitative information in his research. For instance, Michael used a study of 309 college students that completed a survey concerning sexual activity in nonromantic cross-sex friendships: “A surprising 51% of the respondents had sex with a cross-sex friend whom they had no intention of dating.”21 Lillian gains some of her qualitative information by asking individuals about their relationships with the other sex. For instance, when she asked the participants in her study what they thought of introducing sex into a friendship, someone replied, “Sex and friendship? Not a chance! Sex makes people possessive, which is exactly what friendships can’t tolerate.”22 While Michael gains his information only from other research books and articles. Just like Michael, Lillian also gets information from other books about friends, love and sex.
Morissett and Sebastian use personal experiences within their methods to enhance the idea of friends with benefits. Both songs are sung with four beats per measure, but Morissett has a happy tone to her song, while Sebastian appears to sing in a monotone. The chorus in Morissett’s song has an upbeat rhythm when compared to the rest of her song making the listener understand that she couldn’t help falling in love with her best friend. There is one point in Morissett’s song where she plays the harmonica for a few beats.23 Sebastian has an upbeat melody to his song, but he doesn’t sound upbeat. He repeats the lyrics, “Shut up and sleep with me” constantly to show that he just wants to sleep with his friend.24 Morrison and Gluck use the method of writing a fictional story to portray the outcome of friends with benefits. Morrison specifically uses literary analysis as her method to write her book to identify that friends with benefits can occur.25 Gluck, on the other hand, uses individual representation from his opinions and imaginations and creates a movie. Gluck also uses scenes, moods, and arguments to create the movie. For instance, in Friends with Benefits, the two main characters, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, have an argument when their relationship starts to have too much romantic feelings involved.26 Many of the methods used to portray the idea of friends with benefits are from personal experiences or from someone’s imagination. Of the six sources used, four of them are from personal experiences or from the writer’s imagination. In one sense, personal experiences shows actual evidence of what can happen in a relationship between friends with benefits. On the other hand, personal experiences can often be biased because the two individuals involved are completely different from a majority of the population. This is similar to the research on friends with benefits as well, because a majority of the research was done from interviewing individuals about their relationships. However the research is better, because researchers can prove that these types of relationships are different. Also, some research shows quantitative data on how many people sleep with their friends.27 I think obtaining information from the imagination of writers is not the best kind of data because everybody has different opinions and so someone else who writes a similar story can have something completely different. These ‘friends with benefits’ relationships often all have different outcomes. When romantic feelings start to get involved between friends with benefits, some friendships may fall apart or some friendships may form relationships. On the other hand, some friendships do not form any romantic feelings and can continue their friendship. In conclusion, I have found that one of the biggest factors that arises between ‘friends with benefits’ are romantic feelings. Some research has shown that friendships fail when romantic feelings get involved between friends who are sexually active with each other. They tend to fall apart because the romantic feelings are only one sided. Usually it is the woman who forms those romantic feelings for their friend with benefits. The sharing of bodies is an intimate act and when two individuals who already like each other in a nonromantic way continue sleeping with each other, it is not that uncommon that some romantic feelings form.28The problem is that not everyone in a sexual friendship form emotions. On the other hand, both individuals can form romantic feelings towards each other. When only one individual has romantic feelings in the sexual relationship, the friendship tends to fall apart. This occurs because the other individual, who doesn’t have those romantic feelings, doesn’t want to deal with a possessive person. Romantic feelings do not necessarily arise in all relationships where the friends are having sexual intercourse with each other. I have found that some individuals have no problem with keeping emotions out of their friendships. Some people like to sleep with their friends once in a while because it makes them feel good or it gets rid of an itch for them when they are “horny”.29Other people in sexual friendships have talked with their friend and agreed that as soon as the relationship becomes too stressful they will both break off the friendship.30 In other words, depending on the two people involved in a sexual relationship will depend on what the outcome will be. Some people may end up together, some people may lose a friendship, or some people may continue their relationship as normal. Research should be conducted to focus more on quantitative factors involved in ‘friends with benefits’. These quantitative factors include how many individuals are or have been in a sexual friendship, how many of those individuals were affected because of emotions, and how many of those friends are still friends. I feel that this would provide a better understanding to readers if they say a number from a study rather than just interviews from individual people. The quantitative data would show exactly how many relationships are affected by emotions to see if that is a leading cause of friendship failure between ‘friends with benefits’. These factors would also help readers and other researchers see how big sexual friendships are part of our lives.

Endnotes
1. Toni Morrison, Sula, (New York: A Division of Random House, Inc., 2004), 127.
2. Toni Morrison page 127
3. Toni Morrison pages 133-134
4. Lillian Rubin, Just Friends the Role of Friendship in Our Lives, (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 1985), page 152
5. Lillian Rubin page 153
6. Lillian Rubin page 154
7. Lillian Rubin page 150
8. Lillian Rubin pages 150-151
9. Michael Monsour, Women and Men as Friends Relationships Across the Life Span in the 21st Century, (New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 2002), page 143
10. Michael Monsour pages 142-147
11. Michael Monsour pages 143
12. Michael Monsour pages 144
13. Ballard, Glen, "Head Over Feet," Jagged Little Pill, Performed by Alanis, September 16, 1996, compact disc
14. Ballard, Glen, compact disc
15. Ballard, Glen, compact disc
16. Humpe, Inga, & Sebastian, Roth, "Shut Up and Sleep with Me," Golden Boy, Performed by Sebastian Roth aka Sin With Sebastian, compact disc.
17. Gluck, Will, "Friends with Benefits," Performed by Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, DVD.
18. Ballard, Glen, compact disc; Humpe , Inga, & Sebastian, Roth, compact disc.
19. Gluck, Will, DVD
20. Toni Morrison pages 133-134; Lillian Rubin chapter 8; Michael Monsour chapter 8
21. Michael Monsour page 138
22. Lillian Rubin pages 151
23. Ballard, Glen, compact disc
24. Humpe, Inga, & Sebastian, Roth, compact disc.
25. Toni Morrison pages 124-134
26. Gluck, Will, DVD
27. Michael Monsour page 138
28. Lillian Rubin page 152
29. Lillian Rubin page 150
30. Michael Monsour page 146

Annotated Bibliography
Ballard, Glen. "Head Over Feet." Jagged Little Pill. Recorded September 16, 1996. Maverick Records. 1996. compact disc
Abstract: Sexual friendships between men and women are portrayed by the singer singing a song from personal experience. The song is sung by four beats per measure. There is a happy tone when Alanis sings about how the man treats her. The chorus is sung in a more upbeat rhythm and there is a break in the song when the singer plays the harmonica. Alanis Morissette sings about her male best friend. They do have sexual intercourse, but they are just friends. In her song she states that even though they are just friends now, she is falling in love with her best friend. This song shows that people may just be friends with benefits, but there is a possible chance that one of those friends might start having romantic feelings. When friends have sex with each other, they are sharing a part of themselves they don’t share with anyone else possible causing romantic feelings to occur. At first neither friend in the relationship may have romantic feelings for each other, but there is still a chance that by having a sexual relationship with your friend, romantic feelings can occur.

Gluck, Will. "Friends with Benefits." Zucker Productions, Olive Bridge Productions, and Castle Rock Entertainment. July 22, 2011. DVD
Abstract: Individual representation of the story was created from the opinions and imaginations of the writers to portray sexual relationship between men and women. In the start of this movie, two friends just want to have sex with each other with no romantic feelings getting in the way. Both characters like to have sex, but every relationship they have been in was more than just sex. They don’t care too much about the emotions involved in relationships; they just want to have sex. As the friends continue with their non-emotional relationship, the man begins to like the woman. The friendship fails and later both individuals end up having an emotional relationship instead.

Humpe , Inga, & Sebastian, Roth. "Shut Up and Sleep with Me." Golden Boy. Sing Sing, Lipstick Confusion Records. 1995. compact disc
Abstract: Sexual friendships between men and women are portrayed by the singer singing from personal experience. This song is sung four beats per measure and it has an upbeat melody. The lyrics “Shut up and sleep with me” is repeated over and over again to get across the point that the singer wants the girl to sleep with him and nothing more. This song indicates that friends can have sexual relationships with each other without having to worry about emotions ruining the friendship. The singer states that he just wants to have sex with the woman and nothing else. He even says that he doesn’t care for the mine of the woman, he just wants her body. The singer thinks that the woman is boring and doesn’t want to hang out with her, he just likes her body.

Monsour, Michael. Women and Men as Friends Relationships Across the Life Span in the 21st Century. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 2002.
Abstract: Friends with benefits were researched in this book by gathering qualitative and quantitative information from other researched articles and books. The book shows that friendships do not fall apart if sex is involved. On the other hand, this book also shows that due to the fact that emotions can occur if sex is involved in friendships, those emotions can destroy the friendship. The emotions can destroy the friendship because only one side of the person in the friendship wants to have more out of the relationship. Some friendships may not necessarily act on their sexual undertones, but having those sexual undertones can actual make the friendship last because it adds an intriguing factor to the relationship. Scholars have noted that if friends with benefits do not talk about what is going on between them and set boundaries, then emotions can escalate causing the relationship to end.

Morrison, Toni. Sula. New York: A Division of Random House, Inc., 2004.
Abstract: The author used literary analysis to portray the effect of a sexual friendship between a man and a woman. Sula is a colored woman who likes to sleep around with men. She does not create any type of relationship with the men she sleeps with. Sula becomes a friend with benefits with Ajax, a colored man who lives in the same town as Sula. At first their friendship goes well until Ajax starts to notice Sula acting different around him. Sula becomes possessive of Ajax and once Ajax sees the difference in Sula he leaves because he does not want to have a closer relationship with Sula. Ajax does not want to get married; he wants to stay a single man.

Rubin, Lillian. Just Friends the Role of Friendship in Our Lives. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 1985.
Abstract: Research about sexual relationships between men and women was conducted by gathering qualitative information from asking individuals about their relationships with the opposite sex and from many books about friends, love, and sex. This book indicates that men and women are friends and they have sexual relationships with each other. This source indicates that if men and women are sexual involved in their friendship, a women is bound to get lost in fantasies of love. When women begin to get romantic feelings for their male friends, those friendships are likely to fail because the man doesn’t want anything more than sex from the friendship. This source also states that there can be women who manage not to get lost in fantasies of “forever” and can continue having a sexual friendship with a man. This book also states that even though there are problems with men and women keeping friendships if they are sexual involved, “many men and women continue to see each other out for non-romantic relationships.”…...

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