Trimble: While friends can have benefits, beware the drawbacks

By Leah Trimble

As the snow falls and the roads get slick, I can find nothing better to do than read books and… As the snow falls and the roads get slick, I can find nothing better to do than read books and peruse the old magazines lying on my coffee table. At the finale of yet another book in the thoroughly overrated, highly addictive Sookie Stackhouse series — I am in over my head with this “True Blood” obsession — I decided to take a break and see if I had read all the articles in the November issue of Glamour, my go-to monthly publication.

One particular article stuck out to me — one in which two women give opposing views on whether a “friends with benefits” situation can turn out to be a successful endeavor. After reading the piece, I tapped into my own memories. Though I have always believed that my previous experiences produced positive results, rethinking the details offered a different perspective. As time flies by, I wonder: Is it emotionally possible to be FWB without the situation turning into an absolute train wreck?

Glamour reported that 58 percent of readers polled on its website had been in a “beneficial” relationship with a close comrade, though the authors didn’t include what would be a spectacularly descriptive poll describing how those people felt afterward. While reading the advising material provided by the two contributors to the article, I couldn’t help but think that it’s hard to classify this type of relationship strictly as either a “good” or “bad” life decision.

As with countless other issues that surround sex and its radiating effects, there is no clear-cut answer to whether individuals should partake in this particular activity. But there are ways to prevent it from becoming a disaster.

Hillary Gray, the woman defending the FWB in the article, said that when she sees her “friend” walk into a room, her “heart doesn’t jump. Period.” This is rare. And completely necessary. Unless, by some freak coincidence, both of you fall in love with each other at same time, no emotional chemistry should be involved. Sexual chemistry, of course — but stay away from the lovey-dovey stuff.

Don’t go on mock dates, cuddle together or flirt on a regular basis. Everything that doesn’t involve a sack session should be strictly friend-ish. Go to the Pitt basketball games and cheer your heart out. But don’t hold hands at the movies. There’s a big difference.

Take for instance, Julie Klausner, the woman debating Gray and the opposing force against all and every type of FWB. “The problem with friends with benefits is that it provides neither friends nor benefits,” she states right away. She later talks about her experience and how she wanted to “get texts, go eat pizza, see movies,” while the guy involved desired a different situation.

Her expectations got in the way and ruined any chance of the relationship surviving. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be expectations, just not ones like these. Always demand respect and common courtesy, but remember that a true FWB experience doesn’t imply that boyfriend or girlfriend duties have to be performed. When that becomes a part of the scene, you can almost always  anticipate the relationship falling apart.

What I don’t agree with is Klausner’s opinion that casual sexual partners can never be friends. As long as jealousy and false expectations don’t arise, there is every possibility to maintain a great friendship. Keep an open mind, and things can go smoothly. Friendships come and go, but this one doesn’t have to end.

The best thing to do is have rules. Don’t cross them or push them to the point of breaking. Every “couple” has its own benefits, and it’s up to you to decide what works in your situation.

No matter what factors one might consider, no one can say for sure if “friends with benefits” is a good idea, or if this sort of situation can ever be successful. But there are ways for the chances to be in your favor. Set boundaries that both of you are comfortable with.

At the same time, have sex, and for the most part, have fun. Just don’t pretend your FWB is your boyfriend or girlfriend. Different expectations for the situation translate to a likelihood that one person will be disappointed and hurt. But if you follow the rules, there is a great chance that your friendship will last — even after you find true love. So enjoy FWB while you can.