friends with benefits
Can you and your FWB turn it on and off or do you act like a couple? Photo: Wikimedia Commons

It’s been depicted in TV and movies. Jerry Seinfeld tried it with Elaine. Justin Timberlake’s and Mila Kunis’ characters gave it a go in an aptly named 2011 rom-com. You might even be doing it right now. Three little letters: FWB.

Friends with benefits seems like the best of both worlds —no commitment, a (nearly) guaranteed booty call, zero jealousy (ideally) and a companion on your own terms (for those times you need a plus one). But science just came at us with some very unchill harshness and says FWB just doesn’t work.

In a study recently published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, researchers asked 171 young adults who had been in a FWB relationship within the past 12 months. Questions attempted to determine variables like the couple’s sexual satisfaction and their level of commitment to each other.

To measure commitment, researchers wanted to know how friendly is the F in FWB? Are players allowed to reap benefits from other friends? Would one friend sacrifice for the other person? What label has the relationship been given?


Now, don’t be mad at science if this puts a kink (no pun intended) in your sexual mojo, but it turns out the FWB situations that worked out (read: were the most sexually satisfying) were the ones where the partners acted like a couple.

If the whole point of a FWB relationship is to forego the relationship, well… it’s kind of like, you’re either in or you’re out.

“The results suggest that it is important for young adults to be aware of commitment as they enter these FWB relationships,” study authors wrote. “The fact that satisfaction with sacrifice seems to play a vital role in FWB relationship adjustment suggests that young adults should be aware of the investments they have in these relationships.”

Now if only science could come up with a cure for catching the feels…

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