Psychologists Laura E. Vanderdrift and Janice R. Kelly from Purdue University, as well as Justin J. Lehmiller from Colorado State University conducted a research study to assess commitment of Friends With Benefit Relationships (FWBR).
FWBRs are considered a “relational hybrid”, since these relationships involve combining a friendship relationship and a sexual relationship. It is a dynamic that is common in this century, especially those who are young adults.
Most often than not, FWBRs are not always clearly defined between partners, and may not necessarily involve any labels.
FWBRs are not necessarily nonexclusive, people who engage in these relationships may strictly be engaging with just one person. In fact, the current study of 246 participants, had about 60% of the participants reporting being exclusive in FWBRs. Most of the participants also reported being just friends or “lovers” before becoming a FWBR.
The results showed that the higher the commitment of individuals engaging in FWBRs, the more desire these individuals have in wanting to have this relationship become romantic in the traditional sense. These high commitment individuals also use condoms less, if at all in their FWBRs. The authors speculate that the friendship factor may be the root of why these individuals use condoms less.
The investigators also mention how the specificity of what the individuals in FWBRs is committing to, matters. Some of the activities that the individuals engage within the context of their FWBRs, may provide some indication of their commitment, are:
· Tried something new together, 50% of the sample
· Kissing, about 93% of the sample
· Argued or had a conflict, about 51% sample
· Vaginal intercourse, 98% of the sample
· Talked about something meaningful, about 92% of the sample
This study was interesting, especially the idea that FWBRs can be exclusive. It makes me wonder if FWBRs is a divergent path that some people take in order to form serious romantic relationships with someone. Though I did notice that the sample is predominantly women; actually, there were three times the number of women than men in the sample. So, I wonder if these results are truly reflective of both men and women, or just mostly women.
The investigators had a non-FWBR sample as well, but only used them as a comparison group demographically. It would have been interesting to use the non-FWBR sample as a control group for the entire study. I wonder if there would be any significant differences between them, considering some people view their significant other in a romantic relationship as their friend too. I wonder if FWBRs that transition into romantic relationships, and romantic relationships that have no presence of FWBRs, are able to form healthy relationships in the same manner?
Something to think about.
For more information about this study: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1475-6811.2010.01324.x
Vanderdrift, L. E., Lehmiller, J. J., & Kelly, J. R. (2012). Commitment in friends with benefits relationships: Implications for relational and safe‐sex outcomes. Personal Relationships, 19(1), 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6811.2010.01324.x