"Friends with benefits..." what do you think about it?

Dear Heather,

I’m considering a “friends with benefits” relationship with a guy friend of mine. What do you think?

Friend

Dear Friend,

“Friends with Benefits” is code for “Friends using each other.” In this kind of relationship, a couple can kiss or whatever and then have no obligation to date, be in a relationship, care about each other or even call the other person afterwards. From a girl who once considered the “friends with benefits” situation and even was the one to suggest it to a guy friend in high school, let me say that it’s 100% messed up. I am so relieved that nothing ever came of my suggestion because, most of the time, the guy gets the benefits and the girl is left wanting more.

Here’s why… Men are more physically oriented, while women are emotionally oriented. When women get physical, our heart comes with–either in full force or we suppress our emotions, which causes damage to our hearts. Often we even suppress our emotions because of previous hurts or fear of future hurt. Men’s hearts are attached to physical acts as well, but their emotions aren’t as easily or as strongly connected to physical intimacy as women’s. Especially in our sex-saturated world, therefore, it can be easier for men to be physical with a woman and then just walk away. The woman, however, is left with both her body and heart abandoned. Not knowing that it’s emotional fulfillment she ultimately desires, many women move on to another “friend with benefits” to get more physical attention, but eventually it will leave her heart abandoned again. Although a man will also miss out on emotional growth and depth in sexuality, it’s the woman who bears the brunt of the hurt, loss and confusion in these situations.

From a broader perspective, the “friends with benefits” situation perpetuates a dangerous mentality for society. Because of original sin, how men are wired, and since some men have not learned true respect for women, many guys can use, abuse, leave, and not care at all for women they’ve been with. Likewise, due to original sin, low self-esteem, wounded relationships with their dads, hurt from other men, and a misunderstanding of our feminine sexuality (thanks to the sexual revolution), some women these days welcome the ‘using’ mentality instead of detesting this type of behavior: “I don’t mind if he has fun with me and moves on.” Or, like in the TV show, “Sex in the City”, women have now decided that we can be just as low as the “male pigs” who love ‘em and leave ‘em. We can do it, too. Their “lovin”, however, lacks any real love or commitment and progressively diminishes the emotional and spiritual power of sexuality.

Instead of sexual expression being an entire gift of self to another (possible only in marriage), people who are OK with the “friends with benefits” approach reduce sexual relations to physical pleasure. If you abandon emotional entanglement in sexual relations, you’re left with a heart that knows sexual acts as cold and empty. Such a sexually unfulfilled heart, of either a guy or girl, is far from ideal. It’s a cultural travesty that we’re not only accepting this meaningless approach to sex, but that we directly and indirectly encourage it.

Even if you want to avoid relationship issues (which can be good and healthy for an average, busy teen), don’t let your unconscious mind even start to believe that the emotional vacancy of being a friend with benefits is actually “beneficial.” Finding healthy activities, fun and friendships would be far more beneficial. It actually makes sense for teens to postpone romantic relationships until they’re more seriously pursuing marriage. Teen relationships often cause more damage than do good. Even when I think back on seemingly healthy teen relationships, I see a good deal of unnecessary hurt. When you’re young and still figuring out your own identity, goals and interests, romance can very easily pull your heart away from the awesome discovery of self and the adult world. It’s so easy for teen emotions to go overboard—your boyfriend or girlfriend consumes your heart and mind. That’s why we recommend lots of good friendships with members of the opposite sex while teens are in middle and high school.

When it’s God’s timing, you deserve a real relationship that includes interest in your heart, mind, body and soul (great discussions, fun going out together, spiritual connection, etc.). You deserve a phone call and genuine concern. You deserve a real friendship in which neither you nor he desire to use each other—a friendship that only grows into romance when you’re both ready for the emotional responsibility (he in having your heart, you in having his).

In addition, since the friends with benefits situation throws relationship rules to the wind, it almost always throws purity and healthy physical progression to the wind. You will be much more likely to go too far too fast in these relationships—damaging not only a friendship that might have been decent previously, but also intimacy with your future spouse and God. With so much at risk and such short-term benefits, don’t waste your time.

For more related to this answer, check out If Not Sex, What Can I Do - How Far?