Do ‘Friends with Benefits’ Benefit?

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  • Whether you need someone to help you move furniture at 2 p.m. or move the earth at 2 a.m., it’s good to have friend you can call on.

    Friends with benefits – those benefits being sex with no strings attached – is the theme of two new movies (one coming out this weekend) and will no doubt be high on the media’s list of hot topics. So, let’s get it started right here.

    Do you have a friend (or friends) with benefits? And if so, have you considered the detriments that could be associated with the relationship? Probably not, because things are so cool – for now.

    Having friends with benefits is one of those things that is great in theory, but, like most things that sound too good to be true, when it works, it works really well, but it can also go really wrong.

    Click here to hear Nikki Woods’ “What in the Weekend?” report.

    Even a relationship that is “non-committal” comes with guidelines that, in a sense, require a commitment. You both are committing to not getting jealous, not getting possessive, not getting too freaky (not everyone’s rule) and not falling in love.

    But sexologist Dr. Rachel Ross gives us a lot more to consider before entering the Friends With Benefits zone. She says the commitment we think we aren’t making goes even deeper than most of us understand.

    “What we forget is that sex changes your brain chemistry. When you orgasm with another person, oxytocin levels go up, which increases your feelings of attachment,” she says.

    Dr. Rachel goes on to say, “If the man ejaculates inside the woman, his sperm has a fine-tuned mix of hormones in it which not only makes her feel closer to him, but will make her see him differently too. Imagine what happens to your brain if this happens over and over again.”

    You had no idea all this was going on, right? Me neither. But, what about the guy? What does he feel?

    “Most men have so many other options that once they have dropped you into that friends-with-benefits category, sadly, that’s where you will always stay,” Dr. Rachel says.

    So, like most relationships, friends with benefits is rarely 50/50.

    “Most men won’t want to make you their girlfriend, wife or ever want to go back to just being cool,” says Dr. Rachel. “He wants to have it all!”

    Or course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Dr. Rachel says some women can separate their feelings of attachment from a guy, but that usually doesn’t happen until later in life.

    In other words, there’s some fine print on the FWB contract that most of us will never read – and may choose not to believe even if we do.

    We think we have way more control over our minds and hearts than we actually have. But in the end, even though it can be frustrating, waiting for someone who is willing to make the effort to be monogamous may be best.

    As cute as it comes off in a movie script, Dr. Rachel says sex is not something that should be taken lightly. She says the only time women can really keep the FWB rules is when there’s no chance of it turning into anything more. If both people are in real relationships with other people, the boundaries are pretty clear.

    If not, though, for most of us women, fantasy will over take reality.

    “One person will end up in a completely different place mentally,” says Dr. Rachel.

    And I get that. One night stands, FWBs or whatever label you want to put on it were never something that sparked my interest. I knew that it would be impossible to separate my emotions from the physical part of things. But I also get why some women would. Between my demanding career, crazy early morning show hours, life as a fly single mama and other miscellaneous obligations, it would nice to be able to work out something other than abs every once in a while and not have to worry about cooking dinner for another mouth or returning texts in a timely manner. But alas, it just isn’t me. I’m an all or nothing girl.

    Besides, I’ve held many a friend’s hand as they had to deal with the morning after. I’ve seen the dark side. And it ain’t pretty.

    A lot of women who say they’re cool with their FWB have secretly turned it into a FWI – a friend with intentions. They’re hoping for something more.

    If you’re that woman who thought you could stay in the FWB lane but ended up veering down that one-way street called love (sorry), I want to hear from you. If it’s too hot to handle, at least now you know why.

    Thanks, Dr. Rachel!

    Nikki Woods is senior producer of “The Tom Joyner Morning Show.” The author of “Easier Said Than Done,” the Dallas-based Woods is currently working on her second and third novels. You can friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter: @nikkiwoods.

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