Friendship Sex Without Strings (aka “Friends With Benefits”) : Can Women Handle It?

Posted by on May 2, 2018 in Conscious Living, Relationships & Sex with 28 Comments

bed sex upgrade-compressed

By Marie Hartwell-Walker | Psych Central

Talking with a friend who has found her ideal mate, somehow the conversation turns to the idea of “friends with benefits” — otherwise known as having sex with someone you aren’t emotionally entangled with — and the idea doesn’t seem as far-fetched as it once did. After all, 60 percent of college students report doing it at least once. Women are now as free as men to explore their sexuality without encumbrances.

Of course, your friend never did it. She’s found her soulmate. But why shouldn’t you spice up your life with a regular, no-strings-attached booty call? Maybe that guy you’ve known since high school, who’s held your hand through breakups and who has turned to you for advice about what women want could be the answer to at least some of your problems. Why not give it a try?


Related Article: 7 Important Life Lessons You Can Learn from Being in a Relationship

Proceed with caution.

Although the idea of a no-strings-attached sexual romp with a good buddy when you’re feeling lonely sounds like a great idea, there isn’t much in the way of data to show that most women can pull it off. The truth is that while some women can manage a FWB arrangement, others simply can’t. FWB requires a separation between love and sex that can be very hard for many women to sustain over time. There are good reasons why these arrangements often don’t last. There are reasons why the price of a few sexual encounters can be the loss of a very long friendship.

Why Can’t We Just Have Sex Without Emotions?

Part of the reason is grounded in classic behavioral psychology. Remember reinforcers? Give a pigeon a treat every time he pecks a bar and he really wants to peck that bar. You and your FWB hung out as friends because of shared interests in politics, Proust, and baseball, not because you saw him as date material. You know he cheated on every woman he ever dated. You know that he has major hangups about commitment. You know there’s a trail of emotional wreckage in his wake. Before you started sleeping with him, you clearly saw his flaws as a romantic partner. But now – now the powerful, positive feelings of orgasm may make all that seem like small stuff. Orgasm is a powerful reinforcer of behavior for both sexes. It’s fun. It feels great. When paired with a particular person over time, it can make a casual sexual partner look good — very, very good.

Related Article: A Guide to Having Multiple Orgasms (for Both Men and Women)


Looking good can start to look like love, whether the person is really appropriate or not. You might start convincing yourself that with you, he’ll be different; that a couple of people who share such a powerful connection are meant for each other. Mention this to the guy, and he’s likely to be surprised and upset. He figured you knew what you were getting into. Why would you think he was going to change?

Another reason is biological: Both men and women release oxytocin, the hormone and neurotransmitter, during orgasm. Oxytocin calms us down, soothes our anxieties, and mellows us out. It’s also a key biological factor that bonds people to each other. Some research shows that it is associated with the ability to maintain healthy relationships. This is the hormone that is released during childbirth. It also surges when women nurse their babies. Sometimes called the “cuddle hormone,” it’s what helps parents bond with their babies and women bond with their mates. It’s often what makes a woman start to see a FWB arrangement as meaning more. She bonds. He doesn’t. One day she whispers, “Maybe I love you.” He’s outraged. He’s bummed. This wasn’t supposed to happen. This wasn’t the deal! Tell that to your hormones.

Related Article: Are You Making Love or Just Having Sex? Read This and Decide

Some of it seems to be evolutionarily hardwired. Where men seem to be engineered to sow their “wild oats,” women have, at least historically, been focused on finding a stable mate and settling down to the business of making a family. The tension between those two forces is at the core of romantic love. When the male singles out a particular woman as the object of his emotional and sexual attraction, it’s powerful stuff. When a woman sees that man as the person who can partner with her to make a family and a life, she reciprocates with equal ardor. (There’s that oxytocin again!) However antiquated those tendencies may seem, they’ve guaranteed the survival of the species and are unlikely to die easily. If he’s still “sowing” but your more basic self is into nesting, there’s going to be a big problem with your FWB arrangement.

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28 Reader Comments

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  1. Yup! Just be honest and don’t play games.

  2. co. mmun. i. cation.

  3. Easy in theory in practice very easy to fall in love

  4. Sex doesnt make one fall in love, time n connection does.

  5. quite a few… the thing is, I was already friends… it did mess up follow up, lifetime friendships…. I miss my friends,… I’d give in with persistent effort… thought it would let is go away… the only thing gone is the mess up it did later… for too many. Really… my sex life is interesting… waited till i was almost 17..,… late bloomer.

  6. 1176967319002120@facebook.com' Mara Garbs says:

    I would love that. The question should be can men handle that ? ?

  7. Of course men can deal with that ….call you up stroke and be out. …no attachment. ….perfect!

  8. bloody hell no. Friends are Friends and Romantic is Romantic. And No. Romantic, can Never be Friend. Simple, for goodness sakes. *not serious of course* 😉

  9. that;s why men won’t commit

  10. I don’t have sex with frenz ur either on it or not

  11. If there’s an obvious no go zone you will find the distance will soon grow.
    Friends yeah right!
    As for sex without love pft course men can handle it, they invented it.

  12. Tina Jamrose LILOLOL. (()). Omg. LOLOL ???

  13. Love ’em, leave ’em.

  14. 10206961087839955@facebook.com' Cara Riley says:

    I had a couple of FWB’s in my 20’s. I wanted more at first, but they were the best friends I’d ever had and we didn’t want to lose that. We are all happily married or in long term (almost 20 years) relationships now, but we are still great friends who can still talk till dawn. I don’t think it would be like this if we’d tried to get more serious :/

  15. Sexist much @conscious life news ?

  16. its not about being a man or a woman, some people are just good with that and it is not a matter of gender at all. from my experience i have seen more heartless women that men and the only difference is men know what they are while women are always confused

  17. From my experience, someone almost always can’t handle it

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