In the Name of Love

A philosopher looks at our deepest emotions

Friends with Benefits

The relationship of friendship with (sexual) benefits has become increasingly popular. What underlies this attraction and is it a relationship that is beneficial? The answer to this is far from clear. Read More

Do you have evidence for your

Do you have evidence for your claim that "friends with benefits" is actually on the increase?

"Friends with Benefits" is equal to FREE Prostitution for Men

I'm an American expat living in North Africa these past twenty years. The way you are describing "friends with benefits" sounds just like single men's relationship with prostitutes here, except for that the women aren't getting paid!

As you mention, the women are focusing more on the friendship, whereas the men are focusing more on the sex. What this means is that they are getting free sex without having to to "put up" a relationship. The women are trying to make it work by keeping it "just friends" but in reality they are being taken advantage of.

Any man not ready for a "relationship" should just be honest and visit a prostitute and pay for it! This would be the attitude taken in most of the non-Western world.

However, since the 1950's the use of prostitutes by young men has fallen out of favor in society, as now any young man visiting a prostitute is viewed as having something wrong with him, such as, "What's wrong with him, can't he get a girlfriend?"

While I am not at all in favor of promoting prostitution, I have found living in a society where their use is common, that at least men are being more HONEST. Those who do have a girlfriend DO expect that the REALATIONSHIP IS part of the package!!! Those who don't want a relationship, but don't like anonymous sex with strangers are those men who are "regulars" of the same prostitute. They may get to know her and spend a bit of time talking to her, however, it's a clear "no strings attached" relationship, just like you describe friends with benefits (from the man's point of view). The women are just being taken advantage of in 99% of cases.

If men in America don't want to PAY for sex, and don' "feel ready for a relationship," then I think they ought to just stay home and MASTURBATE instead of USING honest girls this way.

Lynne Diligent
Intercultural Meanderings

Your rant

The last time I checked, there were two adults involved in a FWB relationship - a man and a woman.

Your comment infantilizes and discriminates against woman, who are adults with agency just like any other adult. Moreover, you assume a man is guilty of some sort of affront simply because he enjoys sex.

Take your sexist, prune-faced anti-male comments somewhere else, Mrs. McGillicuddy!!!!


...she may be right. Biologically speaking, sex is very much more expensive for women than for men. I won't repeat all the explanations of why "giving" sex is something precious for a female, you can find yourself right here in this website. Its not sexist, not social, its biological.
So, if we consider that "giving" friendship has the same cost for both, but "giving" sex is cheaper for men than for women, men would have to put more effort in the friendship, so it'd be fair. Lets pretend that effort can be measured and we have different numerical values for male and female:
- friendship cost: F = 4
- sex cost: S = 2
- friendship cost: F' = 4
- sex cost: S' = 6

A fair equation'd be:
2xF + S = F' + S'
2x4 + 2 = 4 + 6
10 = 10

But as long as men tend to put more effort on the sex part and women on the friendship, it becomes:
F + 2xS = 2xF' + S'
4 + 2x2 = 2x4 + 6
8 < 14

It's a simplistic, unreal (and impossible) example, but it shows that when the guy pretends to be as committed to the friendship as the girl, but is more interested in the benefits, he is being clearly unfair.


PS: I'm a man

I really like the way you put

I really like the way you put it there.
Yes, the equation should not be taken literally.
But it captures the basic point that sex in women is more costly, biologically speaking.
Even if the woman is manipulative, or a player, it takes a great toll on her body.

firends with benefits

Lynne Diligent,

You should realize today that many women are players so don't blame the men when women are quite capable of having their own manipulative bag of "tricks"Many have no desire for committment until "Mr.Right" comes along. Same old story just a different way of saying that both men and women would do better if they wouldn't want their cake and eat it too.

friends with benefits

Lynette Diligent does not seem to be too diligent about her consideration of the circumstances she is commenting about. From her description of the African experiences it seems to me that there is a substantial 'power' difference in the relationship, one supported as usual, by money. The 'home boys' that may be fortunate to be in 'friends with benefits' relationships will, most probably, have a a greater level of equality in their power to choose whether they participate or not. Its a BIG difference! Lynette, you are obviously not Catholic or you would not be trying to condem to Hell all those home boys through masturbation and, I'm a bit concerned about your assumptions - 99% of woment being taken advantage of? and, how do yopu know that the 'girls being used - in your assessment' are HONEST?

Sorry Lynette, its publicly stated and unproven assumption like these that have held back a genuine evolution of society for millenia. DJ

women's choice

I've known a couple of women who had a friend with benefits. In all these cases, the woman considered her man-friend to be unsuitable as a relationship partner--too old, too young, in his 30s but still lived with his parents, you get the idea-- but she enjoyed the guy's company.

The guys seemed to be okay with their lady-friend making a booty call when she got lonely or bored, but not really including them in her life otherwise. (I guess they were okay with it. I actually didn't know the men in these relationships, only heard the women talk about it.)

A lot of people seem to think the woman in a FWB relationship is hanging on, hoping for more, but that hasn't been my observation.

Lynne: it sounds like you've

Lynne: it sounds like you've had some bad experiences, try not to project.

a few points:

- if it works for both people, great!

- i think you're overlooking the fact that it's much more expensive in the US and illegal


THE BEST relationsip i ever had was a fwb one. it lasted 7 yrs. he is now married with a child and we still talk, no-one ever knew about it. i think very fondly of him :) we had everything except the annoying ecpectations and 'ties'

Benefits for divorcing women

Thank you Dr. Ben-Zeév for daring to wade right in to this controversial topic!! As women we still face judgment and stigma when we openly acknowledge an interest in exploring and enriching our our sexuality, particularly when we are also mothers. If you are a woman contemplating a divorce, or in the throws of one, you are no doubt acutely aware that for a man ‘winning’may mean an all out effort to shame and expose you until you are toppled from your maternal pedestal.

We still live in a time when women are given mixed messages: lighten up, loosen up, get in touch with your sexuality, but be ashamed and embarrassed of seeking out sexual pleasure, and you'd better hide your interest in sex if you are a mother, over 40 and or having sex out of wedlock.

I’m not suggesting you over share, over expose, or lose your balance in life in search of sexual gratification, but I am saying that having a sex drive is healthy and normal, having the desire to bond emotionally is healthy and normal, but having the ability to get those needs met in a healthy way while you are contemplating or actually on an exit path from your marriage is both tricky and frankly unlikely.

Women over 40 seeking to recover from the carnage of a divorce often need to heal the exit wounds of their marriage. For most the marriage became sexless and emotionally disengaged; possibly even abusive. Most of us leave with the responsibilities of children to parent, a career to rebuild, friendships to redefine, sometimes a whole identity to regenerate, all of which takes time. For most, committing to a new relationship before your wounds have healed is a recipe for heartache.

So the questions so many women struggle with is: how do I rebuild my confidence and trust so that I can love again? How do I heal, affirm and perhaps even discover for the first time the depths of my sexuality in a way that is safe??

If you can navigate the challenges of maintaining boundaries and expectations which, is necessary for any healthy relationship in life, but perhaps never more critical or delicate than in a, "fwb" relationship, you may find what other women over 40 in recovery from their marriage have discovered; “friends with benefits” is a safe option even a healing one for some. It gives a woman time to stabilize, grow, discover and nourish herself. It can be a safe harbor while repair and restoration work is undertaken. The trick is to leave the harbor once your ship is ready to sail again, and not become a houseboat with a seasonal lease!

While it may now be more socially acceptable for the younger generation to have a “friends with benefits” relationship, I think it’s actually more likely to work when two emotionally intelligent, mature adults, with the skill set to negotiate safe sex and healthy emotional boundaries, make the choice to limit their relationship to "fwb" while they focus on their children, career and personal growth, and healing.

Laura McGee

Well, I have to say the women

Well, I have to say the women replying here do seem to know what they are doing. My main concern is that no one feels "used" in the relationship. If both people truly feel that way, I am not one to object. I just don't like people (men or women) exploiting each other. However, I do believe two consenting adults should be able to make the decision about what feels right to them. I would like to see some men's reponses in this column. Also, as far as I am aware, prostitution is illegal in most countries and areas (except Holland and Nevada), including where I live, but in most places it's not enforced and goes on anyway.


I prefer to use the word ENJOYED rather than used! "Used" has a negative conitation and in my FWB relationship, we enjoy each other! And it is much more fun!

Lynne, the main aspect of a

Lynne, the main aspect of a FWB is to be able to approach it as equals. Money puts one party above the other in terms of power, and this is the reason why I limit my relationships to men who put the friendship first. I don't need money or someone to take care of my emotional needs. So, I hope you reconsider the notion of a FWB equivalence to prostitution.

hmm...I really don't

hmm...I really don't understand the comparison to prostitution at all. I don't know why anyone would feel used if they are a WILLING participant.

I've experienced FWB and found it quite enjoyable....and I WAS looking for sex more than friendship. Eventually I found that the "benefits" were much more enjoyable when there was friendship involved, due to a higher level of trust I imagine.


Aaron, I've read only a few of your blog posts and I like the way you think.

I don't have first hand experience with FWB relationships, but I think it is a case of balancing mutual sexual objectification with mutual non-sexual friendship. The participants agree to a certain threshold of "being used" for sexual gratification in exchange for their own sexual gratification and satisfaction of belonging. When either party feels objectified or disrespected beyond their comfort zone, the relationship changes or dissolves. Both participants enjoy the exhilaration of New Relationship Energy and the mutual benefits from the friendship side of the equation. I've known some ladies I think I could have enjoyed a FWB relationship with - except, I think my wife would have discouraged that behavior.

It appears that we humans are instinctively driven to get bored with existing relationships when the NRE wears off and then pursue an exciting relationship with someone new. The real trick is discovering that we can override our instinctive programming and continuously grow the sexual passion and deep friendship components within a life-long relationship.

I don't have all the answers, but I think one of the secrets is keeping mindful of the intrinsic merit of sex (playful fun and pleasurable sensations) and valuing that over its extrinsic merits (orgasm oriented sex).

I'm looking forward to reading more of your blogs.


My experience with FWB

I've had several friends with who I have had passionate sexual encounters, none of which have led to romantic love affairs that threatened my decades-long marriage. I don't think either partner in the 4 FWB relationships I've had felt used. I'm still friends with all but one woman, who suddenly moved back home from where she was in college without leaving a forwarding address

Aaron Ben-Zeév, have you ever had an FWB relationship?

I think the author makes a lot of broad generalizations here.

What he says is what society believes to be true about friends with benefits relationships. But there is many different relationships and relationship possibilities as there are people out there. Friends of benefits represents a broad long continuum of different sorts of nuanced relationships.

And the concept that "friends with benefits relationships don't work" is a total myth in my opinion. Why do people say the friends of benefits relationships don't work, when so many monogamous relationships also fail?

It's also clear that the author assumes that monogamy is the highest form of relationship that one can have. And perhaps friends with benefits relationship shadow monogamy in some ways. but in my opinion, we live in a society where divorce rates are higher than ever. Everyone strives for monogamy as if it's this idealistic had a still, and then we give up when the relationship fails to meet our expectations. Exploring alternative forms of relationships can make us into more mature human beings, capable of any type of relationship whether it is monogamous or polyamouous.

Aaron, have you ever had a friends with benefits relationship? If not, I think you should try it. Then go back and rewrite this article when you have a fair and balanced view. If you need any dating tips for men, check out my website.


With the correct mindset, FWB relationships are great! I am in a FWB relationship with a man 3 years younger. We are both emotionally mature and secure within ourselves. We are both single and been married twice. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt scenario! The time we spend together, every so often, is mutually beneficial, and not only about sexual gratification. We have a connection and have intelligent discussions openly, without fear. There are no jealousy issues. We are both consenting adults. I don't consider myself merely an object. I am a sensual woman who has, for too long, set my needs aside. I am fiercly independent and guard my personal space. I am in control of my life after 32 years and 2 husbands, both of whom betrayed me. So, have adjusted my attitude and enjoying the freedom of having a great life along with a FWB relationship. I will not be hurt if it ends and I know we will remains friends long after. I would highly recommend it for SINGLE adults. It is a problem for me, when one or both of the parties are married!

I met a woman and we hit it

I met a woman and we hit it off, i fell for her and when i expressed my feelings were more than just a one night fling, she said all she wanted was FWB and that she had been with another guy the month before We had an argument and i said if i had known that is all she wanted it would never have happened. I felt used and went for all the check ups as it was the first i heard about this FWB.

I feel that the ground rules should be set at the beginng to avoid any conflict of interest, so that both parties know what they getting into.


I wholeheartedly agree with you that the ground rules should be established right frm the outset! It sounds very clinical, but the actual benefits you get from this discussion are immense. There is a great friendship, and the other benefits are the cherry on the top. My FWB is a true friend and we communicate on a soul level. We have both been through 2 marriages that didn't work for various reasons and now feel this is the best way to go! If you go into a FWB relationshiip with eyes wide open, and an emotionally mature attitude, it really helps make it work! But, I do also agree, that it is not for everybody. I didn't think I would cope with a FWB situation, but now that I have tried it, I am very happy. During the time we spend together, we are totally in the zone concentrating on each other. No jealousy issues! I have many people aroud me who don't agree with this, but it is my decision, and as long as we are happy, and not hurting anyone, it is my business! Thanks for the comment :)


I have a friend with benefits...I believe one person falls in love, the other believed no strings attach, fear sets in, fear of them leaving, fear of sleeping with someone else, I cannot do this FWB as it is me with the fear, even though I do not want a commited relationship, complicated to say the least, I want to believe I am the only one in a relationship, not going to happen with FWB with me, I am sorry I got involved.


I do believe that a FWB relationship is not for everybody. I have no expectations and I know, should the sexual side of the relationship end, we will still be close friends. I don't think about his possibly sleeping with another. Not my problem, and the boundaries were set from the outset! I have no jealousy issues. Our relationship fills a gap in our lives and it truly works fantastically for us. I have no fear whatsoever! I DON'T want a committed relationship and neither does he, so it works! I don't want a man in my space 24/7! I have had that for 32 years!

I am a woman who has had a

I am a woman who has had a friend with benefits for more than 4 years. The only expectations either of us has of the other is fun and respect. He is married, I am divorced, and still healing from an abusive marriage of 20 years. The arrangement is perfect for both of us, and frankly it is the best relationship I have ever had with a man.


I wonder if his wife knows about you? Is he still married because it would Cost him too much to get divorced, or because they have children? I know this is a reason a lot men seem to cheat.
I know people get married with "I do's", Forever terms...., but it seems that because the divorce rate is so high, that says TRUE LOVE doesn't last forever.(?) The thrill is gone....
I actually never in my life of 54 years thought I would be a say the least. I admit I have a fragile but strong kind of love. But I am just that someone who loves to love and even the with the understanding of my FWB person's mindset. I can say I just love him to death and would hate to lose him to someone else that he wants to really share his life with. So, all in a nutshell, I am the nut...I am taking the risk to deal with my already awaiting broken heart....because he makes me feel the best I have ever I am sad ...but gladly...taking the risk knowing how much I will miss him....I know foolish, huh? PS: I am also the older of him by nine years!!! Never would have done that years just happened and he is just down the street...said he had just got out of a 5 year relationship with a want a be American Citizen married woman whom was married to a gay guy...crazy?! So when we got together it maybe was just BAD TIMING!? that is what he said.

degeneracy of relationships

I think a large motivator for people to pursue FWB relationships these days is an actual relationship has gained certain negative connotations/stigmas which most people don't want to deal with. E.g. cheating, ridiculous levels of drama, etc.

People don't want to deal with this so they turn to "FWB", which is really just another name for a relationship without the introduction of interaction beyond surface-level stuff.

FWB is basically a way of re-imagining a relationship without the problems. It might not really support monogamy per-say, but can serve to be an effective conduit to deeper relationships, especially for people with bad experiences with relationships in the past.

Actual committed

Actual committed relationships involving romantic love have become too difficult to find for various (thousands) of reasons. People in general put too many unrealistic expectations on their one and only monogamous partner, married or not. THIS is why so many marriages fail. Too many people expect all of their needs to be met by their significant other. Most of us are only human and incapable of being all those things to anyone.

This is why FWB relationships have become popular. I'm a woman and currently in 3 separate FWB relationships, all of which have been successful in varying levels and types. Each has developed organically and followed its own unique path. We are all consenting adults, over 40. We all know how many partners each of us has. The level of honesty and openness that I have with each of my 'lovers' far surpasses any of my previous monogamous relationships, bar none. I cherish this openness and honesty that we've developed. It is nothing less than wonderful.

Each of my lovers has reached a level of emotional caring for me, and I for them. We all know this is as far as our relationships will go. The bottom line is, humans are not monogamous, and trying to force ourselves to live monogamously is fighting against nature for the sake of religious and/or philosophical beliefs. It's time we all realized that and accepted it.

I have consciously chosen this lifestyle because I've grown sick and tired of the sophomoric games that are played in the dating game, and I can't stand the drama, and insecurity and immaturity of the men I've encountered through dating. In my situation, none of the men have any reason to lie to me, and that's how I like it. I also still have all the freedom and independence that I want. What's not to like about that?

friends with benefits

Hello Honey,

Please tell me this, who came up with friends with benefits?
Take it easy now, not trying to cause any waves with anyone,
i like those cute little movies with the little naked guys showing off their little naked peewees and those cute little gals showing off their little titties, just as much as any girl does. What I be wanting to know is how is this any different that what used to be called shacking up?

Back in the day, all a dude had to do to get between any ladies thighs was to buy her a bottle of cold duck on ice and one of those key lime pies you get over at Mrs. Anita's Bakery. The cold duck loosened her up and Mrs. Anita's key lime pie drove her wild. The guys thought they be driving their girl wild but honey, take my word for it, It was Miss Anita Pelaez's key lime pies that be driving all the ladies wild. And you can take that to the bank.

I know cause I've had my back up against the wall plenty of times. It's the pies I'm telling you, the pies. And I ain't no red-neck mama. I be black and damn proud of it. you fool.


You will certainly make waves when you call people 'fools'. Your unenlightened opinion is best kept to yourself. If you don't have anything intelligent to contribute, hit the delete button! Keep taking your clearly need to increase the dose!

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Aaron Ben-Zeév, Ph.D., former President of the University of Haifa, is Professor of Philosophy. His books include: In the Name of Love: Romantic Ideology and its Victims.


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