09:52am Saturday 29 February 2020

Are friends-with-benefits relationships more common than we think?

A study by Deakin psychology researchers, Alfred Deakin Professor Marita McCabe and Ms Kylie McCardle, found that casual sexual relationships are common among young adults. The researchers are extending their study to gain a broader understanding of the prevalence, benefits and pitfalls of these relationships and are calling on people aged 18-35 year to take part in an anonymous online survey.

“We currently live in an era where marriage and having children often occur later in life,” Ms McCardle explained. “As a consequence, the ways that young people view relationships and sex has changed. Young adults now have more time to experiment with different types of relationships before they settle down.

“The limited research available on friends-with-benefits is coming out of the United States with a focus on university students. We want to know what the Australian experience is: how have relationship patterns changed over time and what is the impact on young adult’s views and experiences of relationships.”

The Deakin researchers interviewed 30 young adults and found that it is not just university students who are having friends-with-benefits relationships.

“People who have come out of a long-term relationship that lasted several years or have unexpectedly ended a relatively new marriage were also found to be engaging in these relationships,” Ms McCardle said.

“For some people, they did not feel emotionally ready to move on to a new serious relationship, yet they wanted some kind of emotional companionship and physical intimacy, which they could get from a friends-with-benefits relationship.

“For others, they saw their twenties as a time of experimentation where it was socially acceptable to experiment with different types of relationships before settling down.

“Contrary to common stereotypes, another interesting finding was that women were reporting that they enjoyed friends-with-benefits relationships just as much as men.

“And men were telling us that their friends-with-benefits relationships helped them to feel more confident in pursuing romantic relationships.”

Ms McCardle and Professor McCabe are now seeking young adults aged 18-35 to share their experiences of casual relationships through an anonymous online survey. Their research will investigate how common casual relationships are, how these relationships are constructed and what impact they are having on young adults. Those interested in participating can go to the web site http://friendswithbenefitsresearch.blogspot.com

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