Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 83–99

Identifying ‘friends with benefits’ Scripts Among Young Adults in the Norwegian Cultural Context

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s12119-012-9140-7

Cite this article as:
Karlsen, M. & Træen, B. Sexuality & Culture (2013) 17: 83. doi:10.1007/s12119-012-9140-7


‘Friends with benefits’ (FWB) is defined as friends having sexual relations without commitment or romantic feeling towards each other. The purpose of this study was to explore the FWB phenomenon among young adults from a Norwegian, heterosexual perspective. Using the underlying theory of sexual scripts, and phenomenology as a research method, semi-structural interviews were conducted with twelve heterosexual women, aged 21–28 years, with experience in FWB relationships. Various elements of the relationship were explored: motives and function, definition of an FWB relationship, emotions, intimacy, and social influences. Results revealed that the main function of the FWB relationship appears to be the fulfilment of physical need in a safe context. Furthermore, the majority of subjects did not explicitly define the relationship, or have explicit rules to regulate it. Three types of FWB relationships emerged: the good friends, the lovers, and those who are on the hook. The study showed that people in FWB relationships ‘borrow’ elements from friendship scripts and love scripts, and combine them to form an FWB script. In the public sphere, behaviour is guided solely by this friendship script. It is only in the private sphere that the love script is present in addition to the friendship script.


‘Friends with benefits’ Sexual scripts Young adults Norway 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway

Personalised recommendations