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Effects of Gender and Psychosocial Factors on “Friends with Benefits” Relationships Among Young Adults


Friends with benefits relationships (FWB) are a blend of friendship and physical intimacy outside of a committed romantic relationship. This study examined young adults’ (n = 889) engagement in, and reactions to, a FWB relationship in the past year based on their gender, psychological distress, alcohol use, and relationship attitudes. Men (54.3%) were more likely than women (42.9%) to report at least one FWB relationship and both men and women reported that FWB relationships were associated with more positive emotional reactions than negative ones although this difference was larger for men. Greater alcohol use was related to engaging in a FWB relationship and this relationship was stronger for women. Further, thoughtfulness about relationship decisions moderated the relationship between alcohol use and engaging in FWB relationships, and again this moderation effect was stronger for women than men. Young adults with more psychological distress and who felt constrained in the FWB relationship were more likely to report negative emotional reactions. Implications for psychoeducational programs and future research are offered.

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Correspondence to Jesse Owen.

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Owen, J., Fincham, F.D. Effects of Gender and Psychosocial Factors on “Friends with Benefits” Relationships Among Young Adults. Arch Sex Behav 40, 311–320 (2011).

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  • Casual sex
  • Friends with benefits
  • Romantic relationships
  • Psychological well-being