FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS? Pros and cons of casual sex

It’s not only in movies that friends hook up for no-strings-attached casual sex. The phenomenon is real in the actual world, too. And just like in movies, casual sex does actually come with strings attached, as you will find out in this article.

In 1977, Kenny Rodgers, revered country musician, released the song Daytime Friends with the catchy line, ‘daytime friends and nighttime lovers’. The song gives a sneak peek into a form of relationship where individuals are in it only to gratify their sexual desires. Four decades later, the message in the song couldn’t be truer.

Without doubt, the relationships realm has undergone numerous changes over time and more so from an African perspective. In days gone, it was considered taboo for a man and woman to engage in any sexual activity if they were not married. Sex was sacred and was thus guarded within the precincts of marriage.

Enter globalisation and her sister Westernisation and the African culture could not withstand the pressures and it thus buckled under the weight of the two phenomena.

The perception of sex as holy was among the many beliefs that were watered down. On our screens, Western movies depicted sex as something casual and we weren’t too slow to pick up the notion.

Gone are the days when parents used to chase away their young ones from the living room when programmes such as The Bold and the Beautiful came on air.

And it gets worse for cartoons, which are meant for young children, are riddled with sexual innuendos. It is no wonder then that the friend with benefits or casual sex phenomenon has gained popularity on this side of the world.

The rise of Internet dating has also certainly given casual sex a boost for it is not uncommon for two strangers, who have met through social media, to hook up and partake of the ‘forbidden fruit’.

Friends having a ‘little sex’ between them type of relationship is slowly replacing the traditional relationship pattern of long-term commitment.

Casual sex focusses on the sexual satisfaction between individuals instead of emotional fulfillment. And it is easy to understand why many young people would rather indulge in a one-night stand with a friend.

They are bogged down by demanding lifestyles and hence have no time for commitments. In addition, negative attitude pertaining to long-term relationships and fear of being hurt have pushed people to casual, fun and non-committed relationships.

Casual sex also comes with freedom. You know – no dining, no wining and certainly no whining. You can get in, off and out at will, making it incredibly convenient.

The results of the casual sex phenomenon are wide and varied but it definitely tends to delay serious relationships to a later stage in life.

This could explain why more and more youth are getting married in their thirties and forties compared to yesteryears where many got married in their twenties.
The downsides…
While it is easy to fall into the temptation of casual sex, one of its downsides is the danger of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Thing is; with casual sex, there is neither a sense of security nor loyalty to your sexual partner and the person you are engaging with might be seeing two or more people other than you.

It is worrying that Kenyan youth are more afraid of getting pregnant than contracting STDs and this explains the high uptake of emergency contraceptive pills. With the prevalence of HIV/AIDS at an all time high in the country, it is advisable for people engaging in casual sex to practice safe sex.

Secondly, there is nothing like a no-strings-attached sex between friends as one or both of you will develop a sense of entitlement and begin wanting something more.

The situation gets trickier when the other person feels differently. And then there is the issue of jealousy, especially when one partner gets into a serious relationship with someone else.

The bottom line is, you cannot separate emotions from sex and eventually one or both of you will end up being hurt.

It is thus imperative for friends who are considering to engage in some ‘little sex’ to deliberate whether it is worth ruining their friendship. Getting back to Kenny Rodger’s song, the possibility of getting hurt and disoriented is real in casual sex as the song goes, “And when it’s over, there is no peace of mind. Just a longing for the way things should have been…”

Thirdly, the spur-of-the-moment sex has the potential of ruining your future relationships especially if your partner gets to know (and they usually find out) that you had a sex fling with one or two of your friends.

How awkward will that be? Even if the hookup happened eons ago, your partner will always be suspicious of your friends, as they will be convinced that if it happened before, then it can happen again.

Moreover, you may end up missing a better opportunity and a chance of true love, as you are busy sleeping with your friend.

Remember the saying, ‘don’t lose the moon while counting the stars?’ It holds water in this case. And then there is the walk of shame. We cannot run from the fact that sex is much better when we do it with someone we have an emotional attachment to.

Yes, you may hookup with a friend and engage in some hot sex but at the end of the day, there will be that void, that feeling that something is missing and worse still, a feeling of guilt will hang over your head.

It will take some time to rub off the feeling that what you did was wrong. If your heart is not made of steel, and none is made of steel, you will end up feeling cheap.

There is nothing good about shame so if you don’t want to walk that path, then you better avoid casual sex.
The do’s and don’ts of casual sex
If, from the facts given above, you are still interested in casual sex, then consider the following:

Speak your mind: Be open about your expectations from the word go to avoid future misunderstanding and heartbreaks. Both of you have to be okay with the end result and that means being on the same page, always.

Always practice safe sex: Let condoms be your friend no matter how tight your friendship is. STDs and babies know no friends.

Be open to new possibilities: Keep your eyes – and heart – open for new relationships. Simply put, don’t get too comfortable with your sex buddy.

Limit your expectations: Don’t expect your sex buddy to take you out on fancy dinners or surprise you with flowers and what not. Also, don’t expect to be introduced to his circle of friends or relatives as a girlfriend or boyfriend. You will always be just a friend.

Avoid being clingy: Nothing kills a friend with benefits liaison faster like being clingy. Stage five clingers (someone that just won’t give up on you) are simply suffocating.

Let your friend with benefits be: Don’t get mad if he wants to meet someone new or has a date with someone else. Don’t try to change them.

Published in February 2017