Friends with benefits: It's complicated

Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake in "Friends With Benefits": ridiculously good-looking
(Sony Screen Gems)

The pleasure and complications of no-strings-attached sex

In "Friends With Benefits," opening Friday, Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake navigate the choppy waters of a no-strings-attached sexual relationship. But is Hollywood's version of this alternative relationship option realistic?

What are the complications that arise from being friends with benefits? b got in touch with Jacq Jones, the owner of Sugar in Hampden and a sex and relationships educator since 1994, to give us the lowdown on what it takes to be FWB.

In your experience as a sex educator, have people asked you for information or advice about what being in a friends with benefits situation is like?
Of course! Most often, people accidentally end up in friends with benefits situations and structure the relationship as they go along. Common concerns include: dealing with emotional attachments, rules about additional sexual partners and/or starting "more than friends" relationships with others, transitioning back into "just friends" and/or transitioning into a dating relationship.

Is there a personality type that you see as more prone to be receptive to a friends with benefits situation?
Not a personality type, but a certain relationship skill set. It works best with people who are able to be clear with boundaries and honest with themselves and their partners about their emotional needs.

Are there similarities between a friends with benefits relationship and a committed relationship that people may not realize?
Absolutely. Any relationship between two people requires attention, communication and negotiation. It's important that both people are honest about what their expectations are and that they communicate when those expectations change.

What type of pressures are associated with being friends with benefits? How do couples deal with others who may be judgmental about the situation?
 I think the key is to be clear with your friends or family about what you are getting out of the relationship, how it is meeting your needs and why you choose to be a part of it.

Do you think people are prone to try different things sexually when they're in a friends with benefits situation as opposed to a traditional relationship?
Sometimes. Some people feel freer to try new things with someone with whom they don't have a huge emotional investment. But some people need a high level of trust in order to try new things or even to feel safe having sex of any kind. Of course, some friends with benefits have high levels of trust without high expectations — that can create a great atmosphere for experimentation.

I'm tired of using the phrase "friends with benefits." Coin something more fun. And f--- buddy is taken.
Casual relationship? Not super-sexy, but it's accurate!


1. Be honest about what you expect, talk about it with your partner and listen carefully to what he or she expects.

2. Practice safer sex.

3. Check in with yourself and your partner to make sure expectations haven't changed. If they have, make adjustments. Those adjustments may include ending the relationship.

4. Have fun. If you're not having fun, you need to adjust the rules of the relationship.

5. Have clear rules about flirting with other folks in front of each other.
BONUS: Read the book "Opening Up" by Tristan Taormino. It's a great read about structuring alternative relationships.

Sugar is at 927 W. 36th St., Hampden. For more information, go to sugartheshop.com.

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