Question #2 - “What about friends with benefits? Should we have them?”
Let’s first explain what friends with benefits are. Friends with benefits indicates that two people who are friends decide they want to engage in sexual behavior with one another without the constraint of a deeper relationship.
The reason friends may enter into this agreement with one another usually centers around their beliefs about sex and relationships. The first belief is that sex is casual, non-consequential, and doesn’t affect a person much after the fact. The second belief is that deep relationships are undesirable because they are exclusive, confining, and freedom-killing.
Myth #1 - Sex is non-consequential
There is no such thing as non-consequential sex. In their book Hooked, Dr. Bush and Dr. McIlhaney shed light on the way our brains react to physical stimulation from others.
"When two people touch each other in a warm, meaningful, and intimate way, oxytocin is released into the woman’s brain. The oxytocin then does two things: increases the woman’s desire for more touch and causes bonding of the woman to the man when has been spending time in physical contact with."
Further research shows that men have a similar experience when they release vasopressin (similar effects as oxytocin) as a part of sexual behavior.
"Men may question why they keep going back to a woman who treats them poorly or may wonder why they never seem able to feel, deep inside, a commitment to a woman after having sex partner after sex partner. Sadly, they simply do not know that their brains are flooded with vasopressin during sexual intercourse and that this neurochemical produces a partial bond with every woman they have sex with."
The unintended physiological consequence of multiple partners is an inability to bond in a committed relationship.
"Their inability to bond after multiple liaisons is almost like tape that loses its stickiness after being applied and removed multiple times."
If you think you can have casual sex and not have long-term effects modern research of the brain will tell us otherwise. So even if nobody gets pregnant or a sexually transmitted infection, sex still has a consequence.
The Bible also has something to say about this topic…
"Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh."
Myth #2 - Relationships are undesirable
The ol’ ball and chain. That’s oftentimes how relationships are depicted. And sometimes relationships can feel like this. The unhealthy ones that is. And that seems to be the reason many shy away from serious relationships. They’ve never seen or experienced a healthy one. All they know is that dating relationships end poorly usually with some feeling of shame, guilt, or regret.
Let’s imagine though that relationships are life-giving and one of the greatest desires of our heart. Surely that’s part of the reason Jesus stated
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” -Matthew 22:37-39
Both of these statements by Jesus are referring to our relationship to God and our relationship to others. Relationships are really important. We can learn an awful lot about ourselves and other people in the context of relationships. Relationships can be really life-giving. They can supply encouragement, support, love, compassion, and forgiveness.
I don’t want to sugar-coat this though. Some relationships are extremely difficult and can bring great sadness and despair. That’s why it’s important to be picky about who you are in a dating relationship with. Choose wisely!
In short, the answer to the question is no. Don’t experiment with friends with benefits. It’s dangerous to you and those closest to you including your future relationships.