A friend with benefits sounds nice, right? You don’t owe them all your free time, they’re not dropping hints that they want to be married one day, and you still get to enjoy sex in a safe and trustworthy environment. Turns out, fewer Americans are into that set-up than many thought.
The Kinsey Institute and the team from Clue, a dating app, teamed up recently to study romantic and sexual behaviors in Americans. One of the many questions they asked their 140,000 subjects was whether they were interested in finding a friend with sexual benefits. Only 9% of the Americans said that was something they could be into.
Amanda Gesselman, a research scientist at Kinsey, says people may b e hesitant to consider the situation because you need an attractive friend in mind in order to do it. Gesselman explains, “Friends with benefits usually comes from being friends first, so you might have an attraction to someone that you are friends with first or that is in your friends circle, and then it becomes sexual after some event or talking about it.” If the Americans in the survey don’t have a cute friend in mind, they may be less inclined to imagine a friends with benefits set-up being fun.
Another factor in the findings is that 96% of the survey respondents were women. First of all, that’s a bizarre skewing of the data, and it’s unclear why The Kinsey Institute didn’t remedy that in the process. Second, other studies have demonstrated that when men and women are friends, it’s far more likely that the men in the equation over-estimate any possibility of sex between them. Therefore, since the Kinsey Institute and Clue asked primarily women about being friends with benefits, they got a resounding “no” from a demographic that is probably accustomed to having boundaries crossed. Men are categorically more optimistic about introducing sex or attraction into a friendship — that we know from other studies.
Keeping all this data in mind, it’s easy to see why young people are hesitant to join casual and complicated relationship structures. Online dating apps, and the fact that many of us are connected to each other via text messages and other social media platforms 24 hours a day means there isn’t much room the kind of fun, hesitant grey areas that sometimes develop into “friends with benefits” situations.