We talked a little bit this week about the potential awkwardness of a friends-with-benefits situation in the context of what holiday gift to buy them this year (we think this is a good one), but there’s a plus side to getting it on with a pal, a new study has found: Friends with benefits are more likely to have safe sex.
An internet poll of 376 people (half FWBs and half in romantic relationships) found that couples who are hookup buddies use birth control more frequently than people who are officially “dating.” Researchers think it might be because people in relationships assume their partner isn’t sleeping with anyone else and forgo condoms, which isn’t the best idea for your health.
Switching to other methods of birth control, such as oral contraceptives, may be another reason condom use declines in traditional relationships. But this switch still has to accompany an increase in trust, as these medications do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, [study researcher Justin] Lehmiller said.
However, an FWB arrangement has downsides, the story goes on to say: “people in these relationships were less sexually satisfied, less likely to communicate about sex and less likely to discuss sexual desires and needs than those in traditional relationships.” They were also more likely not to be monogamous and have racked up more sexual partners.
One takeaway: Sexual health risks can come in many different forms (committed relationships and those that are less so). Use condoms every time, and don’t be afraid to hold out for the relationship you really want — monogamous or not.
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