Why “Friends with Benefits” Has ZERO Benefits

In Advice and Encouragement, Dating, For the Guys, For the Ladies, Relationships by Debra Fileta9 Comments

We live in a culture with a high tolerance for unknowns.  From our fear of calling things right and wrong, to our inability to see things as black and white–we’ve become a society that’s comfortable living in the grey.  While that may be good and acceptable in some aspects of life–this lack of certainty has seeped into the way we do relationships–and it’s causing some major damage.

One specific way I see this ambiguity played out is within the context of our “friendships” with the opposite sex.  I hear from so many people who are broken, confused, and paralyzed in their ability to trust–simply due to the ambiguity and confusion they’ve experienced as a result of the friends with benefits epidemic.

Friends by day, and lovers by night.  No clear direction of where the relationship is headed, or if there’s even a relationship at all.  Free to call themselves “single”–yet all the while completely attached to a relationship that sometimes feels like an addiction.  Lust, sex, and physical passion- masked behind the normalcy of a friendship.

If you ever find yourself caught in the ambiguity of a friends with benefits relationship–maybe it’s time to ask yourself who this relationship is actually benefiting?  Here are some things to consider:

1.  When you start a relationship with no boundaries–you usually stay there. One thing that defines a friends with benefits relationship is the fact that it’s lacking boundaries.  The ambiguity and unknowns guarantee that there’s no title, no rules, and no commitment–so everything goes.  You can make out today, “sext” tomorrow, and be out on a date with someone else the next day.  The problem in relationships like this is that they don’t magically turn into healthy relationships along the way.  When you start a game with no rules–it’s really hard to go back and play by the rules.

2.  If you give it for free–they’ll never pay for it.  A huge problem in the friends with benefits culture is that you learn to give, and give, and give–with no expectation or understanding of what you’ll get in return.  You give of yourself, your body, your time, and your emotions without requiring a commitment.  When it comes to relationships, commitment is the price to pay–the more you give, the more you should receive.  We all come with a price tag–and that price tag should be set high.  But friends with benefits encourages you to give for free–and creates an atmosphere that fuels selfishness, disrespect, and zero responsibility. Healthy relationships require you to take ownership of your choices–and that always starts with clear commitment.

3.  The physical has the power to affect the emotional–and skew the rational.  We’re made to bond during physical intimacy.  Whether it be a hug, a kiss, or sex–our bodies are wired to release chemicals during physical intimacy that make us feel connected to the person we’re with.  That’s a really amazing thing–but it can be a really confusing thing when your mind is telling you you’re friends–and your emotions are telling you something far different.  When you create a relationship that’s built on the physical–your emotions will always follow suit.  But the thing is–emotions can’t always be trusted.

If you’ve decided to be just “friends” with someone–there’s probably a good reason.  Bringing in the physical will only cause major confusion, and cause you to second-guess your rational thinking.  That physical and emotional connection will cause you to keep coming back for more–until you find yourself in an extremely unhealthy and dangerous cycle that can leave you feeling paralyzed, stuck, and unable to move forward.

4.  Ambiguity sets you up for heart-break. No matter how you do it–when it comes to friends with benefits- someone will ALWAYS leave hurt. The very nature of giving without knowing what you will receive sets you up for some major disappointment.  By our very nature as humans we are wired for the experience of “give-and-take”.  Go to any store, purchase any item, or interact with any human being and you’ll notice a pattern–I give something– and I get something else in return.  There’s a healthy balance in that kind of interaction that leaves us feeling satisfied. But when you engage in a relationship where you give with nothing in return–you’re setting yourself up for some major hurt and frustration, because you’re setting yourself up to lose in the end.

No matter who you are or what you’ve been through–you’re worth far more than the pain of a one-way relationship.  You owe it to yourself to up your value, to ask for more, and to expect great things in your life and relationships.

Take ownership of your life and the choices you make–and don’t ever blur the lines in a relationship–because the shades of grey will always disappoint.

Additional Resources:

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Want to know how to attract and keep the right relationship? Check out my book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life! Plus, read the Top 25 Dating Questions of All-Time answered in Section 4!!

Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life as well as the 21-Days To JumpStart Your Love-Life Program, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 100+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of the True Love Dates Blog!  Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!


  1. Well said Deb…raw truth and it is what it is. Thank you for being so open and honest about this. I am coming out of such a friendship myself and true to say they leave you feeling worthless, used, confused and unlovable. I have decided to take a stand on my life and change the way I look at myself. Cleaning up the mess is such a cumbersome task and ladies do not settle for anything less…I did and the sad thing is I know I am worth so much more, I just chose to be impatient and allowed loneliness to get to my head

  2. I am just learning to face the fact… if someone does not committe, it is just that they don’t like me “that way”. the excuse’s: I have a lot going on, i don’t have time for a relationship, or i have to settle somethings with my ex, or The time is not right… are all just that “excuses”… and most of the time those excuses just give me time to see, they were not who i wanted either.

    If someone likes YOU “that way” they will drop everything and Make the world stop spinning to be with you…. sometimes maybe it grows slowly, but i think… you just know when you know… and then it is dificult sifting through the players and smooth talkers… time will tell everything if you hang on… and what if the one who really likes you that way, just has a hard time expressing it because they feel they are not worthy, or they see you are not ready… I feel i am not worthy or ready for a real lasting relationship because i change my mind everytime something new passes by… I also know that you get what you portray yourself to be… if you portray yourself as an easy catch or one night stand or a friend with benefits that is what you will attract… so i am deciding what i want, so that i can BE that for someone else…. does marriage have to be the end result… i have been married twice… and being single hanging out single seems to do for now… having a forever love… never seemed to turn out forever for me… and dating is fun, Marriage is mundane. I don’t need anythi ng past G rated… so friends is fine… if it ever passes the G rated theme… is legal marriage a must? How about a verbal vow of commitment in front of God and friends? Does being happy single mean i avoid all male friends?

  3. I love this article- not only because I’ve been there, done that … and could write a book about it. Sometimes it is just easier to call an opposite sex friendship “just friends” because it removes all the weirdness that usually happens when two people are single. I am the first to tell you … almost always one party does not feel platonic … even if he/she swears he/she is.

    1) I love someone I call my best friend. He will tell you that I am his best friend too … really the one woman he can talk to about anything. We don’t live in the same town, but make a point to spend quality time together when I am in town where he lives – my biggest client is there so we see each other several times a year.

    Even though I am NOT in a relationship with benefits with this man, your article makes me think – If you love someone enough to call them your best friend, and that relationship continues to endure … and that you clearly love spending time with that person, that your family knows that you love spending time with that person … why not just date? Isn’t the point of a committed relationship to be with your best friend?

    3) While not the case for me – your article begs the question – If you like each another enough to engage in a relationship with benefits – why not just date?

    THE POINT: I think men and women today are getting far too ridiculous in their requirements for their committed partners. Both sexes are seeking this so-called “perfect partner” and the list of ideal characteristics are obtainable if you are Jesus or Mother Teresa. What’s sad is, instead of committing to a relationship with someone you care about and working toward everything that entails, we “play” house … really, we break hearts playing with people we love.

    QUESTION TO ASK YOURSELF IF YOU ARE SINGLE AND HAVE AN OPPOSITE SEX BEST FRIEND/JUST FRIENDS: Who is the person I love spending time with, who I call with good news, with sad news? … Ask yourself – Why am I not in a relationship with this person? Do I really want to be alone for the foreseeable future when I have someone right here, right now … to commit to and be in relationship with.

    1. Taylor, well said, great questions, and truth. Thank you for sharing! It has blessed me!

  4. Impeccable timing .. I woke up to this in my inbox this morning and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m 18 years old , and I absolutely love reading these articles! Lately I’ve been trying to talk myself in/out of risky situations and this is just what I needed. Thank you! It is so difficult to make a decision and stick to it these days, especially in the context of relationships. Even when you know what’s right/wrong , it is still a constant battle against the flesh.. Thank you for being a constant source of encouragement for me! 🙂

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      I absolutely love this comment….thank you, Jael, for sharing, and for your courage to take steps in the right direction. I’m blessed to hear how God is working in your life!!! May He give you the wisdom and strength beyond your years to make choices that move you into HIS BEST for your life!

  5. “Righteous men & women MUST continually choose to say NO to sin and YES to righteousness. We CANNOT have it both ways!” No lines to play on…choose clearly!

    Perfect timing of this article!

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