Romanticizing the Friends-With-Benefits Relationship

In recent years, it seems like Hollywood studios try to have an answer for a movie released by another studio by releasing a very similar movie.  When you think of “Armageddon”, you also remember “Deep Impact,” right?  What about “The Illusionist” and “The Prestige”? “Tombstone” and “Wyatt Earp”? “A Bug’s Life” and “Antz”?  All of these movies covering similar topics were released by different studios in the same year.  Over the last year, two movies surrounding a similar topic have yet again surfaced, with “No Strings Attached” and the upcoming “Friends With Benefits.”

These two movies both deal with two friends creating a new type of relationship based solely on sex without being romantically involved while retaining their friendship.  But as most Hollywood movies go, these nonromantic relationships begin to have something more, and one person ends up wanting a deeper, committed relationship, and there is some sort of struggle to achieve it.  But what really happens in this type of relationship?  How do people really act and feel?  What happens if this relationship has a Hollywood ending and becomes something more?

These types of questions have been the center of recent research in friends with benefits relationships.  A recent study by Lehmiller et al. (2011) investigated the differences between men and women in why these relationships are initiated, how they are maintained, and what are the long-term expectations of the future of these relationships.  Previous research had found that the two most common reasons for a friends with benefits relationship reported were access to sexual activity and becoming emotionally closer.

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