Rhyan Radabaugh is a sophomore English education major and writes “Personal Transgressions” for The Ball State Daily News. Her views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Rhyan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ah, the college life. We are now “grown” and “responsible” with no one to dictate our choices day-to-day. For those like me who had pretty lenient parents, this transition didn’t shake up my life too much.
What did shake me up, however, was the free reign of college hormones and the ability to express my sex life without fear of judgement.
Before college I had never dipped my toes into the hookup culture. In fact, I dreaded the confusing territory of “one and done” or a relationship that can only be labeled as “it’s complicated.”
So when I entered my second half of sophomore year and I was finally asked the alarming question:
“How do you feel about being friends with benefits?”
Friends with benefits, for those who are confused by my hip, young lingo, means a sexual relationship with a friend whom you have no romantic feelings towards. Some people are down with hookup culture. Sex is a basic primal need, after all.
But another basic need is human connection. Commitment is a part of the deal and friends with benefits just doesn’t satisfy all the needs.
I am not saying friends with benefits in general is bad. Every once in a while it is good for people and can lead to stronger friendships or even long-lasting relationships. But when feelings come along, feelings need to be addressed instead of hiding them in the top dresser drawer.
I know this because I was asked to be friends with secret rendezvous by a certain guy. I had to pause to consider his offer. Here was this person who I had vibed with like we had known each other for years, and he proposed something so out of the ballpark for me.
It turns out, he was more into all the fun parts of the relationship – the partying, the kissing, the sex, the constant laughter. Commitment is the last thing on his radar.
Romantic feelings need to be addressed whenever they become a factor for one of both of the parties involved. Without addressing them, you run the risk of losing the friendship all together. In a study conducted by Melissa Bisson and Timothy Levine in September 2017, 60 percent of 125 college students said they have had a “friends with benefits” relationship before. 35.8 percent of them were able to stop the physical intimacy while continuing the friendship, however, 26 percent of these individuals ended their relationship completely.
I knew I had a crush on this guy, and if I entered this friends with benefits relationship, my feelings would only grow. At the end of the day, that guy and I ended up lasting a few weeks before I had to call it quits due to my confused emotions and dwindling patience.
In our culture, hookups are much more acceptable than they have been in the past. Because of this, we have become more focused on trying to appease others so that we’re the person they want in their bed. “Friends with benefits” is the easy way out of addressing true emotions. This is not how it should be.
We need to stop throwing our own emotional and mental health in the back seat. Hiding feelings in order to not scare off the other person is only going to cause more emotional turmoil then necessary.
Like I said, friends with added payoffs is not the issue. Sometimes this works for people. The issue is when feelings are subdued in friends with benefits solely to protect the people in the relationship. This is not protecting, this is avoiding. And avoiding only leads to hurting.