College is a time to get to know new people – in more ways than one. I've spent my entire freshman year as a shoulder to cry on and the audience to share one's testimonies and revelations.
It seems that the infamous friends with benefits, or "no strings attached" relationship, is more common than the flu and that romantic relationships fall in line with folklore and fairytales. So what does it mean to be friends with benefits?
It's pretty straightforward: two friends who come to a mutual agreement to have all the physical benefits of a romantic relationship while remaining just friends and claiming a single lifestyle. This arrangement is meant to be a sense of sexual release while also having a confidante readily available to you. Sounds like a dream, right?
But is it a good idea for those of us still searching for a piece of ourselves? Who really benefits from a "friends with benefits" ordeal? Each experience varies from person to person, but there are consistent patterns that come from each relationship that can make or break such an arrangement.
There is nothing more important than loving yourself first. Self-discovery and growth are vital to our love and happiness. Sure, we all have our insecurities that can stunt our growth, but that's all a part of the journey. Loving yourself takes time – don't rush into this type of relationship without security and love in yourself, or else you'll be searching for that love in your partner who may not be able to reciprocate such feelings.
The love of your life will rarely ever come from a string of flings. Romantic relationships are a beautiful thing but don't expect to form one from your little arrangement. Either your partner is totally happy in being single and feels no need to get committed or vice versa. Whichever side you're on, it's going to make both of you uncomfortable when the feelings aren't mutual.
This sort of relationship is in muddy waters, too. You're more than friends but not entirely lovers, so no one really knows what can and cannot be said or done. You two explore the most intimate parts of each other's bodies, but outside of the bedroom, they don't claim you. They might even confide in you that they have feelings for someone else. It can really tug at even the most confident of people. Your need for physical pleasure is not as important as your self-confidence and your feelings in the long run.
Another thing to consider is time. These kinds of relationships don't last for very long, and for a specific reason. After a while, someone begins to lose interest in keeping up with the friendship aspect and becomes so consumed in the sexual gratification that they lose all respect and value for the other person.
Friends with benefits are a part of the young adult culture and experiences do vary, but if you do find yourself on the doorsteps of this opportunity, keep a few things in mind:
Have confidence in yourself and love yourself, because if you get into this sort of relationship prematurely, you'll be left feeling ruined.
Don't be afraid to just get up and leave the moment you feel lost in respect for yourself. And if you feel that one of you have begun to develop feelings, feel free to discuss it with one another. If this issue can't be resolved, just leave.
Although this is becoming increasingly popular among the masses, it's not designed for everyone, and it's OK to not get involved in one.