Identifying and explicating variation among friends with benefits relationships

Paul Mongeau, Kendra Knight, Jade Williams, Jennifer Eden, Christina Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


This two-study report identifies and validates a typology containing seven types of "friends with benefits relationships" (FWBRs). Study 1 asked heterosexual students to define the term FWBR and to describe their experience with the relationship type. Qualitative analysis of these data identified seven types of FWBRs (true friends, network opportunism, just sex, three types of transition in [successful, failed, and unintentional], and transition out). Study 2 quantitatively differentiates these relationship types in the amount of nonsexual interaction, strength of the friendship at the first sexual interaction, and history of romantic relationships with the FWBR partner (before the FWBR, after it, or both). Results from both studies clearly suggest that FWBRs represent a diverse set of relationship formulations where both the benefits (i.e., repeated sexual contact) and the friends (i.e., relationship between partners) vary widely. In many cases, FWBRs represent a desire for, or an attempt at, shifting the relationship from friends to a romantic partnership. Other implications are discussed, as are limitations and directions for future research. The diverse nature of FWBRs provides challenges for researchers that likely require multiple methods and theoretical frames.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-47
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Sex Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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