Couple Identity, Sacrifice, and Availability of Alternative Partners: Dedication in Friends With Benefits Relationships

Abstract

Friends with benefit relationships (FWB) combine elements of ongoing friendship and physical intimacy. Although many studies have examined predictors of who are likely to enter these relationships as well as their outcomes, we do not know what relational factors are associated with FWB relationship outcomes. This study examined the association between three commitment variables: couple identity, satisfaction with sacrifice, and alternative availability and FWB relationship adjustment and sexual satisfaction. In a young adult sample (n = 171), bivariate correlations demonstrated greater couple identity, more satisfaction with sacrifice, and less alternative availability which were associated with greater relationship adjustment, but not sexual satisfaction. In a multivariate context, satisfaction with sacrifice was the only significant predictor of FWB relationship adjustment. There was also a significant interaction between alternative availability and satisfaction with sacrifice in the prediction of sexual satisfaction. For those who perceived fewer alternative options, the degree to which they were satisfied with sacrificing for their partner was positively associated with sexual satisfaction. Implications for enhancing FWB relationships are discussed.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    For FWB relationships, the long-term vision of the relationship is, by definition, not certain. Although some individuals hope for a longer-term commitment, the lack of communication and clear expectations can complicate matters, which is likely why desire for an exclusive relationship has not been associated with better FWB relationship adjustment (Bisson & Levin, 2009; Owen & Fincham, 2011). Thus, we did not include this aspect of commitment in the current study.

  2. 2.

    There were no significant associations between the time in which a person participated in a FWB relationship and any of the variables in the current study (rs ranged .01 to −.19).

  3. 3.

    Although not reported in the results section, we found that frequency of sexual contact within the FWB relationship was significantly associated with satisfaction with sacrifice r = .24, p = .003.

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Correspondence to Jesse Owen.

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Owen, J., Fincham, F.D. & Polser, G. Couple Identity, Sacrifice, and Availability of Alternative Partners: Dedication in Friends With Benefits Relationships. Arch Sex Behav 46, 1785–1791 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-016-0716-4

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Keywords

  • Casual sex
  • Hooking up
  • Friends with benefits