OFF THE BEAT: Friends with consequences

FWB. An acronym with which many college students are familiar. A phrase that encapsulates the exciting and enthralling romantic life without commitment. This is the phase between being single and being in a committed relationship. The rules are blurred, and the only thing that can be expected is the late-night text message that says, “let’s meet in 10.” This has become such a common situation for many young adults that even Hollywood has jumped on the bandwagon to profit from the idea. Movies like “Friends with Benefits” and “No Strings Attached” work to romanticize the complicated relationship.

However, many “fuck buddy” relationships end horribly, with misunderstandings and hurt feelings galore. How people even get involved in these liaisons all begins with the entrance into college. This is the first true liberty that most students feel when they leave the nest and start forming their individual identities. College is the time when the sky is the limit. Vast opportunities are served on a table like a buffet. A variety of career paths are extended at one’s feet. People with sharply contrasting backgrounds are lined up to be befriended. It is when students can try anything and everything and be committed to nothing until they have figured out what they like and what they do not like. This mindset is oftentimes applied to relationships as well.

With so many people to meet and get to know, settling down so early with one person is oftentimes not the ideal. However, being young also means that there will be the yearning and desire for the intimacy with another person. Agreements are drawn after mutual attractions have been established, and the almost-relationship begins to blossom.

But, like many things that thrive in the shade of gray, it is not stable and will always be in a state of flux. It cannot be sustained for the long-term, and eventually what started out as a casual fling turns into something more serious … or a stab in the heart.

What is most important is to sight the signs early on and terminate a relationship that will go nowhere. In the beginning, when feelings have not gotten very deep yet, the idea of a casual relationship does not sound appalling at all. Many people think to themselves, “Well, I’ll be careful. Once it’s no longer fun, I’ll stop it. It’ll be fine. I don’t even like him all that much; he’s just super cute.” This thought process is usually used to justify the fact that he said he doesn’t believe in “titles” and isn’t looking for a serious relationship right now but still wants to keep seeing her.

Once you hear that, steer clear! If he doesn’t like you enough to commit to you, he’s most likely just using you for your body and company. You will not be his first priority, and there is a huge chance that you are one of his many. Of course I am generalizing, and every situation is different, but more often than not, this is how Friends with Benefits situations start and end terribly. The logic of Friends with Benefits seems reasonable if you sit calmly in a corner and think about it. As college students, we don’t need to be tied down so early on. We just want to have fun. Why can’t sex or any level of intimacy with another person just simply be a physical activity? Because, if you are emulating the actions, and feeling the passions of what “love” should probably feel like, emotions become difficult to separate from the act. This is usually associated with the female counterpart of the relationship because girls tend to be more emotionally connected. However, guys can be the same way. The longer the Friends with Benefits relationship lasts, the more likely that the situation will not stay at the status quo. One person may start to develop feelings for the other, but because they are not in an official relationship, that person cannot expect reciprocation. Because the rules are blurry, and expectations waver as time progresses, there are no real “lines” to cross — neither person has the right to get upset or mad at the other partner.

Once you figure this out, the hole has been dug way too deep to climb out without a scratch. Feelings have been hurt due to expectations unfulfilled. Misunderstandings become the norm, and the benefits become more like consequences.

Something as invigorating and exciting as Friends with Benefits will take you on an adrenaline-filled roller coaster ride. But like all rides, it has to come to an end.