The Emotional Dangers Of Being "Friends With Benefits"

Sure you're okay with no-strings-attached sex? Keep your emotions in check by knowing the risks of a constant booty call.

There are guy friends, boyfriends, and then the men who fall somewhere in the middle. Booty calls, sex buddies, friends with benefits, fubus—whatever you call ’em, women hook up with these guys regularly or semi-regularly solely to get it on. No dinner, no movie... no clothes.

Now, if you have a healthy libido and you’re in between beaus or you don’t want to be bogged down by committed coupledom, this no-strings arrangement may suit you just fine. But some chicks suffer repercussions.

“Sleeping with one guy on a consistent basis triggers your brain to go into relationship mode, explains Geraldine K. Piorkowski, PhD, author of Too Close for Comfort. “So when you don’t receive boyfriend-grade emotional support, it upsets you.” Adding to the confusion is social pressure. “There’s an attitude that women should be liberated enough to handle casual sex situations,” says Elizabeth L. Paul, PhD, professor of psychology at the College of New Jersey. Here, Cosmo tells it like it is.

BOOTY-CALL DANGER 1: Post-hookup Regret

You might tell yourself you’re hitting the sheets because you’re in a frisky mood, but you could actually be craving the comfort and closeness that comes from lying next to a guy. “Women often turn to a booty call because they seek intimacy,” says Paul. “The catch is, the feeling isn’t fulfilling because you’re not emotionally connected.”

After a while, hooking up with your sex buddy can start to seem mechanical and pointless. It’s like eating a giant piece of cake: It tastes amazing for several bites, but when you’re finished, you wish you could take it back.

You might also start to feel like you’re being used. Yes, you’re using him, too. But it can still be disappointing that he’s not into you totally. “Initially, a booty call boosts confidence,” says Piorkowski. “It validates that you’re attractive and skilled in bed.” Over time, however, the fact that the guy doesn’t want a real relationship can eat at your self-esteem.

An additional source of angst is your rep. “Women are caught between a rock and a hard place,” says Norval Glenn, PhD, professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. “There’s a desire to be modern and open, but our society still sometimes looks down on females who are sexually liberal.”

BOOTY-CALL DANGER 2: You Start To Like Him

Although it’s understood that your connection is purely sexual, “you might suddenly realize you want to date the guy,” says Paul. The reasons? For starters, it’s hard to be so physically exposed without becoming emotionally vulnerable.

There’s also a chemical attraction—literally. During orgasm, a hormone is released that is believed to spark feelings of attachment. “That urge is stronger with a booty call than with a one-night stand because you’ve had a series of intimate interactions with the person,” explains Piorkowski. “It’s been building up for a while, so the stakes are higher.”

What really sucks though is that your booty buddy may not reciprocate your amorous longings. Since the foundation of your twosome is completely physical, he may be used to seeing you as a sex object and assume you feel the same.

Plus, it’s a pretty sure bet he’s discounted you as girlfriend material anyway. “Unfortunately, many men believe they shouldn’t go out with a girl who treats sex casually,” says William Pollack, PhD, director of the Centers for Men and Young Men at McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School.

BOOTY-CALL DANGER 3: It Gets In The Way Of A Real Relationship

Though a bed buddy comes in handy when you don’t have a boyfriend, it can also sabotage your man-meeting success. “Women become lazy about getting out there since they already have an easy, accessible sex partner,” says Glenn. You’re less likely to approach guys (and thus risk potential rejection), whereas if you were sleeping solo, you’d push yourself to make a move.

Another obstacle: You might subconsciously send other guys the message that you’re taken already. “Since you’re satisfied in bed, you naturally don’t emit as intense sexual vibes and won’t flirt as much,” adds Piorkowski.

Hooking up with a play pal for a while also makes it hard to connect with a man once you do meet one. “When you have an ongoing, purely physical partnership, your brain builds walls to keep your feelings at bay during intercourse,” explains Piorkowski. “It’s a defense mechanism to prevent you from getting hurt.”

Well, that guarded attitude can backfire later. “You could have trouble opening up to someone you do care about because you’ve trained yourself not to let men in,” says Glenn. “And you’re not developing the communication skills and emotional maturity you’ll need for a deep bond down the line.” It skews your perspective of what a healthy twosome should be like.


If you are bummed about a sex-buddy situation, your instinct may be to push down your emotions...but you’ll be better off if you tell a close pal instead. “Talking helps you work through your jumbled feelings, achieve perspective, and regain control,” says Paul. It’s a relief to get it off your chest, and since it’s sometimes difficult to see yourself objectively, a friend can offer an unbiased, clearheaded opinion.

After you’ve sorted it all out, ask yourself whether the benefits are worth the drawbacks. Should you decide to drop him, the next time he calls for a hookup, tell him you’ve realized your relationship isn’t the right thing for you anymore, suggests Piorkowski.

It will probably be hard to resist temptation. Don’t be surprised if he pursues you...and you give in at least once. But don’t beat yourself up over it either. Kicking a booty-call habit is like giving up any pleasurable pursuit: Even though you know you’ll be better off without it, it may take time and effort to let it go.

Bottom line: As long as you can handle it, having a passion pal can be a fun opportunity to squeeze in sexual exploration and can tide you over until you find a guy you want to get serious with. But you’d be wise to go into it with your eyes open to the risks. So if the erotic activity starts sapping your happiness, you’ll have an exit strategy at the ready.

What Guys Think Of Sex With No Strings

“I’ll only call up a sex buddy if I’m drunk and so horny that I’m just thinking with my you-know-what. Later, I feel guilty about using her and ashamed that I have zero self-control. And yet I can’t bring myself to erase her number.”     
—Anton, 25

 “My ex and I agreed to be friends with benefits, but after a few weeks, I really started to like her again. It was torture pretending I didn’t care that she was seeing other guys.”     
—Raoul, 25

“Having a sex buddy is like a 24-hour convenience store that delivers to my house. The best part is, you don’t have to pay for the merchandise.”     
—Mikko, 30

“In college, I had lots of booty calls. Then a girl turned me down for a legitimate date because of my player rep, and I realized no one I’d be interested in seriously would go out with me. I’d take it back if I could.”      
 —Howie, 29

“The constant fear that she’s going to want a relationship pretty much kills any benefits of having an f-buddy.”     
—Patrick, 23

“A booty call is great in theory, but after a while, it gets boring. It’s like buying the DVD of a funny movie: Once you watch it a few times, it doesn’t make you laugh anymore, and you wish you’d never gotten it.”      
—Dan, 31

“I want to be a stud the first time I have sex with my future girlfriend or wife, and booty calls are good practice.”    
—Andrew, 21

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