By Romance Recovery's Johanna Lyman for GalTime.com
I've been thinking a lot lately about "friends with benefits". Young adults are marrying later in life, which should be better for the divorce rate but may not be. Men and women are shying away from serious emotional commitments, choosing instead to have casual sex with supposedly no strings attached.
It sounds like a great idea in theory. In practical terms, it has some serious flaws. The biggest flaw is that being physically close with another person releases hormones that promote emotional closeness.
But one of the benefits of FWB is not supposed be an emotional attachment. So when it starts to pop up, people (usually the women first) start to stuff their feelings. One of my friends recently went through this situation, except she's really conscious and doesn't stuff her feelings. Instead, she explored them and found a quagmire of emotions and situations she needed to heal.
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Men have an easier time stuffing their feelings to maintain distance in the relationship, but that's another flaw in the system. One of the greatest evolutions happening now is that men are being encouraged to explore and express their emotions. I'm not talking about turning into a sissy, guys- don't worry. But we no longer live in a hunter-gatherer society where men had to be fearless and stoic.
We are as a society evolving in consciousness, and an important part of this evolution is to become aware of all aspects of our personality. It's important to explore emotions, motivations, and habitual patterns so that you can choose to move forward with consciousness.
It's important to be real. Sometimes what's real is that you just want to have sex with a stranger. That's fine, and doesn't usually cause problems if it's a one-time deal. Just be aware of what emotions may arise if it continues. Explore them as they arise, even if you choose not to share what you uncover with your FWB.
Another flaw in the FWB scenario is that the older generations haven't learned how to have casual sex. For people in their 40's and older, the standard for relationships has been monogamous marriage. While that may not be the right thing for everyone to do, it's what we've been taught. So when a person wants to try something different, they're navigating uncharted territory.
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I always say that when people want to explore alternatives to monogamy, open and honest communication is critical to success. The same is true for all relationships, from marriage to FWB. It makes sense for marriage, but people forget about the importance of honest, open communication when they're in a more casual relationship.
I also recommend asking the deeper question: why would you want to avoid intimacy? The answers might give you food for thought to dive deeper into consciousness.
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