Friends with Benefits Who Hope for Friendship Are Most Likely To Get Their Desired Outcome

2 long-haired people standing in a field and leaning backwards
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As I covered in an earlier installment of Psyched, a lot of friends with benefits (FWB) are hoping for the arrangement to become romantic. Frankly, more than I would have expected before I found that study. (Its findings were truly surprising to me.)

But that earlier study was a survey, not a longitudinal study. What’s that? It’s a study follows the same group of people over time. As you would expect, this allows you to learn different information. Surveys are more of a snapshot. The data from longitudinal studies is more like watching a time-lapse video. Or slow motion capture. Or in the case of today’s study, it was like having two pictures — before and after.

Anyway, today’s study is a longitudinal study about friends with benefits. Huzzah!

What did it find? Good question. Let’s dig right into that, shall we?

Friends with Benefits Who Hope for Friendship Are Most Likely To Get Their Desired Outcome

This study surveyed people in a FWB setup and then surveyed them again 10 months later. Here’s what the study found:

    • Relatively few people get what they want out of the FWB arrangement. How few? About 17%.
    • However, there’s good news for people who go into a FWB setup hoping it will transition ultimately to friendship. They were most likely to get what they hoped for than any other group. It happened 59% of the time. Still, no guarantee but more likely than not.
    • About 31% of FWB setups ended in the parties having no relationship at all by the end of the study.
    • Those who had hoped for a romantic relationship only achieved that outcome 15% of the time. So yeah, it happened sometimes. It did. But it was a long shot. It typically happened in FWB setups where both parties wanted a romantic relationship as the outcome and in which the underlying friendship was strong and the parties communicated well.


This post is part of an ongoing Poly Land feature called Psyched for the Weekend, in which I geek out with brief takes about some of my favorite psychological studies and concepts. For the entire series, please see this link.


Books by Page Turner:

Psychic City, a Psychic State mystery



Dealing with Difficult Metamours

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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