We’ve all been there: left speechless after a breakup and wondering how we can spare the heartbreak next time. Can we gain the upper hand in a relationship by giving the other person just enough of what they want to keep them around? Like Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis’ characters in Friends with Benefits, college students are ditching emotional ties and reserving something once regarded as sacred as a recreational activity.
Can sharing our intimate moments ever be “casual?” The media has de-stigmatized hooking up and college students are the most praised of all for enjoying youth now and worrying about settling down later. I found that many of my fellow Seminoles had “hit it and quit it” or knew someone who had. It can be easy to be tempted by so many new faces and adventures waiting at every corner. FSU has over 40,000 hormonal, culture shocked and, yes, sexual, young people ready to mingle.
Describing casual sex at FSU, sophomore actuarial science major Ryan Marc said, “It’s not really frowned upon, no one has time for an actual relationship, it’s like another class.” Several students shared his views. Though she said she hasn’t participated in the culture, sophomore marketing major Carissa Gross said, “I think it allows people to participate in anything they want without commitment.”
Many women on campus, like Gross, were eager to share their voices, but a reoccurring theme appeared when women shied away from revealing their sexual encounters. Although millennials are generally forward-thinking about social issues, the reactions women receive for their sexual behavior are drastically different than those experienced by men. Exploratory studies freshman Katrina Taylor said, “I think it’s frowned upon more so for girls than it is for guys…In college no one is looking to settle down, but they do want intimacy.”
While every student I stopped agreed on why friends with benefits relationships are so popular, not all were enthusiastic about the culture. Some feel the title ‘friends with benefits’ is insulting; as if the only perk of hanging out with someone you like is the possibility of sex. “People have the misconception that you need to have as much fun as you can before the real world comes…I think you can have fun without having sex,” said junior international affairs major Nicole Torres. Recalling her own hook up experiences, she said, “At first it seems easy. It’s not that bad. But then, of course it will get complicated with time. As much as you want it to be ‘friends with benefits,’ it’s never going to work out.”
But not all sex-only couples end their fling on a sour note. Senior pre-law major John Hour said, “Depending on the person, it can go either way. It depends if people are 100 percent honest about what they want. I guess honesty is the key factor to any of those relationships.” Miscommunication about expectations in any relationship—but perhaps more so in an untraditional one—is easily one of the most common reasons that summer romances and that hot girl from baby bio you were talking to last semester are now old news.
Perhaps, there’s nothing wrong with experimenting as long as the consent is mutual. Senior exercise science major Tyler Merrit said he even stays friends with his former hook ups. “The friends with benefits relationships I’ve been in seemed to turn out pretty well. They stayed casual as long as both parties know where they stand.” Merrit has since been in a committed relationship.
Overall, it seems that university life and its risky behaviors are fun while they last, but don’t last forever. We’ve all met a successful adult that was once a Greek Life socialite; getting wasted at the frat grounds week after week. Maybe, it’s possible to keep our wild sides under wraps when we step out into the “real world.”