I know each generation makes some of its own rules. And I know that the older generation is forever saying things like “What has this world come to?” I know that the idea of not having sex before marriage seems a bit old-fashioned for many. But–the concept of “friends with benefits” seems to me to be way over the top. Especially when I talk to many young teens who are engaging in this behavior. For those of you who don’t know what friends with benefits are, a search of the web turned up this definition:
“An agreement between two people who are both friends and physically attracted to one another to have a sexual relationship. Neither party is considered committed to the other, and both can start dating someone else at any time without prior warning. A friends with benefits arrangement is not considered dating, a relationship or even casual dating by most people who use the term.”
In addition, a typical comment found in my search was: “The whole idea of such a relationship is NOT to get serious or committed. It is a fun-only relationship where you meet up, enjoy the time you spend together.”
Honestly, I really don’t care what adults decide to do with each other. I do care that we seem to have lost control of our teenage daughters. I talk to so many teens who seem to think that boys won’t like them unless they “hook up.” That, for the uninformed adults among us, means having sex. What they discover is that shortly after they provide the “benefits” to these so called friends, the friends seem to disappear.
Teenage girls want desperately to be accepted. They want to have boyfriends. They want to feel special. This kind of arrangement almost always guarantees they will end up feeling hurt, used, and clearly, not very special. The more often this happens, the worse the girl generally feels. And the harder it is for her to develop a healthy relationship.
There is little evidence that casual sex leaves anyone, especially teenage girls, feeling good about themselves, except on television. Our teens feel unable to set boundaries and take care of themselves. Very often these hook-ups take place at home parties with alcohol or pot. But, probably more frequently, these casual sexual relationships are taking place in your basement or child’s bedroom.
Although I truly believe that most teens are not ready to handle intimate sexual relationships, and clearly not pregnancies, when they occur, it is one thing when the teens actually feel they are in love and have developed a solid relationship. The sad thing is, these kids don’t see the actual act of sex as being intimate. They don’t know each other well enough to have discussed the use of birth control. So they don’t discuss what they are doing.
As parents we need to talk with our sons and daughters about relationships…not just about sex. We need to help them set boundaries, learn to ask for what they want and need from a boyfriend, girlfriend and potential spouse and respect themselves and each other. We need to be good role models, speaking and behaving respectfully to each other in our homes. But, at this point, I think we probably need to be teaching these concepts in our schools. As one teen said to me, “they teach us about sex and birth control, but they don’t teach us how to say “NO!” I would really love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Talk to your kids and let me know what they say.
Photo by Beangirl.