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Qualitative Interviews with Adolescents about “Friends-with-Benefits” Relationships

Authors


Correspondence to:

Elisabet Häggström-Nordin, R.N., R.M., Ph.D., School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Mälardalen University, Västerås, Sweden. E-mail: elisabet.haggstrom-nordin@mdh.se

Abstract

Objective

To describe the thoughts, reflections, and experiences of friends-with-benefits relationships among a group of Swedish adolescents.

Design and Sample

A qualitative study with an explorative and descriptive design. Eight adolescents, aged 16–18, were interviewed.

Measures

Individual in-depth interviews were undertaken. Data were analyzed using latent content analysis.

Results

The informants involved themselves in Friends-with-benefits (FWB) relationships to find physical and psychological intimacy without any expectations or demands. FWB relationships were perceived to have more advantages when the partner was a close friend with whom an informant felt comfortable. There was ambivalence about the legitimacy of romantic feelings in an FWB relationship, although it was quite common. Sexual concurrency was common and often accepted. Sexual risk-taking behavior involving the use of alcohol and a lack of contraception was considered common in FWB relationships. Informants requested more education and support as regards their sexual behavior.

Conclusions

FWB relationships were often initiated to find physical and psychological intimacy with no expectations or demands. Advantages such as sexual concurrency and no demands were central. A deeper understanding of how adolescents think and reason about sexuality and relationships can make a difference when working to improve young people's sexual and reproductive health.

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