A third of young Brits have had a ‘Friend with Benefits’ but secretly hoped for love

17 September 2013



Click HERE to download the Friends With Benefits Infographic

One in three young people (33%) have had a ‘friend with benefits’ according to new findings published today by relationships charity OnePlusOne in partnership with YouthNet.

However, of the 1,000 16 to 24-year-olds who took part in the research carried out by ICM, over half (53%) of those who admitted to having had regular sex with a friend were secretly hoping it would develop in to something more serious.

While more young men than women report having had a friend with benefits (36% and 29% respectively), it is young females that are marginally more likely to be happy with the ‘no strings attached’ arrangement without wishing for more (48% and 46% respectively of young people who have had a friend with benefits).

The findings highlight that while ‘friends with benefits’ may be a form of experimenting for many young people, these seemingly informal relationships can be complex and confusing for others.

To help young people who are considering having a ‘friend with benefits’ to navigate the complexities of that kind of relationship, expert advice and tips have been published on TheSite.org – an online guide to life for 16 to 25 year olds run by charity YouthNet. The tips can be found at: www.thesite.org/friends-with-benefits

Emma Rubach, Head of Editorial at YouthNet said:

“This is one of the topics that crop up most frequently on thesite.org forums – it’s clearly something many young people are unsure about. For some people it is absolutely fine but it can be fraught with confusion and end in hurt for others. We want to ensure young people have access to unbiased advice to help them decide what is right for them.”

Penny Mansfield, Director of relationships charity OnePlusOne, said:

“This research shows that while sex without commitment – or friends with benefits – is increasingly common amongst young people, over half of them are seeking a more secure emotional connection with their current sexual partner. Evidence shows that while experimenting can be fine and fun for some people, most people want a serious relationship that involves an emotional bond as well as sex, but if that isn’t the case for both people involved then it can cause problems.

“TheCoupleConnection.net offers a wealth of information about relationships, where you can find out what makes relationships work and why things can go wrong. There’s also free real time support from a trained counsellor if they need a bit of extra help.”

OnePlusOne is releasing the new findings as part of a project funded by the Department for Education to encourage people to talk openly about relationships and what works for them.  OnePlusOne is working with YouthNet, The Student Room, Netmums, Dad.info, and Contact a Family to create online spaces where people can get advice and discuss their relationship in forums with their peers.

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For more information or to arrange an interview with Penny Mansfield, please contact Daniel Moir on 020 7553 9532 or Daniel.moir@oneplusone.org.uk or Ana Granger at Claremont on 07789 069 591 or ana@claremont.org.uk. To arrange an interview with Emma Rubach or find out more about YouthNet contact Emma Motherwell on 020 7250 5716 or emma.motherwell@youthnet.org.


Notes to editors

  • OnePlusOne is a UK charity, which aims to strengthen relationships; helping couples and parents through a range of online resources including the Couple Connection and the Parent Connection. It provides online training for frontline family workers to equip them with the skills to offer timely relationship support in a face-to-face setting.  Based on latest research evidence, it promotes early action to equip couples to deal with relationship issues before they become entrenched.
  • ICM surveyed 1,000 young people aged between 16 and 24 years. 499 of the participants were males and 501 were female. The research was carried out between April 19th and 24th 2013. ICM also hosted an online community followed and focus groups to gather qualitative data referred to in the report.
  • OnePlusOne was recently commissioned by the Department for Education to lead a high-profile campaign to encourage couples to see seeking support as normal in strengthening their relationship. The charity will be working with expert partners, including Working Families, Contact a Family, DAD.info, Netmums, Student Room and YouthNet, to create online spaces where couples can find tools to help themselves.
  • For more information, visit our websites www.oneplusone.org.uk, www.thecoupleconnection.net or http://www.theparentconnection.org.uk
  • YouthNet is the charity behind the online guide to life TheSite.org, which provides essential, straight-talking, anonymous advice to young people about the issues affecting their lives and reaches a million 16- 25s in the UK each year. TheSite.org has been helping to improve the lives of young people for 16 years, and includes a thriving and supportive online community of over 40,000 registered users. Further information can be found at www.thesite.org and www.youthnet.org