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College students go beyond friend zone, but don't commit

By Colleen Challenger
On May 20, 2013

  • ‘Friends with benefits’ relationships is prevalent among students today.

The concept of "friends with benefits" is not new, however, it is a concept that college students explore, according to a study by the Sexual Information and Education Council of the United States(SIECUS).

 The SIECUS defines friends with benefits as a relationship that " involve[s] trust and comfort levels comparable with traditional friendships, while also incorporating the physical intimacy found in romantic encounters."
 The study questioned a total of 215 undergraduate college students at a large Midwestern university. The study was conducted in two study groups. The first 125 students were questioned on the prevalence, characteristics and advantages and disadvantages of friends with benefits relationships. The other 90 students were questioned on the levels of intimacy, passion and commitment and relationship negotiations when it came to friends with benefits relationships.
 Sixty percent of the participants in the first study admitted to being in a friends with benefits relationship at a certain time in their lives. Males were more likely than their female counterparts to keep the relationship as just friends. Forty-eight percent of students reported that they were uncertain of the nature of their relationship - with most experiencing not knowing how they should label the relationship or if they should remain friends.
 Miguel Cruz, 21-year-old Hudson County Community College student, said he actually prefers a friends with benefits relationship.
"...[It's] easier to deal with than a monogamous relationship. In a friends with benefits [relationship] you're doing it for pleasure, knowing you won't have anything besides that," said Cruz.
Yaritza Rodriguez, 19, of New Jersey City University, believes friends with benefits never end well.
"I prefer monogamy, I am not morally capable of messing around with more than one person at a time or someone I am not in a committed relationship with," she said.
But there are more serious matters outside of emotion to take into account. Health issues are of concern as well.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adolescents between the ages of 10 to 19 years old and young adults between the ages of 20 to 24 years old are at the greatest risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). The Center also reports that within a year, nearly half of the 19 million new STD cases fall between the ages of 15 to 24. In 2009, individuals between the ages of 13-29 account for 39% of the new HIV infections in the United States.
When asked whether she has ever gotten tested for any sexually transmitted diseases, Rodriguez said, "[I've] never gotten tested for STDs but always wanted to go. I was just scared to go alone."
When asked the same question, Cruz said, "Yes I've been tested. It's important to get tested so you know what you and your sexual partner have to be safe and have precautions."
"On my campus, in this generation, more people are concerned with getting pregnant than getting STDs. When you get an STD you can try to cure it or prevent it from getting worse unlike if you get pregnant you have to worry about keeping the baby or aborting it," he continued.
Outside of disease precautions, pregnancy can cause an issue as well.
The number of pregnant teenage girls is the lowest rate in years. Based on a 2011 study, the Center reports, "The teenage birth rate in 2009 was 59 percent lower than the historic high reached in 1957 (96.3)."
In addition, "The birth rate for older teenagers aged 18-19 fell 6 percent from 2008 through 2009, the largest single-year decline since 1971-1972. The 2009 rate, also an historic low at 66.2 per 1,000, was 30 percent lower than in 1991 (94.0)."
The Center assumes that these downward trends are attributed to great efforts made by private and public organizations to help educate adolescents on the importance of contraceptives and abstinence. 

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