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The downside of 'friends with benefits'

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Thailand
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The downside of 'friends with benefits'

By Elizabeth Cohen, CNN senior medical correspondent

April 15, 2010 8:16 a.m. EDT

(CNN) -- When Jennifer Nicholas sees television shows or movies where characters "hook up" or have sex with "friends with benefits," she cringes, because that's how she got herpes.

"Getting an STD wasn't even something that crossed my mind," said Nicholas, 39, who learned that she had herpes at age 22. "One day I'm at the doctor's office and it was, 'Surprise! You've got herpes.' "

Experts in sexually transmitted diseases say they've become increasingly concerned about the trend toward having what they call "sexual involvement in nonromantic contexts" -- the technical term for hookups or "friends with benefits" -- because they're especially likely to spread sexually transmitted diseases.

The concern is that that people who have nonromantic relationships tend to have several partners at one time -- "concurrency," in sexual behavior lingo -- in contrast to people engaged in romantic relationships, who tend to be monogamous for the duration of the romance.

"We're concerned that concurrency is speeding up the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases," said Tony Paik, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Iowa who recently published a study on the subject.

"This is a direct route for spreading STDs. There are important implications here for public health," he added.

In Paik's study, published last month in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, he found that 17 percent of men and 5 percent of women had at some point had more than one sexual partner at a time. Seventeen percent of women and 8 percent of men said they'd been exclusive but their partner had not.

For both genders, having sex with a friend made someone less likely to be monogamous.

"Sex with the ex"

Peggy Giordano, a professor of sociology at Bowling Green State University, studies the sexual behavior of young people, and she's also concerned about the phenomenon of having sex in nonromantic ways.

"It seems more acceptable now to have nonromantic sexual encounters," said Giordano, who's studied the sex lives of 1,300 teens and young adults in Lucas County, Ohio. "When there's no romance, there's no basis for demanding fidelity from the other person."

She says it's not just the number of partners at one time; it's that people's behavior seems to be different when they're having "friendly" sex in contrast to romantic sex.

When people have sex with a friend, they tend to be more trusting that the person doesn't have a sexually transmitted disease and therefore fail to use a condom, she says.

"If you've known a person for a while, you don't have that vigilance. You're probably not going to ask them to go and get tested for STDs," Giordano said. (To find out whether you should get a test for an STD, you can take this quiz.)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can help you find a testing site near you.

This lack of vigilance about STDs is especially true when the sexual partner is a former boyfriend or girlfriend, she adds.

"We're finding that 'sex with the ex' is a very common experience," said Giordano, who's been studying the group of Ohio youth since 2001.

"It's seemingly safe, since they used to be your girlfriend or boyfriend. But of course you don't know what they've done since you broke up. You don't know their full portfolio of partners," she said.

What are the chances?

Through her work with the Atlanta H Club, a social and support group for adults with herpes or the human papillomavirus, Nicholas is now more aware of the chances that a prospective partner could have a sexually transmitted disease.

It's impossible to say precisely what the chances are you'll catch an STD from any one person, but there are studies that can give you a clue. One important factor to keep in mind: For biological reasons, women are more likely to catch an STD from a man than vice versa.

Human papillomavirus

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About one in four U.S. females age 14 to 59 has HPV, according to a 2007 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The HPV rate was highest -- 44 percent -- for women ages 20 to 24.

HPV is not as common in men, according to a 2006 article in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, but is still "highly prevalent." The study, which looked at 40 studies on HPV and men, found that 56 percent of the reports found that at least one in five men had HPV.

Herpes

Nearly one in five Americans has herpes simplex virus, according to a 2006 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The rates for women were higher than for men: 23 percent, compared with 11 percent. Rates were especially high among African-Americans.

Gonorrhea

Your chances of getting gonorrhea from a sexual encounter are significantly lower than your chances of getting HPV or herpes. A 2007 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed a 0.24 percent prevalence rate. Rates were highest among teens but still less than 1 percent.

Chlamydia

Nearly half of the people in the above study who had gonorrhea also had chlamydia, but again, infection rates were significantly lower than for HPV and herpes.

According to a 2007 report in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 2.2 percent of Americans ages 14 to 39 had chlamydia. The rates were highest for teenage girls (4.6 percent) and for black women (7.2 percent).

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Australia
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And thats why I am glad I am married, and I am the only woman my husband has ever been with.


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This is really irrelevant, but I was literally just reading this article on another site. Still have it open even. Was just strange. ;)

Never really got the whole "friends with benefits" thing. Maybe it's easier for men, I don't know.


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Filed: Country: United Kingdom
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(CNN) -- When Jennifer Nicholas sees television shows or movies where characters "hook up" or have sex with "friends with benefits," she cringes, because that's how she got herpes.

Who cares, it's only herpes. Not exactly a life threatening disease. :blink:


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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Colombia
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sex is more than just a physical act of pleasure, there are other risks, the blurring of the lines between friend and lover precipitated by being ** friends can completely destroy a friendship, the old dynamic between some friends is lost forever.


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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Thailand
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sex is more than just a physical act of pleasure, there are other risks, the blurring of the lines between friend and lover precipitated by being ** friends can completely destroy a friendship, the old dynamic between some friends is lost forever.

Not everyone thinks so.

http://www.polyamorysociety.org/page6.html

What is Polyamory?

Polyamory is the nonpossessive, honest, responsible and ethical philosophy and practice of loving multiple people simultanously. Polyamory emphasizes consciously choosing how many partners one wishes to be involved with rather than accepting social norms which dictate loving only one person at a time. Polyamory is an umbrella term which integrates traditional mutipartner relationship terms with more evolved egalitarian terms. Polyamory embraces sexual equality and all sexual orientations towards an expanded circle of spousal intimacy and love. Polyamory is from the root words Poly meaning many and Amour meaning love hence "many loves" or Polyamory. Of course, love itself is a rather ambiguous term, but most polys seem to define it as a serious, intimate, romantic, or less stable, affectionate bond which a person has with another person or group of persons. This bond usually, though not necessarily always, involves sex. Sexualove or eromance are other words which have been coined to describe this kind of love. Other terms often used as synonyms for polyamory are responsible, ethical or intentional non-monogamy.

Monogamy has its perks.

The polyamorists take on monogamy:

Most Polyamorists have a "live and let live" attitude. They are happy for those people who have found happiness in monogamous relationships. However, most polyamorists are impressed by the fact that the divorce and adultery statistics indicate that monogamy fails a great deal more than it succeeds. Polyamorists tend to see the modern American nuclear family as an aberration in the course of human history and believe that larger, more complex extended families or tribes have been the natural human family structure. Children are seen as being better off when they have a broad range of adult role models to relate to, instead of a single, monogamously married couple. Polyamorists believe in freedom of choice and consider Polyamory as a viable alternative to monogamy. They acknowledge that real love and a committed relationship is in no way free. Intimate love relationships, whether monogamous or Polyamorous are complex and challenging and their success requires maturity and hard work. Polyamorists, beingoutside the mainstream of our society, are taking on the extra challenge of trying to do something which is unpopular among their monogamous peers. Polyamorists do tend to object to our culture's idealization of monogamy and suppression of alternative lifestyles.

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Filed: AOS (pnd) Country: Canada
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And thats why I am glad I am married, and I am the only woman my husband has ever been with.

Not to dampen the mood of this happiness, but that's not necessarily a good thing from a psychological point of view. Depends on the individual, but 'curiosity' kills the cat more often than not in situations like this....


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Filed: Country: Pitcairn Islands
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Not everyone thinks so.

What is Polyamory?

Polyamory is the nonpossessive, honest, responsible and ethical philosophy and practice of loving multiple people simultanously. Polyamory emphasizes consciously choosing how many partners one wishes to be involved with rather than accepting social norms which dictate loving only one person at a time. Polyamory is an umbrella term which integrates traditional mutipartner relationship terms with more evolved egalitarian terms. Polyamory embraces sexual equality and all sexual orientations towards an expanded circle of spousal intimacy and love. Polyamory is from the root words Poly meaning many and Amour meaning love hence "many loves" or Polyamory. Of course, love itself is a rather ambiguous term, but most polys seem to define it as a serious, intimate, romantic, or less stable, affectionate bond which a person has with another person or group of persons. This bond usually, though not necessarily always, involves sex. Sexualove or eromance are other words which have been coined to describe this kind of love. Other terms often used as synonyms for polyamory are responsible, ethical or intentional non-monogamy.

No mention of STDs. That all sounds great until our friends herpes, HIV, syphillis, unwanted pregnancy with no idea who the father is come up around the bend. Great if they want to risk all of that, but I have zero interest.

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I don't subscribe at all to the 'fwb' theory, but at the end of the day, if you wanna shag your friends, get in a poly relationship, etc....there's still the PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY to make sure that the person(s) you're sleeping with are medically clean. I understand the correlation between trust and fwb in this article, but at the end of the day, it's still a bunch of bs. Jump in the sack with whomever you want, but be prepared to pay the ultimate price if you haven't taken the correct precautions. And that thought is terrifying enough to me to make me wonder how even ONE person can be reckless with his/her health/body...let alone it being of epidemic proportions.

Edited by Happy Bunny

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Thailand
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As I said...each unto his/her own. Nobody is forcing anyone to be poly or to enter a FWB relationship (they're not the same). I'm not into either, but I don't judge. As to the health risks - sure. But smokers take risks, skydivers take risks, we all take risks of one kind or another. We all need to choose for ourselves a reasonable risk level for our own bodies and lives. You make a good argument that when our risk-choices also affect others, then it's no longer a personal decision. Rather like second hand smoking affects people nearby, or DUI affects others sharing the road.

By that standard, I'd say that if the people in a poly or FWB situation are all fully aware of everyone's history, and enter the situation consensually, then it's covered. That's a

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