Gender similarities and differences within a friends with benefits relationship
This thesis seeks to examine what gender predicts about an individual’s feelings and behaviors within the various stages of a friends with benefits relationship (FWBR)—the pursuit, maintenance, outcome, and aftermath. Moreover, through quantitative research on college heterosexual FWBRs, I aim to uncover the ways in which men and women engaging in a FWBR may feel and/or behave differently from, and similarly to, one another. To begin, this thesis provides a thorough literature review, detailing both the essence of a FWBR and gender within relationships. Based on my research, I hypothesize that when engaging in a FWBR, (H1) men and women will externally behave in similar, benefits-directed manners; however, (H2) women will internally feel more emotionally invested in the relationship than men. The thesis moves to communicate the methods and results of my survey on Tulane University undergraduate students. Following, a comprehensive discussion is offered, in which the survey findings are interpreted in relation to one another, to outside scholarly literature, and to the history of the traditional sexual script and the sexual double standard. The thesis concludes largely in support of both Hypothesis 1 and 2, and ultimately demonstrates highly relevant evidence of the changing of the traditional sexual script and the erosion of the sexual double standard. At the forefront of bridging the concepts of gender and FWBRs, this thesis reveals how the implications of gender play out within a FWBR, and potentially of even greater significance, how the context of a FWBR allows for gender to deviate.