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The purpose of the present study was to provide a detailed examination of sexual behavior with different types of partners. A sample of young adults reported on their light nongenital, heavy nongenital, and genital sexual activity with romantic partners, friends, and casual acquaintances.

Young adults were most likely to engage in sexual behavior with romantic partners, but sexual behavior also often occurred with some type of nonromantic partner. More young adults engaged in some form of sexual behavior with casual acquaintances than with friends with benefits. The frequencies of sexual behavior, however, were greater with friends with benefits than with friends or casual acquaintances.

Interview and questionnaire data revealed that friends with benefits were typically friends, but not necessarily. Nonsexual activities were also less common with friends with benefits than other friends. Taken together, the findings illustrate the value of differentiating among different types of nonromantic partners and different levels of sexual behavior.

Most research on sexual behavior has not considered the nature of the relationship in which it occurs. When the context of the relationship has been considered, the research has focused on sexual behavior in romantic relationships or some subset of romantic relationships, such as marriages or cohabitating couples e.

Yet the sexual behavior of young adults and adolescents often occurs in other contexts. About half of these incidents with a nonromantic partner occurred only once Manning, et al.

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Most investigators have not differentiated among different partners within the general category of casual or nonromantic sexual partners. Some investigators have examined one particular category of nonromantic partners e. In the two studies that did include multiple Grello, et al.

To date, relatively little is known about differences in the sexual activity with different partners. Grello, et al. Thus, the limited research suggests that sexual activity may vary across different kinds of nonromantic partners. Not only have most investigators failed to differentiate among of nonromantic partners, but also they have not typically distinguished among different types of sexual behavior. Different sexual behaviors involve different levels of risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

The The type of sexual behavior that common occurs also varies as a function of the type of sexual partner Grello et al, These findings suggest that it is important to distinguish among different types of sexual behavior. Denizet-Lewis, Social scientists have similarly described them as friends engaging in sex or sexual activity e.

What is less clear, however, is whether friends with benefits are typically seen as a distinct category of sexual partners.

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That is, it is not apparent if all friends one has engaged in sexual activity with are considered friends with benefits; for example, being a friend with benefits may imply some ongoing opportunities for sexual behavior, rather than a single episode. Some types of sexual activity behavior may also be necessary to be considerd a friend with benefits.

Additionally, it is nclear if it is even necessary to first be a friend in the traditional sense of a friend to be considered a friend with benefits. For example, it is not apparent if a casual acquaintance could be considered a friend with benefits or not. A clearer understanding of the nature of friends with benefits is needed. We first asked about sexual behavior with romantic partners, friends, and casual acquaintances and then asked about sexual behavior with friends with benefits see rationale in methods.

Based on the existing literature e. Based on prior research Grello, et al.

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The limited literature on friends with benefits provided little basis for predictions, but we expected fewer participants would report engaging in sexual behavior with friends with benefits than with friends or casual acquaintances, because a ificant proportion of sexual activity with a nonromantic partner only occurs on one occasion, whereas being friends with benefits may require establishing Ongoing fwb with single or couple w relationship that involves some ongoing opportunities for sexual behavior Hypothesis 3-A.

When young adults have friends with benefits, however, we expected the frequency of sexual behavior with friends with benefits to be higher than the frequencies with friends or casual acquaintances because of the ongoing opportunities with friends with benefits Hypothesis 3-B. To date, however, distinctions among different types of nonromantic partners have not been made.

Gender differences may be less pronounced in friendships than in casual acquaintanceships as friendships entail some level of intimacy that encounters with casual acquaintances may not. Thus, we predicted gender differences in sexual behavior with casual acquaintances Hypothesis 4-Abut tendered no predictions regarding gender differences with friends or friends with benefits.

We expected that we would replicate these gender differences with romantic partners and find similar gender differences in the occurrence and frequency of light nongenital and heavy nongenital behavior with romantic partners Hypothesis 4-B. Another purpose of the study was to obtain a better understanding of the nature of friends with benefits.

As noted ly, it is not clear how similar friends with benefits are to other friends. Because the focus of relationships with friends with benefits appears to be on sexual activity, we hypothesized that young adults would engage in fewer nonsexual activities with friends with benefits than with typical friends; at the same time we hypothesized that they would engage in more nonsexual activities with friends with benefits than with casual acquaintances, because friends with benefits appear to be ongoing relationships Hypothesis 5.

Finally, we interviewed young adults to obtain a better understanding about their conceptualization of friends with benefits. We hypothesized that most would require friends with benefits to be friends, and would require that there be an ongoing opportunity for sexual behavior vs.

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The participants were part of a longitudinal study investigating the role of relationships with parents, peers, and romantic partners on psychosocial adjustment in adolescence and young adulthood. Deed to be relatively representative of the ethnicity of the United States, the sample was In the fifth wave of data collection which was collected in —, we asked about sexual activity with different types of partners.

At that time, participants ranged in age from We chose to retain the sexual minorities in the sample to be inclusive and because the majority of them reported that they were either bisexual or questioning their sexual identity. Participants were compensated financially for completing the questionnaires. Department of Health and Human Services. Participants were first asked about their sexual behavior in the last 12 months with three types of partners: 1 romantic partners, 2 friends, and 3 causal acquaintances or someone they just met.

The participants were told they were going to be asked about all three types in advance, and the order of the questions concerning the three relationships was fixed to eliminate potential confusion of e.

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After they had answered the questions about the first three types of sexual partners, we asked them to answer a parallel set of questions about friends with benefits. Because it was unclear how friends with benefits would be categorized and how distinct they were from otherwe indicated that the term can be defined in different ways and asked participants to use their own definition of friends with benefits even if their partners in this category overlapped with some of their partners in the they had answered about already.

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This strategy allowed us to examine how a term was naturally used and provided a means of obtaining information about whom young adults consider to be friends with benefits. We also believed that our strategy would be less confusing to the participants than initially asking them about all four when we expected that the friend with benefits category overlapped with the otherespecially friends.

We also thought it would be inappropriate to force the four to not overlap with each other when they were likely to overlap in actuality; moreover, we thought it would be confusing to ask participants about sexual behavior with friends who were not friends with benefits, or to ask them about friends with benefits who were not friends or casual acquaintances.

They rated the frequency of sexual activity using a scale ranging from 1 Not in the last 12 months to 8 Almost every day or every day. Participants were also asked if they had commonly engaged in each of 24 nonsexual activities with individuals in each of the four relationship. Sample activities included drinking alcohol, watching TV, and sharing something personal. The questions about friends and casual acquaintances asked about all casual acquaintances and friends, not just sexual ones, so that we could see if friends with benefits were similar to other casual acquaintances and friends.

In light of the limited information regarding friends with benefits, we also asked participants a series of questions to clarify the nature of these relationships. Specifically, we asked them whether friends with benefits are different from romantic partners, friends, and casual acquaintances See questions in Table 5. Responses were categorized as yes, no, or qualified e. We also asked about the frequency of sexual encounters necessary to consider someone a friend with benefits.

The questions regarding the characteristics of friends with benefits were not added until the first third of the data had been collected. The participants who answered these questions did not differ from the other participants on any of the primary variables of the study or in terms of gender and ethnicity.

The preceding the question refers to the order of the questions. s vary slightly across questions because of technical problems. All variables were examined to determine if the assumptions of univariate and multivariate analyses were met Behrens, Outliers were adjusted to fall 1. All the resulting variables had acceptable levels of skew and kurtosis. Table 1 presents the proportion of men and women engaging in each level of sexual behavior with each of the four types of partners.

These proportions include both participants who engaged in additional forms of sexual activity as well as those who engaged in no more than that level of sexual activity; thus, the light nongenital proportions includes those who engaged in only light nongenital activity and those who engaged in heavy nongenital or genital activity as well. All participants who reported engaging in genital sexual activity with a particular type of partner had also reported engaging in light nongenital and heavy nongenital sexual activity with that type of partner; similarly all participants who reported engaging in heavy nongenital sexual activity with a particular type of partner had also reported engaging in light nongenital sexual activity with that type of partner.

Note: Different ed subscripts indicate that the proportions for that type of sexual behavior differ ificantly between the two relationships, whereas different lettered subscripts indicate that the proportions differ between the genders for that type of sexual behavior within that relationship. Generalized hierarchical linear modeling takes into the nested nature of the data, including the dependency inherent in the overlapping nature of the friends with benefits category.

Unlike repeated measures multivariate analyses of variance, generalized hierarchical linear modeling does not require ordinal data and can be used to analyze proportional data by using a logit link function. An example of a f ull model in generalized hierarchical linear modeling was Level-1 Model.

This model contained three orthogonal dummy variable contrasts: C r-a represents a contrast between romantic partners and casual acquaintances, C f-b represents a contrast between friends and friends with benefits. C rp-fb reflects a contrast between romantic partners and casual acquaintances on the one hand and friends and friends with benefits on the other hand. The outcome Y is whether a type of sexual behavior occurred or not.

In traditional multivariate analyses of variance, the ificance of main effects and interactions are obtained as part of the standard output. To determine if an interaction or main effect is ificant in generalized hierarchical linear modeling, however, it is necessary to compare the fit deviance of pairs of models which contain or do not contain the terms of interest.

If the deviance of the full model was ificantly smaller than the deviance of the two main effects model i. If the deviance of the full model was not ificantly smaller than the two main effects modelsit would indicate there was not a ificant interaction between gender and type of partner. To determine if there was a ificant effect of gender, we compared the deviance of the two main effects model with the deviance of a partner type only modelwhich only contained the partner effects terms.

If the deviance of the two main effects model was ificantly smaller than the partner type only modelsit would indicate there was a ificant gender effect. To determine if there was a ificant main effect of partner, we compared the deviance of the two main effects models with the deviance of a gender only modelwhich only contained the gender term.

If the deviance of the two main effects model was ificantly smaller than the gender only modelit would indicate there was a ificant partner effect. To understand the nature of the interactions, we conducted the hierarchical linear modeling equivalent of tests of simple main effects in ANOVA. To determine the effect of partner type for each gender, we compared the deviance of the partner type only model for a gender with the deviance of a random intercept model for that gender, which did not include the terms reflecting a partner effect. Consistent with Hypothesis 1-A, these analyses revealed that both men and women were almost always more likely to engage in each level of sexual behavior with romantic partners than with friends, casual acquaintances, or friends with benefits.

The one noteworthy exception is that men were as likely to engage in light nongenital sexual behavior with casual acquaintances as with romantic partners. Contrary to Hypothesis 2-A, men were also ificantly more likely to engage in light nongenital and heavy nongenital sexual behavior with casual acquaintances than with friends. Consistent with Hypothesis 3-A, men were also ificantly more likely to engage in light nongenital behavior with casual acquaintances than with friends with benefits.

On the other hand, women were ificantly less likely to engage in light nongenital sexual behavior with friends with benefits than with friends or casual acquaintances, but otherwise the proportions for friends, casual acquaintances, and friends with benefits did not differ for women.

We also examined gender differences by comparing the deviance of a gender only effect model for each type of partner with a random intercept model for each type of partner. Consistent with Hypothesis 4-A, men were ificantly more likely to engage in light nongenital sexual behavior with Ongoing fwb with single or couple w acquaintances than women were, but contrary to this hypothesis, no differences were found in heavy nongenital or genital sexual Ongoing fwb with single or couple w.

Consistent with Hypothesis 4-B, women were ificantly more likely to engage in light nongenital and genital sexual behavior with romantic partners than men were. No gender differences were found with respect to sexual behavior with friends or friends with benefits.

Next we examined the frequencies of sexual behaviors with different partners. If these scores of no sexual behavior had been included, differences in frequencies of sexual behavior with different partners could result from differences in the proportions of individuals having a particular type of sexual partner as well as differences in the frequencies of sexual behavior with different types of partners for those who had those kinds of sexual partners.

For each of the three levels of sexual behavior, we conducted hierarchical linear modeling analyses similar to the prior ones, except that the scores did not need to be transformed with a logit function as they were continuous scores.

Ongoing fwb with single or couple w

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