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WHO Has Friends With Benefits?

Fully one in 10 men and women who are in a committed relationship reported that both they and their partner have had non-romantic sex with other people. And apparently, it's all cool. Call it the ultimate friends with benefits.

That's the word from sociologists at the University of Iowa's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who concluded that people who have non-romantic sex with a stranger or acquaintance are far more likely to hook up with multiple non-romantic partners--not just one. This is an important public health issue, since concurrent partnerships speed up the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

The study: Led by Anthony Paik, the team interviewed 783 heterosexual adults, who ranged in age from 18 to 60. In addition to being asked how many people they had been with during their most recent relationship, respondents estimated how many partners their partner had been with during that time. Sexual involvement was defined as genital contact.

The results:

  • Overall, 17 percent of men and 5 percent of women acknowledged that they had been with someone else.

  • Another group--17 percent of women and 8 percent of men--said they'd been exclusive but their partner had not.

  • Twelve percent of women and 10 percent of men said neither of them had been monogamous.

"The United States has seen a major shift toward nonromantic sexual partnerships--people becoming sexually involved when they are just casually dating or not dating at all," Paik said. "A quarter of the respondents became sexually involved while casually dating and a fifth did so as friends or acquaintances."

Here's something interesting in case you want to keep your partner from hooking up with a friend or stranger: Respondents who got along with each other's parents were less likely to have multiple sex partners. Paik said people are less likely to risk a relationship when they take family stakeholders into consideration.

The study findings were published in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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