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Rueda -

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Children and Youth Services Review





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Using focus groups, this study sought to understand and compare how Mexican American (n = 41, M = 16.0 years old, SD = .96) and European American (n = 34, M = 16.1 years old, SD = .64) youths conceptualize and experience “friends with benefits” relationships (FWBRs). Contrary to the implied nature of friendship, partners did not show caring and viewed FWBRs as a means to meet sexual needs. The “benefits” of this arrangement included guilt-free pleasure, little responsibility, the freedom to date others, or to remain available for a more desirable partner. The inherent deficits of FWBRs, on the other hand, included the potential pitfall of getting emotionally attached. Despite the recognized deficits, European American and Mexican American girls both desired and participated in FWBRs. However, Mexican American girls described more committed “going-out” relationships as ideal, which left them vulnerable to mismatched expectations and emotional upset in FWBRs. Findings outline the socio-emotional contexts of adolescent involvement in FWBRs, as well as underscore the potential for conflicting desires. Recommendations for healthy relationship and sexual health programs are discussed.


This article was published under Dr. Heidi Adams Rueda’s maiden name as Heidi L. Adams.

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Elsevier in Children and Youth Services Review on May 10, 2013, available online:

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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