Friends with benefits: it’s not what you think
By Sharan Paul, Metro campus staff reporter
All friends come with benefits. The reason that friendships forged in college last a lifetime is because they have residual benefits. Relationships with other students can increase your success during and after higher education. But friends are more than just people to hang out with, they allow an opportunity to explore new cultures, experience new activities, and become a well-rounded individual.
I am often referred to as “cool” because I listen to post-hardcore metal music, love social media, and am currently binge watching Breaking Bad on Netflix. Everything that makes me cool is a direct benefit of the company I keep. I learned to appreciate the new music because my daughter is a musician. I am addicted to Twitter and SnapChat, because the friends I made in my freshman year of college, used them to communicate. And I do not miss an episode of Breaking Bad, because Phil, in my English class, could not stop talking about it. I am cool by default.
Friends provide new experiences that otherwise may have been missed. Sports-minded friends can teach you the intricacies of ‘tailgating’ and where to get the best wings. The IT group can fix your computer, or save you money on software that works. I have a friend from the Persian Gulf that taught me to speak some basic Farsi phrases. Friends with benefits share their collective experiences and allow a ‘guided tour’ of other cultures and activities. I cannot afford to travel in Europe over the summer break, but I have a friend that does. She relates her experiences, over crepes at Westside Market, making me feel like I was actually in Europe with her. I get the benefit of travel, without the expense.
The downside to friends with benefits is that they are not always positive benefits. If you hang out with the smart kids, many people consider you to be smart. But if you hang out with a group of slackers, you are perceived to be a slacker too. And just like there is a residual ‘coolness’ that comes from being with cool people, there can be unpleasant backlash from being associated with some groups. I had a friend in Media class that rarely showed up for lessons, never turned the assignments in on time, and generally did not participate in discussions. Because we were friends, I was often asked where he was, or why he did not do his homework. It made that class more difficult, in that, I had to answer for my friend as well as myself. I was guilty by association.
Everyone needs friends, and friends come with benefits. While it is important to recognize the positive benefits that friends bring to a relationship, it is also important to understand not all benefits are good. In finding the right kind of friends, remember that it is equally important for you to be a good friend. William Shakespeare said, “Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find.” Which reminds me…I have a date to play laser tag with my friends from Math class.