For those who missed No Strings Attached some months back, Friends With Benefits, which arrives in theaters this Friday, has a similar theme. The new comedy from Easy A director, Will Gluck, stars Mila Kunis as a recently dumped job-placement agent who secures a dream job—photo editor at GQ magazine—for one of her clients, played by Justin Timberlake (also recently dumped). The two attractive, outgoing, and motivated young professionals soon form a friendship. Swamped with work, they eventually agree to add sex to the equation, formally swearing to engage in a "friends with benefits" relationship—sex and friendship, sans romantic feelings. Naturally, this doesn't go over so well.
The "friends with benefits" relationship isn't just a big-screen occurrence, however, but is rather common among college students and postgrads. The Daily Beast spoke with renowned relationship expert Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of the radio show Loveline, VH1's Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew, the HLN talk show Dr. Drew, and the upcoming daytime talk show Dr. Drew's Lifechangers, to chat about the dangers of entering into a "friends with benefits" relationship, and to break down what the Timberlake and Kunis characters go through in the film.
Q: Friends With Benefits opens with both Justin Timberlake's character and Mila Kunis' character getting dumped by their respective mates, despite the fact that they seem like a much better "get" than the person dumping them. What effect can being dumped by someone you perceive as not worthy of you have?
A: The person that goes for someone whose number doesn’t match theirs often does so because of a low self-esteem. They don't feel worthy of much else. The other issue of this film's characters, as they're painted, if someone is raised with an unavailable parent of the opposite sex—either truly unavailable, abusive emotionally, or was abandoning in some way—the young adult is trying to fix the unfinished business of childhood, and will long for and be very attracted to the very type of person who was so traumatizing in their childhood. So they'll repeatedly go for the wrong type of person. And the flip side of that exact same deficiency of intimacy is swearing off relationships altogether and just going for "friends with benefits." They’re both flip sides of the exact same phenomenon.
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