Last updated at 4:37 PM on 26th July 2011
It may initially prove an ideal romantic adventure - and has inspired countless films including the new comedy Friends With Benefits.
But having a 'no-strings-attached' sexual relationship with a friend is all-but-impossible to navigate successfully, according to a study.
Scientists believe that because the nature of such a relationship is undefined - as opposed to the more typical boyfriend/girlfriend model - then such unions are doomed to fail.
Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake in Friends With Benefits, a romantic comedy that follows two friends who embark on a no-strings-attached relationship. Researchers believe such relationships are doomed to failure
Lead researcher Rebecca Plante, of Ithaca College in New York, interviewed 14,000 U.S. university students.
She said: 'The sexual context of "friends with benefits" is largely undefined, which can make it very difficult to deal with when or if feelings change, such as when one of the pair wants to end the sex but remain friends or wants to become more than friends.'
An expert on sexuality among young people, Dr Plante said a 'friends with benefits' situation can provide a healthy outlet for sexual needs and desires.
But she warned that complications will almost certainly arise.
She said: 'My research shows that perhaps the most frequent consequence is awkwardness, accompanied by strained or ceased contact and eventually either future hook-ups or the resumption of a non-sexual friendship.'
Many respondents told Dr Planet that the reason they didn't want to officially commit to a loving relationship, and instead preferred a commitment-free sexual relationship, was because they were too busy.
Other reasons given were that relationships take too much work, that they aren't sure about the depth and extent of their feelings, or that they already have long-term relationships in other places.
Dr Plante said: 'Friends with benefits is a way to explore some sexuality within a friendship, an existing framework of some care and knowledge of one another.
'Despite the assumption - furthered by films like Friends With Benefits - that the U.S. is a very sexually open culture, sexual intimacy is not well-discussed.
'Multiple media depict sex, but that doesn't mean that individuals get any schooling in how to understand what they want sexually, romantically and intimately.'
Friends With Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, depicts a couple whose professional relationship turns into a friendship, which they turn into a sexual relationship with no strings or expectations attached.
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