Rather than write about the continuing saga of Ronnie and Sammie (guess what, as predicted in last week's post, they’re still fighting), I thought I’d focus on Vinny and Snooki’s relationship. If you’ve been following the show, you know that they were friends that “smushed” (had sex) in the past and they have remained close friends. Essentially, they have a “friends with benefits” relationship where there is a friendship and sex, but no romantic relationship.1
Research indicates that these relationships are common, with estimates ranging from 50%2 to 60%3 of college students having sex with friends who are not "relationship" partners. Clearly, there are others Snookin’ for love other than Snooki and Vinny. Individuals report liking these relationships because they were with a trusted partner, but acknowledged that sex could complicate the friendship if one partner wanted more from the relationship.3 This dynamic is evident on Jersey Shore; Snooki seems to have “caught feelings” for Vinnie this season, causing her to become jealous when Vinnie brings home other girls to the house. It also results in Snooki throwing herself at Vinny, crawling into his bed, etc. As a result, Vinny seems to be more reluctant to hook-up (except this last episode when he was drunk and had his new earrings) and potentially threaten their friendship. Vinny has even said that he “loves Snooki”, could see something between them in the future, and even apologizes for hurting Snooki’s feelings by being with other girls. Interestingly, people in “friends with benefits” relationships try to avoid talking about the relationship and the “what are we” conversation. You can see this in the last few episodes of the Jersey Shore because Snooki and Vinny seem to talk about their feelings and relationship only when they’ve been drinking (which provides a convenient excuse for anything they say, as well as a way to protect against hurt feelings).
“Friends with benefits” relationships have their upside as well. A study of over 300 people found that those who had sex with friends thought that their relationship was stronger as a result. Overall, this seems to be the case with Vinny and Snooki. Prior to their hook-up, they didn’t do much together and really didn’t seem like very good friends in the house. But they are now noticeably closer and even went on a pseudo-date --- complete with beer-battered onion rings (no Snooki they aren’t actually served in beer) and a walk home with their arms around each other.
Want more on the Jersey Shore relationships? Click here for an article about why Ronnie and Sammie fight so much, or for an article about why Ronnie and Sammie's relationship was destined to break-up, click here.
1Guerrero, L. K., & Mongeau, P. A. (2008). On becoming 'more than friends': The transition from friendship to romantic relationship. In S. Sprecher, A. Wenzel, J. Harvey, S. Sprecher, A. Wenzel, J. Harvey (Eds.), Handbook of relationship initiation (pp. 175-194). New York, NY US: Psychology Press.
2Afifi, W. A., & Faulkner, S. L. (2000). On being 'just friends': The frequency and impact of sexual activity in cross-sex friendships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 17(2), 205-222.
3Bisson, M. A., & Levine, T. R. (2009). Negotiating a friends with benefits relationship. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38(1), 66-73.
Dr. Gary Lewandowski - Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Lewandowski's research explores the role of the self in romantic relationships with a specific focus on self-expansion. He has authored dozens of publications for both academic and non-academic audiences and is a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.