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This post will look at how to say “friends with benefits” in Japanese.

Warning! This post may be offensive to some. Before you go getting too worked up, though, know that this post is simply going to be a translation of a Wikipedia article on the Japanese equivalent to the English phrase, “Friends with Benefits.” It’s one post of a series where we’re going to translate Wikipedia articles on Japanese slang.

To describe this delicate relationship that, Japanese uses the phrase (drum-roll)…

セックスフレンド

セックス (Sex) + フレンド (Friend) = セックスフレンド (Sex Friend; Friend with Benefits; F*ck Buddy).

Yes, I’m totally serious. That’s how they say it.

In the following sections of this post, my translation of this Wikipedia article will follow. The article was translated October, 2012. So, if you’re reading this later, the original may have since changed.

I’ll start with my (terrible) translation, then notes on 日本語 troubles, then the original.

和文英訳 (English Translation)

セックスフレンド

The slang term “セックスフレンド” is used to refer to the relationship between a man and a woman (or a couple of the same sex) who are friends for the purpose of enjoying a sexual relationship together. Alternately, it can also refer to friends who, though they are not a couple, have sexual relations with one another. When referring to homosexual couples, it is common for the term to be shortened to “セクフレ.” In English, a セックスフレンド is referred to as a “F*ck Buddy.”

[Note: Not sure why the writer of this article did not make a reference to the English phrase “Friends with Benefits.”]

Summary

The term first appeared in 1970 as the title of Roger Blake’s novel, 「セックス・フレンド」, translated by Shojirou Shimizu. By the 1990’s, the term had spread into general use, and it appears widely in dramas, novels, and adult games and anime.

[Note: I was unable to find the original title of this novel… or anything about this mysterious Roger Blake.]

Typically, the term セックスフレンド is when describing mutually agreed-upon sexual relationships. But the concept of “セックスフレンド” does not lend itself to a consistent definition. Generally classified, it simply refers to friends that have established a sexual relationship with one another. But, since the degree to which people separate emotional and physical feelings varies so widely from person to person, cases vary as well. This can range from cases where the line between friends and lovers becomes difficult to discern, to cases where the woman in the relationship harbors feelings of anxiety upon her male counterpart looking for nothing but sexual fulfillment.

Separate from lovers or spouses, separate from infidelity or adultery, a セックスフレンド is defined according to sexual relations alone. Though it is a relational concept commonly accepted in society, in many uses it still tends to carry a negative nuance.

Put simply, on the one hand a セックスフレンド is easily misunderstood to be a lover, making it an interpersonal relationship that is prone to trouble. On the other hand, when treated as a relationship where two people are simply looking to relieve one another’s sexual frustration, there are セックスフレンド who don’t allow feelings to interfere with their relationship, even when they do arise. Since typically セックスフレンド have no inention of getting married, some form of contraception is often used.

The two types of セックスフレンド:

1) Purely Sexual Relationships

Most likely, the original meaning of セックスフレンド referred to this kind of relationship. Couples with this kind of relationship most likely prefer not to date, travel together, or even exchange presents on special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas.

2) Friends Who Also Have Sex

These cases closely resemble the concept of a “Sex + Friend” relation. What is and is not acceptable in such cases varies widely from person to person. For example, you might have a person that doesn’t like to go out to eat with someone they are not in a relationship with. On the other hand, you might have someone that has no problem going out to eat with their セックスフレンド.  There are also people who have no interest in fussing over the way traveling or eating together might translate into risk of sexual activity, might lead to two friends taking their relationship too far, might lead to allowing one another into their bedrooms. When all is said and done, there are a plethora of different cases. Moreover, there are times when people, though not in a relationship, decide to have sex due simply to a lighthearted desire to not let their precious bodies go to waste, to have as much fun as they can.

In the 1960-70’s the term “pillow friend” was used similarly.

Translation Mishaps

Yikes! You think you know some Japanese, then you go trying to translate something, and it’s a disaster.

Huge Problem Sentence #1

恋人でも配偶者でもなく、また浮気や不倫といったものでもなく、性交によってつながった、社会通念上否定的なニュアンスで使われる事が多い男女関係のことである。

When authors bust out lists like this in Japanese, I usually get thrown off. でもなく this, でもなく that. And then when a something-something によって gets thrown in there, I’m done for. Dear genius readers, please help. Tell me all the things wrong with this translation:

Separate from lovers or spouses, separate from infidelity or adultery, a セックスフレンド is defined according to sexual relations alone. Though it is a relational concept commonly accepted in society, in many uses it still tends to carry a negative nuance.

Huge Problem Sentence #2

倫理観には個人差が大きく、例えば「恋人でない人と一緒に食事に行くことも嫌だ」と考える人もいる一方で「食事くらいは構わない」と考える人もいる。この ように「一緒に食事をする」「一緒に遊びに行く」=性交渉によるリスク=「一緒に遠出する」「相手の異性を部屋に入れる」といったことでも、嫌悪感を示し たり、特にこだわらなかったりする人間もいて、実にまちまちである。

My translation of this couple of sentences is atrocious. I know that, because I’m not 100% sure of the meaning in the original. So I can only assume my translation is wrong:

What is and is not acceptable in such cases varies widely from person to person. For example, you might have a person that doesn’t like to go out to eat with someone they are not in a relationship with. On the other hand, you might have someone that has no problem going out to eat with their セックスフレンド.  There are also people who have no interest in fussing over the way traveling or eating together might translate into risk of sexual activity, might lead to two friends taking their relationship too far, might lead to allowing one another into their bedrooms.

I’m sure that there are a ton of other problems, but those are two that stood out to me.

原文 (Original)

セックスフレンドとは、セックス(性交)を楽しむことを目的に交際している男女(または同性)の関係を指す俗語。セックスを行えるが、恋人ではなく友達(友達関係でありながらセックスを行える異性、または同性のこと)を指す場合もある。特にゲイの間ではセクフレと言われることが多い。英語ではスラングとしてF*ck Buddy(ファックバディ)と言われる。

概要

1970年に、ロジャー・ブレイク著、清水正二郎訳『セックス・フレンド』という小説が刊行されている1990年代にはほぼ浸透していたとされる。同語を扱ったドラマや小説、アダルトゲームやアダルトアニメも多数ある。

一般的には「相互合意の下で、性交を行う間柄」とされる。主に性交のみを目的とする場合と、性的関係も成立している異性の友人の場合に大別される が、「心」と「身体」に関する想いは個人差が大きく、「恋人との線引きが難しい」と考える人から「男性のみが性的欲求を満たし、女性が現状に不安を抱く関 係」と考える人まで多く存在し、一貫した定義が存在しない単語である。恋人でも配偶者でもなく、また浮気や不倫といったものでもなく、性交によってつな がった、社会通念上否定的なニュアンスで使われる事が多い男女関係のことである。

ただ、片方が恋人関係にあると誤解している場合もあり、対人関係のトラブルともなりやすい。双方が性的な欲求不満の解消を求めての関係とされ、そこには情はあっても恋愛感情は介在しない。一般に結婚を前提としない関係であるため、何らかの方法で避妊することが多い。

セックスだけの関係

おそらく、本来の意味に最も近いとされている関係である。この関係にあるカップルの中には、デートをしたり、旅行に行ったり、誕生日やクリスマスなどにプレゼントを贈る事さえ嫌がる人間もいる。

セックスもする友達

このケースはSEX + FRIENDという単語の意味に近い。倫理観には個人差が大きく、例えば「恋人でない人と一緒に食事に行くことも嫌だ」と考える人もいる一方で「食事くら いは構わない」と考える人もいる。このように「一緒に食事をする」「一緒に遊びに行く」=性交渉によるリスク=「一緒に遠出する」「相手の異性を部屋に入 れる」といったことでも、嫌悪感を示したり、特にこだわらなかったりする人間もいて、実にまちまちである。さらに気軽に「せっかくお互い男と女の体を持っ ているのだから、使わないともったいないし、楽しいことをできるだけしたい」という考えのもとに、恋人でなくてもセックスをする関係もある。

また1960〜70年代には「pillow friend」というような表現もされた。

In Closing

Do you, as a reader, like this kind of article?

We’re trying to get away from the boring grammar posts; so I thought I’d give this a shot.

Comments, please? Mistakes, likes, dislikes, etc.

Also, if you have a Translation Trouble article you’d like to submit, please let me know! Together, we’ll 習得 this language (or should I say 使いこなす, or 習う or 分かる, or…).

Good luck with your studies, everyone.

Keep swimming!

Niko

p.s. Here’s my free course, bundled with awesomeness (and love):

Niko

Yo! I'm Niko, the founder of NihongoShark. I'm also a Japanese translator, writer, and all-around language nerd.

I created this site to help as many people master Japanese (any language, really) as possible.

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Good luck with your studies!

Niko

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