Ok, so most people have heard of the expression “friends with benefits” in this day and age, but for those of you who don’t quite understand what it means; the benefits of the equation are usually those associated with sexual pleasure. The informal definition is: a friend with whom one has an occasional and casual sexual relationship. (Note, all physically intimate behaviours including cuddling and kissing fall into this category, although many people use other terms such as cuddle buddy, fun friend, kissing companion etc…)
The occasional nature of this arrangement can be questionable as many people I know participating in such “friendships” are intimate with high frequency, however it is the casual nature of the arrangement that defines it as a friendship rather than a relationship. Although it may seem like a relationship on the surface, there is a lack of commitment for long term prospects. Assuming that both parties like and respect one another, it can seem like a rewarding choice that asserts 2 people as individuals rather than 2 people coming together to live one life. It may well be the way of the future.
That said, we aren’t there yet. In a society that still values monogamy and marriage to a startling degree, most people will eventually find one person to settle down and share one life with. Unfortunately for many, this doesn’t usually happen concurrently with your “fun friend.” More often than not, this leaves at least one person in the equation suddenly tossed to the side while the other moves on to someone they essentially liked better. Naturally this can happen in established romantic relationships too, however at least when it does, the wounded party is allowed to grieve the loss and the leaving party is expected to offer an explanation.
In my own personal experiences of these “friendships” they tend to go one of 2 ways. The first way is when one person claims friendship, but offers little more than sex, usually on his or her terms only, most likely when they have exhausted all other avenues. Both people feel like they are getting a benefit, but in reality only one of them is. Essentially there is no friendship. No hanging out, no dinners or dates or meeting the friends and family. There is booty calls. Lots of them. It is kinder in this circumstance, and more effective, to call you a “cuddle buddy” than a back up plan, but essentially that is what you are. In almost all of these cases one person has romantic interest, and is waiting for the other to finally wake up and see how wonderful they really are, while the other person has literally zero intention of ever moving you into anything but second best. Let’s be honest… they don’t have to. Do yourselves a favour ladies, if you are in this second place position in someone’s life, don’t get pregnant to them. Lesson learned! Lol Rolls eyes. (My son is a blessing, but he has never met his father, who claims “I have no son.” Great friend he turned out to be. Ugh.)
The other way this situation plays out is that the 2 people are like best friends. They do everything together and tell each other everything. They may be dating other people, but even when they are dating other people, they are still sleeping with each other too, making external romantic potential extremely limited. This works extremely well for a time for both the people involved. They get to hold on to a sense of independence while also enjoying couple privilege. Need a plus one? No worries. Feeling sexually frustrated? Not a problem. Feeling lonely? Not usually. Everybody wins, and even if they are dating other people romantically, essentially nobody compares to the “friend.” Until someone does. Then what? This situation has 2 likely outcomes. One where, without explanation the now coupled party withdraws the affection from the friendship, and often also slowly withdraws the emotional intimacy and time spent together too. It is expected that the former fun friend will accept this change without question and happily encourage the new relationship. No thought is given to the hole that has been suddenly left in the life of the person remaining single, as they silently start to question the validity of the past intimacy and the meaning of the “friendship.” If they do dare express grief at the sudden loss and abandonment felt, they can expect to be slapped in the face with the very same reality that they once embraced – there was never any commitment, they were only friends all along. It suddenly becomes clear how misleading this was, because while they said friends, they were not acting like friends.
The kinder way that scenario tends to play out is when the now coupled party gently ends the physical aspect of the relationship with the friend. They are sensitive to the feelings of the other party and offer assurances that they can still be friends as a “three” (not usually sexual, although…) and that it is in everyone’s best interest because they couldn’t go on forever and the abandoned party will now be “more available” for potential romance for him or herself. Although the friendship continues, the abandoned party often responds as in the first scenario and realizes that she had secretly had romantic hopes and desires all along, and feels a crushing rejection, only made worse by the continued friendship and having to watch someone else have what she had and pretend to be happy about it.
While the whole friends with benefits seems beneficial at first, in the long run it usually doesn’t play out kindly. They say the trouble with trouble is that it starts out as fun! Friendships work better when there is no physical intimacy involved, and when there is, they work better when you define them as what they are - Relationships! Whatever your situation or the reasons you’ve told yourself that you’re happy there, 'benefits' are nothing more than crumbs. You deserve the whole loaf, so have the courage to say so and go and find it, before someone gets hurt. Probably you!
Your Best Friend ForNever