Friday, November 6, 2009

The Harry and Sally Debate Continues

Alright, it seems that I need to tackle the Friends With Benefits topic. I’m getting a lot of questions about it. Let me start by saying that I actually overuse the term. I throw it around to mean anybody that I’ve seen more than once and slept with at least once, basically because I don’t have a term for guys that are in that weird limbo of not my boyfriend, not a real friend, yet I’ve had sex with. This is different from a ONS: One-Night Stand. Those are easy to identify. I’ve only had two real Friends With Benefits in my lifetime. One is still going strong at 2.5 years. The other turned into a boyfriend and that was not good.

I’ll start with Classic FWB. I met him during my VERY slutty phase after the divorce when ONSs were the norm. He called me back for a second ONS; is that an oxymoron? Weirdly, the second time we got into a lengthy discussion about philosophy. That was the start of being friends, at least on my part. I began to think this is somebody worth talking to. Over the next 2.5 years, we’ve gotten together semi-regularly for great sex and great conversations.

The most common question is, “If you can sustain a relationship for that long, why are you not a couple?” My answer is, “He’s a great friend but I’d hate him if I had to spend any real length of time with him.” The only reason we work is because we know that it’s NOT going anywhere. I could give you a whole list of why he’s wrong for me and why I’m wrong for him. In the beginning, maybe even the whole first year we knew each other, I had what I thought were romantic feelings for him. But the more I got to know him, the more I realized I wasn’t in love with him. I was in love with the idea of him. He’s 10 years younger, he’s free to do what he wants, he’s fit and good-looking, he’s intelligent, and kinda dangerous. Once I got over that romanticizing, then things went from rocky and sometimes good to pretty consistently great. I know who he is when he’s with me and I know the parameters are not going to change. That’s remarkably freeing. I can enjoy time with him without all the garbage that is normally in between me and men.

FWB 2.0 was Robert. I met him while I was living in Houston during the summer of 2008. We started out as great friends, with great benefits. Both of us knew that it wasn’t going to be anything more than a summer fling because we live 2500 miles apart. Duh. That freed me up to say what I was honestly thinking and just be myself. He could either take it or leave it. And he took it. When I went home to Oregon, things got messy. He started calling me every day and saying sweet things and dammit if my heart didn’t get all stupid and start making the decisions.

I was supposed to go back to Houston in the Fall and I got all twitchy. I didn’t want to sleep with him because suddenly I “liked” him. Well, I went down there and I did sleep with him but things were not the same. I found myself holding my tongue more and trying to make him like me. Hello, Jen? He liked you before! After that I asked him to be my boyfriend and the rest is tragic history. Both of us started acting differently and soon, neither one of us liked ourselves OR each other. I am still kicking myself that we didn’t just stay friends. We were good friends and the sex was a great bonus. I know we would have lasted a LOT longer if things hadn’t gotten romantic.

So there you have it. I think you can be friends with a man AND have sex with him. It's complicated but it works when both parties are honest with why they are there and there is time apart to process for yourself. It doesn’t mean I don’t want a partner. I do, when the time and the man are right. In the meantime, I’d rather sleep with someone who respects me and who I trust than a stranger.

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