Friends with benefits: Two friends who trust each other enough to engage in sexual activity without fear of hurting the other’s feelings. In other words, a “smart” alternative to random hookups. “We’re just friends…” When I was introduced to this idea, I immediately recognized how accepted it was in society. The idea of being platonic friends during the day and closer than close at night was something that society smiled upon, as long as you followed the rules and did not catch feelings. As time passed and concepts of “normal behavior” evolved more, the idea of being “friends with benefits” was not one people were fast to change or eliminate. It offered an alternative to commitment and having the responsibility of a relationship you were not ready for. Popular culture perpetuated this idea with songs such as “Often” by the singer/songwriter The Weekend, to movies with the same message such as “No Strings Attached” or “Friends with Benefits.” But the movies and songs are only the beginning – being just friends outside of sexual activity has become an everyday reality for some people. Unfortunately, the idea of of zero commitment, being free to come and go as you please, see other people, and no responsibility in a relationship is appealing; until it is not. When reality sets in and you find yourself checking updates on social media accounts, arguing over “Why everytime I see you, you’re hugging a new chick,” or even trying to keep that person off your mind throughout the day, you’ll realize that being friends with benefits is more than you bargained for.
A concept that seemed so simple in the beginning can create feelings of confusion or send you into an unexpected frenzy over someone that you were not even supposed to care about like that. Then, you are forced to reevaluate a situation you put yourself in. There is an expectation that the female will become the one who is attached, overly emotional, and controlling. In more instances than not, the male takes on the role of the controlling, manipulative maniac because he has now woken up a part of his emotions that he expected to remain dormant. No matter if it is the male or female who becomes emotionally attached to the other person, the damage is done and someone is left feeling empty and unfulfilled in a situation that was expected to make life easier. Growing up, everyone sees the dynamic of relationships/dealings with another person differently. Some see it as more simple, while others see it as complex. Sex is thought to be a major factor in a relationship and it has the power to make or break the relationship for some individuals. There is no rule book that prevents one from indulging in sexual intercourse with someone who you are not committed to, but it does raise some concerns and issues. The questions that begin to surface are “Am I the only one?” “Am I catching feelings or forging ties to this person?” or “Am I being jealous?” The natural closeness you experience with the individual leads to feelings and worries that prior to this sexual exchange you did not feel. No one enters into the situation hoping they fall for the person they are only supposed to be in a strictly sexual relationship with. The exchange of vulnerability and comfort causes one to feel safe and whole in their presence. Do not get me wrong, some people have mastered the idea of keeping business, business and pleasure strictly pleasure, but in actuality, it is something that is complex beyond comprehension. What I will say is never allow your current lustful desires and attractions, become the deciding factor for how you will move forward. When something no longer fulfills its purpose in your life, it is time to walk away. No relationship, whether is “friends with benefits” or a full blown relationship should leave you feeling empty. If this becomes the reality, it is time to reassess the relationship and make different choices. At the end of the day, choose wisely.