The Nondating Life

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Part Eight: Friends with Benefits

(Previous post)

"You shouldn't fuck your friends, literally or figuratively."

That's taken from an email sent to me by a friend of mine a while back. Poor sumbitch had gotten tangled up in one of my dramatic episodes and, rightly so, had had it up to here (imagine hand being held at eye-height). Oddly enough, I hadn't ever, EVER, fucked this particular friend, but that's irrelevant.

What is relevant is that I have to disagree with my friend-with the literal part of that statement at any rate.

Now, I'm in now way advocating that everyone run out and start having wild monkey sex with your friends. In a perfect world, we could do this without wholesale emotional damage, inadvertent pregnancies and the clap. Then again, in a perfect world, drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels in a night would leave one full of vim and vigor the next morning-and enhance liver and brain functions. In a perfect world, pork would be a health food and watermelon would have more vitamins than spinach. In a perfect world, Michael Moore would be flipping burgers at the Flint McDonald's and getting his ass kicked on the walk back to his dirty little efficiency apartment on the wrong side of the tracks.

But it's not a perfect world. This, we know.

And engaging in monkey business with friends is not something to rush into. You have to be able to do two things to engage in this behavior.

Rule 1 You have to be able to lay everything down on the line before hand. "Hi. You are my friend. I think you are attractive but I do not want to date you. I do, however, think that since we are both horny at the moment, have no better options and are drunk, we should roll around in the sack. It goes without saying, of course, that a) we shall not freak out due to guilt and shame in the morning and b) this does not imply a dating situation should ensue."

Rule 2 You BOTH have to have an almost-superhuman ability to completely ignore the quite obvious warning signs that one or both of you have violated aforementioned sections a and b of Rule 1.
I'm pretty good at the first requirement. And over the years, I've become REALLY good at the second one. Then again, I'm a man, so keeping up a wall of noncommunication in the face of awkwardness, hoping a problem will take care of itself eventually ... that just comes second nature to me.

Some people claim that in order to meet the above requirements, you need two people of amazing emotional maturity, two people who realize that sex is just sex and a good time can be had by all as long as certain emotions are checked at the door. Others would claim that you need people of amazing moral depravity. Still others would say two such people would have to be equally numb to normal human emotion after years of abuse at the hands of other people.

Of those options, what do I believe?

Depends on my mood. And it goes without saying that alcohol would be involved.

Whatever the reasons, I seem to have become somewhat adept at pulling off this sort of behavior, seeing as how a handful of women friends of mine have, over time, given me the honor and, more important, didn't or don't want to kill me. This seems to baffle both genders. Women wonder how this was pulled off without drama of operatic magnitude. Guys want to know why the hell I'd want to stay friends with a woman after getting what I wanted from her. (I kid. I kid. Mostly.)

But, if, for whatever reasons, you find yourself with a friend (or friends) capable of this behavior, I highly recommend it. It's a hell of a lot better, in my book, than doing your business in a dark, silent room lit only by a computer monitor or with the accompanying buzz of a battery-powered Humongo 5000. Is the slight guilt of sleeping with a friend any worse than the dirty feeling you get from surfing the wonderful world of Hustler (and knowing that you're keeping Larry Flynt in Depends?)

I wish I could offer foolproof advice for how to get yourself ensnared in a friends-with-benefits situation, but the truth of the matter is it's harder than it looks and not as satisfactory as it would seem. The difficulty comes about because ego and paranoia will get the better of one or both of you. Someone's going to become convinced that the other one is falling in love. And this ties into the reason such situations aren't that satisfactory: The ultimate truth of the matter is that you're both just making do. Sex is fun and it's good and it's nice. But, let's be honest, even between weekends of getting your friendly freak on-and, yes, enjoying yourself-chances are you're both keeping an eye out for "the one." Sure, the sex could be the best ever. And you both obviously enjoy one another's company and have things in common. But if things are all that AND a bag of chips, you wouldn't be friends with benefits. No. You'd be married.

Friends with benefits certainly isn't my first choice of relationship options. But again, there's only so much can give me in terms of meaningful sexual contact.

But as long as you're both honest about the options and potentially mind-shattering emotional problems, as long as you admit that this is little more than a horizontal holding pattern, hell, enjoy yourselves.

I'd also like to point out that this in no way contradicts my earlier posts about the Friend Zone. The Friend Zone is an entirely different phenomenon, an area in which you are placed in against your will. Should you be in the Friend Zone and the friend in question decides to give you a weekend pass across the Booty Border, you are already in violation of Rule 1 sections a and b. You have no one to blame but yourself when you are faced with irreparable emotional damage when the friend places you right back in the Friend Zone again. I've been offered this poisonous apple before and taken it. Hilarity, it goes without saying, did not ensue. No. What ensued was a bunch of badly written "poetry," all copies of which have hopefully been burned and erased from hard drives.

That's not to say I look kindly upon people who take advantage of others they've placed in the Friend Zone. As Spider-Man says, "With great power, comes great responsibility." Having sex with friends is all well and good (Spidey-suit is optional), but if you're having sex with a friend who is crushing, smitten, infatuated, in love or otherwise obsessed with you, and you have no intention of returning any of that-even if the other person lies and says "Yeah, I'm cool. It's just sex"-you are an evil, evil person and shall burn in hell for all eternity. We all engage in a certain amount of self-delusion when we find an unwanted crush attached to us like a leech. But there are lines that shouldn't be crossed.

In conclusion: sex with friends can be good, as long as you're both mature, honest, drunk ... and incapable of normal human emotion.

(Next post in series)


  • Bravo! I like your post, except for your conclusion. I have lovely, healthy sex with my guy friends, and I'm not subhuman (or whatever you called). We just have a good arrangement, and we stick to it. I hope one day my FBs marry nice, beautiful, intelligent women - just not me.

    By Blogger Saucy Lil' Tart, at 3:04 AM  

  • "That's not to say I look kindly upon people who take advantage of others they've placed in the Friend Zone"

    "if you're having sex with a friend who is ... obsessed with you, and you have no intention of returning any of that ... you are an evil, evil person and shall burn in hell for all eternity"

    I know you're joking somewhat, but like Klosterman said, every relationship is a power struggle. Why shouldn't the one in power take maximum pleasure from the weak one? As long as that powerful one recognizes the consequences of doing so (spite, bad poetry, no more casual sex), s/he can make a proper decision.

    The trick is to always be the powerful one.

    By Anonymous mike, at 4:55 AM  

  • I'm a girl and I've had quite a few fwb/fbs successfully...

    not much alcohol at all involved, and I'm still friends with them years after the fact despite the sexual part of things ending.

    'course, we're all pretty open minded and communicative. If you lay everything out on the table (no pun intended) then you've got a much better chance of things ending up positive.

    By Blogger Liza, at 12:34 PM  

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