friends with benefits: my ends didn’t justify my means, even though the sex was really good
Recently I was involved in the type of relationship I thought was an urban myth boasted about by high school virgins: I had a friend-with-benefits. A fuck-buddy. A copulation-crony. A cunnilingus-confidant. A screwing-sidekick. A pounding-pal. A boning-bro.
Mine and Harry’s arrangement was weekly. We did post-carnal-cuddle, we did hold hands and share affectionate pecks, but no eskimo kisses. It wasn’t polygamous; it was ok to hook up with other people, but you must respect the other one didn’t want to know of those escapades; and any exterior hook-ups were once-offs, you weren’t allowed a fuck-buddy on top of your friend-with-benefits. These rules were never stated so clearly while we were “together”. They were compiled slowly and sloppily via trailed off comments, drunken phone calls and awkward slip-ups. And all, of course, happened in the confines of the bedroom. We did a good job of acting like friends-without-benefits in public. I honestly believe any onlookers had no reason for suspicion. Except some people did know.
The flurry and excitement around the relationship was short lived, but vicious. I was defensive quickly when friends warned me not to get hurt. Nobody warned me not to hurt Harry, but assumed he was using me for sex and I was too love-sick to realise. If my friends ever stopped to think, they would have seen there was no need to fear. True there are many fictionalised friends-with-benefits where the girl is being used, but in all of these stories, whether the victim is male or female, they end up seeing their evil fuck-buddy for what they are when someone charming and respectful comes along. The alternate cynicism, the one of feelings arising, would have ended with Harry and I in a relationship. All rom-coms end with people in happy relationships! Why were my friends so worried?
The arrangement was much more functional than all my exclusive, romantic relationships. There was never a reason to fight and I never wanted to progress to the next level. The only problem was, I was obsessed with Harry. Really obsessed. I thought about Harry constantly. Any dignity I kept in making sure I wasn’t taken advantage of was not handled aloofly, like it might be by some more physically built boys-boy in a rom-com. If I suggested we catch up two times in a row, I would ignore him until he suggested the next “date”. I went over conversations in my mind and scrutinized texts for hidden wankerishness. It was sort of like the endearing uncertainty at the beginning of a relationship… but less cute and more dirty.
Sometimes I would think about sex with Harry at work and sometimes in lectures. I prided myself on my having seduced a guy who I was attracted to.
I have always thought myself an aspiring person. I am happy and I like my job. I have shit to do. I vow I won’t sacrifice anything career oriented for a relationship, but does the fact that I say this and strive not to suggest I’m fighting an inherent desire to do so? Either way, I sacrifice a lot every day for men simply in how much time I spend thinking about them. Any “big” sacrifice I make is negated by the amount of time I will spend obsessing over the decision. It doesn’t really matter what boy or what type of relationship. I’ll obsess.
These obsessions are obviously detrimental to time management, but I also harbor concerns for our identities, our uniqueness and self-worth if we think of others more than ourselves. Men or women. How would I ever attract another man, or even a new friend, if all I had to offer to a conversation was “Harry’s sheets always smelt like plasticine”. So I did two things: I Googled “Why am I so obsessed with boys?” and I, very frankly, consulted a psychologist.
Wikihow gives you a twelve-step guide to stop obsessing over a guy – great! Unfortunately, the best of the twelve steps is “try not to think about him so much”. Two other steps are “don’t tell your friends” and “tell a mature friend”. So, predictably, I had to face the humiliating task of speaking to a psychologist.
I went to a new doctor. I wanted a blank canvas and I wanted to march in and slap my issue on it. As it was, I rambled a bit and acknowledged it was embarrassing and a first world problem, before mumbling, “I’m obsessed with boys”. We talked specifics of my past relationships and past obsessions and specifically how it’s affecting my life. But the doctor acknowledged how common the problem is and how common it is to women. Honestly, I think she was consciously saying “people” over “women” with most of her examples. She applauded me for recognising the issue and said a lot of people don’t notice losing themselves to the obsession of another. How can you not notice you spent a train ride comparing the different noises he made for each of your recent blow-jobs?
She suggested it’s overhang from 1950’s housewife mentalities. Maybe men are less likely to make big sacrifices for women, but, in my experience, they’re definitely capable of obsession. Do we all obsess over people and are just too proud to admit it?
If Harry and I had ended up in a relationship this would all be endearing in retrospect and I would forget how torturous it was. But even if the obsession leads to a relationship, that doesn’t make it ok. My ends didn’t justify my means, even though the sex was really good.
I ended things with Harry and it was the best “break-up” I’ve ever had. When you’re not officially together you don’t need any justification, there are no arguments to be had. Seriously, I highly recommend it. It’s contradictory for me to say I recommend friends-with-benefits relationships and that ending it was the best thing for my sense of self as I no longer think about cunnilingus in lectures; but all relationship advice, including wikihow’s, is contradictory.