I never thought I’d utter this phrase in my life, but I recently decided to give it a chance… I’ve agreed to be friends with benefits with someone. For many people this is not a huge ordeal, but for Dear little Prude here, it’s a big ol’ fiasco.
That’s not to say it’s a conflict of interests for me. My rather “libertine” sexual ethic would shock my mother if she ever found out, so I have no moral/ethical dilemma because I think about it more than I act. Besides, I’m not looking for anything serious right now. So in theory the arrangement is ideal, right?
To my great disadvantage, life is much more complicated than that, because isn’t it always? The truth of the matter is that I’ve got baggage in this situation. My friend, Alex*, undoubtedly has their fair share, too, some of which I know. From my perspective, though, my baggage appears overweight.
Truth be told, in the recent past, I had feelings for Alex; rather strong feelings, in fact. Now, note that I’m speaking in past tense: had. I had feelings for them. Luckily I’m the type who can let go of their feelings about as fast as I can latch on to them. And that works out well for me, as I’m now over Alex. The nagging question remains, though – did I agree to this holding on to some distant and delusional hope that there is some hidden possibility here?
If I’m to be honest with myself, I’m really not sure of the answer to that question; I certainly hope the answer is no, but even after some serious soul-searching I’m still not sure.
So that brings us back to where we started.
“Sweetie, Alex wants to talk to you; they want to ask you out.”
“What?!?” I replied, all the while thinking, it’s about damn time. But seriously, why now? It’s just my luck, though, that they would decide to say this when I’ve finally decided I’m over them.
I spent the day worried. What if they’re just messing with me? What if they’re serious? Unbelievable.
That night, I messaged Alex on Facebook. “I was told you wanted to talk to me.”
“Yeah,” they replied. “Listen, people have told me that you liked me.”
“Why do you ask that?” I asked. Shit, the moment of truth, I thought.
“It’s just, certain aspects of my life have left me rather screwed up. I like to do a lot alone and many women don’t like that. When I get really close to certain female friends, we kiss. And that’s that. It doesn’t mean anything; it’s just for fun. In fact, I’ve wanted to do it with you before but since I sensed you liked me, I didn’t want to play with your emotions. So what do you think?”
I was in shock. What did I think? I thought a lot of stuff, but I wasn’t quite sure how to react yet. So I waited a day.
The next day I messaged them. “The truth is, I did like you, but for reasons not worth explaining now, I don’t any more. I’m not looking for anything serious right now, either. Frankly, I’m of the opinion that what happens happens…let’s do it.”
I still worried about my intentions; what if I still have buried feelings for them, what if the arrangement leaves me wanting more, what if I can’t, in fact, compartmentalize my former feelings from the current arrangement? Even if the case is such, can’t I just have fun and be attentive to my feelings all the while?
Fast forward a week. I get another message: “I’m bored…what are you going to do later?” they asked.
“Nothing,” I replied. “You got any ideas?”
“How about watching a movie?”
“Sure, sounds good”
“I’ll come over later, then.”
Cuddling became making out, which turned into foreplay which, of course, led to the almost inevitable.
“You know this means nothing, right?” Alex said to me before we started.
“Yeah, I know, and I don’t care.”
And they were right; it didn’t mean anything. Mission accomplished, problem solved, and let the games begin.
I think friends with benefits arrangements deserve some attention and thought. With the exception of certain circles, they are rather stigmatized by society; either you’re friends or you’re having sex, and anything in between is probably a bad idea. On the other hand, from my experience, such an arrangement between two consenting adults without emotional attachments is a legitimate possibility. Why not, right?
Things don’t always lead to love and a serious relationship; likewise, things don’t always lead to purely platonic friendships. I wish I didn’t have this slight sense of guilt haunting me, inevitably set on by what my mother might think, but I don’t know if we’ll ever reach a point where it’s really socially acceptable.
For now we ought to talk, at least; we need to talk about different types of relationships and how we can make sure we as a society and especially as the queer community do not shame anyone for whatever decisions they might choose to make.
*Of course, renamed to protect their identity.
Dear Prude is a snarky queer lady who lives in a gigantic, polluted, and landlocked city that she loves with all her heart in spite of its flaws. She spends her days with her head in the clouds and her nose in books and loves to raise holy hell.