We’ve all been there: You meet someone where the chemistry is so on point that you can’t seem to resist getting into the tangled web that is friends with benefits. You know s/he’s wrong for you and you both know that a relationship is not going to be your happy ending. In fact, you may kill each other before that happens. Still, you can’t help texting them after a few glasses of wine at midnight every weekend … and you certainly haven’t been able to stop yourself from responding to their late night booty calls.
There have been many times in my life where my friends with benefits actually helped me through some serious droughts and dark times. Back when I was desperately, and I really mean desperately, looking for a job and found myself on the outs with my gal pals, the only messages that came to my phone were from potential employers giving me the “Sorry, you aren’t a good fit at this time” blues. In 2012, the only texts I looked forward to were from my trusty fuck buddy, who sent enticing compliments and even thoughtful “How was your interview?” check-ins. Of course, the real thrill was the racy sexting that occurred throughout my job hunt.
To be fair, he wasn’t always my fuck buddy. We had dated and learned that the only thing that turned us crazier than two people who just ate bath salts for the first time was actually being in a relationship together. Still, the friendship became solid and the sex was absolutely addicting. In fact, those two factors made it very easy to trick myself into thinking we were in a real relationship.
Here’s what I know about myself: When I am down on my luck, i.e unemployed or suffering from a bad breakup, I am totally delusional. This is exactly why having a stand-by friends with benefits had always worked out for me. In fact, having a consistent, no-strings-attached sex partner has saved me from making some hideous commitments with the Mr. Wrongs I would meet during that time.
So, it was surprising to me that my last friend with benefits seemed to last soooo long and be filled with ups and downs. In the past, we would go to shows or meet up at a bar and catch up and what better way to end a great evening with a friend than having sex with them? After a few years of sleeping with my ex, I had convinced myself that I was actually happier having a fuck buddy arrangement than being in a relationship. I often find solace in casual relationships, I enjoy not disappointing people or having them disappoint me, annnnnnnd I didn’t acknowledge that I was secretly hoping that, eventually, we would be in this arrangement for the rest of our lives. I mean, that’s the dream for anyone who really loves being alone isn’t it? We see each other once a week, we laugh, we talk, we fuck and then we go about our lives. Forever.
Yeah so, turns out that may have been what I wanted and THOUGHT he wanted, but then the inevitable happened. He got a girlfriend and he lied about it. Here’s what I LOVE about the casual arrangement of friends with benefits: There is NO reason to lie. The amount of hurt it brought to me was unexpected, because I thought I had everything under control. The truth is, in my opinion, after five years, a casual fling is no longer casual: You are in a relationship no matter how noncommittal it may seem. I learned that the hard way.
Still, the experience didn’t completely turn me off from casual flings. It just made me look closer at the signs for when it’s time to move on and preserve a friendship — if there was one to begin with.
1. The Sex is Too Good: Personally, really good sex with someone who is supposed to be just a friend is very dangerous territory for me. I certainly don’t think that all women fall in love after an orgasm even though there is some shady evidence on the internet that alludes to that. For me, I know that really good sex can be so addicting that I start to imagine our chemistry outside the bedroom. There was a man in my past I actually had to cut myself off from — his number had to be deleted and any evidence of him existing in my life at one point needed to be erased for my own emotional sanity. If you’ve been in this place before, be careful if your new friend with benefits starts to drift into your daydreams.
2. They Can Reach You, But You Can Never Reach Them: This is something I’ve been through and almost every friend I have has been in a similar situation: When you are in the mood for some drinks and sex and your texts or phone calls go completely unreturned until your “friend” decides that s/he needs a quick romp. In my experience, the only way you can have a successful casual arrangement is if the power is equal. Chances are, if you are always the one reaching out for hot sex, you are starting to feel a little resentful and annoyed … yet you can’t stop hitting him up. This is a perfect example of when it’s time to move on and find yourself a new shorty that can at least text back “raincheck” or any other response that doesn’t make you feel like you’re always doing the chasing.
3. They Have a Girlfriend/Boyfriend: When my casual fling got in a serious relationship I was devastated. I did not want to find a new fling and wasn’t ready to commit to the demands of a relationship, and honestly, I had perused the field and really wasn’t interested in what was on the market at that time even for a casual affair. Although I couldn’t imagine feeling that level of comfort with another man at the time, what was even more unimaginable was continuing to sleep with him while he had committed to another woman. Having been a victim of the cheating game myself, I had a major reservations about being the other woman. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t heavily consider it, but in the end my pride won: I’m no one’s side dish.
4. They Don’t Let You Stay the Night: One of my friends — who I consider one of the most beautiful and talented artists I know — once phoned me at 2 a.m. looking for a place to crash instead of taking the long trip home to New Jersey. Of course, since I never want to trek to Jersey in the day let alone at two in the morning, I welcomed her visit. When she arrived, she told me her new booty call didn’t want her to stay the night because she didn’t want any attachment. I’m all about establishing boundaries — in fact, I have chosen to take a short cab ride home in order to avoid the morning walk of shame, my afro all types of knotted from sleeping on someone’s cheap cotton sheets — but I always appreciate the offer to stay over. Honestly, there is just something slightly sleazy about asking your sex partner to leave immediately after you’ve exchanged fluids and kisses. Fuck buddies still deserve respect, dammit.
5. You’re on a Different Page (They Like You Too Much or Vice Versa): In my early twenties, I started sleeping with one of my friends that clearly had strong feelings for me. At the age of 22, I thought it was sweet and I desperately wanted someone to love me — I just didn’t want that person to be him. So after we had our fun, I would sometimes yawn and move to the couch to have a pleasant sleep alone, leaving him staring at the ceiling, wondering what he had done wrong. To put it frankly, I was a huge C U Next Tuesday. Eventually, what was once a strong friendship morphed into deep-seated resentment towards one another. I definitely learned my lesson the hard way, but that experience has given me the foresight to not get casually involved with someone if one of us is feeling more serious than the other.
6. The Trust Has Been Broken: Here’s the thing about casual relationships: They are supposed to be EASY. There should be no tears, no shouting, and certainly no mistrust because the expectations are clear. For me, my expectations are:
- Protection is always used.
- We always enjoy ourselves.
- We tell each other if we start getting serious with someone else.
- We never, ever sleep with each other’s friends.
These are, of course, my personal expectations with any friend that has extra benefits and I think they are pretty low. Set your boundaries or expectations immediately and make sure that you are both comfortable with them, because once that small level of trust required to keep a casual fling is broken? Chances are your friendship will be too.
7. They Make You Feel Terrible About Yourself: Real talk: If you have entered into a casual affair with no commitment you should get some level of satisfaction out of it. Whether you are looking to fill the sexual void in your life or if you are simply looking to explore certain sexual interests with someone you trust, it shouldn’t bring shame or any feelings of self-loathing. A casual fling is not for everyone and there may come a time where you suddenly don’t feel great about the situation anymore. My advice, without a degree in any form of psychology, is get out of this arrangement fast. If things are going on sexually that you are not comfortable with, say something and if it still doesn’t change? Peace the eff out because no matter who you are, you don’t deserve to feel disrespected or shame in the morning.
Original by: Kristin Collins Jackson