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In Living Commentary

If you have an understanding with someone that you can count on for a piece on any given Friday night, it takes some of the sting out of being alone.

The grey area of "friends with benefits"


I was listening to the radio recently and the DJs were discussing the ever-scrutinized topic of "friends with benefits."

If you're unfamiliar with the term, friends with benefits is when two people come to an agreement, either spoken or silent, that they will be bed buddies, but nothing more. In other words, sleeping together, but not relationship bound.

Anyway, the female half of the duo said that women are more likely to get emotionally attached, even in a 'friends with benefits' deal and have the whole thing blow up in her face because we (women) cannot separate sex and emotion, period.

So not true. Yes, women tend to be more emotional when it comes to sex, but here's the kicker: what we're emotional about is the attachment to the other person. If we don't have any romantic feelings for someone we're sleeping with, then it's perfectly legitimate to get what we need and go home. A 4 a.m. booty call doesn't say, 'I love you,' it says, "I'm drunk and I need some action."

If you have an understanding with someone that you can count on for a piece on any given Friday night, it takes some of the sting out of being alone.

Plus, as always, there is a double standard. Guys aren't called sluts when they get busy with girls just for the sake of getting off, but women are. We have to choose between being a 'Samantha' or a 'Charlotte' and we don't always want to 'bake' ourselves into either one of those cookie cutter stereotypes. Plenty of women have plenty of fun just fooling around with guys they have no interest in outside of the bedroom.

If you're single, just out of a bad or long relationship, career focused and not up for love at the moment, a friends with benefits situation can be a perfect, temporary fix while you concentrate on other things. The key is to go in with your eyes open. The problem with friends with benefits is that typically one or the other person believes or wants it to be more. For a while they can bury their feelings but, whether male or female, someone usually gets hurt.

If the chick that you know has had a crush on you since college offers up a friends with benefits deal, feel free to enjoy while it lasts, because it won't last long. If you know someone already has feelings for you stronger than friendship, they cannot possibly keep up the charade. So don't be shocked when she starts leaving her jammies at your place or waking up early to make you breakfast. She wants way more than just a romp and you knew it going in.

Ladies, same holds true for you. If the guy you think is totally clear on the 'just having fun' idea gets you a gift for Valentine's Day that isn't either really slutty lingerie or a box of prophylactics then you need to nip this in the bud. He's head over heels for you.

The entire concept is based on the fact that you're using each other for one very specific purpose. When that equilibrium gets knocked out of whack, due to emotions, you've reached the end of the road.

And don't confuse ownership with jealousy. If your 'F-buddy' gets pissed when he or she sees you going home with someone else, don't assume it's because they have deep-seated love for you. When you have something that's working out well -- say the guy at Starbucks that makes your latte exactly the way you like it or the girl behind the Clinique counter who always gives you a handful of free samples -- you're going to be pissed when they leave your life and screw up your perfect world. If your F-buddy gets ticked, it's not necessarily because he or she saw a future with you, it's because whatever you had was working well and now it's gone.

Again, when both sides know what they are getting into, it's more likely that you'll both get what you want. An ex is not a good choice for a friend with benefits, neither is someone you work with, neither is a 'serial relationshipper,' but if you can find someone, who, for the time being, has similar needs and wants, it can work for a while.

In my experience and in the experience of those I spoke to about this, friends with benefits is something that works out well only for a few and only for short periods of time. In the end we all want something more or something different. Or we do indeed develop deeper feelings for our bed buddy. Maybe as in some cheesy romantic comedy you'll both realize after a long emotional run that you do indeed love each other and were meant to be together. However, if that nice little packaged dream doesn't work out, like with any business deal gone awry, pick up the pieces and get out before the two of you cannot stand to look at one another. If you're lucky, perhaps you'll salvage a friendship out of this benefits package.

Talkbacks

hidefsteve | April 4, 2010 at 12:36 a.m. (report)

I thought it was a good artical and i enjoy this author, just wonder why there are not more from her. She is right on every comment, i've had lots of FWBs!

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notsadanymore | April 3, 2010 at 4:46 p.m. (report)

On Milwaukee does its best when it sticks to articles about topics that deal specifically and uniquely to Milwaukee. These sex/relationships columns are like a weak version of Cosmo Magazine or something one would read in the UWM Post. On Milwaukee has so much potential, but it just seems to be content with mediocrity.

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timmybeam2010 | April 3, 2010 at 3:47 p.m. (report)

The FWB relationship can be complicated, but what relationship isn't? I think the double standard for women is disappearing though. I also think that there can be more than sex to it, since the "friends" part is half the equation. Sometimes two people both don't want the commitment, but they need the sex.

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jakkalope | April 3, 2010 at 11:14 a.m. (report)

Another useless article on a terribly redesigned website. Cya onmilwaukee.

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