I have no idea who coined the phrase, but it’s one that I’ve never felt really fit: friends with benefits. Of course I know what it means. It’s been bandied about a lot in the past ten years or so, yet I’m curious who the people are who honestly believe that having sex with friends is supposedly advantageous. I have always been of the opinion that sex complicates things that used to be easy, which is no benefit, no benefit at all.
True friends are hard to find, and even harder to keep, at least for most of us. Friendship is a complex construct that forges a connection between individuals who may be as distinctive from each other as snowflakes. And it can be quite tenuous as well, with the smallest differences driving a wedge between people. But the one thing that a friendship should give you is a sense of community, that acceptance that few things can give. So why jeopardize something that is so delicate and worthy of protection at all costs?
Some people think “friends with benefits” will work for them because they conveniently forget about the emotional connection that comes along with sexual interactions, and that connection happens just as much for men as it does for women. Men are just traditionally more adept at hiding that emotional connection. Those emotions, though, whether hidden or not, still dance around inside their heads and confuse what used to be a great friendship.
So, what about those people who have been married for 30 years and they tell you the secret to their longevity is that they were friends first? In fact, more often now than years gone by we hear more and more of those stories about friendship blossoming into romance. There’s an easy answer to that, as well. The emotional connection went both ways, and they both decided they didn’t want to be “just friends” anymore. And yes, we may hear about it more (it’s the information age, after all), but it’s still a rare occurrence.
The key to maintaining quality friendships is to remember what makes your friendship work in the first place and nurture that, not look for ways to further “benefit” from the relationship that really does more to ruin it than anything else. “Friends with benefits” simply does not work, not for any real length of time, because we are constantly looking for the real deal, and all it does is cloud our judgment and sully the friendship.