Do you believe that "friends with benefits" is purely no-strings sex? Do you consider it a phase that some women go through when they're young, purposely avoiding a committed relationship?
Some of us believe that friends with benefits can be mutually enjoyable and perfectly suited to our needs -- not just when we're very young, and not as a matter of explicitly avoiding commitment.
In fact, it seems to me that friends with benefits gets a bad rap, as if women aren’t supposed to feel desire (in general) or lust (in particular) -- especially once they become mothers, or if they're "of a certain age."
Many of the women I know have had a friend with benefits at some point, and in my book, there’s no better time than in the transitional months or years that may follow your divorce.
Here are the top five benefits of having a friend with benefits.
1. You have a friend -- and friendship matters.
Let’s start with the first word in that phrase. Friend!
Whether it's been five months or five years since your breakup or last relationship, don’t we all need a friend, especially if we’re going through tremendous change? Don’t we need someone we can trust, confide in, escape with, laugh with? Someone we can play with? Don’t most heterosexual women enjoy the chemistry that floats in the air when exchanging banter with a friend of the opposite sex?
A friend with benefits is someone you're attracted to, generally someone you like, and someone you enjoy having sex with. He may have started out as a friend and the magic isn't there, but you have a great time together -- especially in bed.
2. Sex has its perks.
Now let’s talk about the benefits of those “benefits” -- as if you don't already know.
Who doesn't feel glorious when the sex between you and your partner is fantastic?
When we’re putting the pieces back together after a divorce, isn’t discovery of our newly single sexual self part of the process? Don’t we want to enjoy the flirtation, the fantasy, the sensation and the sense of well-being that comes from sexual foreplay and sex itself? Who doesn't love the jolt of energy, the boost to mood, the sparkle of feeling fully alive that comes from great sex?
And don’t we feel reassured when we re-engage with our sexual selves after divorce or a tough breakup?
3. You can (and should!) practice safe sex.
In my opinion, especially as a mother, if you’re looking for sex but not in a position to pursue something more, whatever exploration you undertake, you owe it to your kids (and of course yourself) to do it safely. And remember -- a friend with benefits is not a one-night stand and he is not a stranger. He is a partner -- of a specific sort.
And while we’re on the safe sex subject –- friend with benefits or not –- don’t forget the condoms, do protect your privacy, and don't make your ex the "friend" with benefits!
4. It's a good way to experiment.
Some women hesitate to give voice to their sexual fantasies. It's a matter of how we're socialized, and more's the pity.
One of the advantages of a friend with benefits is freedom from overly romantic attachments. In other words, try out something new! For some women, there's less worry about what a friend with benefits may think as compared to someone we view as a potential life partner. That may mean greater freedom to discuss our fantasies -- or entertain them.
So why not experiment with your special friend, if the thought appeals to you?
In the years after divorce -– whether we have chosen it or not -– freedom comes with benefits of its own.
I believe we owe it to ourselves to take the time to heal, to discover how we may have evolved both during and after marriage, and to explore possible partners with whom we might want to enjoy a relationship.
Some may view a friend with benefits as "no strings attached" sex. Others may view it as great sex with enough emotional connection to feel at ease, without transforming the relationship into something that it isn't. If it no longer suits you after a few months? Move on. But do remember that exclusivity is not necessarily part of the arrangement. You have your freedom, and he has his.
Who shouldn’t pursue friends with benefits?
Since friends with benefits are not necessarily exclusive, that means recognizing that he may fall for someone else, or you may. In that case, it's “ciao” to the benefits.
Beyond the exclusivity issue, friends with benefits is not a relationship configuration that can work for everyone.
- Do you tend to be jealous?
- Do you always associate sex with love?
- Do you fall head over heels for good sexual partners?
- Does he have romantic feelings for you, whether you reciprocate or not?
If any of the above is true, steer clear of this form of sexual recreation.
I admit that I was a fan of the friends with benefits model from an early age. I love being in love, but that sort of attachment doesn't come around every day. Friends with benefits -- in my life -- was just right, several times.
There are additional advantages; you may no longer be seeking a permanent partner. You may be content with your family status as is, but remain interested in enjoying a sex life. And for the busy single mom who is raising children, holding down a job, and doing the work of reinvention -- whether the transition after divorce lasts six months or six years –- a friend with benefits can be comfortable, satisfying, and fun.
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