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In a few days, I’m going to Cuba on vacation with a guy I’ve been sleeping with for eight years, but whom I've never once called my boyfriend.We live on different continents, but inevitably, a few times a year, we find each other somewhere in the world, have a few days of romance, and then go our separate ways.My anxiety will decrease if I know you want to marry me in six years from now! But my longer romantic friendships have been a safe space.They’ve helped me figure out how to relate to someone romantically without the immediate trigger of, ” In other words, having a fuck buddy is a great exercise in non-possessiveness.“The thought of my boyfriend fucking someone else makes me want to wear his skin like a goddamned wetsuit,” she said, eyes bulging.“Having a friend with benefits is great because it’s just—it’s just less ,” he said, smoking a cigar and dressed in an inexplicable beige silk onesie. It’s not encumbered by obligations, which just lead to resentment.”He then gave me —the one that means he’s about to admit to something despicable and blame it on humanity.“We are all selfish—we all live in this Ayn Rand–ish self-centered world, whether we like it or not,” he said. You can have your sex-power persona, or you can play the super-misogynist pig, or the bimbo, and it’s okay, because you’re not being judged.Sometimes it feels like we are more honest with our friends with benefits than we are with our partners.This paradox always makes me think of that episode when Betty seduced Don at their kid’s summer camp, well after they had both remarried.
And, unfortunately, not only do you lose the benefits, but you sometimes lose the friend, too.When I met him, he was 45 and charmingly grumpy, and he would always tell me: “Sex is so perfect. ” I’d go over to his apartment for a couple hours in the afternoons, we’d have sex (soberly, which meant I could actually cum), and then afterward we’d drink tea and complain about stuff. There were times when we saw each other frequently, and other times when things dropped off for a while, usually because one of us had a partner. It felt like we had entered this secretive bubble of transparency—we were emotionally intimate, yet free of the burden of jealousy and ownership.And sure, when he would get a girlfriend I would be a little bummed out—I’m (unfortunately) not a sociopath—but it didn’t cause me to spiral into an emotional cyclone the way I would have if I’d been cheated on by a boyfriend. We could spill our guts to each other because we didn’t have anything to lose.And he actually knows me better than a lot of my partners ever did.So what is it about the friends with benefits dynamic that is more sustainable, and often more transparent, than an actual relationship? They’re like: How can you have sex with the same person, again and again, without falling in love?