Single File: Friendship With Benefits
DEAR SUSAN: There's something between casual sex and sex between committed partners. I don't know what to call it, but I do know it exists. I read that the French have a term for it: "less than lovers, more than friends." It's certainly possible for two people who care about each other as friends to have a sexual relationship. Neither partner is expecting or hoping for more from the relationship; they accept it for what it is. It's far better when one is feeling lonely (or in need of affection or physical satisfaction) to connect with someone you know and are fond of (as a friend) than to seek satisfaction from a stranger.
DEAR BLOGGER: Yes, there is a middle ground in our American singleworld, a relationship that falls somewhere between committed love partners and casualty sex. In our youthful exuberance, we gave it the term "friendship with benefits." Sounded good -- like something that seems to fill a need in single life. So I tentatively bought into the new French import -- until female casualties began to share tales of exploitation. And as time passed, I realized that the American singleworld is contorting F with B, using the term to cover sexual exploitation. The term certainly doesn't apply to every platonic friendship but is misused often enough to merit serious deliberation when considering adding sexuality to an already warm and close friendship. One more time, as a cautionary tale: In our American singleworld, "friendship with benefits" has at times been cruelly exploited for the purpose of enjoying pleasure without assuming responsibility. Think about it.
DEAR SUSAN: Some time ago, you gave us some questions that really got to me. They were questions to ask ourselves about the person we love -- or thought we do. Please give them to us again.
DEAR BLOGGER: With your pencil poised, please write down the questions you ask for -- key and important as they are -- at a time when libido is in full control and sensible thinking /rationality are relegated to an also-ran position. Here goes, smart lady:
-- Can I be myself with this person? (This is a killer. Sometimes you don't have to go any further.)
-- Do we see the future pretty much the same way, with similar goals?
-- How will I feel when sex loses its initial excitement?
-- How sure am I that this is the person I want to be with the rest of my life?
-- How do I feel about living together to test our compatibility?
-- Do I truly like this person as well as love them?
-- Is this person grounded, centered, solid?
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