Friday, September 19, 2008

The Benefits of 'Friends With Benefits'

Yesterday, I read an article on Alternet, Are There Any Real Benefits to 'Friends with Benefits'?, which took the view:

Having 'friends with benefits' can be fun. But it can also destroy friendships and stand in the way of real relationships.

As one who has spent much of his adult life engaging in concurrent "friends with benefits" relationships, I had to comment to disagree. Interestingly enough, most of the comments took a similar viewpoint to my own. My comment follow below:

I am a non-monogamous heterosexual male. I prefer novelty and variety in my sex life. I'm not interested in a daily, domestic committed relationship, as I prefer my independence and privacy. I do not wish my sex life to consist only of random hookups, though these have their place on occasion. For my life, friends with benefits relationships work well. Currently, I have several friends with benefits relationships going on, which has worked for me in the 30+ years I've been sexually active.

There are a lot of women who, for whatever reasons, don't want a serious relationship at various points in their lives, but they still have sexual needs they want fulfilled. These are the kinds of women whom I typically choose for my partners. There's lots of great sex with no strings attached on both sides. The cast of characters continues to shift over the years, but that just goes with the territory.

And that's what it's all about. People still have sexual needs even if they don't have the time or inclination to pursue a full-blown relationship, monogamous or not.

The author of this article compares FWB relationships to "real" relationships. As far as I'm concerned my relationships are "real"; they're just not traditional. My relationships are non-traditional, but they're no less "real" than those that end in marriage or long-term commitments. I don't measure the quality of my relationships by how long they last; I don't see my relationships as endurance contests. If the sex was good for both of us in the time it lasted, then it was a success.

She also said, "The cornerstone of friendship is open communication, and becoming a friend with benefits actually shuts down those open lines. Let's face it, if the only thing you're doing together is having sex, it isn't the same thing as sharing who you are."

In response to this, I'm quite honest with the women I have FWBs with -- I make the nature of the relationship quite clear with each woman at the very beginning. We're not getting together to "share who we are" any more than two people who get together once a week to go bowling, play bridge, watch sports on TV, or whatever, get together to "share who they are". We all have casual acquaintances with whom we get together for sole or limited purposes and no one laments the lack of "soul sharing" in these relationships. So, why not sex, too, between two sexually compatible people who are just looking for great sex?

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