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.
It was while planning this vacation that it hit me: The two longest relationships of my life have both been with men who I was never officially dating. Boyfriends and girlfriends have come and gone, but my friends with benefits have stood the test of time.
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I mean, eight years. 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? People are skeptical of fuck buddies. Or at least, without getting super-jealous and Fatal Attraction —esque?
But why do things have to be so black and white?
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Why destroy it with a relationship? It was the best.
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. After all, disappointment comes from expectation.
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Over time, Malcolm and I became really close. It felt like we had entered this secretive bubble of transparency—we were emotionally intimate, yet free of the burden of jealousy and ownership. I told Malcolm about my relationships, my fantasies, my heartbreak.
Sometimes it feels like we are more honest with our friends with benefits than we are with our partners. I was curious to know if Malcolm felt the same way I did about all of this, so last week for strictly journalistic purposesI paid him a visit. But if you behave like that within a conventional relationship, it causes problems.
And you can be playful. But if you change that dynamic into being a real relationship, then those games might not seem so sexy anymore.
Like, who do you want to bring to the sex party—your boyfriend or your fuck buddy? Like once I let Malcolm tie me to a dresser while I watched him have sex with my best friend. One of the most masterful fuck friends I know is my friend Casey, a year-old Ph. It started when she was 13, with a boy whose family spent every summer in the same beach town as she did.
Cute alert. 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.
But why is that? I wish I knew, so I could bottle it and never be possessive ever again.
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And, unfortunately, not only do you lose the benefits, but you sometimes lose the friend, too. But subscribing to that belief ignores the fact that romantic friendships can be extremely fulfilling, enlightening, and straight-up fun.
But both dynamics are valuable in their own right. And perhaps the reason romantic friendships are often so sustainable is they lack the soul-baring vulnerability and intense emotional investment.
Maybe the coolest thing about the fuck-buddy economy is that it allows women to actually enjoy sex in a casual way, without having to enter an old-fashioned ownership contract. It celebrates female sexual autonomy.