I was involved in a very toxic, controlling and jealousy-fueled relationship a few years back which was why, upon breaking off from it, I swore to myself that I will never ever commit into another relationship until I truly found The One.
After all, I'll be the one to admit—the college dating scene sucks. Every time I convince myself to try going out more and to start dating again, I end up instead going on one god-awful first date after another, relying on friends to set me up with guys, and being stampeded by that anxiety-inducing responsibility of having to text, call and snapchat a boy around the clock just to convince him that I'm into him.
I never actually considered having casual relationships or god forbid—even a friends with benefits situation with any guy I met. Maybe it's just my conservative upbringing in which my parents constantly drilled it into my head that I definitely shouldn't go around messing around with a different guy each week. Or maybe it was my reluctance to give it up to some random guy I just met and consequently come off as “easy."
But then this guy came along. And he completely transformed me, and how I viewed casual relationships.
Let's just call him "John."
But John is someone who I hit it off with from the moment we met and he's probably the only guy I've met who I had a physical attraction to, but not an emotional attraction to.
I have to admit that although he portrays this “bad boy" persona on the exterior, he does truly have a kind soul on the inside which I'm usually able to see right through. But this “bad boy" image is probably why I wouldn't consider dating him in a serious relationship. I mean, because if I brought a guy like him home, my dad would most likely flip shit and my mom would throw a plant at him.
On top of that, our interests and career paths are so different from each other that it's hard to find things to relate to or build mutual respect for each other. He's graduating in a few months, heading off to grad school or perhaps even starting a entry level corporate job, and I don't ever see myself trying to commit to someone like that when I'm still stuck in school with a gazillion responsibilities to keep track of.
But well I'll put it this way—we were extremely attracted to each other, and one thing led to another and we hooked up. And as we sat next to each other talking unanimously for probably an hour after doing the deed, we both decided that we weren't looking for a relationship but that we definitely didn't want this to be some kind of one-night stand.
So we decided to be friends with benefits.
Now, I think the reason why friends with benefits is so looked down upon in our generation is that it defines everything that's wrong with dating culture today. It takes away the conventional method of wooing someone, going on a few dates and then using intimacy as a way to express your love for one another. And also, many people don't like it because it's easy to catch feelings for someone, and that's it's nearly impossible for it to actually work out.
But contrary to popular belief, it actually works.
But here's the catch: friends with benefits is NOT a balancing act of being friends and being sex partners. Rather, you have to be willing to give up one side of the equation in order to successfully obtain the other.
And in the case between me and John, we gave up trying to be “friends" in order to maintain the “benefits" and as a result, it works out perfectly.
The beauty of being "friends with benefits" is that if you find someone you trust, you can have that intimacy, without any expectations or jealousy. And if you stop considering them to be your “friend," then you don't constantly have to think about them or try to make time to see them and you don't even need to freak out if you haven't heard from them for a few days.
But when you do get to see them and get to hang out, it's just this beautiful time you both can savor and really be in the moment without having to express all your emotional thoughts and feelings. Everything is stress-free between me and John, because of the lack of expectation of trying to either make this into an intimate relationship or trying to still be “friends" on top of it.
So here's my main piece of advice to anyone who wants friends with benefits without catching feelings: do not start texting each other all the time or try seeing each other too much. Because if you do, that's when you start catching feelings and try developing something more in the relationship.
If I had the choice, I probably wouldn't have followed John on Instagram (and I encourage you not to), just so I don't ever have to have that thought of whether he was watching my Insta Story or not, or who that girl was in his picture.
My other advice is to take try to take the notion of "friends" out of the equation. As mentioned above, I feel as if most of the time when "friends with benefits" doesn't work out, it's because you both are trying so hard to keep up the "friends" part of it that it begins to blur the lines together, which leads to confusion and heartbreak.
And if you find yourself still wanting to be his "friend" after enjoying the "benefits", I would recommend you to STOP what you're doing and have a conversation with him ASAP.
Be honest, be upfront and don't impose.