“friends with benefits”
These terms have become all too familiar in today’s dating world. Are they words that you can relate to? Have you lived them in some way? If so, how have you felt about the experience(s) both during and after? Chances are that you have mixed feelings at best. Depending on your age and sex, you may give a somewhat different response to this question. Whatever your answer, a close look at this “dating experience” that impacts so many singles in so many ways may be useful to you as you think about what your long-term relationship goals are and what you REALLY want from a relationship.
So what exactly do these terms mean?
“Hooking up” is getting together for sex. There is generally no formal “date” involved.
“Friends with benefits” usually refers to two people who are “friends” who also have sex together. Again, there’s a distinction between what they share and “dating.”
“Booty call” usually describes the act of a man (woman) calling up another person to come over for sex. The sex doesn’t follow dinner, a movie or other “quality” time together, getting to really know each other. It’s physical.
Do you define this activity (even loosely) as dating? Has this become a new intimacy for some or many of you? If so, it’s important to look at how/if it meets your needs and if it aligns with your basic values and relationship wants and goals.
Begin by asking yourself some core questions, such as:
- Am I comfortable with intimacy?
- Am I comfortable with a purely physical relationship?
- Am I able to be physically involved with someone while remaining emotionally detached?
- How do I feel about myself when I engage in this behavior?
- Am I doing this to please someone or win his or her affection?
- Is monogamy and marriage my goal?
If your answers reflect discordance between how you feel and what you do, it would be helpful to understand the reasons behind your behavior. Do any of these sound familiar?
- “It’s convenient”
- “It’s easy”
- “It’s safe”
- “It requires no commitment on my part”
In addition to these explanations, some singles express a belief that “everyone does it” or “it’s expected.” Therefore, they often report engaging in it, but not feeling really ok or satisfied afterwards. Others use it as a substitute for real intimacy, referencing their difficulties in meeting and dating in general.
Then there are the people who have sex hoping it will lead to love. This too is a desire for intimacy that can lead to sadness and disappointment and the possibility of contacting a dangerous and life-altering infection. It reminds me of the line in a song, “if I can love you good enough on the outside to make you feel it on the inside, then maybe you will stay…”
Once you have determined what you really want from a relationship you can begin to make clear, thought out choices that will open the path that points in the direction you wish to go. Until you do so, you face the possibility of more disappointing and short-lived encounters that leave you feeling more alone and less hopeful about the possibility for lasting happy love.
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