Sunday, February 17, 2008

What's the Difference?

Years before my friend Bee divorced her husband she met a guy named Cary who became her workout buddy.

They spent loads of time together biking, running and otherwise training for races.

At the time, Bee confessed to feeling attracted to Cary but she assured me that they were just friends.

[I done told y'all that jest ain't right!]

It's been about a year since Bee's divorce and when I saw her last week she told me that she and Cary were dating.

"Oh, that's a SHOCKER!" I laughed.

"What do you mean?!" she balked.

"C'mon, Bee. You've always been attracted to him. This was inevitable... just a matter of time."

"I don't know," she said.

She paused.

"He told some of our mutual friends that we're dating and I was surprised that he said so, I mean, there's not much difference between being his friend and dating... if that is what we're doing. We're both seeing other people too."

"Well," I probed, "have you been kissing Cary? That would make it different."

She blushed and so I couldn't resist...

"And...? After all this time? After all the build up? How was it to [cough] kiss Cary."

She laughed.

"It was good," she said. "It's great."

"Well then," I told her "I don't think your current relationship is the same as it was before, not if you're... you know... kissing. You're not just friends. Maybe you're friends with benefits."

"What's the difference between friends with benefits and dating?" she asked.

I thought about it.

"It seems like dating implies that the relationship might be headed somewhere while friends with benefits suggests the existence of a tacit agreement that the relationship specifically ISN'T going anywhere."

Bee and I laughed and moved on to talk about other things.

Later, when I was telling K about my conversation with Bee, he said,

"I've never understood the whole 'friends with benefits' thing. I mean what is it?"

I remained quiet thinking about some slutty, slut bag ho' activity of yesteryear and tried to decide whether or not to answer.

[It's not like I'm the FOREMOST AUTHORITY on 'friends with benefits'.]

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Have you ever had a relationship like that?" he asked.

[Chirp, chirp. Do you hear the birds singing? Hey! Look over there!]

"It doesn't seem real," K said.

"Why not?" I asked.

"Friends with benefits is never
real. It's not true. One person inevitably wants the relationship to somehow progress and that defeats the whole purpose of the arrangement."

Hmmmm.... I've been
wondering if he's right.


Sister Honey Bunch said...

He's right if I'm one of those "friends with benefits". I get too attached.

Sure, it might start out crazy monkey sex, but in the end I would want to be making him breakfast and talking about our plans for the weekend and wondering when I would be invited to his parents for Sunday dinner.

Hmmmm...maybe I'm just a weirdo stalker.

Mrs. Chicken said...

Oh yeah, he is TOTALLY right on this one, sorry.

Shannon said...

You have a very wise husband. He is absolutely correct.

Jan said...

I have nothing to say. I might incriminate myself. Thank you very much.

furiousBall said...

your husband is right. the benefit is only for the person that wants to remain only friends

Fran said...

Oh he is right!

QT said...

yeah, he is right. FWB only lasts until someone wants to be more than friends...not that I would know ANYTHING about that...

LadyBugCrossing said...

Yup... he's right.

Barb said...

The only such relationship I had like this only existed because I knew that he liked me still and I *cough* used that to my advantage when I was lonely. [Hides head in shame}. But it all ended when he fell in love with someone else. So I'd say there's always someone with more tender feelings about it.

Lawyer Mama said...

I think he's right too. At least in my experience that's usually how it goes.

Natalie said...

I think he's right for the most part. I don't think it's true in every single case though.

Rachel said...

Do ex-boyfriends count? Because I've done the FWB thing with exes, and it was fine because we both knew we would never work as a couple.

Lightening said...

Hmmmm friends with benefits is a new concept to me. :) But perhaps that has something to do with me being Australian??? Or maybe I just have lived under a rock for the past 33 years (now that is a possibility).

I did want to stop by (well, jump out of my feedreader) to let you know I find your posts very entertaining and look forward to reading them (even if I am pretty much a lurker). :)

Aliki2006 said...

Yes, I don't know about the FWB either. Reminds me of that Seinfeld episode with Elaine and Jerry...

I think your husband is a wise man, I really do.

motherbumper said...

Ummm from what I remember (and it's been a while) someone would always end up wanting to get past the FWB thing and into more committed stuff and well, it never worked that way. Until I met the one who hasn't left yet.

Omaha Mama said...

I think he's right.
One person always wants something more.

Although...maybe you'll get someone to admit they really were in a successful FWB arrangement???

Oh. The deep, deep conversations you and your hubs have.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

YES! I agree with K! I think that, deep down, one of the 'friends' hopes it'll turn into something more. And, I saw a show on MTV that supports my theory, so it must be true. Cuz, everything on MTV is true, right?

Back when I was a young-un, we didn't call it 'friends with benefits'. We called it 'servicing'. Same act, different name.

painted maypole said...

i think it's possible. i don't think I could do it, though

flutter said...

yep he is totally right.

SUEB0B said...

Sorry people. Y'all are wrong. I have done it and it was FUN! Neither of us wanted it to go any further. It probably helped that we were in college and both graduated and moved away at the end. But we never called each other afterward...we still send Xmas cards 25 years later but that's it.

Debbie said...

I think it can be done. But it's rare.

To be friends with benefits, you both have to be in an identical mind space, with the exact same set of expectations (or unexpectations), and also progress (or not progress) throughout the arrangement/relationship at the exact same rate.**

And how often are two people able to do that?

** Did this make any sense? I should have just said "maybe."
That would have been better.


meno said...

Your K is a romantic.

I love your K.

In the nicest way possible.

Deep Fried Yankee said...

I think it's possible, but I'd be too "why don't you want me and only me you bastard aren't I hot enough?" because well, that's just me.

So, I just get married, divorced...

And then married again.

Seems to work well for me.

Mrs. T said...

FWB is really only good for the perpetually horny. After that, it really kind of sucks, because only one person wants it to remain in its very hazy FWB state, while the other totally wants more.
Not that I know anything about this, or anything.

the mama bird diaries said...

I'm with your husband on this one. He's mr. right.

Angella said...

Back in my single days we called it FTMO.

"Friends That Make Out"

It is never an equal arrangement.

I am so glad that I am happily mrried and don't have to worry about that stuff anymore ;)

Lotta said...

I think K's right. But that doesn't mean it wasn't fun.

girl of a thousand blogs said...

he is right!

liv said...

well, for the jaded divorcees of the world there may be some disagreement with K. granted, i believe firmly in something that is sometimes referred to as "being rendered stupid by the cock," but FWB?? totally. it's all about managing expectations.

(how ya like me now??)

(not at all, i'm guessing.)

Kelley said...

What a perceptive husband you have there.

Mine would be unable to get past the 'sex without having to buy stuff' and his head would explode.

ewe are here said...

I'd like to say he's wrong, but I suspect he's right....

Theresa said...

Your husband is 100% right on this one. I've seen many women who guard themselves against casual sex for moral reasons get persuaded into FWB relationships and allow it to destroy them spiritually and emotionally.

Shannon said...

K is right. I saw it on MTV once.

Frank.Sugar&Spice said...

Another term is a "fuck buddy". I don´t know... I have had those relationships in the past and they have worked.

I could so totally see how they would change if either of the two start to change. People do change, it´s how we are. The FWB thing worked with women that I did not see on a very frequent basis and they either had a boyfriend or were happily being single.

It was so long ago it seems like another life. And yes, one of them was with someone from our High School and it spanned many years.

Paige said...

Let me take this opportunity to echo the chorus of "K is totally right."

WILLIAM said...

Back in my day a friend with benefits meant they had good health insurance.

He's right. My friends and I used to call it the "Theory of the One".

Anytime a situation comes up like that (friends hooking up or with benefits or what have you) ONE person in the arrangemnet wants it to be something more. And that ONE ususally RUINS the arrangement.

FUN-ky Mama said...

It can work. It may be rare, but it can work. And don't ask me how I know.

Beck said...

He's totally right. It's always the case that one person just wants to screw and the other person wants more but puts out in the hopes that this will lure the other one into loving them.
Not that I'm bitter or anything.

And I don't know HOW many marriages I've seen collapse after one of the partners made an opposite sex "best friend", but it's been at least a dozen so far. What a great idea!

Kyla said...

Yeah, K is right. It might work for a while, but it is really nearly impossible to keep everyone's emotions out of it.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

I tried it once. It didn't work.

Little Monkies said...

I want to clone Kevin and hold his cloned-ness for when Baby Girl is old enough to fall in love.

He's the best.


Anonymous said...

K's a smart guy. I think he's right on the money. I've had a FWB relationship and it ended badly with one of us feeling very hurt.

BOSSY said...

The closest Bossy has to A Friend With Benefits is the free bus ticket to NYC her friend Amy provides Bossy when Amy chaperones for the art center. Like that?

Moobs said...

Brother Moobs writes:

"Dear Soul in torment,

You pose an interesting question. However, it is the WRONG question.

The RIGHT question is 'what's the difference between FWB and fornication?'

The answer to that question is NOTHING and hell's fire awaits you. I hope you find this guidance helpful.

I conclude with a favourite piece of guidance of general application to your gender:

"Attend my words womenfolk! Cover ye your hair at all times for it is your glory and will incite lust in men that may lead them to a damnation of which you and the devil himself are the architects.Confound you!"

Best wishes and love to your family

Brother Moobs

Eliminating the vice from advice since 1652

Little Nut Tree said...

erm .... yup.... he's right.... wise ol' K


Krista said...

i agree with him completely! When i started dating my husband, in a phone conversation he was having while i was with him, i heard this,
friend, "who are you with"
now husband, "oh, a new friend"
friend, " this another friend with benefits?"
now husband, "ya, you could say that..."

that is when i knew i wanted to be much more than just a 'friend with benefits'

Aimee Greeblemonkey said...

I have never been there, but I am with the hubs on this one.

fooped said...

Therese calls it "wishful friending". Genius.

I pretented to be a FWB once. I was lying but only kind of. It was a fantastic summer and I mean FANNNNNtastic. (Happy sigh....)

Julie Pippert said...

I've seen people happily manage "friends with benefits." It's anathema to me, but apparently I'm not every woman. :)

rookiemom said...

Can it work for a rare few? Maybe. Can it work for me? Nope. It might start out as lust, but my stupid brain always has to turn it into something more. I had a FWB for 3 YEARS, on and off, in between our respective relationships,and I always wanted it to be more. But it never was.

In retrospect, I'm really happy that it didn't work out. But at the time? Oh, angst-ridden me. You should have seen the poetry.

Anonymous said...

You married a smart fellow, J.

Friends With Benefits is about two people having sex until one of them finds a better prospect. Wow. Knowing you are disposable! That's a freakin' fantastic benefit!

I've never seen one of these hook-ups where both participates HONESTLY had the exact same expectations. Just doesn't happen. Which is why -- in my opinion -- FWB usually happen to women or men who are in transition (leaving university and beginning careers, ending a marriage) and are horny.

Dina Eisenberg said...

FWB- I been down that road when I was single and it's a dead end.

Unless the sex is stellar- and I do mean 'what's my name again' stellar! Then, it's worth putting up with the inevitable awkwardness about what to call each other, where it's headed and the like.

Otherwise, there's too much shiitake to put up, and who has the time to waste. Just my 2 cents!

Christina said...

FWB can be good or bad. My husband had a friend who was a FWB when they were younger. Later, when it was just friends, no benefits, she was always unhappy with his girlfriends. She was the "best man" at our wedding though, and then married my husband's best male friend.

We didn't think anything of it, but then she dumped her husband quickly and e-mailed my husband to tell him how much she loved him. My husband made it quite clear that he wanted nothing to do with her, and after the way she treated his best male friend, he didn't even want to be friends anymore. We haven't heard from her since then.