Of Friends With Benefits

No Strings Attached, Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher

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Not long ago I wrote about being friends with ex’s, I reached no particular conclusion. Other than that there is no clear answer. In regards to being friends there isn’t an obvious yes or no. It’s a gray area. Couple by couple basis.

However I would argue that friends with benefits cannot exist.

Former couples and individuals who are attracted to each other can be friends.

And a strictly benefits relationship can be set up, though it is bound to be fruitless and disappointing if you’ve ever experience sex in a love relationship.

But friends with benefits is a guaranteed fail. Emotions, even if slight, are involved. Traditionally the argument is that someone is bound to get hurt. Meaning that one person will want more than the other. While yes this is probably true, in my experience that wasn’t what caused the hurt.

Recently my friends with benefits relationship with my ex came to a crashing halt. Not because he or I was wanting our relationship back. More because of the imbalance we were feeling. There was an emphasis on benefits over friends in our situation which made sex essentially a hit-and-run. And that recurring bang-and-be-gone, is what made both of us feel dirty. Last night, yes Valentine’s day, after cashing in on the benefits we discussed this issue. This led to an heavy but not heated conversation. Just being friend’s is tricky, we have to switch our routine out of the rut we were in an a couple. Because as a couple we weren’t good for each other and arranging benefits was simply our way of subconsciously clinging onto the past. Though he admitted for him it was conscious.

I feel good about the decision we made to stop the benefits. I also don’t feel bad that we continued our sexual relations after we broke up. We joked that we had break-up sex five times. It was part of our transition process, and I think we’re both in a better place now.

Of Friends with Ex’s?

Broken Up Couple

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When I propose the idea of being friends with an ex-lover I always get a varied reaction. I’ll sit and listen to cries of NEVER,  it’s hard, there’s too much history, you’re never really over the person, it complicates things. From the person who is still emotionally attached in a I-want-him/her-back kinda way. I’ve been told NO he’s an ass, I don’t want to see his face ever again. From the person who had a messy-heated-I hate you-(possibly) abusive relationship. Then there’s the YES it’s definitely possible. I did it, we were better off as friends anyways. From the person who had a peaceful breakup. Sometimes the response will be a combination of one or more of the above reactions.

I’m sick of all this binary talk of emotions. Relationships current or previous, while they end, the remains don’t just disappear into the woodwork. Yes not seeing them will make it easier, and that time apart is essential to getting over someone. But the problems won’t magically fly into the heavens just because you’re boycotting another human being. Especially if some of those problems are self provoked. And just because with some ex’s you’re friends, doesn’t mean with all ex’s you can be friends.

I believe that everything in life is a matter of perspective, a case by case, person by person, there isn’t one solution, one answer. Life would be much simpler if it were.

All hail the mighty gray confusing area! Hear hear!

This topic occurred to me because I recently saw my ex for the first time in a month. I was expecting extreme awkwardness, spitefulness, sadness, tension, reigniting of feelings. You know, at least one of the above. What happened was different. It was comfortable. Almost like it was when we were together just without physical contact. What it made me miss wasn’t my ex-lover, it was my friend. I miss my friend. It’s a shame that sexual tension lingers around long after we want it to. We both want to be friends but life makes that a little more complicated. We basically have to start over as friends. I assume we’ll follow the typical Washingtonian formula for friendship: chat over coffee. Yep, that’s pretty much it. Coffee is the Washingtonian way of mingling. Going to a bar is to date like, or it might set higher expectations. Coffee is chill, relaxed, and homey.

I really wish befriending ex’s was simpler. I figure there are a select few elements which every ex-couple should consider: why do we want to be friends?, are we sure we can be platonic?, is the history too painful?, were we ever friends in the first place?