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Never-Married Quiz DEAR READERS: For your reading pleasure, a quiz. As always, this is not to judge yourself with a "right" or "wrong" response. The purpose is to hold up a mirror to yourself and search within for the current truth. Yes, our feelings can change. Our …Read more. Clutter DEAR SUSAN: You write about clutter in our lives, but you include people in that. Isn't that a bit cruel? — From the "Single File" blog DEAR BLOGGER: (Sigh.) There are times in life (especially single life) when you must be "cruel" to be kind …Read more. Prey? DEAR SUSAN: A man recently wrote to you and said he doesn't want to feel like "prey." Of course he doesn't. And clearly, he has no idea what it's like to grow up female. — From the "Single File" blog DEAR BLOGGER: Whew. You blew the braid …Read more. Quiz Whiz DEAR SUSAN: Well, if you're really the queen of quizzes, please give us some food for the new year. — From the "Single File" blog DEAR BLOGGER: The best part of my quizzes is they have no "right" or "wrong" to them; they're designed solely to …Read more.
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Friendship With Benefits

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DEAR SUSAN: There's something between casual sex and sex between committed partners. I don't know what to call it, but I do know it exists. I read that the French have a term for it: "less than lovers, more than friends." It's certainly possible for two people who care about each other as friends to have a sexual relationship. Neither partner is expecting or hoping for more from the relationship; both accept it for what it is. It's far better when you are feeling lonely (or in need of affection or physical satisfaction) to connect with someone you know and are fond of (as a friend) than to seek satisfaction from a stranger. — From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: Yes, there is a middle ground in our American single world, a relationship that falls somewhere between committed love partners and casualty sex. In our youthful exuberance, we gave it the term "friendship with benefits." Sounded good, a middle ground that seemed to fill a need in single life. So I tentatively bought into the new French import — until female casualties began to share tales of exploitation. And as time passed, I realized that the American single world is contorting "friendship with benefits," using the term to cover sexual exploitation. Not all of our unmarried world bastardizes it, certainly, and it's not contorted every time it's used to describe a friendship that warrants added closeness, but it's misused enough times to warrant great care and deliberation when it is being used to describe an added layer of closeness to an already warm and respectful friendship.

One more time, as a cautionary tale: In our American single world, "friendship with benefits" has at times been cruelly exploited for the purpose of enjoying pleasure without assuming responsibility.

Think about it.

DEAR SUSAN: Some time ago, you gave us some questions that really got to me. They were questions to ask ourselves about the person we love — or thought we did. Please give them to us again. — From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: Pencil poised, please write down the questions you ask for — important as they are — at a time when your libido is in full control and sensible thinking/rationality aren't relegated to an also-ran position. Here goes, smart lady:

—Can I be myself with this person? (This is a killer. Sometimes you don't have to go any further.)

—Do we see the future pretty much the same way, with similar goals?

—How will I feel when sex loses its initial excitement?

—How sure am I that this is the person I want to be with for the rest of my life?

—How do I feel about living together to test our compatibility?

—Do I truly like this person, as well as love this person?

—Is this person grounded, centered, solid?

Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at susan@single-file.com.

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Comments

5 Comments | Post Comment
Again SUSAN how can you ask these questions if you're not with somoene? If you're with someone then your not "Single File." "Single File" is not being with someone - correct?
Comment: #1
Posted by: J
Fri Feb 5, 2016 5:45 AM
"Friendship With Benefits" I don't see how a person can be having sex with a friend just to satisfy their "need of affection or physical satisfaction" and yet want someone that will rid feeling lonely. If you're having sex with a friend how can you be out looking for someone to rid feeling lonely? Isn't that like lying? If you are both using one another then how can you feel deserving? Confusing. How can someone looking for a loving relationship - the way it was intended - that will rid feeling lonely be having sex with a friend or starnger and not feel guilty about it? What about the ones NOT having sex with friends or stangers how do they rid feeling lonely? They don't and suffer. You can have sex without meaning to rid feeling lonely, have sex with meaning to rid feeling lonely, or not have sex at all and suffer. The first two you have to have a willing partner, the first one is easy if you want to pay for it. Its a little harder finding a friend to have sex with to just have sex. Sex with meaning very hard to find andif you can't then you suffer.
Comment: #2
Posted by: J
Fri Feb 5, 2016 6:25 AM
It's true that "friendship with benefits" sometimes results in one person being exploited or deliberately harmed. But the same is true of marriage. Where else would all those divorces and battered spouses be coming from?
Comment: #3
Posted by: R.A.
Fri Feb 5, 2016 7:06 AM
To be honest, I'm less concerned with "deliberate exploitation" than I am with the myriad other problems with FWB. I think the "deliberate exploitation" happens a whole lot less often than the "unintended consequences." The problems with friends with benefits are:

1) It's not uncommon for one friend to go into it hoping FWB is going to blossom into a full-fledged LTR and maybe even marriage. If they don't both go into FWB with the same expectations, it's going to blow up.

2) It's not uncommon for both friends to go into FWB with the same expectations, but over time, one of them winds up wanting more -- that full-fledged LTR and maybe even marriage. So, if they don't continue to have the same expectations, it's going to blow up.

3) It's not uncommon for one friend to find someone with whom s/he wants to pursue a a full-fledged LTR with -- but it IS uncommon for BOTH friends to find that at the same time. That means that when one friend is ready to terminate FWB, the other one is likely to feel a bit left out in the cold.

4) Even on the rare (if ever?) occasion that two friends in a FWB find someone else at the same time, going back to being "just friends" can be extremely complicated. Adding sex to the relationship changes the relationship. Many FWB participants fail to take that into account, believing that they'll just "go back to the way things were before," which is not all that easy to do.

5) If you're getting most/all of your emotional and sexual needs met, you are highly unlikely to be open to the process of meeting that "special someone." That's fine if you are content with FWB indefinitely (or forever) -- but what happens when that's not enough for one or the other of you?
Comment: #4
Posted by: Lisa
Fri Feb 5, 2016 9:37 AM
RA-- yes, marriage can result in someone being exploited and deliberately harmed. But I think it's a jump to suggest that all or even most divorces are the result of exploitation and/or deliberate harm, when so often it's just a case of two people being unsuitable for one another, or that most people enter marriage with the expectation of exploiting or harming the partner.

A friends with benefits situation more OFTEN results in exploitation because it capitalizes on one person's desire for a bigger commitment.

[True, someone can choose to remain shackled to a dream and refuse to date others in hopes that Friend (even without benefits) will someday realize that they were Meant to Be. I'd suggest in those cases that if Friend has any inkling that the other party is maintaining a friendship mostly to keep the door open for romance, that Friend should pull back and take care not to ask favors or do/say anything that promotes false hope. ]
Comment: #5
Posted by: hedgehog
Fri Feb 5, 2016 9:48 AM
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