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 [email protected]
Photo credit: Keoni Cabral