Friends With Benefits: In one way or another, I think most of us have found our way to that very interesting relationship. You and a friend/acquaintance are both single? You get it on. Someone who you broke up with but still occasionally sleep with? Sure. A rando who you hooked up with one or two times but you guys never had the talk to discuss what exactly the two of you were doing? Probably the most likely scenario of friends with benefits. But what about real, down-to-earth legit friends with benefits? In case clarification is needed, when I say “Friends With Benefits,” I mean someone who you can at least stand to have a conversation with and do the dirty with, on at least a semi-regular basis.
Up until this year, I had never ventured into the sticky realm of friends with benefits but 2019 I came out with my very own rendition of Hot Girl summer. For the first time in my 20’s I was freshly single. I wanted to get out there. Not to find anyone. I needed and wanted to be single and was relishing it. I found my new single life to be a bigger adjustment and shock to the system than I was prepared for – emotionally, mentally, financially, and sexually. I didn’t need or want any type of emotional dependency, but I’d been used to getting my fixing on several times a week for over a decade. I believe my longest dry spell was five weeks during that time. Spoiled? Maybe.
But that’s beside the point. I certainly wasn’t about to go through another drought like that, given that my clitoris died a little bit during that time. Especially since during the newfound glory of being single, I came to fully realize that I’m somewhat decent looking of a human being who easily (duh, because men) attracted the attention of men. But in my glorified single state, the idea of any degree of dating made me vom. So partly to satiate my sexual hunger, and partly to celebrate my inner Helen of Troy, I turned to dating apps to get what I wanted: to find me a fuck buddy (or two or three).
I found dating apps are much more effective and straight to the point than chatting someone up (and is ideal for an introvert), as no one is afraid of being upfront with your basic desires when texting behind a screen. Whereas telling the person who approached you in a coffee shop that you legitimately aren’t interested in them as a person, and all you want to do is fuck them is a far less practical way to get what you want. Dating apps granted me quick, easy access (pun intended) to sex – ala cart style. Or as one of my regular FWBs eloquently put it, it wasn’t Doordash – it was Smash ‘n’ Dash.
I’ve wondered how I had the energy and the commitment to seek out multiple sexual partners several times a week, whereas my roommate wondered if my vagina was made out of rubber. I was used to devoting my time and energy to a single partner, and I suddenly didn’t have that partner. One could easily say the weeks spent with my FWB weren’t the healthiest way to spend my time, but as a freshly single woman and sex-crazed slut (as an extremely disappointing and selfish one-night stand called me after I told him I didn’t think we should see each other again), it was extremely satisfying.
I did the whole shin-dig for for about three months. A few times, I took a week or two long break and then began the whole cycle again. During that time I learned how truly awful men can be, and how truly awful they can be at sex. Plus, I experienced what a micro-penis and a too-big-of-a-dick feels like. But the most significant real-world lesson was my awakening to the reality of STI’s. Because while I may be in my late twenties, I’ve never before specifically gone to get screened for STI’s. I had gotten a few routine tests as part of gynecology appointments, but checking to see if I had chlamydia or HPV or *gulp* HIV because I had been having sex with multiple partners throughout the weeks was an altogether new sensation for me. And a very scary, very real sensation.
I went to an LGBTQ clinic that’s close to where I live and where they provide the STI screenings for free. Nervous as I was, I knew that most STIs can be easily treated or handled. But I hadn’t thought about getting tested for HIV. I felt fairly certain that I didn’t have it. But then I walked into the clinic, and as is routine for LGBTQ centers, you could elect to get screened for HIV. I thought why not, but I also thought “Holy shit what if I have HIV? What have I been doing? I do and I don’t want to get tested but now I obviously have to.” I went in, got my third finger on my right hand pricked for some droplets of blood to be tested and sat back out in the tiny waiting room with a very adorable and magazine-worthy gay couple. Ten minutes later, I was cleared of HIV and I hurriedly texted my two best friends in a poorly disguised comedic manner that I was in the clear.
The other results? I was clean and healthy – because I did make a point with my partners that we would be safe – but the cold splash of what I was doing with my body with people who were essentially strangers was an icy one. So much so that as the days passed by, I became more and more particular about who I was spending my time with. My last month with my FWB, I was especially choosy and narrowed down my fuckboys to (a very humble) three. I kept them around but they weren’t nearly as much as a focus. My remaining FWB were being placed in the bottomost drawer in my mind. Still there and handy if I wanted them, but not something I planned on utilizing on a regular basis.
Because at that time, I was getting tired of the whole thing. Sure, my libido was still super high, which is why I think I continued as long as I did. But my joy of fucking whomever I wanted to fuck, whenever I wanted it, was tapering off. The FWB thrill was waning, in part due to the STI screening experience. My energy was finally (read: thank goodness) approaching satisfaction, or maybe exhaustion, and I was ready to turn my energy to myself. I didn’t just deactivate, but deleted my dating apps. I began to write, reach out more often to friends. The novelty of my singlehood was transitioning into my new norm, and I was ready to shelf the sexual endeavors included in it. Plus, I finally began to understand something I had always heard but never fully understood: sex is better when you love your partner. Or at least care for your partner. Some people try to cram in experiences into a quick compact timeframe, like a seven-country European trip in two weeks. That’s essentially what I did, but it was a different type of cramming; sex.
But it was more than that; it was almost as if I opted for the fastpass lane of rebound boyfriends. Via the substantial number of FWB I had within those quick few months, I learned quite a lot about my desires and expectations. What I learned may be obvious to most people in their twenties, but given my relationship history I was on a very steep learning curve.
I discovered that just because we have things in common doesn’t mean that we’ll actually get along; enjoyable kissing doesn’t mean enjoyable sex. Pseudo-intellectuals abound, to my severe disappointment. Amazing back-and-forth banter seems to indicate that they’re actually an asshole; and an initially satisfactory sexual partner may eventually devolve into a selfish sexual partner.
Perhaps most significantly, I confirmed something that I had always suspected about myself: I rarely am attracted to someone mentally, emotionally, and physically as well. It’s easy for one of those things, but two? Not something that happens often., and I only found that to be the case with one of my fuckboys and I even had some reservations with him. All three aspects? That’s only happened a grand total of three times, and yep one of those people was my ex (the first being a crush in my late teens). I discovered that type of connection isn’t something that can easily be found or explained. The desire to pump the brakes on my FWB endeavors was not only a reflection of my exhausted sexual appetite but also of a much more substantial desire; if I was going to share my time – and body – with someone I wanted it to be with a person whom I actually cared about.
And that’s how I got to where I am now. The third person out of the three that I’ve felt a connection and attraction to mentally, emotionally, and physically? I happened to meet him right around the time I was mentally disengaging from FWB and embracing my single-hood. Timing is a funny thing and I like to think that if it weren’t for my Hot Girl summer of fuckboys, I wouldn’t be anywhere where I am now. Yes, ready for the relationship I’m now in, but also where I’m at on a mental health and self-care level. Because while my FWB ventures were a thrilling way to gain empirical knowledge, participating in them resulted in the neglect of self-care and love which I’m now happily cultivating.