Lance turned me on to this article on askdanandjennifer.com about friends with benefits (aka “Fuck Buddies”), and as is so often the case, we couldn’t resist the allure of our two cents on the issue. The article claims that women are more likely to get emotionally attached and want more from the relationship; while this is certainly a possibility, I have to say that it hasn’t been my experience. In my time, I have noticed way more women open to the idea of FB-type relationships, while men tend to have a huge problem with it. In any case, here is my take on the conventional understandings of fuck buddies, and why I think those conventional understandings don’t quite hit the mark.
#1: Women Get Attached Too Easily
It appears scientifically verifiable that women’s bodies produce chemicals that form emotional attachment when they’re physically intimate with someone. However, I don’t understand using that fact to warn women away from participating in FB-type relationships. Presumably, the entire point of fuck buddies is that you already have an emotional attachment to that person, which means that you:
- Feel comfortable talking with them,
- Have flirted before and have physical chemistry, and
- Also have a much better idea of their recent sexual history/STD status.
This last one is especially important–there’s nothing wrong with casual sex with people you don’t know well, but you have to be that much more careful, especially if you’re a woman. In the case of FB, you’ve probably talked about your sexual histories while flirting (a great way to build sexual tension that tends to backfire in the context of traditional relationships). You also have mutual friends, which works as a nice background check. If this were really a person that you wanted to be in a relationship with, you would have tried that by now. To me, this means that the woman is just as uninterested in pursuing a committed, monogamous, romantic relationship as the man is.
The caveat: if you do want a romantic relationship with the person who approaches you, you should not take them up on their offer. Similarly, you should not approach someone you are romantically interested in with an offer to become FBs. This is where the potential to get hurt comes from, not from the FB system itself.
#2: Men “Use” Their Fuck Buddies For Sex
On the surface it may seem obvious that they are both using each other for sex–that’s why they made this arrangement. However, the claim that men are “using” their fuck buddies stems from fairly stereotypical understandings of gender roles that I don’t think apply much in today’s world. Here are the (often faulty) premises underlying this claim:
The woman believes that sex will lead to a relationship.
The man knows that the woman believes that sex will lead to a relationship, but chooses to have sex with her anyway, knowing that it won’t.
The woman is hurt when the relationship doesn’t develop and feels that the man was somehow dishonest with her.
The man is frustrated when the woman tries to turn him from a fuck buddy into a boyfriend, and feels that the woman was somehow dishonest with him.
Well, hmm. That entire interpretation is based on the belief that neither party is honest with the other–from the very beginning. If you’re not capable of honesty, then you shouldn’t be having sex with anyone. For that matter, if you’re not capable of honesty, then you probably don’t have very many close friends in the first place, which makes you an unlikely candidate for FB-relationships.
Honey’s Words of Wisdom: People don’t lie about who they are nearly as often as we lie to ourselves about who they are.
Obviously this doesn’t hold true in all circumstances. For example, be deeply suspicious about the guy who tells you that he wants to be in a serious relationship while drunk, in the middle of a makeout/petting session, after you’ve said that you don’t want to have sex. However, if a guy says that he doesn’t want a relationship with you before you’re ever intimate, then I’m pretty sure you can take that one at face value. If you can’t, don’t be his fuck buddy–simple as that.
#3: People Just Aren’t Wired For Casual Sex
Sad to say it, but that’s exactly what we’re wired for. There are two main reasons the Bible says premarital sex is immoral, and neither of them have anything to do with God:
Antibiotics hadn’t been invented yet, and there was no cure for sexually transmitted diseases. Therefore, if you got one and people found out, you became unmarriageable because no one else wanted what you had.
Effective contraceptives and paternity tests hadn’t been invented yet. Therefore, if you became pregnant, you became unmarrigeable because there was no way to prove whose responsibility the child was.
Since we now have access to all of these technologies, Biblical notions of morality are increasingly out of step with our lived reality. Don’t shoot the messenger–I’m just telling it like it is. Stereotypical gender roles also play a part in this “we just aren’t wired for casual sex” thing. As stated above, women are supposed to become “emotionally involved” with their partners. This means that if you do become emotionally involved, you’re perceived as helpless in the face of your hormones, and therefore somewhat pathetic. If you don’t become emotionally involved, you’re a cold, calculating bitch. Men, on the other hand, are supposed to become protective or possessive of their conquests. I call this the “metaphorical pee” effect: just like dogs pee to mark their territory, men metaphorically pee on women by acting jealous or calling them sluts if they want to sleep with more than one person or end the FB-relationship. If they don’t do this, then they’re a weenie with no control over “their” woman.
IMO, all of these characterizations are outdated. If you find yourself acting jealous or calling people promiscuous when they are acting within the boundaries you’ve established, recognize your behavior for what it is: needy and insecure. If you find yourself emotionally involved with someone who explicitly stated they were not interested and/or able to pursue a committed romantic relationship with you, recognize your behavior for what it is: needy and insecure. In those cases, it’s probably best that you break off the relationship and work on those issues before diving into these murky waters again. OTOH, If you don’t become emotionally involved, recognize yourself for what you are: a self-actualized and successful fuck buddy. If the other person accuses you of being cold, or indifferent, or slutty, or a liar, recognize them for what they are: needy and insecure. And find a fuck buddy who’s on the same page as you.