Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Friends with benefits - isn't friendship benefit enough?

I heard two people in a coffee shop talking about friends with benefits.  I immediately think of heath care. The proceeded to talk about an early evening romp after a hard day and then hitting the gym before making an early night of it – early work meeting and all.  Evidently, I am old and out of touch. 

One of the great things about good friends is that they love you even though…..(fill in the blank.)  My friends don’t care if I haven’t shaved, have my period or gained 5 pounds.  I am not worried if they are having a bad hair day or have cellulite.  They are your friends even when your clothes don’t match and you haven’t showered. They don’t need to be in any specific mood and they truly appreciate an evening spent having a few drinks while wearing “comfy pants” and no makeup.

Now, sure – we’ve all had one night stands that had less than adequate prep time and unflattering lighting. It’s likely that tequila was involved and your partner was someone you would never consider “benefitting” in normal circumstances. A walk of shame back up your front walk may have been involved (yeah, you know who you are - and yes, it only made it better that neighbors were having a garage sale that morning making this particular walk of shame even more public.) 
I thought maybe I was missing something so when in doubt, Google it. According to Urban Dictionary, friends with benefits are typically two good friends (would hate to think they were bad friends) who have casual sex without a monogamous commitment. In my day, this was dating.  A friend told me that for friends with benefits, no date is required – you go straight to sex. Perhaps my coupled friends can correct me, but isn’t that called marriage? 

Isn’t being just friends benefit enough?  Isn’t my advice, snarky repartee and kickin’ Sangria enough?  Now we need to fuck, too?  My God, I just don’t have that kind of energy never mind the stress of worrying that all parts are appropriately groomed and ready in case benefits are required.  Now, I will admit, it’s been a while since I’ve dated. Single parenthood saps my energy and my job eats my brain cells. I was alone in my family room for almost an hour yesterday before I realized I was watching iCarly.  But surely time hasn’t changed that much. 

Have we become so commitment-phobic that we can’t even admit to dating someone so we invented this whole new category to rationalize the need to spend repeated quality and intimate time with another grown up?  Are we such workaholics that we simply schedule sex with an equally busy friend and with as much intimacy as a visit to the gyno?  Or are we so lazy that we don’t want to put forth the energy to actually date someone?

You know, I often use the phrase “own it” with my daughter.  This applies when she does something that results in trouble. She always says, “It was an accident.”  I tell her to own it and move on.  If folks are friends with benefits, they are dating and too chicken to admit it. If you’re friends, there is some level of emotional attachment. If you’re benefiting, well, it’s dating.  Own it and move on.

For me, well my friends do have benefits. J and K are in medicine and friendship comes with a great bedside manner and quick medical advice.  T is my go-to for work-related stuff, M keeps me from losing my mommy mind and L reminds me family is meant to drive me crazy.  D is my handyman working through the “to-do” list of things around the house.  Other friends and I trade kid watching and others share that much needed drink at the end of a long day. They do not require a bikini wax or soft lighting.  Now, those are friends with benefits.

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