With or without benefits Opposite-sex friendship, Part II

By Jamila Cherif and Jeremy R. Johnson

In our last issue , The Dolphin looked at opposite-sex friendships and the research that showed men have a harder time being “just friends” with a woman. The following interview is one student’s perspective on the topic

What is your experience with having an opposite sex friend as a BFF?

I currently have at least three young women in my life that I would consider very good friends of mine. Most importantly, my wife is comfortable with all three women. I can honestly say I would have slept with two of them, if the opportunity had existed prior to the past 15 years or so. As time passes and marriages happen, the friendship bond grows deeper because these women are a link to my past, but people of the opposite sex can’t be friends.

My closest friend in high school was a girl, who coincidentally was voted most attractive our senior year. We did everything together from our highschool sophomore year on, and managed to remain close when I went to the military. I came home in the summer of 2005, having recently separated with my fiancée of five years. Guess whose shoulder I cried on, hers. She confessed to her long-running feelings for me. I was vulnerable and always adored her. A relationship ensued that would last all of two weeks. We essentially made one another miserable because we knew too much about one another, and I was not emotionally ready to be with anyone around that time. I lost a very good friend, because once it became intimate we could never go back to things being the same. It is almost impossible to explain this person to your new love interest if you’ll insist on trying to remain friends. Once the, “Have the two of you had sex?” question is asked and answered, she will never be seen as your friend.

What are the eventual risks, and how can you avoid them?

You lose long-existing relationships with people once you cross that line. My issue could have probably been avoided had I been smart enough to know that I wasn’t in the right space mentally to be with anyone. Also, had we acknowledged the fact that there were underlying feelings earlier, I believe things could’ve been discussed, not rushed into.

Do you exchange highly-personal details with your friend about your life or complain about your relationship? Is it different?

Most of my most-valued advice about my marriage comes from women, especially my female peers. In some cases they help me to think rationally about my wife, and keep me by her side when times are tough. They are never biased in any way. If  I am messing up, then they let it be known. If my spouse is wrong, their advice might help me navigate difficult terrain.

How do traditional relationships work compared to friends with benefits?

Assuming I wasn’t married, I’d prefer friends with benefits. Romance is for suckers and kids who think they are in love. Being in love tests your endurance and your willpower. Think about it? At its core, it’s simply how much of someone’s flaws you can or are willing to deal with. The friend with benefits concept is great and fantastic in theory, but much different in its application. I’ve had good and bad experiences. It works if both parties can manage to remain emotionally detached. This is easier said than done, because familiarity breeds contempt. In most cases the sexual encounters are way too frequent, and too much conversation after the sex is done. The sex gets intermingled with those conversations, and now it might as well be labeled a relationship. Also, most of the time someone is likely to get attached to the other, not in all cases though.

What role do social media play in friendships and romance?

Social networking preys on everyone’s most primal of urges, and that’s to be recognized. Relationships of the social and intimate variety can be destroyed by social media. A post that was intended for no one in particular gets read by someone who is supposed to be your friend, and all hell breaks loose. Exchanges take place over the Internet and sometimes spill over into the streets, and become violent. Boyfriends and girlfriends break up, because one doesn’t acknowledge the relationship to the rest of the social networking-sphere. It’s insanity on a global scale! Unfortunately, social media has become so rooted in our lives and everyday culture. We pay attention, and take more stock in someone’s Facebook status than we do of their actual actions. I personally don’t want my social or intimate life to be played out over the Internet.

What Next?

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