Posts Tagged ‘friends with benefits’

Crimes against the Heart, Part 1

December 20, 2016

In the dating world, there are many ways to commit crimes against the heart–the hearts of others and your own. Some are serious offenses, malfeasance. Others are minor offenses, misdemeanors. But crimes they are.

The concept of friends with benefits is a good example of something fraught with possibilities of doing damage. First, there is no real consensus about what a friends with benefits relationship is, let alone what the difference is between this arrangement and a f*** buddy. Some believe you must be friends before you can have a friends with benefits relationship. Others believe it is foolish to believe there is any friend component to a friends with benefits relationship. There are numerous and diverse “rules” about these relationships, and depending on who is coming up with them, they can be contradictory. In some quarters, it is believed that there should be no cuddling after sex, no sleepover, and no daily texting in a friends with benefits (FWB) relationship. Why? Because it is thought to be a short road between these things and both intimacy and emotional connection. And a friends with benefits relationship for many is, in theory, one that involves sex without the impediment of feelings, let alone deep feelings.

The problem with this is that the human being is a fourfold one with mind, body, spirit, and emotions. The head might be totally on board with the concept of a FWB relationship. The body will definitely be on board. If it is not, there is no point in such an arrangement. But what about spirit and emotions? Can you disconnect mind and body from spirit and emotions? If you can, for how long? And if you can, what does that say about you? If you cannot really disconnect them, what are the consequences of trying to do so?

My own view of what might constitute a FWB relationship was a work in progress. I didn’t necessarily think one had to be long-term friends to have such a relationship. I did think it needed to be between two people who had no expectations of one another, including no expectations of long-term romantic relationship, apart from the expectation of behaving with respect and human dignity. Compassion, kindness, affection? Yes. Bells-and-banjos love? No. Chemistry and sex? Definitely. Friendship or at least friendly connection? Yes.

I had seen Jake twice, and we had over a thousand texts between us. Despite the fact that we had not really known one another beyond a phone conversation and some messages before our relating went from dinner to dessert, I thought of the connection as a friends with benefits one, in part because there was an underlying kindness in his behavior towards me, in part because I gave a damn about him beyond the bedroom, and in part because we had actually conversed about things other than sex. I knew he did not see me as a potential long-term partner. As far as I could tell, some of that hinged on the age difference between us and some of it hinged on the fact that I was not connected to the dance world that was so important to him. Beyond those two things, I had no idea.

Did I view him as a potential long-term partner? No. It wasn’t about age. It was more about lifestyle. I doubted that Jake had the breadth of interests I need in a man. And I doubted he had the depth I need either. But I liked the handful of things I was coming to know about him, I had affection for him, and I had a level of trust in him as a sexual partner. For me, trust in the bedroom is related to what happens outside the bedroom. If I am dismissed, disrespected, or demeaned by a man outside the bedroom, there is no way that man is going to be invited into my bedroom. There will not be enough trust to get him there.

Was a friends with benefits arrangement or something similar sustainable between us for anything beyond the very short term? I knew that some people had sustained such relationships for a matter of years, though I doubted there were many such people.

My heart had cracked open a long time ago, and every time I thought it could not crack open any further, I was proven wrong. The heart, it seems, has an infinite ability to expand. Thus far, I had been able to feel affection and compassion for Jake without any sense of attachment but with a desire for his happiness, whatever that meant to him. I wasn’t concerned about committing a crime against my own heart or his. And I knew that if I began to feel I was at risk of committing such crimes, I would end the relationship.

I wasn’t so sure about Jake, though. I was pretty sure he would drop me like a hot wire if he thought I was getting too attached. And I was pretty sure that he thought he had command over his own emotions, at least where I was concerned. But what about the state of his heart?

Jake professed to want a long-term relationship, and he had what he frequently referred to as parameters for that relationship. It had been a dozen or more years since his divorce;  he’d been single for a long time. From what he had told me about his experience, I knew  he’d formed his own rules around whatever casual sexual relationship he had with a woman. A kiss, a hug, getting naked, and going home afterward were the essential components of it. In his way of thinking, the next time he saw a woman might be the last time, either by his choice or hers. He should not get too close. Which was why, I suspected, he used diminutives when referring to me instead of my name. But he was sufficiently savvy to figure out enough of what a woman’s boundaries and needs were  to stay within her good graces, at least for a time. Still, he was very self-protected. He attempted to keep things completely out of the emotional realm.

The problems with that were three-fold. First, the next time we see anyone in our life might be the last time we see them. Life is fragile. So are human relationships. Any attempt at utter control is futile.

Second, he was not just a nice guy, he was a basically kind person. To the extent that he could keep his heart and his sexual contact with a woman bifurcated, he risked committing a serious crime against his own heart. I did not believe it was in his nature to be hard-hearted. And the longer he tried, the more calcified his heart was going to become.

The third problem was that he had spent enough time attempting to keep emotions out of his sexual relationships that I had serious doubts he could effortlessly turn the emotions back on with a sexual partner he loved and wanted a long-term relationship with. He wasn’t risking a Madonna-whore complex because this wasn’t about a woman he would necessarily have a child with. He was risking something more fundamental: a beloved-whore complex. Would he be able to have abandoned, fun sex with a woman he saw as his beloved after keeping his heart out of the bedroom for so long? I had my doubts.

Jake was at risk of malfeasant crimes against the heart. And if he committed them, he would get a ticket from the karma police he might not want to pay.

Note: The name Jake is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.

 

Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall

Jake for Dessert

October 28, 2016

I had no time to be concerned about the dinner I was preparing. That was probably a good thing. Jake and I had been trying to figure out when and how to meet. I had a professional meeting half of Saturday. He had tentative plans for Saturday night and was tied up on Sunday. I had a date on Monday.

His plans for Saturday night evaporated, and shortly after 1:00 p.m. that Saturday, we decided to seize the opportunity and meet at 6:00 p.m. I suggested dinner at my house.

What followed was a flurry of texts as we tightened up the arrangements and then a flurry of activity on my part to get myself, the house, and dinner organized. Fortunately, I had plenty of food in the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. My attitude has long been that I should be able to put together a small dinner party on short notice using whatever I have on hand, and a woman with that kind of attitude makes a point of having the means to pull it off.

That I had no time to think about the fact that a man fourteen years younger than me was coming to dinner kept me from repeated rounds of asking myself what in the heck I was doing. The previous day, we had agreed that if we met, there would be no expectations. Being open without attachment to any particular outcome was something I knew how to do. But judging from our text exchanges, I knew I wasn’t alone in fantasizing the possibilities. Fortunately, I had no time to get lost in fantasies. I swung into dinner preparation mode.

He was just as adorable and just as nice as his photos and our exchanges had made him seem. But there was something else I could not have foreseen. When he talked, he made direct eye-to-eye contact. And he held that contact for longer than was strictly necessary. It was quietly seductive, with a bit of inquiry and longing in it.

We attempted a little slow dance in the kitchen. But I was in ballet flats instead of any kind of heels, so I stood on my toes to accommodate the height difference between us. That did not lend itself to balance. He quickly abandoned any attempt at steps. I loved being in his arms but found myself tense. The man could dance, and I hadn’t danced in many years. I was horrified at the thought of being found completely and utterly lacking and unsuitable in every way while in his arms. I owned up to my tension. It wasn’t as if he couldn’t feel it. He moved my arms from dance position to encircle his neck and we just swayed, like every high school couple at the senior prom when I was growing up. I was awkward; he was kind.

We chatted through dinner, then before having dessert, we retired to the gazebo and continued to talk. It was nice to be outside, but it was the middle of September, and the ambient temperature had dropped enough after sunset that there was a bit of chill in the air. I had been sitting in front of him and leaned in at one point, asking him to warm me up a bit. He put his arms around me and accommodated my request. When I pulled back again and looked into those riveting eyes, I was helpless to resist leaning back in, this time to kiss him.

What appeared to have been simmering in him immediately came to a full boil. Had he been waiting for me to make the first move? He pulled me in and kissed me with so much ardor that I found myself pulling back just a little and encouraging a bit more gentleness. And then I relaxed into him. I found myself wanting more than his lips and left them to kiss the hollow next to his collarbone, the little notch beneath his throat, his neck just behind the left ear. He murmured encouragement. I gently kissed each closed eyelid, his forehead, and the tip of his nose before connecting with his lips again. I couldn’t seem to get enough. I kissed his throat again and moved down to the top of his chest. He moaned a bit. I moved farther down to the fur on his chest and took each nipple, one at a time. He murmured more encouragement. This was a man who liked having his body made love to, and I liked that about him.

Before long, he was reciprocating, and not long after that, we retreated from the gazebo. Not only was it getting just a bit too chilly to remain outside, we were also both conscious of the fact that our little murmurs and moans were going to attract the attention of the neighbor behind me, who had an open upstairs window, if we kept on with our exploration of one another in the gazebo.

The dessert I’d planned was forgotten. Instead, Jake and I made dessert of one another. We didn’t know one another’s bodies and had to experiment a bit with them, just as I have so often experimented with the ingredients in so many dishes I make, including desserts, to find the right combination of individual ingredients to make the result all the more delectable. Jake was, himself, delectable. No accoutrements or additional spices needed. He not only had a beautiful body, he was a generous lover. And that generosity was generative, giving rise to willing abandon on my part.

It was midnight before he left. I had a massage early the next morning; he had plans for the entire day. But even if we hadn’t each had reasons to finally split from one another, being fully spent, it would have been necessary. Sleeping together would have taken the intimacy to an even deeper place, and neither of us was ready for that. We each needed to take a deep breath and withdraw back into ourselves.

Whatever I thought might happen that evening was pale in comparison to what had actually happened: lust coupled with sweetness; exploration coupled with deliverance; goodwill coupled with generosity. Before that dinner, I felt that Jake and I were playful comrades, unlikely to be more than mutually supportive on our individual quests for romance. Had we just shifted to a friends with benefits relationship?

 

Note: The name Jake is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.

 

Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall