After dating for a year, my ex and I split up because he was tempted by the fruit of another and started sleeping around with women from two different graduate departments. We managed to become friends again after we broke up, but I still have feelings for him. We were always good together in bed, and I missed fooling around with him, cuddling with him, and all the good parts about our relationship. I realize that it might take time to rekindle a romance, but he suggested that we become friends with benefits first. I said yes. I feel like being friends is great and benefits are great. Can a friends-with-benefits situation work out and lead to a relationship? Or am I fooling myself?
Hopeful in Humanities
Let’s get your details straight because neither of us have time to waste in talking about your situation:
1) You were in a relationship.
2) You caught him cheating on you.
3) You’re friends again.
4) You both want to rekindle the sexual parts of your relationship – and you want it to lead into something more.
Ok. Got it. Lived it. Gave the t-shirt to Goodwill and now it’s retro.
Hopeful, my darling, there are a few ways to put this into perspective and I think they all have to do with what you want out of the relationship. If you’re just looking to get your rocks off with someone you can trust (we’ll get back to the trust part later), a friends-with-benefits situation is perfection. Recent studies show that most friends-with-benefits arise out of ex-lovers or trusted friends who haven’t yet entered into new relationships. These arrangements seem to work best for people who don’t want to be in a relationship but want more than a one-night stand. And there are some benefits to be had! People, on average, experience more sexual pleasure when they’re with a partner they can trust. It leads to more communication about where to stick what and how – you can tell a partner to rotate their tongue counter-clockwise but might be more hesitant to do the same for a tricky one-night stand. These kinds of arrangements can lead to something more, but more often just lead to some fun times between the sheets for consenting adults.
There are, however, two strikes against you for a friends-with-benefits situation, squirrel-friend. First and foremost is the concept of trust – the golden key to making these situations work. So let’s get down to the dirty-dirty of your situation, Hopeful. Can you trust your current/ex partner? Because, I have to tell you that I don’t even know him but I don’t trust the motherfucker. It’s not about the sleeping with someone else – lots of couples open up their relationship and have great success – it’s about the lies. Sneaking around on your partner is a complete violation of trust and I have to tell you, Hopeful, it doesn’t bode well for the future of a trusting relationship.
Which leads us to our next point: the relationship. A friends-with-benefits situation can only be pleasurable if both parties are on the same page. If he’s talking about the joy of sex and you’re waiting for him to be your boyfriend, you might not even be in the same book. I know you’ve already said yes to the situation, and I’ve banged my head on the table a few times for you, but I think you need to take a step back and define some boundaries. Does a friend-with-benefits situation mean you’re allowed to sleep with other people? Given the past of Mr. training-in-multiple-disciplines, I’d make sure to clarify that before moving forward.
If you do decide to stay with this man, sexually or romantically, buy your condoms in bulk. Women who sleep with men are often under the impression that the pill is enough, but in this situation you don’t know whose ink his pen has been dipping in. And, Hopeful, you don’t want to get ink-gonorrhea or any of those other lovely STIs. Not using a condom, especially with a man who has a history of cheating, is the fastest way to turn a friends-with-benefits situation into a friends-with-consequences fiasco.
To wrap it up (pun intended), I say kick this cheater to the curb and find someone who will treat you like the amazing woman you are. In straight-talk: find a man to make you laugh and make you cum – and who isn’t doing the same thing on the sly for two other women.
Ms. Hors D’oeuvres is the promoter, producer, and emcee of Bon Appétit Burlesque in Northampton, MA and an advocate for the free expression of woman-friendly, body-positive sexuality. For more pearls of wisdom, you can catch Hors on the second Saturday of every month in Northampton at the Bon Appétit Burlesque show. http://www.nohoburlesque.com
To send a question to Hors, email firstname.lastname@example.org