by K D Grace
Acquaintances of mine told me once that, while they had been friends forever, they’d made a pact. If neither of them was married by the time they were forty, they’d marry each other. This was long before My Best Friend’s Wedding. I suspected they were friends with benefits, but it would have been rude to ask.
The number one rule of friends with benefits is that you don’t talk about friends with benefits – at least not the friend with whom you have the benefits. That’s part of what makes those added benefits so sexy. You don’t fuck your friends … except when you do. And if you do, then the assumption is that the person you’re having sex with is not the person of your dreams, nor you theirs. But you’re still ,above all else, friends. If you go for it, then the assumption is that you’re both still looking for that special someone and you’re both okay with that, even encourage that. Friends with benefits involves a level of trust that might call for some secret keeping.
I got to thinking about friends with benefits on my walk today. There’s something really hot about having sex with someone you’re not supposed to, about finding that you’re attracted to someone you’re not really supposed to be because … well because you’re friend. And there’s something outrageously arousing when you discover that you just might be able to have your cake and eat it too. Friends with benefits is a delicious stop-gap in which friends get to admit while they’re not The One True Love, they’re a whole lot better than humping one’s hand, elevating the idea of friends taking care of each other to a whole new level.
I was in such a relationship when I was in Uni – a man I’d been best friends with since high school. During that time there were three of us who hung out together when we were in between relationships – which was most of the time. The other woman was also a long-time schoolmate. The two had been my best friends for years.
Suzie (we’ll call her that to protect the not-so innocence) confided in me that she had flat-out asked Tom one night when they’d both had a little too much to drink and they were bored and in between relationships, why he didn’t fuck her. He told her he didn’t want to ruin their friendship.
I kept it to myself that with me he had no such qualms. Later when he told me about it, he simply said that he trusted me. He knew our friendship was strong enough to take it. Funnily enough, while I was never jealous when he was in a relationship, I think I might have been had dear old Suzie been getting equal benefits from Tom.
That dynamic comes back to me in a lot of the stories I’ve written – the idea of finding a secret port in the storm, a temporary fix, a way of dealing with libido and ‘singleness’ that’s mutually beneficial. We talked a lot about the thin line we walked keeping our friendship safe in spite of having a physical relationship. That’s probably why it worked for us. We talked a lot. We had fun together. We looked out for each other on a lot of levels. And we were both very certain we weren’t ever going to be a real couple. The fact that it did work, however, means it certainly wasn’t good story fodder. Think When Harry Met Sally, Friends with Benefits, The Ugly Truth. The real story gets going when our lovely couples have sex and RUIN EVERYTHING! That’s why the idea of friends with benefits fascinates me as a writer.
A big part of that fascination is because friends with benefits is a relationship so full of contradictions. There’s less
stress, more honesty with sex because the relationship is already set. But there’s more stress for fear of destroying the friendship both partners value. The person is not an unknown because the partners are already friends. But adding sex to the equation means discovering and uncovering things about each other that can totally change that dynamic. There’s openness and yet there’s subterfuge. We kept our relationship secret. To the outside world we were best friends. We both decided that was the most important part of who we were together. But seeing someone naked and vulnerable can’t help but change the way we view each other. And whenever sex is thrown into the mix, things can get complicated.
Within the delicious stew of friends with benefits there are a million sexy story ideas, a million minefields to be navigated and a million conflicts to up the chaos of the story. And in the midst of it all, there’s Forbidden Sex Lite. You don’t fuck your friends … except when you do. Then you do it at your own peril. How can that not be a serious turn-on in erotica and romance?