This arrangement would generally be called a friend with benefits, or a fuck buddy, or a romantic friendship, or perhaps even a relationship—with “no strings attached.” But let’s be real: There are always strings, aren’t there?It was while planning this vacation that it hit me: The two longest relationships of my life have both been with men who I was never officially dating.Unsurprisingly, it was literally awful, but now at least I can say I’ve done it? It started when she was 13, with a boy whose family spent every summer in the same beach town as she did.(Cute alert.)Over martinis at Cafe Mogador, Casey told me, “When I’m dating someone, my immediate impulse is to be like, ‘Let’s lock shit down!Like, who do you want to bring to the sex party—your boyfriend or your fuck buddy? I’ve done so many things with fuck buddies that I never would have tried with partners, because I was too much of a jealous monster.(Like once I let Malcolm tie me to a dresser while I watched him have sex with my best friend.
“We are all selfish—we all live in this Ayn Rand–ish self-centered world, whether we like it or not,” he said. You can have your sex-power persona, or you can play the super-misogynist pig, or the bimbo, and it’s okay, because you’re not being judged.
“When you’re in a friends with benefits situation, you don’t have go to the other person’s awful friend’s birthday party. But if you change that dynamic into being a real relationship, then those games might not seem so sexy anymore.”In other words, your fuck buddy gets all the good stuff about being in a relationship—the wild sex, the cuddles, the juicy dark secrets—minus all of the boring, would-rather-die activities that go hand in hand with commitment, like having to help assemble your boyfriend’s IKEA bed, or having to watch your girlfriend stab at the ingrown hairs on her bikini line while she watches the Kardashians.
But if you behave like that within a conventional relationship, it causes problems. (That’s me—I’m the girlfriend who does that.)Essentially, you’re taking a relationship and removing the creepy ownership of another human being, which leaves more room for hedonism and sexual exploration.
Others dismiss fuck-buddy dynamics as just being compulsive sex that’s devoid of emotion. Surely it’s possible to find a middle ground between eternal love and zombie-fucking a stranger: a place where you can care about someone, have good sex, and yet not want to literally implode at the thought of them sleeping with someone else. Case in point: The most significant romantic friendship of my life was with an ex-editor of mine, whom I’ll call Malcolm.
We started “a thing” five years ago and have yet to end it.