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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.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.Sometimes it feels like we are more honest with our friends with benefits than we are with our partners.This paradox always makes me think of that episode when Betty seduced Don at their kid’s summer camp, well after they had both remarried.But sometimes, romantic friendships can offer a type of intimacy that committed relationships can’t.
Some assume that one of the “buddies” is always being strung along, secretly hoping that the fucking leads to something more serious.
When I met him, he was 45 and charmingly grumpy, and he would always tell me: “Sex is so perfect. ” I’d go over to his apartment for a couple hours in the afternoons, we’d have sex (soberly, which meant I could actually cum), and then afterward we’d drink tea and complain about stuff. There were times when we saw each other frequently, and other times when things dropped off for a while, usually because one of us had a partner. It felt like we had entered this secretive bubble of transparency—we were emotionally intimate, yet free of the burden of jealousy and ownership.
And sure, when he would get a girlfriend I would be a little bummed out—I’m (unfortunately) not a sociopath—but it didn’t cause me to spiral into an emotional cyclone the way I would have if I’d been cheated on by a boyfriend. We could spill our guts to each other because we didn’t have anything to lose.
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.