Friends With Benefits
A couple days before I had posted my Dear Lee Burbage: Part 1 blog post, I had gotten a request on my Dangerously Stupid post to please post a current update status of my love life. Now because of how heavily my blog gets bogged down with spam, all my comments are on manually approved and because the way this request was worded, I wasn’t really sure if it was genuine or just slyly accredited enough to slip through the automatic spam filter, which does happen from time to time. Even still I wasn’t sure if I wanted to answer it.
The past is a lot easier to examine and to be like Captain Hindsight than actually knowing what the hell I’m doing at any given moment in the present. I’ve only ever learned how to learn fix my mistakes after I’ve made them let alone as I was making them. I usually need distance in order to get clarity and have those “oooh” moments instead of I guess say, Captain Preventative. But as I have been doing a lot of research on the definition of friends with benefits and trying to understand exactly how the nature of the relationship I had with Lee was just so different than the current actual friends with benefits I have now and I think it’s important to talk about the differences. I think it’s important to talk about these differences not just for me but for anyone else who is also struggling or has struggled with a friends with benefits arrangement. It’s important to know what lines are being crossed and what’s a red flag or not.
Normally, it is extremely important to establish first with your current sexual partner clear outlines and boundaries on what is expected from the other but sometimes you just don’t even know what you are needing to ask for to be even able to talk to your friend. I certainly didn’t. And I still wouldn’t know either if any of what happened between Lee and I in what’s coming up in Part 2 hadn’t actually happened. Lee made me feel like everything was my fault except for him ghosting me. Like I caught the flu and he was afraid to catch it while denying he was showing signs of having symptoms himself. I don’t think he even understood how exactly he also violated what he thought was just friends with benefits was actually more akin to casual dating. After doing slightly more digging, I found on the same website of Brides.com an article called When To Move From Casual Dating to a Relationship that helped me understand this. To a lesser degree this article also helped me understand the nature I had with Fishsticks as well except not quite in the same way because Fishsticks and I always agreed on what we were doing was dating.
The man I am going to be talking about and referencing to in today’s blog post will be known as The New Yorker. Now I have already teased him about how if I did write about him on my blog, on making his nickname would be Spiderman after our many conversations on Superheros.
“I don’t really think I’m like Spiderman,” he said as he touched the narrow alleyway walls we were walking through, leaning side to side as if he would attempt to climb if he was only a younger man.
“Fine,” I conceded. “Fat Spiderman,” I said with a cheeky grin on my face. He nodded.
“That works,” he agreed. “I like that.” I shook my head and laughed then we both got into his car. Even then I wasn’t planning on writing about him. He loosely knows of my blog but I have not shown it to him and I will outline why.
But first, some backstory. I matched with The New Yorker on OKCupid after Lee and I had broken up last November but before I had met Fishsticks in December. Between the three men, Lee, Fishsticks and the New Yorker, the New Yorker is most like the middle bear in the story Goldilocks. This comparison also amuses me as I am after all, blonde. The New Yorker was from Connecticut and currently in the process of selling his home and moving to Charleston in February. Logistically, the tail end of November to February was not a long period of time for someone to move down but like they say in show The Bachelor, I was developing stronger connections with other people faster. Aka Fishsticks. The New Yorker and I mainly chatted about video games but did lightly touch upon other subjects. It was nice conversation but neither of us were rushing to the computer to check when the other had responded.
I didn’t even recognize him at first when we matched on Tinder in July. He has a really goofy picture of him in one of those T-Rex suits (that he very much still owns) and another picture of him in steampunk googles that I very much want to um.. acquire. What made me swipe right was a collage of himself in his bathtub completely covered head to toe in bubbles. Yes, I remember telling myself at the time, I definitely want to meet this guy. It was only about a half hour at the bar we met at, I felt like more and more bits of conversation were feeling really familiar that my mouth pursed into an “Oh! I remember you!” I did apologize for ghosting him. I explained that I deleted all of my dating profiles but didn’t go into any specifics of why. He wasn’t offended or if he was he didn’t say so.
But that being said, I have now had six full weeks of being friends with benefits with The New Yorker and it couldn’t be more different than my experience with Lee. At first I could not figure out why. Sure they were two very different types of people but it was more than that that I could not put my finger on till now. Everything The New Yorker and I have done has been unknowingly and on it’s own without rules or questioning where we are or what we are to each other. Other than of course being friends with benefits of course, that had already been established.
Unspoken Rules of Friends With Benefits
1- Communication & Intimacy Within the Communication
“Oooh you like me,” I said to the New Yorker once, teasing him. I don’t even remember what he said exactly to spark me to say it. “You think I’m gorgeous,” I said in my best Sandra Bullock impression from Miss Congeniality. (Which was horrible for the record. I should never be allowed to do impressions.) We were walking on the Folly Beach boardwalk on our way to get some ice cream and I was about to continue singing with the lines “You want to hug me, you want to love me, you want to smoooch me,” but before I could he stops and loudly says,
“Yeah a little bit! … Don’t get a big head about it or anything.” I turned around and gave him a shit eating grin before he added, “You’re alright I guess.” I smiled again and we went inside the store.
The first realization that I had between The New Yorker and I was our communication but more specifically regarding the non intimacy within our communication.
What I mean by this is that when we do talk about ourselves, what we like, our interests and even our pasts but it always remains light hearted and never in depth. The New Yorker doesn’t know about my abortion or why I don’t talk to my mom but that I have mentioned where she lives and a little bit about our life growing up in Southern California. He knows I have three half siblings, a brother and two sisters but since we grew up separately, we have never been close. He’s told me about his ex wife and step daughter, how and why the relationship ended but in the lightest of details. I did the same about my ex relationship of 10 years.
I also hadn’t brought up Lee to him or the emotional damage it had done to me until the day Lee had emailed me on August 26th. I had received the email two minutes before The New Yorker picked me up to go to the beach. I tried my best to be in a good mood and not bring down the afternoon but after a few hours I had to be honest with The New Yorker about why my head kept drifting off into space and why I just wasn’t emotionally present. He kept asking me if I was alright and if everything was okay so, I told him as briefly as I could. I could tell it was making The New Yorker uncomfortable and I reiterated that I just wanted to apologize to him because it wasn’t fair to him to have someone so checked out.
“I’m okay,” I said reassuringly. “I just need time to sort things out and how I am going to reply back.”
The New Yorker drove me home and we haven’t talked about it since. But the thing is, there is a reason why we haven’t talked about it. Because we don’t get emotionally intimate with our conversations.
Now with Lee, it was the complete opposite. We talked about everything and everything in detail. It wasn’t just about what I told him about me but how he opened up about himself. He told me how awkward it was for him when not only his coworker who was married but now closest friends with made a proposition to have sex with him. Her husband was okay with this, I don’t remember if it was an open marriage only that Lee was too uncomfortable with the idea to do it. She didn’t take the rejection well. In order to make working together less tense he made lots of light hearted attempts to ease the awkwardness. He purposely dropped papers behind her desk and went “ooops” as he slowly bent down to pick them up one by one. Things eventually got to feeling more back to normal as time passed but how there was still a small bit of awkwardness for him about it.
He also complained how unprofessional his boss was and how frustrated he was always having to do damage control for her. Not only was she always on the verge of being fired from how she talked to her employees but was constantly paranoid that Lee was after her job. “Not that I would turn it down if the position were available,” he told me. He said how when he and his current boss had applied for the position together, they were the two strongest applicants and because of this, she was always worried he would try and take it from her.
He opened up over his ex wife and we bonded over how both of our last relationships where we felt like both the caretaker and parent to our significant other. He went into deep depth about his frustrations with her from the past and the divorce so far. He told funny stories about his old girlfriends but also about a certain friend he had to completely cut out of his life for abusing drugs and how hard that was for him.
All I’m trying to point out is that Lee and I shared very intimate details about our pasts and selves in a very short period of time. Maybe that didn’t mean something to him but… it meant something to me. I don’t let myself get just that vulnerable with anyone right off the bat. Not that quickly. There was an intense intimacy within our conversation by bonding over shared trauma. It’s the intimacy within the conversation that crossed the lines of just a friend with benefits.
Just to hone it in and keep putting it in perspective.
The New Yorker and I have talked about our jobs and what growing up our lives has been like but again, all in light hearted detail. For example, when I started cake decorating in June, I saw a picture of a “monster” cake that looked totally cool and I wanted to try recreating. The New Yorker’s first response when I sent it to him was: “Is that Donald Trump??” Which yes… burn, but at the same time, oh so funny. It had me in stitches the rest of the night.
Lee never did cry to me like I had to him when I talked about my very personal and private stuff but the point is, is that he and I did talk and talk a lot about our past and personal feelings. Lee and I even talked about our future dreams where as The New Yorker and I haven’t. Finally being able to understand the way Lee and I had communicated made me realize, this isn’t something you do with a person who is just casual and very much a relationship type of boundary we had crossed over and over again. A relationship has depth and emotions while someone who is keeping things casual as just friends with benefits, does not.
This is the first boundary Lee and I crossed together unknowingly. But we hadn’t known that it was a boundary to establish in the first place. We hadn’t known or otherwise we would have put it in place. Unless Lee is a sociopath, I refuse to believe that he didn’t have any sort of deeper connection of just being friends with benefits. Like I always say time and time again, maybe not love but definitely… something.
2 – Sex Is Just Sex
Sex with Lee was confusing while sex with The New Yorker is not. I’ve already gone to explain in Part 1 of Dear General Lee exactly the kind of sex we were having and the kind of talk we were talking about experimenting with but I’ll summarize again here. There was an S&M type of relationship when it came to sex with Lee. Where he was my dom and I his sub but also his hopefully student to become his dom. Basically each of us wanted to take turns learning how to be in charge and in control of the other. On the same note there were several times where we just made love, slowly, sweet and sensual. It has been freeing, liberating, and open to where I felt like I could let my walls down and be myself.
There were no boundaries or rules for us when it came to sex. Between rounds of our sex marathons I would curl into his body and we would talk about the very emotional intimate conversations I talked about in the first rule above. Emotions were running high and this was the second broken boundary neither Lee nor I knew were were crossing with each other.
Sex with The New Yorker isn’t confusing. There isn’t an S&M side to it nor have we explored one. We have tested certain things to see if the other person has liked but the sex is just sex. There aren’t any current kinks we have tried but nor is there love making. When he pulls me into his chest between our rounds and I sigh it’s because of my physical satisfaction, not emotional. The New Yorker does intimately touch me that I enjoy as well such as rubbing my back or running his fingers through my hair but at the same time both of us know that it doesn’t mean anything more other than we are enjoying each other’s company. Most of the time we lay there in comfortable silence.
3 – We Each Have Our Own Independence & Space
A major factor for me in how The New Yorker and my own relationship has developed thus far has mostly been due to the development of roles one and two but, that being said, number three plays the last and final role. We very much give each other space. This last role is a role I very much realize and take responsibility for how I acted with Lee, and which is probably why he see’s me the way he does. But of course as you know, I will go on and explain.
The New Yorker and I are very comfortable texters with the other and have been since the beginning. It’s not too very often but there have been times where we have comfortably gone several days without messaging the other without the worry of something being wrong between us. Only once did the New Yorker ever mention that he had suspected if I had been upset at him because it had been a few days. We were roasting like kabobs in the sun on the beach and I looked at him over and told him honestly that, no, I promise I haven’t been. I also promised that I would ever tell him if something he had done was bothering me. And we left it at that.
Rereading and analyzing The New Yorker’s texts between us, they are definitely not without emotion but they almost always abruptly stop as we forget that we are talking to the other and are going about our day. He once texted me from a pub while he was enjoying dinner and a few beers and simply never responded to my question. The next day he apologized and I told him that it was okay, I had just assumed he had gotten drunk or buzzed and simply just forgot. I hadn’t really put much thought into why he hadn’t replied back and had gone on with my night.
I enjoy The New Yorker’s time, energy and conversation but there isn’t a rush of butterflies in my stomach when I think of him. I like him but my body doesn’t float to cloud nine every time we are together nor do I find myself pining for him when we are away. I believe that I am able to have these feelings simply because of the roles one and two that I described. Our emotions and feelings are able to be kept in check because we aren’t confusing boundaries or lines. We aren’t having intimate conversations and our sex is just sex thereby my life outside is my own.
Because boundaries one an two had been crossed with Lee and combined with my own emotional insecurities such as my fear of emotional abandonment, I wasn’t able to give that independence to Lee or his space. I wanted to and I kept reiterating to him how important it was that he did do things like put himself first. I just couldn’t take my own advice as much as I tried. I needed too much reassurance to be confident in myself that things were fine the way they were. A comparison I have made to myself is that I was like the mouse in the book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. What I wanted was to be strong, independent and confident where I stood with Lee but I let myself get too caught up into the next stages of what else I hoped would happen instead of simply just letting everything happen naturally. For instance Lee had said he felt guilty for us only having sex and to go out and do things and I did unconsciously put pressure on him to fulfill this as an obligation instead of something he would have wanted to do on his own.
4 – Being Able To Look Objectively At The Situation
Because of all the rules set in place, The New Yorker and I have been able to keep our emotions at bay and I can see if we have enough qualities that I would want in a future partner. I am not clouded by rose colored glasses.
And I can honestly say this… no.
At this current time I do not see any future relationship between us but that we are enjoying our time together that we do spend together. I very much enjoy The New Yorker’s company and do hope we can stay friends long after we go our separate ways whenever that may be. Right now he and I are very much just enjoying what it is and figuring out what we want in life.
When Lee threw in my face that he was in a committed relationship and had no intentions of changing that, I was hurt at his audacity and arrogance to assume that I would even want him back like that to begin with. He never could understand me or who my true character was. And… he never will.