Monday, April 04, 2022

Friends with Benefits


You know right away what's coming: an instinctive moué of disgust. Even saying those words out loud makes me cringe. I find them highly offensive, and people make a pointed effort of not understanding why.

It dawned on me last night, as four or five blogs were swirling around in my head getting in each other's ways, that I really need to start checking myself whenever people make a pointed effort of not understanding me, because in cases like that I'm probably the problem. It's like that old truism:  if you meet an asshole in the morning, you met an asshole. If you keep meeting assholes all day long....YOU'RE the asshole.

So how my selective literality can't help but hear "friends with benefits": there are friends, see, and then there are friends you fuck. Only the latter kind provides you with any "benefits". The rest of them are not worth your time and energy.

You scoff -- I can hear you scoffing. Nobody means it like THAT.  Are you sure?

A question for vagina owners: how many male friends have you made and then dumped because, as it turned out, you weren't actually a friend, you were only a vagina? Wow, that looks like....all of you. What's that? More than once? Many times? All of you? Many times?

Yeah. Thought so. You can't be a man's friend unless you fuck him, right?

I often wish I were something other than a man. Not physically and mentally, in the way that trans and nonbinary people don't fit their skins, not even close, but, um, culturally? I have no desire AT ALL to be identifiable to strangers as belonging to the same gender as so many people who think women are walking vaginas. 

Yes, this attitude is poisonous. It's poisoned me. Having seen so much misogyny, I'm to the point where I'm inventing it. 

You would think I would have learned my lesson in five years of openly practicing polyamory. I mean, I said it often enough: space must be preserved for each relationship or things get very messy very quickly; don't place limits on a relationship you're not part of; each relationship is its own thing.

I know what "friends with benefits" sounds like to me. All this time I have been mapping my own prejudices on to others.

I gotta stop that. Like yesterday.

Friendship -- "with benefits" or no -- is reciprocal. I get to have a hand in defining and naming any relationship I'm a part of. I do NOT have the right to do so for other relationships. What other people call each other should be of no concern to me.

Hell, what other people choose to DO with each other is of no concern to me (outside issues of sexual safety, of course). I have always railed against casual sex in the most sex-negative language I can muster: poles and holes, genital sneezes, fifty pumps a tickle and a squirt...because I've seen entirely too much of this:

hey baby wanna fuck?

go away creep I don't even know you

what do you need to know for me to fuck you?

I do NOT understand why anyone would respond to hey baby wanna fuck with fuck yeah. That's how I characterize casual sex, and it quite frankly makes me sick to my stomach. Except in porn. 

In porn, and ONLY in porn -- and with the ironclad caveat that the woman or women must really be enjoying themselves, not pretending to -- the more gonzo the better. Line 'em up.  I'm not sure I can ever reconcile that, it makes no sense to me. I've given up trying.

Spectrum, spectrum, c'mon Kenny-me-boy you know better than this. Porn isn't sex, of course, and there is this long passage between hey-stranger-fuck-me-now and missionary in the dark with the only partner you ever had or will have. Somewhere roughly in this big playpen in the middle  is "friends with benefits". You're okay. You can still detest casual sex as you are defining it (though you  may want to refrain from detesting those who feel differently!) but you can let go of your animosity about "fwb". 

I think a secondary reason I detest "friends with benefits" so much is that I have lots of friends who are women, and the friendships are entirely platonic. If I so much as acknowledge another category of friendship, "friends who are NOT platonic", does that put the fear of Gawd into them that I'm actually sitting here fantasizing about plowing them into next July? That's why I have always insisted on saying "lovers", even though that's wrong, too: a hammer hams, a finger fings, a grocer groces, and a lover...fucks????? If I tell you I want to be your friend, that does NOT mean I want to get into your pants, and I will make every effort to assure you of that. 

In fact, I will make you every assurance and mean them even if I DO want to get into your pants. (It happens: I have attractive friends with attractive qualities.) It's unlikely I'll ever ask you, but if I do, I'll take a no with good grace and we can both forget I asked. 

Relationships are strange and unpredictable. You may lose sexual interest in a sexual partner or even a spouse: suppose you stay partnered, what do you call yourselves? Friends can grow into lovers and back: is there a name that works for all stages? And again aside from issues of sexual health and safety, why should anyone care about chandelier-swinging or the lack of it, if everyone involved is content? I quite firmly and correctly tell people that sphere of my life is none of their business: I should extend the same courtesy to others. 

This is one example of rigid thinking I am dismantling. There are many, many more. I feel that it's important to have a bedrock of principle, but beyond that I need to do everything I can to loosen my thinking. 

I should, for instance, recognize that sex doesn't have to be sacred. 

It feels sacred to me, two becoming one and all of that. Even at its filthiest and raunchiest, there is a tidal current of love and affection. Sometimes especially at its raunchiest: just admitting some fantasies is an exercise in vulnerability, and one of my stock definitions for "love" is "feeling vulnerable, safely".

I've tried sex without all the emotional underpinning/baggage (depending on your point of view). More than once, because I didn't learn. (This was in the days before I met Eva.)  I could fool myself for a while, "making love out of nothing at all", as Air Supply has it, but in fairly short order I would feel absolutely scuzzy. Is this really any different from jerking off? It bloody well should be, and I don't feel like it is. 

Again, MY experiences and feelings, nobody else's. I've been proven to be an odd duck often enough that my default setting really should be "I'M THE ASSHOLE OUTLIER HERE". But still too often I unconsciously assume I'm normal, and then wonder why the most of the rest of you are so fucked up. 

I think I just want to be normal...

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