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Friday, June 3, 2011

Friends with Benefits

What are the considerations of having sex with those we call friends?  How can we expand to maintain a supportive, loving and clear relationship with those we have relegated to meeting our sexual needs in absence of a romantic partner? How does the choice to give ourselves in this “friend” relationship effect our possibilities (or choices) to reach out for a mate, partner, lover in their own right?

Before tackling the above questions, perhaps we need define our friendships. I think there was a time when the term “friend” was not applied to one who was not enemy. To say someone was with your friend was to align with them and they with you. There was a shared commitment to reach for understanding and provide support. Friends were the people we trusted to tell us the truth, not merely smile in our faces and tell us things would be okay.  Because in the not okay places in life, friends step in. They are the reminders of brighter days, clearer moments, and  the hope that no matter the circumstance there is a way through.

With that understanding of friendship can I call on those I tag as “friends?” Today we have people at work we call friends. Granted we spend more time with them than we do our families, but can they show up in our dark places baring light? What of Facebook friends? Facebook serves as a social networking tool to connect and reacquaint us with others (who may or may not be interested in who we are). As the friend list grows we extend ourselves into worlds unknown, much like an unending web, well beyond our sight and understanding. But what of the silent moment when we need merely one person who will speak to our heart? Providence says there is always help for those who ask. Can we still remember to ask when it seems so plain that with three hundred/thousand FB friends, surely one will know our need? Social networking sites give us a false sense of connection, leaving us vulnerable to emptiness when we have neglected to build personal (in person) connections and communities.

Choosing how and when we connect deserves thought and consideration for the moment and beyond. Establishing boundaries that allow us to live fuller freer lives is in the purview of friendship. As I search for an ideal partner I call upon the opinions of my friends to see more than my excitement or investment can, and to make known the truth of the union I propose. Can I be in sexual liaison with one supposing to honor my search? Can I crawl from one bed and long for another? Well, of course, I can, but is my heart open to receive what is best for me while I seek momentary contentment in my “friendship?”

On the other hand, or side of the bed, the reality exist that we have “friends” that show up to support our sexual needs. When we are clear that no interest in relationship exist then the moments we share rest in the present. Leaving behind serial monogamy we rest our sexual interest safely in the arms and hearts of this friend. This is not to deny any elements of closeness, comfort, or caring, but to affirm the option to choose one who agrees to show up with us.

Still, is sex in friendship, the benefit? Human sexual expression can be powerful and connective tool, after closeness. But closeness and connection are benefits in themselves. Sexual expression comes with its own set of hooks and demands, asking more of its participants that they may be ready to recognize, accept, or receive.

Let us take our lovers where we choose as we find them, and leave our friends to pick up the pieces of our shattered lives.

"A friend loveth at all times."

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