All posts tagged romance

Beyond Friends with Benefits

Published August 2, 2011 by Patty Brisben


Last week I discussed how friends with benefits relationships can’t exist. This week I’d like to delve into how women get themselves into this situation in the first place and why women are seeking emotionless, sex-only relationships. (Let’s not even talk how it’s basically impossible to have emotionless sex. Hello, oxytocin!) I truly believe it comes down to three aspects that all collide, making women less motivated to seek the meaningful relationships they deserve.

1. Women hate dating. With most women starting their dating lives at age 16, we’ve all endured ups, downs, and everything in between. Some of us have had great loves and great disappointments, and putting oneself out there can be daunting. It becomes less, “I’m open for love and ready to try this again,” and more, “Do I really have to?” Dating is downright exhausting. Even when you do go out there again, you never know what kind of person is going to be sitting across the table from you. It’s no wonder there are countless blogs, columns, television shows, and movies that are often centered on the same thing we’ve all had to do: try someone on for size and date.

2. Women are tired of worrying. Is it just me, or does it seem that the worrying gene runs in women only? We worry about everything! From the wrinkles we’re fighting, to the carbs in our dinners, to what our children are doing every second of every day. When you’re single and on the market, worrying about your love life may be the very last thing you want to do. It seems as though seeking a true partner becomes a never-ending quest that you might as well not start.

Once the dating actually begins and you’re feeling out a new person, every day seems to become a minefield of ticking time bombs of worry. When will he call? What does it mean? Why did he cancel the date? When you actually do spend time with a man, it’s easy to worry about what to do with his faults and things that annoy you to no end.

3. Women choose passion over partnership. I see this happen all the time. Women fall for the rush of not knowing what’s next. They misconstrue this as excitement instead of the reality that he’s a commitment-phobic flake. Ladies think the element of surprise is shinier than stability, and they see stability as boring. Ultimately, women are choosing ambiguity over solidity. But at the end of the day, what’s going to make you happy? How about at the end of next year? Will Mr. Surprise even be there?

Instead of getting bogged down by the negatives, I suggest you get real with yourself. What do you want? What do you deserve? With your answers held tightly in your mind and closely in your heart, put yourself out there again. Here’s how to combat the above three relationship woes:

1. View each date as a fresh experience. Have you ever had two days that are exactly the same in every single way? Probably not. You don’t go into a Wednesday thinking, “Ugh, this is going to be just the same as Tuesday, so why even try?” Instead, you attack every new day with vigor and make the most of it. Use this same point of view and apply it to your dating life.

2. Stop worrying. Easier said than done, I know. However, worrying is the single-most wasted emotion, not to mention a complete waste of time. You can’t control someone else or his actions, but what you can control is how you react to it. You can control whether you want to waste your time worrying about it. Also, you know what you want, and if his habits aren’t it, move on. Just say no to worrying.

3. Choose what’s right for you. Only you know what you deserve. It’s obvious when something isn’t sitting well; don’t ignore that intuition. Seek someone who leaves you fulfilled emotionally, physically, and mentally. A partner needs to match you on all levels, not just in the bedroom.

This is your life. You get one try at it. Don’t waste your time spending it with people who don’t make you happy. And certainly don’t try to get away with a friends-with-benefits only relationship. You deserve everything your heart desires—just be sure to listen.

Something More, Something Less: Friends With Benefits

Published July 23, 2011 by Patty Brisben


Boy meets girl. Boy asks girl out. Girl says yes. The two date, admit they like each other, have a serious, committed relationship, and fall in love. This is the old standard of how relationships between men and women begin, but lately, pop culture has been turning that idea on its head.

2011 brings us two movies with very similar storylines. In No Strings Attached, lead characters Adam and Emma try figure out whether they can keep their relationship strictly physical, or as the title implies, with no strings attached. No feelings and nothing more than sex. We also now have the just-released Friends With Benefits in which Dylan and Jamie are two friends who ponder whether adding sex to their friendship could work, just as an added benefit.

Both films dedicate 108 minutes to figuring out the questions that have been plaguing women (and, OK, men) for years: Can a man and a woman have sex and nothing more? Can friends have sex without added emotion? Can they maintain their existing friendship without it becoming more than a friendship? In my opinion, friends with benefits absolutely cannot exist.

Why such a cut-and-dry answer? Because these attempts at emotionless sex always turn into something else. One of two things happens. Either the friends fall in like with each other enough to date, or one person wants something more and the other doesn’t, and then their relationship falls apart. I’ve seen it happen countless times, and I truly think this is a problem.

It is rare that a woman can have sex without feelings. We can’t really help it—it’s a part of our genetics. (Both men and women release oxytocin, the hormone and neurotransmitter, during orgasm, which calms us down, soothes our anxieties, and mellows us out. It’s also a key biological factor that bonds people to each other.) What concerns me more than that, though, is what’s behind that. Why are women seeking something less than what they deserve? At the end of the day, even if you do manage to have a version of a “friends with benefits” relationship, you’re going to feel lonely. You’re going to want true companionship that doesn’t stop the second you’re out of bed.

And that’s where things get really messy. Ideally, you would turn to your bedmate—and, in this case, friend—for that hardwired companionship, and guess what? He’s not going to reciprocate the desire for more. Why? Because you’ve said, “Yes, I swear we can be friends and just have sex, nothing more.” You’ve given permission for his caring to go no further.

A woman doesn’t agree to this kind of relationship just for fun or just to see how it goes. There is something deeper she is trying to avoid. By being friends and attempting emotionless sex, the woman is trying to avoid getting hurt. Have you been hurt before? Isn’t it terrifying to put yourself out there again? This is why the friends-with-benefits idea is so attractive. At first, it seems as though it is a safe, comfortable option, when in reality, it’s the weak and lazy way out. This is no way to go about your life—scared and timid. You have to attack your life, not seek an easy way out.

Instead of seeking a new bedmate, I suggest you take the time to get to know yourself better. Pay attention to what attracts you, what excites you, and what empowers you. While you’re getting to know yourself better, think about what you really want in a partner and what kind of relationship you long to have. Friends with benefits is not an option.

Of course, one would be remiss not to acknowledge the very small possibility that both friends want something more. It’s true. This can happen, but it must happen rarely or else it wouldn’t be worth making movies about. Here’s how I see it:  friends are friends. Lovers are lovers. Partners are partners. The end.