Friends Without Benefits

I have a bad habit.

I find it much easier to meet new people through sex and dating than through friendship. Whenever I'm in a new city, the first people I develop new relationships with are people I bang. Sometimes those relationships turn into friendships later (or are just friends with benefits going forward) and that's great. But I have a much harder time pursuing and maintaining friendships without the hang-out motivator of sex.

This means I don't have all that many friends I don't sleep with. If you narrow it to friends I've never even made out with, not to mention people with whom I feel no sexual tension or chemistry, I'm pretty sure that's a number I can count on just one hand. Maybe two.

I would really like to have some of those friendships that aren't about sex at all. I think it's gotten even harder to find since I've been spending most (read: all) off my time in the kink/polyamorous/sex positive community. Sex is a persistent background, even if it's not something I'm having or planning to have with any given person.

Now, this isn't so bad. I have lots of wonderful friends. I just miss the kind of friendship where I could be really intimate with someone, be physically affectionate with them and spend lots of time with them and talk about everything, without having to constantly enforce a boundary that the friendship won't turn sexual. I’d like that boundary to feel a little more natural.

In a lot of the platonic friendships I have now, I feel like not having sex is a line I'm drawing and not something the other person would necessarily choose if I weren't. They might be okay with not fooling around, but they’d also be happy if we did.

I can't quite explain why that's an icky feeling. It's sort of like I'm constantly having to reject people I care about, like I'm constantly being asked for something I don't want to give. Even if the asking is a subtle or sub-conscious, I'm aware of it. I also sometimes start to feel like I'm not valuable except in my sexual attractiveness and skill, which is obviously not much fun.

I would love to have even just one or two friends who are here, in New York City, who are not attracted to me at all. Not one whit. And to whom I am not attracted in the slightest, either.

Perhaps I need to think of this the same way I’d think of dating. It seems normal to me to go on dates and do things one on one when I’m considering a romantic or sexual relationship with someone. I surely can do the same thing, make a point to spend alone time with someone I think I’d like, when I want a sex-free friendship. And maybe do it with someone outside this sex-focused bubble where I spend my time. I guess that’s a plan.


Die alte Aechzener said...

Interesting. I think I saw that same issue arising repeatedly in several polyamory groups over the years (well ok decades). Not sure it's entirely avoidable without going completely outside that context for friendship-bonds

Fiona said...

Which is then hard, because friends outside that circle can be hard to have as good friends who GET you@!

Unknown said...

All true. I'm thinking of finding some kind of spiritual community. I'm interested in that, there are ones that embrace sexuality as a spiritual practice, and hopefully there'd be a person or two there who I could befriend.

Die alte Aechzener said...

All too true, Fiona - I've certainly had friends disappear with a puff of horror, when even passing mention of kinked society was made :(

On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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