Friends with Benefits

29 05 2010

I recently saw Up in the Air in which George Clooney develops a friendship based on casual sex.  The agreement set from the beginning is that the relationship is physical with no strings attached.  As the movie goes on, it becomes clear that George Clooney’s character is developing romantic feelings for the woman, and this progression from casual partner to romantic interest is common among friends with benefits.  Desiring and building deeper connection is normal; we are made to want to connect deeply with others.  And even though it can be easy to connect physically, casual sex becomes messy because it blurs the lines between friendship and committed partnership.  In those few moments of physical fun, we lose our sense of self by disconnecting from our hungers to be seen, to be known, and accepted; we trade deeper intimacy for an easier substitute.

Many of us want deep, authentic and lasting connections, yet there is pain involved in achieving and maintaining that depth.  Like working up a good sweat at the gym, it takes some initial time and effort to get there, but once achieved the after workout high is well worth it.   Our hunger for more intimacy and meaning may  be at the core of our relational ache.  Finding ways to dull that ache through hooking up or having a friend with benefits are like applying band-aids for life threatening injuries.   Like scar tissue, counterfeit forms of intimacy build up and take an emotional toll on our selves.  Self respect  and self-acceptance needs to take precedence over the temporary pleasure our body’s experience through sex.  Using sex to numb ourselves from our pain can become addicting and have painful side effects.  What is instead necessary is to begin to train ourselves to be comfortable going for more depth in relationships rather than settling for easier and ultimately less satisfying forms of intimacy.

 

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