For four years, I had a friend with benefits. It was a complicated relationship in which, yes, we were friends first, but once the sun went down and the alcohol started flowing, the benefits part kicked in. For four years, off and on, in between huge blowouts that would make one think we were in an actual relationship, we carried on that messiness. When it was good, it was great; when it was bad, it was vicious, cruel, and had we been world leaders, the making for WWIII.
Looking back, I’m not really sure what the appeal was. Well, he was gorgeous, looked quite a bit like Han Solo to be honest, so there was that. We were also very similar in a lot of ways so we could have fun together, challenge each other, and count on each other — definitely the foundation of a great friendship. But in having the benefits part of the equation was something I couldn’t handle and I did the unthinkable: I fell in love with my friend with benefits. But unlike in the movies, we did not end up together. By February 2012, after four years of drama, it was over, permanently, and I was left to face the reality that one should never, ever fall for their friend with benefits.
But once the tears stopped and enough time had passed, I had an awakening of sorts. I could see clearly what the relationship was and what it wasn’t. Here are the nine unexpected things that happened when I broke up with my friend with benefits.
1. I Realized I Deserved More Than Just Being Someone’s FWB
If you’re at a certain point in your life, a friend with benefits situation can be a good thing. And, in the beginning, it was. It was awesome and relaxed and we had so much fun together because we had amazing friendship chemistry. But it was when I started to fall in love, and then found myself completely in love, that things stopped being so fun. Yet I hung on, although I knew he’d never love me back, as if that’s all I deserved. But I deserved more then and deserve more now. I deserve someone who wants to be my friend, my lover, and most importantly, my partner, too.
2. I Stopped Blaming Myself For Being Naïve And Blind
Both during and after the relationship came to an end, I blamed myself for being, for lack of a better word, stupid. I felt stupid for sticking around so long, stupid for hoping for the impossible, and stupid for accepting him back into my life over and over again. Then one day a few months after the final breakup, out of the blue, I had an epiphany: I was not stupid. I wasn’t even naïve or blind. I was human. I felt something, let it into my life, and fell in love. No one chooses with whom they will love in love and it was absurd of me to try to think I could have prevented those feelings from happening.
3. I Set Rules For Future Relationships
While I didn’t swear off friends with benefits for the rest of my life, I did set up rules. For example, if I was in an FWB in the future and I felt myself falling in love, I’d immediately retreat. I would no longer mistake comfort and intimacy for something more, and I would never put off the opportunity at a real relationship in favor of a friend with benefits — which I had done with this guy.
4. I Discovered My True Self
It was after the first time we had ended things, in 2010, that I went to Paris. Then when we ended things again the following year, I went back to Paris, then to Florence. When we called it quits yet again in 2012, I went to Paris, Brussels, and Barcelona. Originally these were the escape routes I took to get away from him, but I eventually came to understand that my true self, my happiest self, is when I’m traveling and lost in a foreign city. Had we never had those multiple falling outs, I would have never tried to outrun him and I would have never realized this very important part of my personality.
5. I Began To Regard Him As A Necessary Lesson
Although I can say that the majority of relationships I’ve had with people in my life, both men and women, platonic and romantic, all had some sort of lesson to teach, I think my FWB taught me the biggest lessons of all: 1) When two people are too similar, it can be a disaster, 2) You can’t make someone have feelings for you that they’re just incapable of having, and 3) Real life rarely gets a Hollywood ending.
6. I Finally Put My Career First
I think we can say I had an unhealthy lust and infatuation for my FWB. I also think that stemmed from the fact that I knew it was fleeting and so I needed to be with him as much as possible. Because of that, everything came second to him. I didn’t see my family as much as I should, my friendships took a backseat, and my writing was practically non-existent. Although I had just started freelance writing at the time, while juggling a full-time office manager job, I was content to put off my writing, which is my true passion, just to spend time with him.
When he was out of my life, I finally put my writing first and went head first into full-time freelance writing. I also promised myself that I’d never put anyone, FWB or otherwise, before my writing again. I’m proud to say I’ve stuck to that.
7. I Realized The Importance Of Self-Preservation
What I took from my FWB relationship was that you need to protect and guard yourself from people who are likely to be careless with your heart. I immersed myself so deep in self-preservation afterward that even when I met my husband, I felt that I wasn’t loving him as much as should, because there was a part of myself I refused to give up. While I think that was unfair of me since my husband did very much give it his all in the beginning, when that relationship came to an end, I was grateful for that self-preservation. Had I not had it, I’m not sure how I would have survived such a disappointment and heartbreak. It was easier to lose my husband than it was to lose my FWB because I had kept a part of me for myself.
8. I Learned To Forgive Him
He was very clear that, although he loved me, he wasn’t in love with me and never would be. However, I refused to listen. But as time went on, I forgave him for what I once considered being lead on and realized it wasn’t his fault — or even my fault for that matter. Not only was I able to stop blaming myself, but I was able to stop pointing my finger at him as if he failed me, when the reality was that he didn’t.
9. I Reached Complete Acceptance Of The Situation
When I fell in love with my husband, I reached total acceptance of my former friends with benefits relationship. I was able to look back and see that we were two people who had found each other, and although we were very lucky to have done so, it wasn’t meant to last. We may have had a foundation for a great friendship, but the physical intimacy part really messed things up. I accepted it as a piece of my past, and important one in many ways, and moved forward without an ounce of animosity or regret. I'd even go so far as to say it matured me.
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