Thursday June 26 2014

Friends with benefits?

He stares at the clock waiting for kingdom come. It is 12.45pm and for Ivan, the hour hand seems never to hit 1pm. He texts Paul just so he can kill time. He is hardly done when he gets the reply, “Off to do the assignment, assist me with your pen please.”

The knowing grin on Ivan’s face only says one thing; someone is getting lucky for lunch. “Well, how would that be?” you may ask. Ivan is not your average boy scout, always prepared to go out of his way to help someone with their tasks. Reality is, the Paul he is texting is a female friend, whose name is not far from Sheila, Bella, or any other name potent enough to spark his fiancée’s curiosity. Bella (let us call her that), is just a friend… a Friend with Benefits.

Ivan just put an engagement ring on his longtime girlfriend’s finger, and Bella, well; she has a 6ft 4’’ guy who shares half of her profile picture… and many other things. So, what benefits do they get from their “friendship”?

They could old school friends, workmates, church mates, or even just friends who just happen to share the same neighborhood. Thing is, there is no more to their arrangement except the benefit of sharing the same bed when the “need” arises.
And what might that mean? It means these two friends enjoy the pleasure of a bedroom with no emotional strings attached, seeing they are already “tied” to other people.

Friends with Benefits are a hushed breed in this world of relationships, most even being so without noticing or seeing it that way. According to the Urban Dictionary, Friends with Benefits, are “two persons who are in a sexual relationship without being emotionally involved”. Typically, they are two good friends who have casual sex without a monogamous relationship or any kind of commitment, with observance to some rules. I would like to call them the “Rules of Engagement”.

No emotions attached
This is the number one rule in this deal. Like Ivan and Bella, those who benefit from it ought to understand that they are in it to quench each other’s urges and walk home. Any such feelings that arise must be duly reserved for the official spouse. But let us face it, this is a bit of a paradox. That a friend can continuously “go down” with another and not expect any emotions to arise is like eating crusty bread and not expecting a soiled mouth.

Alex Kakuru, a student at Makerere University, says: “Plainly speaking, as it often turns out, girls, being the emotional ones, will make a change in plans, and things may get really ugly, especially when you have a spouse.”

Lois Ochieng, a counsellor at Healing Talk Counselling Services, says naturally, humans express erotic intimacy through sex. That the more time both parties spend with each other, the more intimate they turn out, despite their initial overall intentions. This definitely rules out the possibility that people can “just be friends” while engaging in a sexual relationship,
“While one party may still think the relationship to be without emotion, another may have fallen for the other,” Ochieng says, adding that in cases such as these, the whole idea has already been meddled with.

Just friends, nothing else
Discretion is the fodder that this kind of relationship survives on. We live in an age plying between conservatism and yes, new age freedom. If anyone happens to ask, say, “We are just friends, nothing else”. That should be your answer even if you have been caught with your hands in the darned cookie jar.

While one’s bedroom matters are one’s own, sooner or later, everyone notices that friendship was not the sole “benefit” of this arrangement and before you know it, your spouse is giving you the eviction notice.

The code conduct
“There are only two groups of people; the thieves, and the ones who get caught,” I was once informed from an unassuming character in a heist movie. Well, as ridiculously unassuming as that line may come off, that also applies to this set up of Friends with Benefits. But again, we all know that the urge that is sex is no respecter of persons, and so is the scandal that comes with getting caught.

Ivan and Bella’s texting, for instance, insinuating innocent code words, is what people in this arrangement often use. And as I leave your minds to figure out what their coded text insinuated, also imagine what could happen if you are caught.

So, imagine if Bella’s workmate who she doesn’t get along well with cracked their codes. That would definitely be recipe for disaster. The entire office will know and then with the way word gets around fast, Ivan’s spouse will be in the know.

I have a spouse, and it is NOT you
This may sound like a repeat of rule number one. This is the rule that applies when one attains a sense of entitlement over the other. Yes, Friends with Benefits are primarily intended to “help” each other out, but it is certainly obvious that at given moments, one’s needs may not be reciprocated. In the event it so unfortunately happens, then there is a problem.

“Once emotions creep in, issues of mistrust, jealousy in cases where either party has a formal spouse sprout. While it may be easy in thought to shake off such a relationship, there is a lot for both parties to leverage their interests for; scandal and blackmail which in most cases, never ends well,” Ocheng advises.

No break ups or make ups; ‘we’ never existed
Of matters of the sheets, there is always certain to be some form of blackmail, however mild. Sooner or later, things go south and one of you has the need to call it quits. But what happens if one of you was expecting more from the relationship than the other was willing to give? I guess that is when the unexpected will occur. A situation where we will see tears of a heartbreak.

An article on says: “Friends with Benefits are like junk food. They are addictive and delicious, but they don’t sustain you, and one day you are going to wake up and think, what am I doing?” So if at this point you find yourself asking if this is going anywhere, and the answer is no, then it is about time you broke things off.