On Being 'Friends With Benefits'

The tricky thing about friends with benefits is that the lines you painstakingly set up get blurred so quickly; before you know it, there are no longer any lines discerning black from white -- it is all just a pale shade of grey. You question all your emotions and when you start doing that, nothing is simple anymore. You constantly have to stop and think — the spontaneity that was once so attractive disappears. As the feelings increase, so does the hesitancy. And for me, the only time I felt truly comfortable was during sex, because we did not need to say a word. Too bad sex can’t last forever.

He knew he was hurting me -- or rather, that our arrangement was detrimental to me. I hated the fact that he could walk away seemigly untouched, unharmed while I knew I was tied to him in so many different ways. After a while, I could not even have sex with anyone else. I felt like I was cheating on him.

I may have come across as an insecure, indecisive girl, unable to get rid of a toxic relationship (or perhaps a more suitable word is ‘arrangement’). But the truth is that while on the outside, my life seemed glossy and sharp (I was the girl with the perfect GPA, the girl men chased after) when it came to relationships, I was willing to settle for next to nothing. Because while we were extremely intimate, the bottom line was that he didn’t want anything more than sex from me.

My insecurities came rushing back. For years I struggled with my body image, eating disorders and perfectionism. I craved attention from men and I felt like my self-worth was attached to the acknowledgement I got from them. Sexualized from a young age, flirting, playing coy, and touching were the only ways I knew how to interact with the opposite sex — I didn’t even have to think about it, it was my default.

Everyone told me that I was wasting my time, that I deserved more, that I should date somebody else. At the beginning of every semester I tried to stop seeing him. I told him that I couldn’t do this anymore, but each time, I came back, had “last time sex” and then repeated the whole cycle all over again.

For almost two years, I was unable to be honest with myself. I should have had the courage to realize that I was worth more, that I should not sell myself short for him, hoping that one day, he would wake up and come to his senses. I was waiting for someone to show me, to prove to me that I was special, when all I needed to do was to believe in my own-self worth.

The quote from Perks of being a Wallflower hit home: “You accept the love you think you deserve.” Like many girls out there, I was struggling with insecurities. To overcome these insecurities, I set out to be an overachiever, accepting nothing but perfection. And even though everything seemed smooth on the outside, my willingness to be in a purely sexual relationship when I knew I desperately wanted more proved otherwise.

I am not out to condemn those who choose to be in a purely sexual relationship. I think it can work for many people and I have seen friends flourish and thrive in these situations. I guess what I am trying to say does not only relate to friends with benefits but relationships in general: stop selling yourself short, stop waiting for someone to tell you that you are special. You are special and you need to see it before anyone else can. You are good enough — have the courage that I lacked for years to believe it.

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Sara Wong
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