Yes, we are sexual animals. And from time to time I imagine doing the dating thing with more of a “hookup” mentality. It won’t work.
I tried having an FWB relationship with an ex-girlfriend once. It went really well until it didn’t. I recall a conversation with my mom a year ago, when I was telling her about my experiment. “I needed to see if there was still anything to the rest of the relationship,” I said.
“Why would you do that?” asked my mom, who’s not been in a relationship of any kind for over 40 years.
“I still had strong feelings for her. There was part of me that wanted to work it out. When you get that close to someone, living together for several years, there’s a lot to it.”
The part I didn’t mention to my mom but was pointed out to me by a subsequent girlfriend, “Oh, you wanted to get laid.”
All three of us were right.
- I did want to get laid, and my prior girlfriend had set a new benchmark for sex
- I did still have strong feelings for this woman and I wanted to see if they were authentic or just loneliness
- Why in the world would I consider resetting a relationship with someone who drank every night?
As it turned out, the whimsical reunion was just that, a whimsy. We gathered a few times and discussed parameters for our engagement. We expressed our affection, still, for one another. And then we had great sex. And then we spent the work week sort of feeling like we were in a relationship and knowing we were not. But I always looked forward to our gatherings. I fantasized about them. I brought little treats for her. And it seemed we were both giddy when we’d reunite. It was a mutual happy-fest. Except the aim was self-gratification. There was no future plans in our plans. And that put a slight pallor of angst on the entire scene. Still, we moved forward and enjoyed what we could of each other, as best we could.
There was no future in this friends with benefits situation. I knew I could not ultimately trust her with my heart. She knew I was actively seeking a different relationship.
They say if FWB is going to work the relationship has to stay sex-only. It’s when feelings and plans get involved that havoc ensues. We kept it on the casual side of things for a few months. I felt we were in a win-win situation. We both got physical needs met, we both got some cuddle time and some camaraderie. And then I continued to dive into the dating apps to seek my next relationship.
It got weird. We really did still care about each other beyond the physical touch. We really did like being in each other’s company. We really did laugh and have fun together. And it was complicated. I kept dating and writing and going back to her for my “needs.”
I was writing about trying to find the next relationship while getting my sexual needs met with another woman. That equation was all wrong. My entire soul was mixed up. I was getting certain needs met, but somehow, something beautiful had become something sort of hollow and meaningless. It wasn’t that we didn’t still get off on each other, it was the idea that there was no future in the process. The memories we were building were more like masturbation fantasies rather than meaningful connections. Something had to give.
I had three other women in my orbit who I was engaged in conversations with. Two via online dating and one via Facebook with an old high school friend. And my FWB. In my mind, I was keeping my options open until one of the women stood up and demanded my attention. I was ready to stand in for someone who was ready for a relationship. And I was still a hungry and selfish man.
My plan was to give each of these relationships time to show up or ship out. I would stay in “research mode” until a winner was uncovered.
And the variable was the energy and motivation that is hidden in our sexual animal. I still had feelings for my FWB, we’d lived together and imagined a life together. And sex was still good, although the ennui was setting in as the future imaginings had to be squelched. So… as a man, as an animal, as a hungry ghost, I invited myself along on a road trip with my FWB to an even she’d been planning for months. We’d take the trip in my new car, drive down, have a fun weekend, and drive back. No strings. That was the plan.
During the eight-hour drive, we had so much fun. It was a road trip we’d driven before, in much darker times, and we were buoyant with the anticipation of the fun weekend. We got to our modernized air-bnb hotel and checked in. My friend had already made plans, before I was coming along, to go have a happy hour with her local girlfriend. That was the plan, and that’s what was going to happen. No problem. I was just so happy.
I recall thinking as she walked out the door that night, looking extremely beautiful, “This could work.”
She never came back. Her disease kicked in, she stayed out late into the night and had to be ubered back to our hotel.
FADE TO BLACK.
I needed this blow to the top of my head to finally understand why our relationship was never going to work for me. Blow delivered. Girl #4 was removed from consideration. Even as the dreams of our potential were heating up during the drive, the curtain came down full force that night.
And as things have moved along, I’m now alone having given girl #1 from online dating a good shot at a relationship. (Documented over the course of the last few months on this site.) And I have no regrets about our experience. We jumped in, we loved deeply, we discovered we were not a perfect fit. We ended as friends. Perfect.
Except, I’m alone again.
A “friend” on Facebook, an older woman, made a remark about how I might need to spend some time alone rather than jumping into all these relationships. I politely thanked her and asked her to mind her own relationship business.
Alone, I am still somewhat of a hungry animal. I contemplate calling my recent ex more frequently than I’d like to imagine. It’s a similar story to my previous relationship. Perhaps we can just get our physical needs met without worrying too much about the relationship or the future.
My heart does not work that way. Even as I was calling it FWB I was still invested in making that relationship work, regardless of the cost. I now understand, that nothing is worth that cost for me, and it has slowed me way down in terms of dating again. I want healthy, happy, and attractive. I want it all.
Yes, we are sexual animals. And from time to time I imagine doing the dating thing with more of a “hookup” mentality. It won’t work. As I was still investing in my old relationship, still getting sexual needs met, I was invested in my soul. There is no separation between sex and heart for me. Sex is a spiritual adventure. Taken lightly you may get your fill of junk food, but you’re not going to be nourished.
For me FWB (friends with benefits) is bullshit. So is eating at McDonald’s. I might do it from time to time, but I don’t feel good about either one. And, at the moment, I can’t imagine wanting casual sex again. I want deep sex. I want big love. I want the real deal, and I’m willing to wait.
Aside: Even as I finish this post up I’m amazed by how my body is urging me to call either of these women. BAD IDEA. The hunger is strong. The denial is strong. My will and alignment to wait and find a new relationship is stronger. So close, and yet so far. The lionheart roars.
back to Dating After Divorce
- Online Dating Adventure: What Is Your Quest?
- Wondering About Beauty, Sex, and My Pursuit of a Lasting Relationship
- Online Dating Challenges: Men vs. Women
- The Beleaguered Single Mother
- Beautiful Women and Refactoring My Approach to Love