Love and Relationships

[Two Pronged] From boyfriend to friend with benefits

Margie Holmes
[Two Pronged] From boyfriend to friend with benefits

Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes. Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives. Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.

Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,

Hi. Recently, my boyfriend and I broke up. He insisted on not continuing our almost 4-year relationship because “gusto niyang mag-enjoy sa buhay.” (He wanted to enjoy life.) At first it was hard for me to accept that because (1) he just texted me (2) I gave him all, my time, my family, his job.

But after the break-up, we still continue to see each other for sex. At times, I feel like we should stop what we are doing but other times, I feel like its something great because I can still feel that he loves me even if we are not together anymore.

One time, he even traveled from Bataan to Tarlac (where I presently work) for us to make love.

As of this moment, I am planning to continue this scenario between the two of us but still dont know until when. I still love him but I dont know if he feels the same.

Morena Maven 

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Dear Morena Maven (MM),

Thank you for your letter.

According to your account, your boyfriend (let’s call him Joe) insisted on your break up because ‘he wants to enjoy life.’ Presumably this enjoyment will involve other women because otherwise he could be wining, dining, and smelling the roses with YOU.

You, desperate to keep the relationship afloat, then agreed to continue to see him – not for the wining, dining, and roses, but just for sex.

Joe must have thought he had died and gone to heaven because now he has the best of all worlds – freedom to fool around without being shackled to you, but free also for all the bedroom benefits you so lavishly and selflessly provide him.

And to cap it all, you interpret his guest appearances between your sheets as love!

I have to suggest that you are delusional if you truly believe that anything in his behavior can be described as indicative of love. He has thrown over a 4-year long relationship, is enjoying his freedom without you, and shows no sign of being interested in anything you have to offer except your body 

Having said all this, it is of course entirely up to you if you want to keep the relationship alive in this way, in the hope that he will eventually come to realize that he actually loves you. I would merely suggest that you have a plan B because it is almost certain you will need it. 

All the best,

Jeremy

Dear MM:

Thank you very much for your letter and for being so straightforward about your decisions, actions and your interpretations of his actions, thus making it a whole lot easier for us to be the same way as well.

Even more importantly, it helps you become a bit more objective about what’s going on and thus make decisions based on your objectivity, no matter what you personally want for yourself.

Because it’s so easy, isn’t it, to fool yourself that things are what they really aren’t, simply because you want it so badly?  It is even easier if your ex-BF sometimes behaves more like a current BF and not the FB he really is.

At least, that’s what you are to him, a f*ck buddy.  He, however, is definitely more than that to you. If not, you wouldn’t misinterpret his driving from Bataan to see you as anything more than a man traveling some distance (which he may enjoy anyway) to have sex (something else he enjoys). 

It is almost as if  walang personalan, pang enjoy enjoy lang  (It’s not because it’s you that I traveled this far, it’s just because I’d drive this far to have sex with anyone with whom I enjoy sex, and this time, it happens to be you).

I am almost embarrassed to bang on about this because it’s clear that you harbor no illusions.  However, because you love him, it is so easy to misinterpret any little thing he does as a “sign” that he loves you. He doesn’t seem to anymore, at least not to the extent that he wishes to continue the exclusive relationship you once had.

Change in any relationship is inevitable.  As with other inevitabilities, some are embraced joyously, others tolerated, a few deeply resented.

Any relationship can only be as close as the person who is less emotionally invested wants.  The person who calls the shots is the person in the relationship who wants and/or needs the relationship less. Thus, since you and your bf both still want a physical relationship with each other, you still have one. Even if, for example, your ex wants nothing more than to make love all night long, he will end up doing nothing more than hold your hand if that is as far as you’re willing to do. 

The same is true emotionally: you may want to continue like before, but because all he wants is to “enjoy life” that is all you can have with him right now. 

Since a FwB (friends with benefits) relationship is all you can have right now, allow me to share a few pointers (by no means exhaustive) so you can be the best kind of FB there is by  

  • Constantly reminding yourself that you don’t have a right to know about any other aspect of his life. That way, you won’t be tempted to ask or get hurt if he doesn’t volunteer information.
  • Constantly remind yourself that this won’t last forever.  It is in the nature of this unforgiving 21st century “invention” that it will end sometime, either because your partner found another FB (though having 2 FBs is not beyond the realm of possibility) or he’s decided to become serious with someone else.

At this point in time, you probably wouldn’t mind if that “someone else” is you.  However, I hope that you know that, even if it isn’t, life will not only go on, but can, in fact, be pretty terrific, with or without him. 

All the best,

Margie

 Rappler.com

Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email twopronged@rappler.com with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.

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