“I’m horny all the time, stop shaming me.”
My friend with benefits taught me that. We shouldn’t shame people for desiring physical affection.
Growing up in a Catholic environment, I was raised to believe that sex is for marriage. Period. End of story. So I grew up wanting just that. My high school boyfriend and I attended youth group together, helped lead confirmation classes and were an example for everyone else in youth group. We were committed to staying "pure."
For a multitude of reasons, I have found those sentiments to be extremely damaging. I respect that everyone has different reasons for wanting or not wanting to have sex, including ones that are religious. However, when I came to college I started to give myself the freedom to disagree with the beliefs with which I was raised.
Peggy Orenstein recently published a book called "Girls and Sex." It covers a wide range of issues about girls… and sex. If you haven’t read it yet, I would highly recommend it. In one of the chapters, she writes about the idea of abstinence and how sex is taught in America. Essentially, what she found was that having open conversations gives people choices and education to make informed choices.
One thing I wish I would have been informed about is the variety of relationships that a person can have. During college, I met someone that explained to me that relationships don’t have to be monogamous. Relationships don’t have to be polygamous either.
I always grew up thinking that I had to be completely committed to one person. Sex with one person, dates with one person, marriage with one person, texting one person. In college, I realized that many people would share those experiences with multiple people at the same time.
Colin Wright published a short book call "Some Thoughts About Relationships." Despite the length, there is a gold mine of simple yet profound thoughts about relationships. One of these is that “there are as many valid relationship types as there are people.” Despite what I learned growing up, and now as a theology major at a Catholic institution, I can’t believe that monogamy is the right answer for everyone.
At the beginning of my college career, one of my friends explained that she didn’t care if her friend with benefits slept with another girl. What she cared about was knowing and being honest. This concept blew my mind. How could a person possibly be ok with sharing intimate moments with someone, knowing that they would do the same with someone else. Didn’t that hurt her?
Ok, so maybe it’s just because it’s only sex? No. Some people are completely fine with dating someone that is also dating someone else.
I used to think that this was just a disordered, disillusioned way of living. I was taught that. Now I realize that’s not the case.
In the past few months, I became aquatinted with someone that I loving know as a friend, that also shares pleasurable benefits with me. He explained to me that he was taking a year to be single to be able to engage in more intentional relationships, not just ones that appeared to be a good idea at first thought. But, he had learned and accepted about himself that he is a very physically affectionate individual. He doesn’t shame himself for that. He naturally desires to be with people, and he shows that physically.
Frequently I joke with him that I whore around. Every time I use a derogatory term for my sexual desires, he reprimands me. He then tells me to not feel guilty taking pleasure in people physically.
Going into relationships of any kind, especially intimate ones, there are expectations. But think about it, how many of these expectations are really important, or exactly what you want.
As unlikely as it seems, my friend with benefits taught me that relationships can be anything you want them to be. Don’t let society or anyone else tell you otherwise.