Things I Learned From My Friend With Benefits

When I was fifteen years old, I came out as bisexual. A lot of shit went down – I came out on Facebook, I got hit on by random queer schoolmates who came out of the woodwork, I had my first girlfriend (NBD, we only dated for a month), I attended my first Pride Parade… but maybe the most interesting thing that happened was that my female friend fell in love with me.

She was actually in love with me before we really became friends. She watched from afar, using social media and secondhand gossip as her telescope – and then we started talking, and then we became close. And then, eventually, we began a sexual relationship that would last a year and a half.

I’m not going to lie to you: it was weird. She loved me; I had no feelings for her beyond a friendly fondness. She worshipped my body; I thought she was kinda cute. She put her heart and soul into making love to me; I enjoyed our regular fucks. There’s a lot about that relationship that makes me feel kind of shitty in retrospect, but all the same, I’m very glad it happened, because it taught me most of what I know about the practical applications of sex.

1. Communication is hard. I grew up listening to Sex is Fun and Open Source Sex, so I knew how important it is to communicate with your sexual partner… but I guess I never realized how embarrassing and vulnerable it can be, until I actually had to do it. Even knowing that my partner was deadset on me and wouldn’t leave no matter what I said or did, it was still difficult for me to form basic sentences like “Could you lick a little harder?” Now, I have a lot more respect and understanding for people who get nervous about asking for what they want. There’s still no excuse for not stepping up to that responsibility, but I get it: it’s tough.

2. I love cunnilingus. Really, I do. It’s perfect and beautiful. It’s intimate and hot. It’s smooth and wet and tangy. It can be about dominance or submission or neither or both. I used to watch cunnilingus porn exclusively, thinking maybe my obsession would get diluted a little when I started having Real-Life Sex, and it did, a bit, but not really.

3. Sexual equality doesn’t always appear equal. This girl, she loved giving head. She could literally orgasm just from going down on me. She was way more of a giver than a receiver – and as I’m more on the receiver side of the spectrum, this worked for us. But at the same time, our friends viewed our connection from the outside and worried that we weren’t practicing equality. I see why they would wonder about that, but what they didn’t understand was that sexual equality isn’t about making sure each person gets the exact same treatment – it means making sure that each person gets exactly the same amount of what they really want. And we had that.

4. I love my body. If there’s one thing that can quell adolescent body image problems, it’s an adamant lover. Having someone obsess over the parts of you that you hate the most is indescribably wonderful. I frequently suffered spells of emotion when my lady-lover would say things like, “Please don’t talk about losing weight. You’re perfect the way you are.” Sometimes I think I’d still be insecure today, if not for that fateful tryst.

5. Friends-with-benefits situations can work… if handled properly. We always talked about our feelings. We always confessed if we were feeling jealous or smothered or neglected. We always told each other “where we were at,” even when that was scary or potentially hurtful. And we made our decisions accordingly, like when to take a break from each other, when to spend more time together, who to tell about us and who to keep in the dark. As a result, we both felt heard and respected, even if that sometimes meant getting our feelings bruised a little. I think that’s why we lasted so long.

6. Lesbian sex is great. Yup, the rumours are true – girly bodies, brought together in sexual union, are hot. But the thing is, good sex is good sex, regardless of gender. I learned that later, when I dated a guy. If your partner is enthusiastic, communicative, adventurous, and kind, the sex will be good, no matter who has what anatomy.

I learned so much from my teenage FWB. How to talk about sex, how to negotiate boundaries, how to enjoy my body with someone else’s. So even though our relationship ended on a sour note, I wouldn’t take it back – it formed the basis of all the awesome sex I’m having nowadays and will have for the rest of my days.