Some days I think I learned about the fuck buddy before I learned what actual intercourse was. For as long as I can remember actually wanting to think about sex, I've discussed, contemplated, and idealized the fuck buddy-aka friends with benefits. The precise scenario varies from boy to boy, fantasy to reality. It's the promise of consistent hot sex with minimal attachment that gets me. I kind of like to dream about the guy I fuck and watch football and eat wings with before going on with the rest of my life for the week.
The fuck buddy can be anyone from the guy or girl you call up once a month in desperate need of random good sex to your best friend whom you also happen to sleep with on a regular basis. The fuck buddy is different from the random hookup: the scenario follows a pattern. Sometimes you only have sex without so much as making out. Other times it demands dinner or a drink first. Fuck buddies are dangerously close to being habitual.
It might be overly simplistic, but I'm willing to wager most of us get into these fuck-buddy situations because we are afraid of getting hurt. Without a defined relationship, there is no risk of an official breakup. But in getting into these ambiguous sexual relationships, we are only making ourselves more vulnerable than ever.
If fuck-buddy sex can be identified by patterns, fuck-buddy communication looks more like a solid red 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. So much is about how you play it. You want to play it cool so that he or she won't think you're interested in anything more-but not so cool that your fuck buddy stops calling you. Or you might want to play it cool so that he or she will be attracted to your chill attitude-but not so cool that your fuck buddy will think you're not interested in anything besides sex. Everybody wants to play it perfectly; the trouble is that nobody sees things the same way. What one person thinks signifies romantic interest and what another person thinks signifies things are over may very well be one and the same.
This is where the fantasies end and real life begins. Because fuck buddies are rarely just fuck buddies. Especially when your fuck buddy is your best friend. There is a very fine line, perhaps even invisible, between spending tons of time with a good friend you also happen to sleep with and having a defined relationship. Chances are, if your fuck buddy is not a good friend, there is some ulterior motive going on when you make that booty call. You may not recognize it-who ever does?-but fuck buddies have a lot to do with whom you do care about: whether it's the guy you thought you were dating who just dropped off the face of the universe without notice or the girl who told you she had too many intimacy issues to handle casual sex.
But the worst part about the real-life fuck buddy is how easy it is to pretend we don't care for said partner. This is my specialty. Back when I was still young and foolish and thought sex in college could only be noncommittal and glamorous, the fuck buddy thing seemed simple and easy. I didn't want a relationship; I wanted sex and friendship. Hooking up with my favorite guy friend was a no-brainer-until an incredibly un-glamorous bedroom incident on the night of my 19th birthday left me lost and lonely.
Something unexplainable happens each time we fall for somebody new. They say love makes you blind. It's not just blindness. We become terrorized by the irrational and insane, especially when we fall for somebody without realizing it, or somebody who may not feel the same way in return. We do things we never meant to do. This is why we delete cell phone numbers but stalk Facebook. This is why we hang on to every last word that someone says even when we know he or she couldn't care less. In our most lucid moments, we swear to put an end to things. You never want to do the things you do. You can't help it.
Outsiders and dating self-help books endlessly preach the benefits of being cool and confident. They warn against letting anyone, namely the fuck buddy, walk all over you. It's nice of them to try. I might think that my girl friend should stop sleeping with the guy she says she doesn't care about because it clearly makes her feel like shit. I might think my friend shouldn't give his girlfriend another chance because she's breaking his heart. It doesn't really matter what I think. Nothing I say or do will change things for either friend.
Tomorrow will be exactly two years since my ill-fated fuck buddy incident. By all outsider and dating-book standards, I am still setting myself up for disaster. But I care too much about him to go back now.
Logic says I should get myself out before I really get hurt. Logic is the last thing I care about.
Miriam Datskovsky is a Barnard College junior majoring in human rights and political science. Sexplorations runs alternate Mondays.