Because last week was Valentine’s day and there were memes circulated that were trashing people who choose to have premarital sex because they like each other. From that, I thought talking about ‘Friends with benefits’ would cover all the related and interlinked taboos.
In India, by all appearances, a perfect life is to get married and have kids – either you fall in love with the person is not a concern, though.
When our biological clock hit the alarming age of 16, one of our ‘wants’ was to just fall in love. It takes a roller coaster of a few years to understand that there’s much more to life. We all give in to the pull of natural attraction and forget that life always – ALWAYS has other plans. Swallowed by the magical madness, consumed by the three-dimensional monster called boyfriend/girlfriend, drowning helplessly down into the vortex, when the wave of emotions walk the red carpet, after all the hot tears that blur your vision – you just decided, not to fall in love, ever again!
Life has its ways to throw people in and out of our lives, and even when you are sure that you don’t want to fall in love – you eventually would ‘like’ or be ‘interested’ in a person whose mind is attractive and who fits in your life so perfectly. You don’t want to shatter your heart again like a little glass figurine that fell by mistake and so, you both decide to stay together with the realities of life and with-less-to-struggle.
I really don’t believe in getting the ‘certificate’ to have sex (IYKWIM), and I believe takes some emotional-mental-physical attraction and connect for it. You know it is not just because you’re desperate for a relationship, but yet, you’re unwilling to go to the distance that it might take.
Whenever one hears a person saying ‘we are friends with benefits,’ they only focus on the ‘benefits,’ and that means only ‘sex’ to them. Apparently, the focus for those in the relationship is being ‘friends’ by all means. If it was only about ‘sex’ – it is either a one-night-stand or a fling but not FWB.
Being ‘friends with benefits’ is about being mindful of one’s wants and needs. The focus is being ‘right there’ for the other without any boundaries or force. Staying strong, and moving forward in life without any ties and strings. It makes life easier for self and the other. You work things out without cognitive dissonance which makes life beautiful for the brief period.
When married, you’ll have to forgive the other no matter what and you’re forced to, for the sake of life. How many of them in this big world live for the sake-of-being-married? Umpteen. You’re obliged to stay with a person in a marriage even if things go wrong unless it is ultimately wrong, to take the next big step. When you’re ‘friends with benefits’ you get to forgive the other person if you want to, you protect the other person wholeheartedly.
To me, ‘Friends with Benefits’ is about two individuals signing up for staying in each other’s life for a brief period and helping the other to grow as a better person. No ties, no strings and no force to stay but still choosing to, isn’t that a beautiful thing?
P.S — Not endorsing it in any way. But, I really want to convey that ‘Friends with Benefits’ is not just about alcohol in tall glasses, chocolate pralines, and shriveled condoms.
All of us had to leave behind a relationship for some reason or the other. I know of friends who had to break-up because one wanted to study further, and I know of families that forced their son/daughter to break-up and get married to a person of their choice, religion or caste issues, misunderstandings, etc…, etc.. Okay, yes! Officially you broke up but. A big BUT.. how do you stop loving the person, though? How do you move on? Let’s talk about it.
Though not ‘Love’ I am indeed nursing myself from parting ways from a friend who misunderstood me recently. No amount of explanation could mend things, Though an author with umpteen friends online, I have a very few to count on. I tried my level best but he was stubborn and continued to accuse, it was polemical. From being the person I talk with every single day, from the one who comes to rescue, from the one whom I cry-out-loud, now, though connected online, we don’t talk anymore. It was hard-hitting, and I went inside-my-shell mode. I was not normal for days.
Most of us deal the ‘breaking-up even when in love for unavoidable reasons’ emotionally. Don’t we all? Especially when we are below 25 years. Though age is just a number, at least the majority is.
First, tell yourself “People leave,” – the number of people who left us either by choice, or because ‘way of life’ right from our childhood is countless. We’ve gone through it all; we can never be in terms with every single person we know. Few are matured enough to strike a balance and respect the differences, but a few are not. She/He might be the haunting dark nights of your soul, and you will experience short-circuit in your brain. And, that’s okay! Don’t throw yourself into the reverberating thoughts and go offbeat, do something different from usual. Make new friends, or indulge in something new or something you are good at. It can as simple as a morning walk or a small leap like learning a new language. That person will always be a precious fragrant flower – don’t force yourself to hate the person, let the person go and hold on to the love. Even if you act like you hate the person, your deepest heart’s truth is that you-love-the-person.
Stop trying to clear the cobwebs in your mind, don’t search for answers in haunting silence. The thoughts of the person would stay there bright like fire in the night sky. Cushion your thoughts and heart. A few disconnected days would prove that the suffering was not worth it, you will be fine, fucking fine. Embrace the memories, let it stay but don’t leave ways to haunt you. It’s okay to have their footprints like a tattoo on your mind. Try not falling into the quicksand called self-hatred, forgive yourself for the attachment you developed.
People are destined to walk into your life and leave when it’s time. Every single thing counts in the cosmos, don’t question “why” it happened. Answer ‘It is over!’ And that you’ve learned your lessons and march forward. Don’t close yourself from the next person who might walk in; you don’t pour all the water you had in your bottle if some spill away. Life is short to experience and learn lessons, sometimes, it comes through people or is people.
Nurse your heart optimistically and just love, wildly! Right now, I picked a book to escape into a new world, what’s your escape plan?
I’ve grown as a better person in the last four years. 2013 – that’s when I first fell in love or rather, a serious relationship kick-started. Like all relationships, it was all good and sweet. Movies and popcorn, stolen kisses and quick hugs at the elevator, and what not? Almost 8 months into the relationship and I found that he’s been cheating on me with someone else – devastating, yes it was. From then on, I’ve not been into any serious relationships at all because I’m afraid that I would be cheated. Until recently, because, the solution to my ‘insecurity’ came via a good friend of mine who is in an open relationship. If I think about it, I feel that I could have handled my reaction and the relationship better.
When it comes to defining a relationship, we stick to ‘monogamy’ that is, to not to have a sexual relationship with any other person. There were times where one was supposed to maintain ‘virginity’ but times have changed, though. ‘Sex’ is no more about bearing the ‘license’ required to sleep with another, it is more of ‘you feel like it? Do it.’ Because, back then, the gap between a person attaining puberty and having sex was short. Women were getting married as early as 12 or 14 yrs and men when they are hardly 16. Now that we have better exposure to everything, passion to explore, ambitions to become rich and a lot more, we are not confined within the walls of not wanting to explore one’s sexual desires until THE person enters the life.
Having worked abroad, I had the opportunities to work with other nationals and understand their lifestyle. I had a set of friends who had to move from their respective countries to work abroad, they stay away from their families for long, but that didn’t stop them from having sex. They had their own sexual partners that the family(husband/wife) is aware of. When I first heard of it, I was thrown aback. But, that’s when I got to know that the same applies to Indians as well, they also had sexual relationships but just that, they didn’t inform their spouse. (This attitude made me more cautious, and I had then decided not to get into any relationship/get married because I was(am) hurt enough from the first betrayal)
My friend simplified the whole concept – “A relationship is about making the other person happy. It is about the other person being the ‘priority’ in one’s life through all thicks and thins. In India, we seldom get the chance to explore how sexually compatible the couple is before the wedding(Things have changed a lot now, though). So, there comes a problem when they really are incompatible. Compartmentalize ‘love’ and ‘sex’ – throw them each in different boxes. You’re not going to have sex for the whole of your life (Mostly) – it takes a back seat after a few years, so why define the term ‘loyalty’ with ‘sex,’ why not define it differently? It can just be the friendship between the two, being right there for each other, understanding and staying through issues. A relationship can be beautiful if two individuals want to raise a family just by standing with each other through the good and bad.
You become jealous or possessive when ‘insecurity’ creeps in when you’re afraid if the other would leave you. We don’t feel the same with family right? You are not possessive about your mom or dad (mostly) and so, how about establishing a relationship that is as good as the trust factor within the families?
I am writing this because I see many who are not in a good relationship but still sticking with each other for the sake of it, a few who are sexually not compatible or happy but still are in the relationship for the society, and most importantly, I see people breaking up because the other had a fling with someone else – How about thinking again? What if we don’t hold ‘not having sex with another’ as a strong component in a relationship?
I asked the same question to Preeti Shenoy and Ravinder Singh at the Chennai Lit Fest as they write about infidelity and extramarital affairs, one word that Preeti told still lingers in my mind – “Having an affair doesn’t define a person, one who has an affair can relatively be a nice person than the one who is not having an extramarital affair,” she said, and that’s so true.
I wouldn’t endorse an affair, but I just want to convey that it is not as bad as we think it is. These relationships might probably wither away with time, polygamy was always a part of Indian traditions, and it was taken easily. Maybe, if we give ‘sex’ a backseat and don’t chew at the skin around the nail – our thumb might not bleed. How about not pondering about one-not-sleeping-with-anyone-else with fingerprint dust? Let’s not anchor a relationship’s hold to ‘sex’ but commitment and being there for one another.
I definitely know how it feels to be cheated on (first-hand experience) and I’ve been through depressing times for months together, it is a sharp pang of pain that goes through the gut and leaves us with a terrible hollow feeling. But, if we could change our mindset and focus, and if we don’t bank on ‘sex’ for ‘loyalty’ life might turn better, ain’t it? I have shifted what ‘loyalty’ means to me.
I’ve just echoed the persistent thoughts that are on my mind, and am pushing aside topics like – feminism, misogyny, sexism, moral authority, etc.. from this blog post. I am just leaving it here with a mere thought that it can be considered a possibility instead of breaking up from a relationship – because, breakup from a marital relationship is still expensive (I don’t mean the money here – if you know what I mean)
I repeat I don’t endorse the concept or anything. I just wrote how my mindset has changed, and I guess this might help someone who is in a confusing relationship. Life is much better and bigger if we ensure to push aside petty things that don’t matter in the long term – it can also be a person in one’s life.
Being alone together sounds like an oxymoron to me to the least, but it is sea deep. Being in a relationship and breaking up when things don’t fall in place is an altogether different game and pain. But, being married to each other, not being compatible, but still forced-to-live-together — unimaginably painful. This post is for one of my closest friend (who wouldn’t read this) and for those who are going through this emotional numbness.
The joy and happiness when we surf through candid photography pictures of a successful and lavish wedding are heartwarming indeed. But, are they really happy? If yes, for how many days? Most weddings are after the so-called-horoscope-match but. But.. do we know if they are a match – mentally, physically, emotionally? A big No to at least 7 out of 10 marriages.
None are signing up for this emotionally unavailable relationship at the start, but life has it’s own ways, right? There are times where people bend over backward to make it work – but-still-FAIL. I know of friends who are now professional fake lovers for the sake of their families. Every time I hear this, it aches. How long would one hide their true selves? Won’t their masks fall off? I would wonder. How many days one would stay so chained-up. It pains to think!
They get married with an expectation of finding an anchor for life, but turn a heavy backpack that hangs on each other’s shoulder affecting them forever. I’ve been with them, I’ve tried to mend things between them, but, certain things can never be straightened back to normal.
Two hearts get shattered in a crowded room but none around would ever hear, Can you imagine the pain? Won’t those pair of eyes look at each other with love, at all? Won’t they become one in each other’s arm? Never. I hear. Because they tried it all. They are doped up on this worrisome that they are comfortable living in this ‘alone-together’ relationship that they don’t even think of the What-it’d-be-like-to-leave? Family pressure, caste issues, society problems, alimony, life after this, etc.., etc.. puts them together again in that fucked-up-box.
What use of being wealthy? When all you do is to cry, and add salt to your chocolate chip ice cream? Of broken dreams and nightmares – living this butchered life forever, and being the victim of this, naming it FATE. From the never-ending flow of tears to muffled tears, from shout-out-loud to calm demeanor, from spitting foul words to emptied words – the transition to this emptiness. Appalling!
“How long will you two act like this? What are we having a rehearsal dinner? – It’s life, you freaking meatballs,” I yelled at them. “We are better off but still we opt to stay under the same roof,” they said. The coppery sensation I felt when they spoke to me lingers yet. It is piercing my soul to see you two doing this to each other. I don’t want you two to stay in this such abusively-tucked-in relationship.
Enough being so distant, and locked away from each other. Can you both stand as two naked souls and talk to each other leaving your ego suits away? Would I ever see you both happier? I just hope some light edges around. I’ve done enough, but I would still continue, even after all these fruitless efforts, I will still worry my head to find a way out of this for you two.
If any of you are living ‘alone-together’, please take the initiative to solve it by-any-mean. To understand the imperfection of each other, to appreciate the differences and to enjoy the sweet-nothings is tougher than rocket science. End of the day, we’ll never know what’s going in the other’s mind, but, why don’t we just try? Will you?
“You’re my summer,” she said once.
“Who is the winter?” I had responded, almost automatically. It had torn her apart, making her shy away and cocoon into herself for days after that.
I knew from experience that she was sensitive. More importantly, how was she living without me? The worry was nagging me, clutching at my throat.
She was a weird combination of many personality traits – obviously not fitting into any of the zodiac stereotypes. She had been a soul filled enigma, irrevocably colouring a few chapters in the otherwise monochrome book of my life in vibrant shades.
I had known she was keeping things from me since day 1. But I had been too comfortable in my own blindness to think hard about it. I knew I was not getting the complete truth but I couldn’t leave her for that.
She was the risk I adored, a failure I’d cherish and a bitch I’d worship.
Every time I touched my Royal Enfield, wanting to escape the shit that was my life with a long morning drive coasting along the ECR, I would remember him. My Raghu – someone I’ll never forget in my lifetime. He was my serendipity. He was the one I had wanted to meet, fall in love with and live happily ever after together. His innocence and care had been unadulterated and unfiltered and even his kisses would seem gentle, giving and wanting simultaneously, and adding a piquancy to the forbidden platter we were relishing.
Staying miles apart, yet sensing his presence almost close to me – it was magical and unique. In a matter of months, our lives had tangibly tangled, messily interlaced. Letting him go was the hardest thing I had done. Of all the things I hate about my life, this goodbye stands at the top of the list.
Our life together was knit by moments rather than the ‘forever and after’ promise.
The usual spot where he dropped me and waited until I had safely entered my house
His cold stares at the creepy perverts who objectified me sexually.
The way he pulled me closer to avoid the oncoming traffic.
I had fallen in love with him a little more every time he had done something like that. I was practically in another world while I was with him.
His entry in my life changed two things – I no longer felt sick and lonely. I finally knew what it meant to be with a constant companion, for he had always been there either physically or emotionally, running in my mind on a loop like a one song playlist. Secondly, he had brought back my feeling of trust in men. The transition from ‘How will I trust anyone ever again’ to ‘Why would I even think of trusting anyone else?’ had been easy for me with him beside me.
It had been a given that I would never love anyone again but he had picked me up from the hard ground where I had fallen and shattered into pieces – nursing me back to health, carrying me around like the most fragile, gentle thing ever.
We were wildfires! I was stuck in tragedies when our eyes locked for the first time. It took me hardly few weeks to fall head over heels. Your words, your eyes, and your voice – and, the way you sing, how can I not fall in love, though?
When you ‘Happened’ to me, I felt ‘free’ more than the usual ‘happy.’
It was good. Not the usual good, but freaking-falling-in-love good when we proceeded from being friends to being close. I tried not to fall in love with you, like kicking away the strands of grass with legs. But, in vain. Little did I know you’ll turn the biggest drug of all those who I ever know, I was addicted to you. Like, crazily! Days when I didn’t have to figure things out on my own, with you – everything felt complete. You loved me through my struggles, you know the internal fires, the pain, et al. You loved me with the heavy baggage that came with. I love you!
We didn’t make it through; we had our own hurdles that stopped us from even giving it a try. We were proud to say ‘Yes, we are in love and are also coward enough to take this forward,’ but hey, you know what? I wish that you fall in love with a heart that loves you as much as I do. Yes, we’ve moved on but still a small part of you will always love me and a teeny weeny part of me will always love you! We were not strong enough to love each other the way we actually deserved, right? The ‘fear’ stopped us, stopped us from every little thing that we ever wanted to do with each other.
Days together – wrestling with you for the bottle of water, and pouring it all over. You snatching the stupid phone of mine and throwing it far. We being ‘just there’ at that moment forgetting our pasts and come-what-may future. Having leftover pizzas with you, and talking some-random-shit. We were not as dramatic enough to call you the yin and to say I am the yang, but, we somewhere down the line were two individuals who appreciated the differences between us.
Maybe, our ‘forever’ was just a few ‘months, ’ but those are worth years, don’t you think? I do, though. Thinking of you leaves me smiling that spreads to my now-glassy eyes. We chucked the idea of ‘forever’ and ‘happily ever afters’ for good, but we fell in love with that thought down the line, didn’t we?
I’m still in love with you, though I have my reasons to not to be. You left me with a level of peace when we had to depart and bid goodbye. When did we become so wise? That we chose to make it easier to leave each other before it was time. It was tough to find my footing without you, and you fucking-know-that.
I am indeed happy now, for having fallen in love with you. We are friends now, and you’re someone I’d always count on when times are harder. Thanks for believing in me, and my dreams. It was an honor to be loved by you. For, I am not someone who wants hours and hours with a person but ‘moments,’ thank you for swallowing me in whole and for drenching me in love. I might not thank you for everything you ever did, but I would for the ‘Magic’ and though am not a part of your family (though I wanted to) – for a brief period, I was a part of you, and that would do!
Dedicated to the lovely bunch of practical nut-heads out there! 🙂 And, I will always wish that you fall in love with a heart that loves you as much as the other did.
Another tiring day and it was 8:30 PM when Katyayani reached home. A beautiful wedding card on her table, “Vishnupriya weds Raghuvaran,”
“Wow!” she exclaimed. “The whole family was here hours back. They felt really bad that we didn’t make it to the engagement. I guess we should go for the wedding!” ma said. “Hmmm, even I want to, been 3 years since I met all our relatives ma,” Katya smiled.
“Katya, get ready, I am booking an ola cab by 4:00 PM,” said her sister.
She picked the beige color designer salwar with zari and sequins, “Looks a bit grand, what will people say? Been just a year since divorce and she is dressing like a queen? Maybe,” she thought and left it aside, and picked a simple green salwar, “What if they give a ‘my God – poor girl’ look?” she contemplated.
The main entrance of the reception reminded her wedding. The minute they entered, many a relatives flocked. “Katya akka,” cheered her uncle’s twin daughters. They spoke to her like things were so normal but she knew they were taught to, to make her comfortable. Thanks Uncle.
A few stares, a few so-sad-looks, a few is-that-her gaze – blindingly obvious. The music, the crowd, the flowers, the family circle, the stage – everything reminded her expensive mistake. That wilted rose of a day where she understood waiting more would only burn her to death and walked out of a relationship for her own good.
“How are you Katya? You have kids?” asked the distant relative who knows nothing about what-happened. “No, I don’t have kids,” she told. “How is your husband? He is in Oman right?” The questions lined up. She had to maintain the codswallop story. Lie after lie after lie.
Tear prickled in her eyes, and her mind offered picture after picture from her own marriage and reception. She went glassy-eyed. Turning to look at her father sitting at the farthest corner, “Am sorry dad,” she murmured.
“What plans for Katya?” the first circle of close relatives started asking him. They mellowed and whispered. She could hear them in the crowd like the end of a cigarette glow in the dark. She raged at God, and cursed those people through her eyes.
She saw her other cousin walking inside with her husband and her kid. “That’s my niece, I didn’t visit my own niece since birth due to obvious reasons,” she thought and rushed to pick the sweet cherry. It was pricklier than she had intended. Her cousin interlocked her fingers and leaned to convey that she cares.
“Dad, are you alright?” she wanted to ask. Looking at that man who was draped in silk dhoti 2 years back, rushing from one corner of the stage to another, smiling happily, thanking every person who attended the reception. “What a waste of time, money and energy. Her mind was shielded with thoughts. Every little thing rubbed her in the wrong way.
“Check her horoscope,” said one. “Visit Rameshwaram, Kasi and Kanchipuram – do all the important poojas, she will be fine,” said another. “Let me check if any of our other distant relatives are divorced or what, let’s get her married off,” mumbled another. “Should have properly hired some detective agent to check the guy, no?” one asked curiously.
“Dad, why is this happening to us? Who are they? Why are they so concerned about all this now? Ask them to shut up, please,” her eye begged at him. He was calm, answering each of them politely, while many equated it to ‘he-is-ashamed’
P.S – This post is dedicated to the one who is utterly close and special to me. The emotions are applicable to both the genders, and not just to those who are divorced – even for those who are separated, widow(er), in a complicated relationship, etc..
I don’t want to give a big gyan. A person is just beyond their relationship status. Not all married are living ‘happily ever after’ and not all unmarried are ‘forever lonely’
It takes courage, self-respect and a few more attributes to walk out of a relationship that is not working.
Though the World is far advanced, when it comes to living an ideal life in India – people still stick to ‘college-work-own housing-own car-marriage-kids’ but life apparently never works the same way. If you’re living such life well and good, we appreciate but those who had to go through hard phase are only stronger according to me.
After all the break-up – patch up – break-up – patch up games, finally, officially, truly – it was a breakup. The last ‘No’ and the last ‘Never’ was mutual. Being the two who are always connected to those who only check WhatsApp DP’s and never talk was painful. Why be old-school? We can be friends, right? But, No, we can’t chat like usual. So random questions that seem relevant started. I Replaced my usual ‘Honey’ with ‘Dude, ’ and he replaced ‘Baby’ with ‘Yo!’
“Yo! can you recommend me a nonfiction?” popped his text. Another day, “Dude, know of any who can design a cover for my book?” I asked. Months passed by, we moved on, and we were talking to each other – Officially, ex-boyfriend and ex-girlfriend.
Two years then. Switching jobs, moving on, and another date with someone new.
“Know of someone who can help with printing?” a random text. “I know of, but, phone conversations won’t work. I shall help you. Let’s meet, Monday?” he replied. Meeting him? After two years? OMG! I’ve not lost any weight. “Okay! Done. Where?” I asked. “Starbucks!”
Was that a deliberate choice? Because, that’s one coffee shop that we’ve never been, at least, wouldn’t rekindle the good old memories right? And then, we met.
He was on time, and I was late. Our eyes met ‘Just like our first time, ’ and he seemed mute. It was almost like his mind was far away from here. “Hiiiiiiiiii,” I said and sat comfortably on the chair. ‘No, I shouldn’t sit next to him, so opposite.‘
“What would you like to have?” he offered the menu card to me.
‘Don’t you know?’ – “Caramel macchiato,” I told and gave back the menu card.
He came back with a plate of pasta.