Advice: Friends with Benefits, Before and After

Back in the day, I wrote a collaborative advice column (or, regular blog entry) for teens on the-n.com. They’d send questions, I’d pick good ones to post, teens who had been there (or just had something to say) would respond, and I’d collect the highlights from that advice and sometimes add my own.

When we took down the site that had all that content on it, I went through my mailbox to see what I wanted to keep, and rediscovered a follow-up mail I got from the girl who was the subject of this column below. Just wanted to share, ’cause it warmed me cockles.

First, her original letter and the “advice blog” that resulted from it, followed by her epilogue mail.

The-Mary,
This is really embarrassing to even ask you, but I’m kind of confused about stuff. I’ve been talking to my ex-boyfriend recently, and I hadn’t spoken to him really since we broke up at the end of last summer. He wants to hook up and stuff, and admittedly, I do too. Neither of us wants a serious relationship, and I personally think they’re unrealistic at our age (I’m 16 and he’s 17). Does it make me slutty that I’m willing to hook up with him without being in a relationship? What do you think about having friends with benefits?

Looking through the responses in the comments, pretty much no one thought that you would be a bad (or “slutty”) person for it, but a lot of people had other concerns about any Friends with Benefits scenario. For instance:
Let’s be blunt — sex is serious, so if you’re hooking up (or going to hook up) with him for that, then it’s a serious relationship, in my opinion.” – dtng8604

if you are wondering if it makes you ‘slutty’, you definitely already believe in your mind that it would turn you into something you don’t want to be. make sure you stay true to who you are and what you truly want. you want to make sure that no matter what decision you choose, you won’t regret any consequences that may come from the decision.” – nako7788

if you wanna hook up, that’s totally your right. As long as you’re sure you won’t regret it.
Would you regret it if you got pregnant?
Would you regret it if he ‘gave’ you ‘something?’
Would you regret it if you found out he was / wanted to ‘hook up’ with someone else?
… I’m not saying [these things] WILL [happen], just that they CAN.
The good thing is that you’re not just throwing yourself into this. You’re thinking about it. You’re asking for advice.
If you’ve REALLY thought about everything, and you still wanna go through with this, then go for it
.” – LithiumRox

Interestingly, there were some divergent opinions about whether an ex-boyfriend is the ideal person for a friends-with-benefits scenario. On the one hand, maybe your past would be a liability:
it’s easy to get attached to someone that you have a physical relationship with, especially since you kind of have some kind of feelings involved in some way shape form or fashion.” – derecho87

On the other hand, maybe your past would be an asset:
it’s not like you’re hooking up with some random person you just met or something. You know this guy, even have a past with him.” – IrisofDimu

Other than that… I mean, obviously people have differing opinions on whether FWB works. All anyone can do is listen to the arguments and decide what’s right for you as an individual:
Friends with Benefits never turn out exactly like the people in it planned and it ends up with somebody getting hurt.” – monet500

when you’re in a relationship it just means more… there’s no passion without the whole being into each other thing. but at that age, there’s absolutely no way a relationship is really going to work out. what, like 1% of relationships actually work out after high school? … it’s insane to think that at this age it’s going to last. so my outlook is hey, why not have some fun, it’s summer, live it up.” – Erickuhhh

1) You know the person well and 2) You’re only hooking up with one person and you don’t already have a boyfriend. At 16 and 17 it’s okay to have fun. You still don’t know what you want out of life or who ‘The One’ is, and most of us don’t even know who we are as a person yet at that age. Have fun and don’t feel guilty about it.” – only4rjj

Just as a side note, can we stop calling ourselves sluts (and all those other horrible terms for ‘loose women’)? please. it only gives guys the right to call us that. and NO one wants to be called that.” – nako7788

TRUE STORY nako7788. Thanks for that.

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[BONUS MATERIAL! Here’s the follow-up mail the advice-seeker wrote a few months later…]
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I always thought it was interesting how you show different options and their possible outcomes when giving advice, and ultimately, it leaves the advisee to decide for his or herself what’s right.

Well, I don’t know if you’d really care to know about this, but I want to share with you what I did after reading your response to my question and how it worked out for me. Earlier this summer I asked about whether or not it would be wrong to hook up with my ex just for the fun of it, without getting back into a relationship with him.

I chose to go for it, and we’ve been hooking up a lot, and it’s been really great! We’re both having a lot of fun, and we’re not too attached emotionally, so no complications there. He did start dating someone for like less than a week (during which time I was like “pfft. okay we’re not doing this anymore if you’re gonna be someone’s boyfriend”). But yeah, he broke it off with that other girl, and we’ve resumed fooling around.

I thought the experience was really good for me. I feel happier after doing things, and I gained more self-confidence. It was like, suddenly I matured into this person who can handle things like sex and buying condoms and my body image with no sweat. It’s all been really good. This was just the experience I needed before the stressful process of applying to college starts in a few weeks (I’m gonna be a senior! =)). Haha, speaking of which, this would make a really great topic for a college admissions essay, if sex weren’t so taboo and all.

But yeah, basically, that’s my update on that front. I just know that whenever I read the N-sider’s advice, I always wonder how things will play out for that person. And yeah, that’s how it was with me. Hope you weren’t too bored reading this obnoxiously long mail!

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