Friend with Benefits: someone you know, genuinely like, and will hang out with during daylight (sober) hours but isn’t relationship material so you don’t date but when the moment strikes you right (perhaps you’re drunk and horny and he or she happens to be in your presence ) you hook up, on occasion

Fuck Buddy: someone you hook up with but don’t really know (and don’t care to know well) and call drunk when you realize he or she is your most viable option for sex for the evening OR someone you don’t particularly like but the sex is too good to resist

Boy/Girlfriend Stand-In: someone who is there for you whenever you need a body to go to a movie with, or move a sofa, or bring you soup when you’re sick, but isn’t getting any from you and you know that he or she desperately wants to sleep with you which is why he or she is putting in the effort and the time

The point of this post: my ex (once removed) was each of these at one point (over the course of 6 years).

When we first met at work, we “greatly disliked” each other. He was the gregarious, frat boy who skirted through college on a fluff major (aka marketing) and I was the anal-retentive, Type-A overachiever who would not help him during training, even though he was my partner. Everything changed once I realized that training had absolutely no bearing on my career and he was an amusement ride of fun.

He started out as a Friend with Benefits. That was inevitable since we were housemates and although we didn’t have intercourse while living under the same roof, I slept in his bed on a regular basis. Girls love to do because it makes us feel safe, warm, and fuzzy and guys like to do this in hopes of having sex.

Then he got a girlfriend, and my benefits ended. Which pissed me off (hence me not particularly liking him) so we became Fuck Buddies. This continued after he broke up with his girlfriend but then I got a boyfriend (J).

I broke up with J, and we transitioned from Fuck Buddies to Friends with Benefits. After I realized he wanted more than just sex, I refrained from having sex with him, at which point he became the Boyfriend Stand-in. Enabling a person to be a stand-in in your life is a truly shitty, selfish thing to do. But I loved him (even though true love is a completely unselfish act) and wanted him in my life and so it continued until he told me he thought was should date and pursue a relationship – I remember every detail of the evening that he brought this up and I have a shoddy, borderline Alzheimer-like memory. It was a Sunday night. He showed up at my apartment. He had candles and flowers and music and I before he could even ask, I told him not to, because he wouldn’t like the answer.

Telling someone you love them and want to be with them when you’re not sure if the person feels the same is one of toughest things to do in life. It takes guts to put yourself out there. It’s also tough to hear no, but two weeks later he asked again, and this time I said okay.

When I agreed to go down the rabbit hole, I did so with blind, wish-for-the-best optimism, the kind I assume most people who walk down the aisle embrace. I thought, “Maybe this can work.” On a selfish level, I wasn’t ready to lose him and knew that I would if I said no. I also knew that if the relationship didn’t work out (which meant we didn’t get married and spend the rest of our lives together), there would be no friendship afterward.

In the back of my mind, I always knew it wouldn’t work. After a few months of dating, a little voice crept into my head, telling me the relationship wasn’t right. And the voice got louder and things started happening, like me having panic attacks when we talked about engagement rings and houses or me noticing other guys. And we finally broke up.

When I look back I don’t think, what if we hadn’t of slept together, would he still be in my life? No, we slept together for a reason. We had some of the most amazing, wake-up-the-neighbors, call-the-cops sex. We literally learned how to be great sexual partners, because we had an incredible amount of trust between us. We picked each other up during some tough times in our lives. We were there for each other. But our friendship was also immature and childish, and we did a lot of stupid things together and we finally outgrew “us.”

What I learned is that the Friend with Benefits, the Fuck Buddy, and the Boyfriend/Girlfriend Stand-In are double-edge swords (and illusions). You may think you’re getting something good out of it, but when you fill your life with one thing, you can prevent something that you really want from entering.