Are you one of those people who see a girl and a boy together and wonder if they are “just friends” or “more than friends”? Are you one of those who categorises friendship based on the absence or presence of sex? I, for once, used to be. I’d say you are or were one of those people too, but I don’t want to assume or label accusations. Let me get to the point.
A few days back, as I sat with my friend at the gate of our hostel in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) discussing the latest UGC Gazette Notification and its implications on the future of the student community. One of my friends arrived in an auto. It had been quite some time since we had met last, so we embraced each other rather warmly and chatted for a few minutes. She didn’t stay for long, but after she was gone, my friend, who later admitted to having found her beautiful, started interrogating me. “Who is she?” he enquired.
“She is a friend”, I answered, trying to pick up the conversation from where we had left, “do you think the court will scrap this unnecessary UGC firman (order)?”
“Are you guys just friends or more than friends?” he continued, giving a rather wicked smile.
Here we go again, I thought, when is this question ever going to stop?
“What do you mean by ‘more than friends’?” I enquire. Of course, I knew what he meant; I just wanted to indulge him and hoped to make him realise how stupid, in my subjective opinion, the question was.
“You know what I mean, don’t act innocent”, he replies. It was unnecessary to drag it any further, so I came to the point directly.
“Yes, I know what you mean. You are wondering if we have sex or not. You know you can ask that directly. It’s very simple. All you have to do is ask if we have sex”, I said, clearly rattled.
“To begin with, it’s none of your business”, I continued, seeing he had no intention of replying, “but if you are so interested, the answer is no. We don’t have sex. In any case, how does it matter to you?”
He clearly wasn’t expecting me to react so harshly.
Frankly, I wasn’t expecting to react that way either. It was not the fact that my friend wanted to find out about my sex life that irritated me, rather the statement “more than friends”.
How does sex make people “more than friends”? People who have sex could still be friends. And among all the activities that we take part in, with friends, do we still need to make sex a taboo or glorify it beyond necessity?
We do not ask if people are just friends or do they go to movies together. We do not enquire if two people are simply friends or do they also drink together. Why do we bother ourselves with the need to know if two friends sleep with each other?
Is it too outrageous on my part to equate watching movies and having sex? Maybe! But then, aren’t they both activities we derive a lot of pleasure from? Most people would find sex more desirable, but then I do know quite a few people who would prefer watching movies. You know, everyone isn’t sexually active after all. Maybe we should ask those people if they are ‘more than friends’ when they venture to watch movies with the people they hang out with.
Once you come to think of it, the relationship between sex and friendship isn’t at all necessary to establish, which makes the term “more than friends” absolutely irrelevant. Sometimes the people we have sex with are not even our friends, so the question of them being more than that does not arise. What do we term such situations as? No, I am not talking about ‘one night stands’.
Sometimes it’s more than one night. It could even be on a regular basis, but yet, the person we have sex with is not our friend. As bizarre as you may find, it does happen. In fact, it happens more often than you would imagine. Some people do not agree with the entire concept of chaining sex to love or friendship. They are more flexible, more sex-friendly and all they care about is good sex. Let’s just say they have sex for sex’s sake.
Friendship, on the other hand, is a different relationship altogether. We do not make everyone our friend. We have to have a lot in common between for us to understand each other and call a person our friend. In many cases, we do not like a person enough to include them in our list of friends, but we enjoy the sex we have with them. Somehow, even if our thoughts don’t match, the sex just happens to click. It is okay, provided both agree, to limit your interactions to sex. Not everyone is there to debate over politics with you. The reasons for friendship and the reasons for sex can be very different. In such a case, when friendship itself is absent, what term do we use to describe the relationship? Clearly, we can’t say we are more than friends? ‘Less than friends’ does not seem like an appropriate description either. See the problem? There are friends we have sex with, and then there are friends we don’t. There are people we have sex with but aren’t our friends, and there are people we talk to but are neither our friends nor do we have sex with them. We do not need to bring sex into better understand relationships between people. Obviously, couples also exist, but this post isn’t about them.
Here is another stupid term we have picked up from Hollywood movies. You guessed it, ‘friends with benefits.’ Which genius thought that without sex friends are not beneficial? I mean, any friendship is a friendship with benefits. The reason why people are friends is that it’s mutually beneficial. They help each other, confide in each other, borrow money from each other, do each other’s homework, etc, but somehow the only benefit we can think of is sex?
A friendship that may last for years without sex is not a friendship with benefits, but a week-old friendship that includes sex is one with benefits. We use terms all the time without realising how stupid they sound.
You might be wondering now if we do not use ‘more than friends’ and ‘friends with benefits’, how do we find out if people are sleeping with each other? The answer is you simply don’t. It is not your business if two grown up adults are sleeping with each other or not, unless, of course, one of them is your partner and they are cheating on you. If you think a person is your friend and you are close enough to ask a question like that, please don’t sugar-coat it. Just ask if they have sex with the person because it does sound stupid in 2017 for us to try and hide the idea of sex in statements that don’t even make sense.