Who is a friend with benefits? Is he just a friend? Much more than a friend? A friend who has no romantic expectations from you? Well, in my experience, I’ve learnt that a friend with benefits is all of the above. The only thing my friend with benefits wasn’t however, was a boyfriend who wanted a commitment, marriage, family dinners and appearances I had to make as a couple. For me, that was the best part of being in a situation that’s divorced from all the drama.

It started a few months ago when I made a random decision to meet him for dinner. We wrapped it up quickly because of course we had to share a kiss while watching a landscape painting that dumbly hung above his bed. It was a good enough setting though, made even better by him stating that he’d been waiting to do that for a while. Surely he was going to ask me out, I thought. So in an effort to make it easier for him, I shot a few questions that fell in the periphery of why-aren’t-you-my boyfriend-yet.

To be honest, I don’t know if it were my scary commitment phobia inducing questions or his own commitment phobia that acted up. But he said in a very saint like manner that he didn’t want a commitment, he didn’t even want to date me. He just wanted to be my friend with benefits. For me, that was an anti-climax to my own romantic comedy featuring me. But I agreed to accept him with all the benefits he was willing to offer.  

In the next few weeks, my lessons in understanding this new relationship began. And what I learnt is this: a friend with benefits sets you free, allows you to be yourself and helps you cultivate a lot of self-love.

In the beginning, I was a bit let down when I didn’t receive his texts every few hours or see his enthusiasm for mid-week plans. There was a precise, calculated time allotted to our dates. Perhaps these are the cold, harsh rules that accompany a friends with benefits relationships. But over time, I began to enjoy all the time I had on my hands.

I could spend a day curled up with my book, work out at the gym, make dinner for myself and enjoy my silence. I didn’t need someone’s company to be happy; I found it in myself.

In many ways, it felt like I was stepping into my own personality and I understood my expectations with more realism. I didn’t want the suffocating anaesthetic of love; I didn’t want a ring or grand romantic gestures.

What I valued the most was friendship and the space to grow and I could go about accomplishing that in a relationship which asked and took very little. I didn’t need him to be my date to a party or meet my family. I was on my own and I cherished myself.

Sure, a friend with benefits relationship isn’t permanent but what I’ve learnt so far has made me grounded, aware and grateful to a friend who heard me out. had my back and offered me great many benefits. Shortly after, he exited my life without falling in love with me like they do in the movies, but he gave me enough space to fall in love with myself. He's still part of my life but as someone who's watched me grow, find myself and be the woman I am.