briefly broaching benefriends

does this blog do brief?  to quote AJ, perhaps i am just a cynic for show.  hat-tip to angeles for coining the phrase, and discussions with AJ/angeles about the concept.

justin/mila in friends with benefits

“everyone has an agenda.”

benefriends hypothesis.

hypothesis 0: it is in the nature of all human beings to act in their own self-interest.

hypothesis 1: all relationships are entered into and maintained because of the benefits we derive from them. 

on whether selflessness can exist.  the obvious counterpoint would be selfless acts.

it’s a little bit circular, but my argument would be, to quote joey, there’s no un-selfish good deed. because we derive satisfaction/content/purpose from being selfless.

benefit types.

largely want to focus on the distinction between mutual benefits (generally, both people provide similar benefits to each other) and one-sided benefits (generally, only one person can provide this benefit to the other).  also interesting are the “a” vs. “the” benefits where “you are A PERSON who can provide this benefit” or “you are THE PERSON who can provide this benefit.”  a common “a” benefit are physical benefits (mark’s car comes to mind). 

(“a” vs. “the” actually comes from a series of discussions that chris and i had when we first started dating and whether chris and i were good fits for each other, whether we liked each other for “a” or “the” reasons.)

list of benefits with angeles. she is someone….

  • whose company company i enjoy
  • to discuss problems with, get feedback, to listen to my emotions
  • who cares about me, will help me when necessary
  • who organizes activities and social functions
  • who keeps me from feeling lonely
  • who can be activity partners
  • who connects us with people, content, ideas, information that the other will enjoy

largely mutual benefits, “the” benefits in that it would be tough to find another person who could perform the same tasks as well as she does.

which benefriend relationships are unacceptable?

“gratitude is nothing but the expectation for future charity.”
–moriarty from sherlock 102 (okay, largely irrelevant, but definitely made me think that gratitude is totally pointless.  and moriarty is such a baller in this series)

“using”, ugh.

this whole issue has been on my mind lately because there is this one relationship i have, where, to be vague, perhaps i am a bad person for engaging in because the benefit is very one-sided.  so, my answer to the above question:

a benefriend relationship is unacceptable when you are pursuing the relationship exclusively for one-sided benefits and not being honest with them about your intentions/motivations/how much you like them independent of the benefit.

litmus test: would you still engage in the relationship if the one-sided benefit did not exist.

two grey area benefriend relationships:

1) networking. can be used in networking in the traditional sense, but more so referring to my own life when i basically entered a phase of my life where i would befriend anyone, ANYONE if they were gay.  just because i wanted more gay friends, because i wanted to go do gay things with gay people (not sex related, ugh), because i wanted them to introduce me to their gay friends.  i was pretty aboveboard about it, but is that okay that i was befriending people who i might not have otherwise only because they were gay?  i think it’s acceptable to think “hey, i know s/he is only being nice to me because i am rich/know people.”

2) sugar-daddy.  i think this is an interesting benefriend situation (one party gets money, the other party gets company/sex) because it’s one of the few relationships i can think of where one person is fine knowing that the other person’s friendliness is disingenuous. for the record, if i could do anything that would make jared pretend to like me again, would do it in a heartbeat.

does someone have to enjoy spending time with you for you to want to spend time with them?  if someone enjoys spending time with me, but i don’t enjoy spending time with them (but may be deriving some non-chemistry related benefits), is that okay?  that that feeling is not reciprocated? 

like if i knew that angeles didn’t particularly enjoy my company but enjoyed some other benefit that i could offer and humored my requests to hang out… i would be hurt/offended that she didn’t like my company, but as long as i still had fun with her, why does it matter?

when do people continue to pursue relationships when they cease to derive benefits from them?

benefriends as a framework can be argued is somewhat toxic.  because each friend basically becomes only as good as the last joke or the number of jokes they can make in the future.  the bar for performance becomes raised and you’re constantly being tested and re-evaluated. two points:

1) i agree in the sense that i don’t think that benefriends is an ideal that you should adopt 100%.  i will not drop friends if they have a bad day, and history obviously counts for something.

2) that said, if i cease to be able to provide benefits to my friends and my friends decide that i am not worth the friendship, i will totally 100% understand and will not fault them for it.  doesn’t make sense to fight to keep bad/pointless relationships, no matter the past history.

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