Lessons in Love: Learning the difference between great sex and good love

"I really miss sex." These are the words that greeted me when I met a girlfriend for lunch a few months ago. She announced it just loudly enough that conversation at the surrounding tables paused for a minute and speculative glances were cast our way.

"Hello to you too." I greeted her and sat down. She proceeded to tell me (in gruesome detail) about the sex she used to have and wasn't having anymore since the untimely death of her relationship last summer. I nodded in a way to indicate that I was listening but not really trying to hear it.

"I think I'm going to get one of those buddies. You know, the no-strings sex friend?"

I laughed. In fact, I guffawed. I laughed so hard that tears came out of my eyes.

"What's so funny?" she asked indignantly.

"Girl, you are a serial monogamist! Have you EVER had sex with someone you didn't fancy yourself in love with? Someone you weren't in a committed relationship with?"

She shook her head, "But how hard can it be. Come on, it's just physical. Jump in, get off, move along, right?"

I said, "You want me to warn you now or just say 'I told you so' later."

"I'm a grown-ass woman, Michele. I can handle myself. Won't be any need for any 'told-ya-so', okay? You always think you know better than anybody else."

Alrighty then. I performed the universal sign for zipping my lips and finished my spinach salad.

You all already know what's coming, don't you? Fast forward a month to my phone ringing. It's the friend. It's the best sex she ever had. Details, sheets aflame, burning loins, the whole nine. She went on and on until I heard this sentence, "I mean, when the sex is THIS GOOD that has to mean something, right?" Le Sigh and Le Double Sigh. But wait, lest you think this is a case of a woman confusing lust and love, let me add that the "buddy" was cooing about the chemistry and "meant to be" as well. Innocently I asked, "How much time have you spent together vertically… clothed?" Long silence followed by, "Michele – you are such a cynic." That silence you hear folks, was me being officially done with it. "Okay girl, good luck."

And then the inevitable update two weeks later, "It didn't work out. I wanted to try for a relationship and he said he did too but he wants to sleep with other people. Who does that?" [Benefit buddies, that's who does that] To my credit, I made sympathetic noises and choked back the snarky comments bubbling up. No point in rubbing it in. The point is some people (both men and women) can separate the giddy high of post-orgasmic bliss from the giddy high of finding a soul mate. Granted, it's great if your best sex partner is your best friend but it doesn't always work out that way. Here are some tips to not confusing the two:

Do you have anything in common besides great sex?

Is this someone you look forward to seeing even if there aren't naked aerobics involved?

Can you have a conversation (non-sex-related) with this person?

Is this a person you would introduce to friends and family as an SO?

Do you know more about this person than where their ticklish spots are?

If you answered no to more than one of those questions, you are having a sexcapade, not a relationship. And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that as long as you don't confuse the two. But there are a few rules to avoid a feelings train wreck:

  • If you're going friend with benefit – be prepared to lose the friend if things go awry.
  • Be sure both parties understand what the situation is - don't assume you are both on the same page.
  • If your feelings change (for the better or the worse) let the other person know immediately.
  • Remember great sex can lead to good love and good love can lead to great sex unless they don't.
  • Desperation and clinginess are never a good look, when it's over… move on. Do not negotiate, beg or whine < -- no bueno

BTW Fellas, I have a similar story of a male friend of mine who tried to hit-n-run and got completely caught up. (a la Boomerang) So let's not make this a girl vs. guy thing. Please and thank you. Speaking of Boomerang - here's a classic example of one person thinking relationship while the other is thinking recreational romp: (partial nudity and sexual situations)

Later this week, we'll talk about what makes a "good relationship" but in the meantime: let me ask you, BougieLand… why is it so hard for some people to separate the sex from the love? Do you believe it's possible to really have "a purely physical" relationship or does someone always catch feelings? What advice would you give someone trying to turn their swerve buddy into a happily ever after?