Under the Kilt: Best friends with benefits

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Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the “best friends that are also a couple” motif present in both life and fiction. There’s Marshall and Lily from “How I Met Your Mother.” There’s Harry and Sally from “When Harry Met Sally.” There’s Kirk and Spock in some fanfiction I once read (on second thought, that probably wasn’t canon).

There’s also the story of myself and Racheal, my girlfriend of seven years and some change at time of writing. We became a couple in what is probably one of the least romantic ways possible: I wanted to go out with one of her friends, so I integrated myself in her friendship circle in an attempt to test the waters and make the right moves to win the object of my heart’s desire. Racheal and I eventually became best friends, and I ended up with her instead of what’s-her-name from high school. Some cynics would say that she was my second choice. I prefer to think of it as dodging a bullet.

Now I’ll stop reminiscing before things get too saccharine and I begin writing awful romantic prose. I will instead dispense a bit of advice to those who are considering starting up something romantic with their best friend. Though I’m certainly not impartial, being in a relationship for longer than the lives of most cats has given me a certain amount of perspective. I’ve come up with a sort of pros-and-cons list of sorts, and I hope that some of you may glean some understanding from my nigh-incoherent ramblings. As a disclaimer, this isn’t a guide on how to get out of the “friendzone” or whatever people call it these days. Having someone who wants to only be your friend isn’t a bad thing.

The most obvious benefit is that you’ll have a bit of perspective going into things. There’s none of that awkward, getting-to-know-you banter that comes with first dates. You don’t have to wait to break the news about your plate collection or your mime parents. Friendships, unlike attempted romantic relationships, come with much lower expectations and usually get all the weird quirks about your life and personality out of the way without worrying about killing your chances for a second date. There’s also much less guesswork that comes into play when the time comes to actually start a romantic relationship with your best friend. You can avoid any potential rude awakenings by getting to know them as buddies before you become lovers, and you can usually tell early on if they’re someone you could remotely be compatible with. I’m sure there’s nothing worse than going to someone’s house after a few dates only to discover that they’re a white supremacist or Nickelback fan.

There’s also the added benefit of removing potential nerves that comes with the initial moment of intimacy. Since I resemble the product of some failed experiment to crossbreed an orangutan with a walrus, I’m sure I would be even more neurotic than usual when the time came to disrobe in front of someone I wasn’t already comfortable around. Everyone has their own slew of insecurities and worries that comes with romantic relationships, and knowing that someone already likes you for you can remove a lot of the stress and worry that comes with your first time with someone.

Now, for those of you that think all of this sounds awesome, there are some detriments, some small and some serious. Most new couples are insufferable to be around, they make goo-goo eyes at each other and tend to communicate entirely in pet names and inside jokes. Best friends tend to be the same way. Mixing the two creates a sort of annoyance singularity that usually ends with all your mutual friends rolling their eyes as you and your paramour communicate in what practically amounts to your own language.Dating your best friend is also a very high-risk high-reward engagement. If something goes wrong or you split, you could end up losing your best friend and partner in a one-two punch that leaves you in sorry state. Most people who have a partner and a best friend can usually have someone to turn to if things go wrong, but you may be hard-pressed to find someone who’ll buy you ice cream or help you set fire to your ex’s car if you break up. It’s the same for fights, and when you are in a simultaneous row with your best friend and paramour, you may have trouble finding anyone to vent to or ask for advice.

Regardless of all the possible negative repercussions that can come with taking the plunge with your best friend, it does offer a certain something that I find hard to put into words. Some call it love. Some call it chemistry. I call it a benefit of not having to remember two birthdays for my best friend and for my girlfriend.

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