Being friends with benefits made me believe my body was the only valuable piece of myself. It made me wonder what was wrong with me. It made me assume my sense of humor and conversation skills and overall personality needed work. Otherwise, why would someone insist on sleeping with me and refuse to become my boyfriend? It just didn’t make sense. The only explanation I could come up with was that I was lacking something. I wasn’t interesting enough. I wasn’t fun enough. I wasn’t good enough.
Being friends with benefits deepened my insecurities. Instead of making me feel more beautiful, having someone around who only liked my body made me feel more self-conscious. I felt pressured to look pretty since it seemed like my body was the only thing of value. That mindset put me in competition with other girls. It made me hate anyone prettier than me because they could potentially take away my person. It gave me an unhealthy obsession with appearances.
Being friends with benefits gave me a taste of what it felt like to enter a one-sided relationship. I saw what it felt like to love someone who would never love me back. I saw what it felt like to miss someone the second the night ended because there was no telling when they would answer my texts again. I saw what it felt like to fake happiness, to pretend everything was okay, when the opposite was true.
Being friends with benefits gave me a twisted view of what counts as a relationship and what counts as harmless flirting between friends. Someone could call me beautiful, text me every single morning, and ask me out on movie dates and I would still assume they weren’t interested in a relationship with me. I would assume they were using me for their own selfish needs. I would assume they wanted something superficial from me. A kiss. A one-night stand. An ego boost.
Being friends with benefits led me to believe sex was not that big of a deal. It changed my perspective on intimacy and what it means to be close to another person. It convinced me to start treating sex the same way as kissing, something small and occasionally meaningless. Even now, I don’t see sex as an expression of love. I consider it primal, animalistic, a need.
Being friends with benefits screwed with my head. It made me think less of myself. It made me wonder what I lacked. It made me doubt whether anyone would ever like me enough to date me.
But being friends with benefits taught me something else. It taught me sex is never going convince someone to stay (or to love me back). It taught me not to sacrifice the things I want (like loyalty and commitment) in order to please someone else. It taught me to hold out for a relationship where I am respected, admired, and loved the way I was meant to be loved.