B for Benefits
Kids hear everything and are always paying attention, especially when we think they’re not. For example…
I had known this guy for a couple of months, mostly through work. We were totally attracted to each other and after getting to know him, I decided that this needed to happen. Though single, he was completely unavailable for a relationship; he had a lot going on with his family and work and while he never outright said he was unwilling to be a boyfriend, it was really obvious. But, I still wanted to sleep with him. It was one of those this will be really hot and really good and really attachment free kind of attractions.
To let him know that I wanted him, and that I was aware of his unavailability, one night I texted him, “So when can I file you under B for bootycall in my phone? The few minutes it took for him to respond gave me just enough time to thoroughly doubt myself. His response, “How about B for Benefits? made me smile from ear to ear. Yes! A friends with benefits situation was more appropriate given that we did actually enjoy each other’s company and had a lot in common professionally.
We ended up sleeping together once or twice a month for about 4 months. And my instincts about him were spot on. We had amazing sex. It never got weird, he was a great lover, and all our interactions were super honest and fun. We made sure to check in with each other about the nature of our sexual relationship to keep our friendship healthy.
It was time for me to move on when I started wanting a long term relationship; not with him, just in general. I felt ready to have a deeper connection, wanting both companionship and intimacy; which he was still not available for. Again, no drama, I still consider him a friend, it was just time to switch his name in my phone to his actual, real last name.
He never met my boys. There was no reason for him to. For me, this is the difference between a bootycall and a boyfriend. Do I want this guy to know my kids? They knew of him, as in, “I’m going out with so and so so you’ll have a sitter tonight, or I would tell them about a project I was working on that he was involved in. But other than that, he was not on their radar as someone important to me.
One day, I take the boys with me to a work related event and the guy is there. He comes up to me to say hello and I turn to the kids and I say, “Would you like to meet X? My older son says hello and they shake hands. No worries. My younger son, however, looks the guy in the face and says, “No, and walks away. Damn, did that just happen? As my older son goes to follow his brother, the guy looks at me for some kind of clue as to how to react, and I tell him, “Well, I asked him and he answered, so there’s that.
Obviously my son knows more about the guy then I am aware of, enough to feel justified in forgoing his manners. I don’t apologize, or act embarrassed. I’m not worried about the guy. He’s a grown up, he can hang with the rejection. But is my kid ok?
After the event was over, we’re walking to our car and I say to my son, “Ok, spill it, what was that about? I’m assuming you have a good reason for being so rude. His face got all crumply when he said in a rush “I heard you on the phone talking about him. You said he had all these issues and that is was too bad, and that you were so glad you never brought him around us because it would have been such a waste and that you won’t be seeing him anymore and that you’re so over it. He was like a little parrot playing back my last phone conversation with my best friend about the guy from several weeks back. He even matched my tone of voice when I had said all those things.
“So you didn’t want to say hello to him at the party because¦?
“Because you said you were glad he never met us, I was just making sure it stayed that way, arms crossed, a little determined shoulder shrug, resolute frown.
This child is loyal. He doesn’t even understand the dynamics going on, and I am not about to explain to my son the concept of friends with benefits, but if a line has been drawn, he wants me to know that he is on my side of it. Always. And I don’t betray his loyalty by making a big deal about his lack of manners. Instead, I thank him and tell him he’s a good kid.
And that is how I learned to be even more cautious of the phone conversations I have when he is within hearing distance.