Casual relationships seem to be all the rage amongst the college-going crowd in India. Rather than going for a string of meaningless one night stands, popular in western countries, the youth in India seem to prefer the long-term stability of ‘friends with benefits’. These kinds of casual relationships work like a friendship between a boy and a girl, but with the added ‘benefit’ of a physical relationship to satisfy their hormones. Although it is only an urban minority who opt for such relationships, one must really ask – are the ‘benefits’ enough? After all, if you are friends, then you do enjoy spending time with each other and offer help and support when you can. Wouldn’t it be better then to have this from a partner who you can depend on to be there in difficult times? Some prefer not to be ‘tied down’ and to experiment when they are young while others don’t want to put themselves out there to get hurt. The wall of safety provided by a friend/lover allows precisely that.
After coming out of a particularly serious relationship, Megha Shah wondered if it was wise to jump into another one. Yet the need was there to get out there and start dating. She met a boy who was on the right wavelength, but she did not want to get into something emotionally overpowering too soon. So, they became good friends and enjoyed each other’s company – both in and out of the bedroom. It was great in the beginning. So light-hearted and fun, she would wonder why more people didn’t just have easy relationships like these. No chance of getting your heart broken either. It was just sex with laughs and cuddles. She says, however, that it just wasn’t enough. “After a couple of months, a sense of dissatisfaction crept in. I wanted someone to hold hands with while watching a soppy romantic movie, to call just to make me feel great. I wanted to spend the night at his place instead of heading home like a fugitive. I wanted him to get more involved in the relationship instead of being reclusive and emotionally unavailable. But it was a difficult transition for both of us.” She eventually decided to end it.
So where do you go from here? Either way, you have probably ruined a friendship. To have the benefits of a relationship without any responsibilities may seem like a great idea. But once one of you falls for the other, things change drastically. To continue your relationship, both people need to be aloof enough to continue your separate lives without too much crossover. Sara Fernandes had a casual relationship that turned ugly when her partner refused to leave her alone. She says, “He would randomly show up on my doorstep at odd hours and call me all the time. After some time, I began to feel stalked and it was suffocating. Thankfully, he got the message after I ignored him for some time.” She continues, “the realities in India with pressure to get married young means that people often don’t have the maturity to handle a relationship like this. It requires subtlety to maintain a certain level of affection and intimacy without letting it overwhelm you.”
Of course, most in our culture frown upon these kinds of casual, and sometimes, open relationships. So social censure may outweigh any ‘benefits’ of your relationship. Even if you are free from such burdens, some say that one needlessly limits choices by entering into such a relationship. Karan Mehta, an advertising professional, says cheekily, “There is only one benefit to friends-with-benefits relationship!” He continues, “These kind of relationships only work for the very young urban crowd which is living away from home for the first time and wants to indulge in every kind of excess. Rather than tying themselves down and being exclusive with someone, they want to keep their options open. But being in a relationship like this only limits your options and may hinder you from meeting someone truly special.”
So, what’s the verdict? Keep it casual and chilled or let your passion overflow into an all-consuming inferno? The choice is yours!
Volume 1 Issue 9