FWB
Friends With Benefits

I fell in love! It happened last December and I have been dying to write about it, but I thought I should wait until closer to Valentine’s Day — that seemed so fitting.

We actually met at the Mike Tyson book signing at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation on Friday the 13th. So much for bad luck right? And who thought that Mike Tyson could be such a cupid! Thanks Mike!

When you are not in love, you don’t really recall the feeling of being in love. At least that’s what it is like for me. I have been in love before, but I don’t remember that it was like this. It feels so deep and intense like nothing I ever felt before.

Is that always the case, or does it mean that I have not really been in love before? Or is it just the unique chemistry that now exists between us? I do know that before I fell in love, I had the feeling I could never fall in love again.

I thought, I just didn’t have the capability (anymore) and perhaps I was emotionally handicapped. I think there is also a difference with other emotions like happiness or anger. Those feelings are easier to remember. Perhaps being in love is such a strong emotion that we cannot intellectualize it with our limited brains.

And that’s also why being is love is so beautiful and powerful. It is unique to the situation and person you are with.

I came out of a long-term relationship in the early summer of 2012. After the breakup, I initially wanted to move back to the Netherlands. But after I was past my anger, bitterness, and all the other sensations that go together with breakups, I changed my mind.

I could not let a failing relationship be the reason for my departure. I first needed to prove that I could live in New York very well on my own. This included finding another place to live, making new friends, and discovering the things I like for myself.

Well, that is not easy in a unforgiving city like New York. I know many people that have come to New York and wanted to give it a shot, but because they either were not able to find work or an affordable place to live, they had to move back to wherever they had come from.

Fortunately I already had a job, so for me the only hurdle was to find a place to live. I saw many beautiful but very pricey apartments, but also some places that you would not even want to see your mother-in-law live in. I settled on a great studio that a dear friend on mine found, and in October of 2012 I moved to Bed-Stuy!

After my move, I was elated about the new opportunities that life had to offer. I think that is often the case when coming out of a long-term relationship. You suddenly have a freedom that you thought you had lost forever.

Only after the relationship ended I realized that I had been stuck, bordering on co-dependence, something that I do not recommend for couples. Since I had moved close to work, I saved over two hours of commuting every day.

That, combined with the fact that I did not have anyone to answer to, I suddenly had a sea of time to explore and re-discover myself!

What I probably should have done, was join a sports club or start painting — something that enriches you as a person. Instead, I started dating like crazy or actually not dating, I started to delve into the world of hookups.

Hookups seem so convenient when looking for uncommitted intimate or sexual encounters, but they are tricky. You have to be very upfront about your intentions even though the non-commitment aspect is assumed.

They can get out of control very fast as I have found out first hand. One-night stands are perhaps saver in that sense (as long as you do it save), but that was not something I was really into. I wanted to get to know someone a little bit, enjoy the fun but not deal with the commitment, so-called friends with benefits (FWB’s).

The problem with FWB’s is that there is no clear distinction with dating. Apart from being intimate and having sex together, you hang out and might even go to a movie together and as an experience, it feels like dating. The only difference is that you had agreed that you would not be committed.

Is this then the same as non-exclusive dating? I have always been a bit confused about what dating means in America. In the Dutch language (Netherlands) we do not have a word for dating. You meet someone, you like them, you get to know them, start a relationship, etc.

The part where you get to know someone with the intention to eventually have an enduring and exclusive romantic relationship, is referred to here in the United States as dating. Note that I stated that it is with the intention to end up in committed and loving relationship.

FWB’s do not have the intention of ending up in a committed relationship, so if I follow my own reasoning, it should not be referred to as dating. Adding the non-exclusive does not make sense. It’s still not dating as I understand it.

I must admit that I have not spent much time figuring out what dating really means, because my confusion worked to my advantage. I could do as I pleased without having to worry about any rules and expectations related to dating. Not to say that I was dishonest, because I was always clear on the fact that I did not want to be committed.

The problem was that some of my partners started to have more feelings. Or perhaps they felt that from the beginning, but kept it to themselves until they thought it safe to share. In either case, there comes a moment in any relationship where it evolves to a next level.

Dating would be the next level for a FWB relationship. The same dating that I have always been confused about. I always sort of felt it when that moment was there, but I assumed that as long as we did not have a sit down I was in the clear, because the initial agreement on non-exclusivity was still in effect, right?

Wrong! I was still fooling my FWB partner, since I should have brought it up as soon as I noticed a change. Eventually it always came up, but because it had lingered on too long, it did not always end well. In the end the reason for the breakup was straightforward. I could not move on to the next level, simply because I was not in love.

This has all changed now! I am deeply in love! And it did not even start as an FWB relationship. We just jumped right into it and love every moment we spend together.

I get to meet his friends and vice versa (by the way this is a good test to find out if someone really likes you). We go out, listen to music, make dinner together, enjoy the little things in life, have amazing sex, fall asleep in each others arms, watch a movie, and skip down the beach hand in hand (not really, but I could).

I had not expected this to happen. But that teaches me once more that you cannot plan for life’s surprises — that from time to time, it’s worthwhile to live in the moment. Don’t go searching for that one person, live your life to the fullest, be loving always and grab love with both hands when it comes on your path.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Yako

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Yako and Krystal

Yako: Born on a farm in The Netherlands, Europe, I was always on quest for adventure. As a small boy, I was already interested in learning about other cultures and pretended I was fluent in American (I...

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  1. As an old schooler it’s nice to know true love still exist in Y2K.
    I tuly enjoyed reading your love story Yako. Much blessings to you and your love.
    -Sabine

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