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But sometimes, romantic friendships can offer a type of intimacy that committed relationships can’t.I was curious to know if Malcolm felt the same way I did about all of this, so last week (for strictly journalistic purposes), I paid him a visit.Others dismiss fuck-buddy dynamics as just being compulsive sex that’s devoid of emotion. Surely it’s possible to find a middle ground between eternal love and zombie-fucking a stranger: a place where you can care about someone, have good sex, and yet not want to literally implode at the thought of them sleeping with someone else. Case in point: The most significant romantic friendship of my life was with an ex-editor of mine, whom I’ll call Malcolm.We started “a thing” five years ago and have yet to end it.Sometimes it feels like we are more honest with our friends with benefits than we are with our partners.This paradox always makes me think of that episode when Betty seduced Don at their kid’s summer camp, well after they had both remarried.

So what is it about the friends with benefits dynamic that is more sustainable, and often more transparent, than an actual relationship? They’re like: How can you have sex with the same person, again and again, without falling in love?

This arrangement would generally be called a friend with benefits, or a fuck buddy, or a romantic friendship, or perhaps even a relationship—with “no strings attached.” But let’s be real: There are always strings, aren’t there?

It was while planning this vacation that it hit me: The two longest relationships of my life have both been with men who I was never officially dating.

I told Malcolm about my previous relationships, my fantasies, my heartbreak.

Once, he told me this long, complicated story about an affair he had with his cousin, adding, “That’s not something I tell most people.” Probably wise on his part, but I loved that story, as problematic as it may be, because I loved knowing something about him that no one else did.

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