I’ve been thinking this weekend about friends with benefits. I don’t especially like that term as it seems a bit clunky and doesn’t really fully describe the relationships I’m thinking of, but I can’t think of a better way to put it. When you say friends with benefits, people know what you mean.

I’ve had quite a few friends in the past with whom I’ve had an arrangement where we would fool around when the mood struck, and have a laid back, loving and flirty relationship the rest of the time. The first was a guy. This was before I had admitted to myself that I was attracted to women and actually wanted to get naked with them. Really, he was more of a booty call as we only really had sex going for us, not so much friendship, but he was the first person with whom I had a sexual relationship that wasn’t also committed in any way. When we stopped sleeping together our relationship remained great, and when we saw each other we would still flirt and were very affectionate with one another.

Since then I have had a number of female friends with benefits. All of these friendships were already established (some more than others) before they turned sexual. All drifted away from the sexual, eventually, due to distance or time or circumstance. I’ve taken some moments over the past few days to remember these special friendships and be grateful for them, as I feel like they are a type of relationship that stands on its own – female friends who fuck, or make love, on occasion.

Each of these women has been so special to me, each of them still is, whether I still see them regularly, think of them often, or have lost touch for now. The first, my first girl love as I call her, was not a girlfriend, nor did we define our relationship in any way. We flirted at work, went on a couple of dates and I gladly handed her my girl virginity. My memories of that night are so sweet, it was slow and dim and late, and we had a bath and I was so nervous. We had walked miles and miles that night, gone skinny dipping, thought we were going to die at the hands of nefarious lurkers deep in the dark woods, and returned to the apartment where she was house sitting. Today we’re both moms, hundreds of miles apart, and we flirt on Facebook and share the same parenting ideals. I love this girl very much and would share a similar relationship with her again in a heartbeat, given the chance. It would be interesting to compare our young, innocent and very nervous selves with the more experienced and sure women we are today.

Another girl who holds a very special place in my heart was my “friend with benefits,” as we officially labeled it, for at least a couple of years, if not five or so. We have never been overly close as friends, though we love each other and keep in touch, and get along really well. We’re not close confidantes, generally, and we don’t make plans to hang out together, just the two of us. However for a very long time we were each other’s favourite indulgence, usually at parties or after nights out with friends. We lived in separate cities the entire time so those were the only times we really saw one another. I have many, many great memories of our times together and I learned much about lesbian sex while with her. Again, I would be with her in that way again in a heartbeat, though she has a boyfriend now and I don’t know where he stands on the matter. The opportunity has not come up in years anyway, though we’ll see where the road takes us. She is beautiful, intelligent and charming and I feel like the sex bonded us in a way we would not have otherwise. We had a lot of firsts together.

One other friend and I slept together a few times over the year before I got pregnant with my daughter. I grew up with this girl and we had flirted for years. She is so very adorable and I admire her for so many reasons – her vibrancy, her ambition, her bravery top among them. She was my first girl kiss at the age of 18 but we did not sleep together until she came out as a lesbian, a few years later. We were quite close for that year before I got pregnant, and had lots of really fun and sexy times. She is one with whom I do not keep in touch as she moved away to another city and is not on Facebook, though I did see her at a wedding last summer and it was so great to catch up. When I got pregnant, we joked that she was Satsuki’s “other mother” or called her my Baby Daddy because Hank and I’d had a threesome with her just before I got pregnant.

I have greatly valued these friendships and feel that they really enrich my life. I know that in the future I’ll have other such friendships, more successful than my most recent attempt, and perhaps even reconnect with old friends as time goes by and circumstances change. I wonder how many women have these types of friendships but keep them completely secret. I think that for women who are even a little bit into other women, it’s common and perhaps even highly beneficial to have at least one female friend with benefits. In fact, I think we need a better name for it, this bond between women who love and care for each other and have sex – tender, passionate, kinky, whatever – but consider themselves to be friends and place no restrictions on one another’s other relationships. I would like to look into this type of relationship more deeply. Anyone have a name for it? Know of good film or literary examples of characters with this type relationship (positive examples… not the type where they kill their parents together…)? Would love to hear your perspectives!