ESSAY NO. 4.  FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS  

     BY Dr. K. Sohail (PSYCHOTHERAPIST)

“What kind of relationship you have with Sharon?” I asked.

“We are fuck friends.” He responded.

“What does that mean?” I was curious.

“It means that we are two friends who have sex without a relationship. No promises, no expectations, no commitment” he was honest.

“Why would you like to have such a relationship?” I pursued the issue.

“I want to feel free. No strings attached. The beauty of such friendship is that we completely accept each other for who we are. We both do not feel ready for a relationship. We are both creative people. We do not want traditional husband/wife relationship and we also do not want traditional boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. We have become friends with benefits.”

This is the dialogue that took place between Randy, one of my young male patients, and me, while we were discussing the nature of his romantic relationship. Randy is not the only one; I have met many young men and women in the last few years, which are exploring new philosophies, ideologies and lifestyles for intimate relationships. As a psychotherapist, who has a keen interest in helping people who struggle with troubled and troubling relationships, I have been exploring the psychology of those men and women who are defining their relationships as, fucking friends or friends with benefits. I am genuinely curious to discover whether these young people are genuinely trying to break the chains of traditional relationships and create new paradigms for intimate relationships or these new terms are euphemisms for free sex and lack of commitment in intimate relationships.

We all know that since the invention of contraceptive pill and changes in moral and social values, the dynamics of intimate relationships have significantly changed. As time passes couples have more choices, choices that bring more freedoms as well as responsibilities. Now couples can have sexual relationships for one, two or all three following reasons:

1.     Reproductive, to have children

2.     Relational, to be in a loving relationship

3.     Recreational, to have fun.

In the last few decades more and more men and women are acknowledging that they would like to engage in recreational sex and are giving it different names. Ironically some of those couples, who would like to have recreational sex, face emotional and romantic surprises, some pleasant, some unpleasant. They are pleasantly surprised when they fall in love and like to have a committed relationship or have unpleasant surprises when one or both have heartaches and heartbreaks. Those who experience emotional crises seek professional help to regain a balance in their lives.

In my clinical practice I have helped a number of such couples that were feeling angry, resentful and betrayed. Some needed short-term therapy to recover from the crisis while others needed long-term therapy as they recognized they had long-term personality problems that needed to be dealt with if they wanted to have healthy and happy intimate relationships.

In this essay I will share the story of Randy who worked with me in therapy off and on for a number of years to deal with his romantic and emotional dilemmas. Like many other young people, he believed in the concept of fuck friends but had difficulties coping with the dynamics of such relationships. I will share a few highlights of my encounters with him.

The first time I saw Randy, he was a teenager. Those days he was not involved in a romantic relationship. He was worried that girls did not like him and did not find him interesting. I realized that in spite of being handsome, intelligent and creative, he suffered from low self-esteem and had poor role models as both his parents had serious problems with addictions and had divorced each other when Randy was young. Randy also had a family history of mental illness which made him nervous about his own future. Psychotherapy helped him improve his self-esteem. As he got better and started dating, I did not see him for a year. I was disappointed as in my eyes he did not finish the work he had started in therapy. He came back to see me when his girl friend broke up with him as she felt controlled by him. He was devastated. I helped him one more time to grieve the relationship. That breakup had hurt his self- esteem. As he started feeling better, he stopped coming to see me again. It was obvious that he had difficulties making commitment to me in therapy, the same way he had difficulties making commitment to his sweetheart.

I saw him again after a couple of years when he was struggling in a different relationship. I met his new girl friend Nancy, who liked and adored him. She wanted a committed relationship but he was evasive. To keep an emotional distance he became jealous and started accusing her of flirting with other boys. She denied any flirting but he insisted.  He shared that she lied about small things that undermined his trust in her. He felt worse and acted as a jealous lover when he drank alcohol or used drugs. There were times he was tormented by his delusional ideas. I shared with him that he needed to be careful with alcohol and drugs as he had a family history of addictions on both sides of his family. His girlfriend also asked him to stop or at least cut down on his drug use.

When she asked for commitment, he wanted to end the relationship as he had lost respect for her because of her lying but did not have the courage to do so. He did not want to hurt her but then it was too late as he cheated on her. He did not want to continue with deception so he broke up with her the day after he cheated. When she found out the details, she was devastated. He came all upset to see me. He realized that he had betrayed her trust. When I saw them together I asked them to stay apart for six weeks and receive therapy separately and recover from the crisis. After six weeks of celibacy I was willing to see them together to discuss the future of their romantic relationship. I was surprised to find out that after a few days Randy had started seeing another girl.

When I confronted Randy he said he had enough of traditional relationships and he had met another girl who was willing to be fuck buddies with him. When I wanted to talk about his inability to make commitments and keep promises in therapy as well as in life, he was evasive. I suggested that even if he did not want to see Nancy again at least he could write her a letter to thank her for all the wonderful things she did for him. On my request he obliged.

As time passed Randy realized that he had serious emotional and relationship problems and his euphemism of fuck friends was an attempt to avoid commitment and genuine emotional intimacy. As he developed more insight, he cut down his use of alcohol and drugs, showed more commitment to school and learning music and finally became ready to have a committed relationship and when Sharon asked him to be his boyfriend he agreed. Now they have a exclusive romantic relationship and do not want to sleep with other people. They both seem ready for a long-term relationship. Randy feels he had to go through all those painful stages to find out not only whom he is but also what kind of relationship he wants with Sharon and what kind of lifestyle he would like to live.

Working with Randy was a long and hard struggle but was worth it. Randy now acknowledges that he has a polygamous personality but would like to have a monogamous lifestyle. He promised to be faithful, as he would like his girlfriend to be faithful to him. He realized that having double standards was not fair to both of them. For the first time he is realizing that having a monogamous relationship is his choice and not an obligation. Now he is doing it whole-heartedly and not something that is imposed on him by his girlfriend, family or community.

In the last few months I asked Randy and Nancy to write me letters to capture their dilemmas. I have changed the names of people to respect their privacy. I am sharing those letters to highlight their struggles and the struggles of many more who want to be fuck friends but are unable to handle those relationships because of serious emotional problems and romantic complications. For them recreational sex provided more heartache than enjoyment. But then it can be all part of growing up and learning about the mysteries of intimate relationships. The final question is at what price?

LETTER NO 1…NANCY’S LETTER

First letter is from Nancy sharing her feelings of devastation and despair. Randy was her first love that led to Randy having a one night secret affair and finally Nancy dealing with feelings of betrayal.

(I intentionally did not edit the letter and did not correct the grammar and syntax. I want the readers to have an intimate encounter with her raw feelings of anger, pain and suffering)

JAN 4TH 2005

ever since Randy told me what he did, especially that he didn’t tell me
right away and did it with me then following day i felt really hurt,
DISGUSTED and reeeeeeeeeeely disrespected..but after a few days of crying my
eyes out i realized how much i am missing him so then i turned a blind eye
to what he did and continued being with him. i guess its my way of coping. i
really miss his warmth...and he says it would be good if i could “square up”
as in sleep with someone else so we could get back together. that wouldn’t
happen because the i’ve learnt my lesson: i should get 2 know someone as a
friend before i enter a relationship, let alone sleep with them.
the freakiest thing about it is that i asked him if he used protection. the
first time he sais yes...then the second time i asked him if i should get
tested he said, no don’t scare me...then he changed his mind and said we
should go together 2 get tested....
the first time someone cheated on me i took him back because i just didn’t
wanna loose him and then he dumped me. today Randy joked on the phone that
he did it with her again....and then i almost cried until he said just
joking....if he really did do it with her again and i knew, i would probably
cry a lot again, and then not be able to control myself in going back to him
because i am so comfortable and used to him that i really cant let go. he
was my first so that’s pretty big that he cheated on me and suddenly exited
the relation. only Randy can replace Randy. and there is nobody right now
that can bring that same touch as him. That’s how special he is to me...it
doesn’t feel like we broke up because we still talk for hours everyday and we
still sleep together. how i am missing him so bad - the way we’re going
about it i’m never gonna get over him - and if i do, it’ll be with a very
special person and in a very long time...i really can’t see myself with
anyone else for a while. as much as he thinks i’m doing shit with other
guys, he’s wrong, but if he thinks that, then he really doesn’t know me, but
at least i know the truth.
whenever he thinks i’m cheating i think it’s just because he projects his
thoughts on me and to divert attention away from the fact that he looks at
other girls...so when i smile at other ppl [ people], its just because i’m like that
and don’t mean 2b rude....his problem i think is that he filters his
perception through sexuality, so everything, he takes, as something to do
with sexuality....which is something he’ll realize later he’ll have to deal
with...
i just want to clear my name as in i didn’t cheat on him...there’s gotta be a
judge out there who can ask so many questions that we can just get to the
bottom of it. i’m a bit too loyal even when ppl don’t deserve it, and even
when ppl deserve shit from me i wont give it to them because i’m too scared
of hurting them...ppl say i should be mean 2 Randy after what he
did....maybe i should be, but really, i’m missing him a lot...i’ll do
anything to just get him back 2 the way we used to be because that was
really good what we had and i never though it would end so soon and in such
a mess....i wish we could just go back...but really, i’m hurt and it mite
come back out sooner or later.
i think eventually if he works on himself enough he’ll realize that
whatever he thinks mite not be the truth...he assumes WAY too much and got
annoyed because i keep saying he does too much inductive reasoning. he
really doesn’t know. but i think eventually he’ll get 2 know me better and
realize the kind of person i am...its the last time i’m giving someone my
trust that easily. i’m so gullible and vulnerable and naive and it was my
mistake to not notice him taking advantage of me...i still let him do it
because i miss him soooo much.
the irony about him helping me with my sexual abuse is the way he used me
the day after....passive deception for the first time he got me in bed but
also the last time within the relationship...sexual betrayal sucks - and
that is why i am going to have such a hard time giving it to someone else.
its shitty but i learned my lesson that nobody is trustworthy.
……………………………………………………………………………………..
Nancy’s letter, in spite of poor grammar is rich with feelings. This letter is of special importance from a psychological point of view as it highlights a number of issues.

1.     Losing virginity

Randy was Nancy’s first love, to whom she offered her gift of virginity. Historically, losing virginity has been of far more significance to women than men, not only because of its association with pregnancy but also its moral and ethical perceptions by conservative societies. In the past in some traditional cultures no man wanted to marry a woman who was not a virgin. In some communities the couple had to show blood stained bed sheets in the morning after the wedding night to prove to the family and the tribe that the bride was a virgin. Although virginity does not have the same social significance in the modern and contemporary world, yet psychologically many women still consider it a special gift and hope that the first lover would cherish and respect the gift. That was one reason Nancy wrote, “…he was my first so that’s pretty big that he cheated on me and suddenly exited the relation…I felt really hurt, DISGUSTED and reeeeeeeeely disrespected…”

2.  Difficulty in ending the relationship

In spite of the hurt and pain and disrespect that Nancy felt, she still had hard time ending the relationship. She was even willing to forgive him and turn a ‘blind eye’ but Randy kept on rubbing the salt on the wound. Rather than being sympathetic he was joking and hurting by stating “ on the phone that he did it with her again.’ Nancy was aware that she ‘really cant let go’ As Randy knew she was not strong enough to let him go so he get away with murder. Nancy missed his touch, his affection and believed and tried to convince herself that she would not find such love again not realizing that her sincerity and love was being perceived as her weakness.

2.     Proving her innocence

Nancy knew she was innocent as she was faithful to Randy. When Randy accused her of being disloyal she felt hurt. She believed he was projecting his own thoughts of unfaithfulness on her as he had shared with her that he was obsessed with sex and believed that other people were like him.

In spite of knowing her innocence she still felt the need to prove her innocence to a third party. She needed a judge who would declare that she was not guilty of an affair. She wanted me as a therapist to play that role. That is why she wrote, “I just want to clear my name as I didn’t cheat on him…there’s gotta be a judge…”

As Nancy’s hurt and pain became intense she lost trust in Randy and lost faith in love and men. It was sad for me to see an innocent and caring young woman suffer. She wrote, “ sexual betrayal sucks…and that is why I am going to have such a hard time giving it to someone else. Its shitty but I learned my lesson that nobody is trustworthy.’

I tried to console her and share that she had done nothing wrong. I brought to her attention that she had fallen in love with a polygamous and unfaithful man.

In therapy I tried to help Randy to get in touch with his own feelings and the effects of his actions on her hoping that he would develop some empathy for Nancy. During their six weeks separation to do some soul-searching, one sleepless night he sent me an email.

LETTER NO 2…RANDY’S LETTER

JAN 11TH 2005

Tonight is hard, its 2:13am tues. I have class tomorrow at 9 but cannot sleep cause I miss Nancy so much. Sunday was our last day until 6 weeks ..I tried to leave a message w/anne for an appointment for Nancy and I feb 14th at 4 or 330. We have reserved Valentines day for each other and would like this to be the day we have ours session. I never knew how much she meant to me till now. Is it cause of the lies she told me, cause she told me at the beginning she was having temptations. I think I hurt her cause I couldn’t stand her hurting me ...I was so afraid of being hurt. I feel so bad for her ...poor girl got hurt by me...god I miss her. I never wanted to hurt someone like this and no matter what the outcome of Nancy and I , I wont ever hurt someone again. It feels terrible , almost like I have cast my own hell on my world. Heaven and Hell is what you make life and when you cause pain you get pain. This is the hard way to learn. Why have I always had to learn the hard way?  My dad used to say “Randy, ya had ta learn tha hard way didn’t ya?” I miss him too and I don’t know why it is so hard to talk to him ...it feels like something is blocking me...I am so afraid of love of getting hurt that I reject love and hurt people around me. I want this to end ...fuk so much shit..skool now ...just wish I could take a break from it all... I know if I stick to skool Ill cope with this much better. Skool is my only ticket out to security..but what about relationship security?  Damn I’ve lost a good girl and for jelousy and my illusioned beleifs that she did stuff in our relationship..still hard recounting certain events and parties to believe she did nothing. Don’t know if it is cause of my mental illness or what. My dad’s side of the family seems to have a history, he once told me he has a cousin who is in a hospital and thinks he is Jesus...said he did chemicals and lost his mind. Yeah my dad knows I do chemicals and cares for me.  Shit I don’t want to have kids
  cause my whole life has been a struggle and if this is cause of chemical imbalances in my brain ..then I really don’t want to pass it down to some poor soul. I really like Nancy but I feel I’ve hurt her so BAD that nothing can bring her back. Damn, its hard not to hate yourself for fucking up. The only way I will know I am good is if I can prove it .whether it be with Nancy or another girl. .As much as I want Nancy back my heart truly feels I have lost her..shit its 230 need some sleep and need to stop crying, feels good though I’ve been holding and still am holding a lot of crying back. WoW , why is it that the older I get the harder life is? Probably cause I have more and more responsibility. I love Nancy and I hope every minute that in 6 weeks we can get along and I don’t know ...I just miss her so much. I am punishing myself way too much. I really cared and still do care for her. Wish I would’ve noticed earlier to prevent the downfall of everything. Drugs, slowly I am abandoning this is a key reason why my relationship is gone.  OK I’ll write some other time and am looking forward to Wednesday’s appointment
RANDY

It is obvious from the letter that Randy, in spite of his insensitive, dishonest and callous behavior towards Nancy, was also hurting himself. He was emotionally suffering too. Gradually he was developing some remorse and guilt and a sense of regret.

Some people believe that guilt is always a negative and unhealthy feeling. In my opinion there are two kinds of guilt: healthy and unhealthy guilt. For many lay men and women even mental health professionals healthy guilt is a contradiction of terms. But for me for those people who hurt those they love to feel guilty is healthy. Such guilt helps them to develop insight and empathy and gradually they become compassionate towards people who suffer.

Randy was aware he had hurt Nancy. In his mind he had rationalized by stating, “ I hurt her cause I couldn’t stand her hurting me.”  as if he believed in the philosophy that offence was the best defense. But at another level he was also becoming aware in therapy that he was his own worst enemy. He stated, “ I reject love and hurt people around me.” When he realized he was involved in such unhealthy interaction he wondered whether his pathological and hurtful behaviour was part of mental illness that he had a family history of. He also blamed drugs to be responsible for the failure of his romantic relationship. He confessed, “ drugs…a key reason why my relationship is gone.”

Randy went through a stage of self-loathing and self-hate. He shared, “ damn. It’s hard not to hate yourself for fucking up.” I shared with him that he had to learn to like and love himself before he can love someone else.

For me to ask them to be apart for six weeks was a therapeutic attempt to help them do some introspection and also find out how committed they were to each other and their relationship.

Randy was more connected to me as a therapist than Nancy was. He was looking forward to his therapy sessions so that he could discuss his feelings and plan his next step. Sending the following email to my clinic in the middle of the night was a reflection of his connection.

LETTER NO 3…RANDY’S LETTER

JAN 17H 2005

Hello, today was a lot better than previous days. Overall I’v been feeling better. Nancy messaged me the other day and we talked. I really am ready to move on and realize that I was ready even before I cheated on her. All the pain I was experiencing was the pain I caused her. I still regret causing her such pain. She is a real mess and I feel sorry for her. I’ve kinda been talking to this girl Sharon since xmas. Didnt mention anything to you cause I wasn’t sure what was going on. I like her and met her bak in november. We didn’t really talk. Just an email here and there. She got bak in touch with me after xmas and since then we’ve gone from chatting on msn to talking on the phone. Last friday Jason and I went to Altered Beats. I met up with Sharon and her brother there. This culture a far less of a drug scene. Its fairly underground with only like 40-60 people showing up. I still intend on going out to Drum N Bass parties cause I love the music so much, but not until the fire between Nancy and I dies down. I don’t want to see her at these functions till she has moved on and we both have new lovers. I still want her as a friend but feel she is to attached to me still. Sharon came out of a 2 year relationship and both of us just wanna have fun, we don’t want committment at this point. I personally feel I dont want committment until my carreer is under way. I find Sharon interesting cause we are open about sexuality and we talked for a couple weeks b4 we even saw each other. I’ve never done this with a girl b4. Its just been like ok , lets go out and then boom. BF/GF[ boyfriend/girlfriend]....this time the whole intention is different, we like each other but don’t want the heavy emotions.  This friday I’m sleeping over at her house mainly for convenience. She lives in Toronto and it is cheaper to take the bus and the bus system stops just when things get good. So rather than leave early we can enjoy each others company longer. She is on the rag, so she said straight up nothings going to happen. I actually like HER. So just hanging out is fine. I cant be celebate to Nancy for any reason. Sure I hurt her and fucked up but life goes on and I don’t want any girl tying me down and preventing me from meeting someone in any way. I have already gone through natures punishment for what I did. I want her as a friend but think that personally she wont want that. Who knows I’m not a mind reader. Now is the time to enjoy my prime of life and not let the past hinder my future. Godda keep my head high and move on. I definitely wont hurt another girl like that again. That why it has to be straight up now with girls: are we committed yes/no...that type of thing and right now I don’t want committment, just having fun. Not totally promiscues but a little. I’m not gunna jump every girls bones, just see how it goes.  I dont think Nancy really knows how much I DO want her as a friend. Those friend moments meant more to me than the girlfriend ones. Don’t think I would be in the course I’m in or slowing down the drugs without her support.  Hopefully through all her pain she can see that.
Thanx 4 listening and I’ll see you on WED
RANDY
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

As I explored Randy’s wishes, plans and dreams it became obvious that he was not ready to make a commitment to Nancy which is also obvious from his letter. I was amused to see that alongside other words he had not learnt how to spell commitment and celibacy. I wondered how much it was symbolic of his state of mind. Since he had already met Sharon, who he found more charming and attractive than Nancy, he was tempted to break his promise of celibacy with Nancy and be intimate with Sharon. He was also pleased to know that Sharon was not asking any promise of commitment. He stated he wanted Nancy as a friend and Sharon as a lover. I confronted his as I felt that he wanted both as lovers but lovers with no commitments. He tried to deny it but I was not convinced.

As time passed Nancy became more hurt, angry and confused. I encouraged her to write hoping that through writing she might get in touch with her deeper feelings and it might help in clearing her emotional confusion. She wrote,

LETTER NO 4…NANCY’S LETTER

JAN 20TH 2005

Randy is such a hypocrite. he also, maybe doesn’t “lie” (because he’s really
against that, apparently) but says things he doesn’t mean. one example is
when he said “the only reason i told u i cheated on u in the 1st month was
because i love you.” two weeks later “it was because i was actually
convinced you did something with someone else, so if i told you what i did
you would have confessed too”
another “lie” or something he didn’t mean was when he said “the only reason i
cheated on u in the 1st month is because i thought you were a playerette and
you wouldn’t stay with me”—then the conversation when i said “temptations
for other guys” he was pressuring me to admit that i did something with
another - when he put pressure i said something i didn’t really mean. the
last time we spoke about it, he said he never speculated i did shit with
another guy until i said “tempations for other guys.” but cheating (in the
1st month) alone was speculating that i’m not loyal.
so i might have lied about drugs, but i think he also lied - also passively
decieving me twice. that is soooo hypocritic of him to give me such shit
about lying because he “never” does it - but really, when i look back - he
made excuses, or said things he didn’t mean, in other words he lied.
but anyway, he’s so selfish that he has no respect. i should have known that
once a cheater, always a cheater, at least for that relationship. instead i
fell for everything he said - and he goes from one extreme to the other. i
am soooooo mad at myself for letting him take advantage. since i am an
introvert, i will probably take my frustrations out on myself, and hurt
myself.
dr. sohail, don’t tell him he’s too smart for his own good, because then he
thinks he KNOWS. and his evidence for things that he “knows” is that “i’m
too smart for my own good, even dr. sohail said it”....sometimes we’re all
right, but he thinks he’s always right. but the anxiety levels really
influence what he thinks he “knows”. if you knew some of his stories that
make me look like a cheater, they are soooo damn rediculous.
he was sooo rude to me the day i lost the acid - and he was sooooo mad and
calling me stupid and an idiot. that was the day after he cheated on me. and
he was soooo mad at me. and i still feel pretty hurt by that.
he also tends to contradict himself. like, he also thinks its also my fault
we broke up...so i could have done things to prevent it, but, essentially he
was the one that cheated and caused the final blow to our relationship. so
he thinks it’s both our faults… now the acid being lost, essentially it’s
my fault, but he could have came over when he said he would - he even said
so himself that “ye, it’s kind of my fault i shouldn’t have wasted the
afternoon on porn” (because if he came 1-2 hours earlier it wouldn’t
happen)...so he could have done things to prevent it but essentially it’s my
fault. but no, i had to pay 4 all of it. and the relationship? it’s both our
faults, but more his, and i’m paying more.
all the things i did for him and he was treating me not good. i ask him for
a favor then he says no, then i say don’t forget all these things i do or
you, it’s the least you could do, then he says, ok fine.
another contradicting himself, he said he was over the relationship before
he slept with that sketchy   druggie girl, but apparently he wasn’t over the
relationship because on new years, he was paranoid i was doing something w/
another guy. also the last time we went to a party together i couldn’t find
him so i wasn’t with him for an hour, then he got mad cuz he thought i was
doing something with another guy. is that called getting over it before he
cheated on me?
this whole relationship was just a false sense of security for me. he’s sure
he knows, like he told me something about bodybuilding, then last month i
brought it up, and then he said “forget what i said then, this is the truth
now” - that is how he is - very confusing.
the fact that i know most details of his cheating, sucks. he told me most
details. it makes me so fucking sick to my stomach, i even know which shirt
he was wearing. so it’s what i do with this hurt and right now i’m not
getting any better. i think drugs and music are the answer - and i’m so
sickened that it feels like nobody is good enough. he really brainwashed me
into thinking he’s so damn worth it and trustworthy. when i look back he
didnt treat me nice. he made me cry lots and drove me crrrrazy because he’s
so fucking neurotic to the bone, no doubt.
come to think about it, after such bullshit he doesn’t desearve me as even a
friend. i give way too much, i’d prefer someone who’s as selfless as i am.
cya @ our next appt.
-Nancy
_________________________________________________________________
I find it fascinating that alongside trying to explore new sexual morality, ethics and traditions young people are also exploring new methods like MSN which is faster and easier and new language to communicate

cya @ our next appt

is just an example to communicate in abbreviations that were not acceptable to the older generation a decade ago. Many are still not willing to accept it as they find it offensive like new morality. Rather than trying to understand the dilemmas of communication of new generation and helping them work through their conflicts they can easily become judgmental even punitive that alienates the new generation even further and the communication gap is labeled as generation gap.

As Nancy progressed in therapy she realized she had succumbed to Randy’s charm and had given him the emotional power, the power that he used, misused and abused. It started as Randy pressured to conform to his wishes and have sex with him. He also put pressure to confess that she had relationship with another man. She was innocent but under pressure she confessed. She wrote, ‘ he was pressuring me to admit that I did something with another – when he put pressure i said something i didn’t really mean’

Nancy gradually started seeing Randy as arrogant and conceited. She wrote, ‘ sometimes we’re all right, but he thinks he’s always right.’ Their relationship reached a point when Nancy realized ‘ he really brainwashed me.’ That is ultimate power she gave him. As Nancy was receiving support in therapy she was developing some insight as well as gaining some self-confidence. She was realizing that such a relationship was not good for her mental health as she was compromising her self-respect. Finally she decided, “after such bullshit he doesn’t deserve me even as a friend, I give way too much, I’d prefer someone who’s selfless as I am.’

It was a major breakthrough for Nancy to not become aware of her caring and gentle nature but also realize that others could take advantage of it. She realized that she needed to be with someone who was as honest, caring and sincere as she was. By stating those feelings and wishes it was also becoming clear that she was getting ready to leave this relationship and preparing to be on her own for a while and wait until she needs a loving man who would treat her with respect.

While Nancy was doing her homework in therapy I asked Randy to do some soul-searching and ask himself what were the reasons he had an affair and hurt not only Nancy but himself and his loving relationship. I wanted him to explore the dark side of love. He wrote,

LETTER NO…5,,,RANDY’S LETTER

JAN 26TH 2005

I think now about the reasons that led up to the affair on Nancy. The whole relationship was me pushing her into it. She had told me from the beginning that she didn’t want a relationship and I talked her into it, guess it was out of the fear of not finding someone again.  Now I realize that there is tons of girls out there and it is easy to find people that will be with you.  I’m not afraid of being lonely cause I know all it takes is exposing yourself to get noticed and responding to the attention you recieve.  In the first 3 or 4 months of seeing Nancy she was very rejecting of me. We would go to parties and she wouldn’t do as much as hug me. I would see other couples some of which who weren’t even dating, grinding and making out at these parties and wished I could do that with my girlfriend. Well thats what I thought she was at the time, but now I realize it was more of a life lesson than a girlfriend. 

Drugs were a big problem in our relationship. We would do ecstacy at a lot of these parties and when I would confront her on her flirting with other guys she would blame the drugs and say its my anxiety. Well she is 18 and Im 23 so I’ve done years more drugs than her and I know there effects. I wasn’t hallucinating and it was blatently obvious what she was doing. She would always be defensive and deny everything. I tried every angle to try to get inside her mind to find out why she was doing this. Always ended with fighting and her denying it.

There was another instance when we stayed at a friend’s place. I was completely loaded and passed out on the couch with Nancy, this guy was on the other couch. I remember her getting up to say she was playing solitare on there computer and I couldn’t stay awake. The next morning I awoke, she was on the other couch and the guy was eating in the kitchen. Nancy approached me and had a tshirt on over her spandex black tank top. She reached down and pulled the spandex top back over her breasts. I asked her why she had her breasts out of the top of the tank top and she said it was more comfortable that way. I wasn’t that paranoid at that point yet then this guy came in the room and looked at us. He couldn’t even make eye contact with me and looked down when I would look at him. Well yup after all the shit I had already gone through with Nancy I was thinking that they fucked while I was extremely drunk and passed out on the couch. I left immeditely with her and when I said bye to everyone, he was the only one who couldn’t look at me or say bye. I had been talking to this guy the night before and he was fine.  When there is a loss of trust and respect then doubt and suspicion forms as you can see.  Nancy never respected me since the begining. Sure I didn’t take our relationship that seriously in the beginning cause I dated two other girls for a week each in the first couple weeks. No sex just curiousity and then I decided I liked Nancy and ended this only to pursue a relationship with her. Anyway the trip back to Oshawa ended in arguing and denial on her half. She might not have done anything at any time in our relationship, but she did flirt and didn’t show me the loving affection I expect from a girlfriend and the same affection I love to show my girlfriend. At a party a couple months later the same guy was there and I noticed him and Nancy staring at each other and Nancy smiling with the same enthusiasm she has every time she flirts. Wow this is too much. the last couple months of the relationship Nancy was very unenthusiastic and would barely move when we had sex. This was boring me and I felt I wasn’t getting back what I was putting in. One weekend before xmas I got drunk and had sex with this girl Lisa I knew liked me. One of her friends said to me earlier in the night before we had sex “don’t you have a girlfriend?” and I responded with “not anymore!!”. The next day I had sex with Nancy without telling her I cheated on her, then went to a party to witness really bold flirting and she was so cold to me I assumed my friend Ann who is friends with Lisa told her. So I told Nancy after the party.  I broke up with her and then told her. We were fuck friends for a while and then decided through seeing Dr. Sohail that we would stop talking and seeing each other for  6 weeks and then meet with Dr. Sohail and see if we can be friends. In this time we have emailed each other briefly and chatted briefly. She tells me that I made a hole in her soul. I never wanted to cheat on a girl and never will again. Its not worth the pain and guilt. The pain I have caused her is very great. What about my pain: the rejection, the lying and flirting and the lack of love and enthusiasm. These were all motivating factors in what I did. Now I’ve learned a huge life lesson. I learned not to allow myself to be abused and stepped on as Nancy did in the beginning and I have learned not to pressure a girl into a relationship when they aren’t ready. This is probably why she treated me as she did. Now through this experience I know what type of girl I want and I know what I will not tolerate from someone. I also know that if I lose interest in someone to end the relationship so I don’t end up with someone else before I’ve severed ties with who I’m with. Huge life lesson and experience, in the end I will be a better person and that is why I believe I allowed myself to be treated this way. So I would know exactly what I don’t want and exactly what I do want in girlfriend.
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Randy’s letter is a good description of the environment in which some young people are trying to find love. The environment of drugs and free sex is not very conducive for a trusting and loving relationship. It is okay for one night stands and Erics Jong’s zipless fucks but not for lasting loving relationships that are emotionally healthy and growth promoting. The letter also proved my suspicion that Randy did not want Nancy just as a friend but was hoping to have her as a fuck friend which was very devastating for Nancy. During those six weeks of separation Randy decided to end her relationship with Nancy and cancelled the joint therapy appointment of Valentine’s day. He was now pursuing her relationship with Sharon. He was happy Sharon was not asking for any commitment. I suggested to Randy to write a letter to Nancy and end the relationship on a positive note. He agreed and sent her the following letter.

LETTER NO 6…RANDY’S LETTER TO NANCY

FEB 7TH 2005
Hello, I would like to thank you for genuinely helping me with my addictions...I have really cut down on intoxicants and YOU are one of the main motivating factors that allowed me the bravery to take on this beautiful course. Thanx, my dreams are becoming a reality. For the last month this course has been transforming me into a professional in audio. I cant believe the things I’ve learned in just tha last month..WOW I’m finally doing it and a lot of it is thanx to your motivation you gave me. ..I know there was genuine moments that I helped you too and if they didn’t help then sorry, my intention was to help you with your problems....I realize I added more but want you to know that I will never forget your love and care in realizing my potential. I learned more in those 8 months about life than any other time in my life!!!! Thank you. As fucked up as it sounds things happen 4 a reason and I’m becoming a better person because of it...YOU WILL TOO....just have faith in god(love)..its always there and yes the chance of getting hurt is too. Love(god) is so powerful that it destroys pain and is worth it every time...My life is better now and I owe thanx to you
RANDY
I was glad Nancy had recovered enough from her hurt that she could write back and end this painful chapter of her life on a positive note. She responded to Randy by this letter,

                             LETTER NO 7…NANCY’S LETTER TO RANDY
’ glad 2 hear things are good w/ you
i was thinking about it today how deep i miss you.
you’re also pretty lucky to have parents that say you can. my parents highly
doubt me so now i don’t know what the fuck i wanna do cuz the things i wanna
do i can’t. don’t know where the hell i’m going.
all i know right now is to have fun and party my ass off like it’s new years
at least 3 times a month.
good luck  Nancy’
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Randy finally had discussions with me about his philosophy of fuck buddies and friends with benefits and realized that those relationships had caused him a lot of emotional pain and he was ready to make a commitment in his relationship. He was not sure whether he would be able to maintain a loving relationship but he was ready to give it a serious and genuine try. He wrote,

LETTER NO 8…RANDY’S LETTER TO ME

MARCH 14TH, 2005

Dear Dr.Sohail, it has been a few weeks since we’ve talked and I’ve been forgetful in booking. Over the last few weeks Sharon and I have gotten closer. She wanted committment and told me so. I agreed and have been having a hard time with my trust issues with her. She is aware of what i went through with Nancy and is really making me feel wanted. I really like her and haven’t liked someone this much since I was with Mary. It feels awesome, unfortunately i still have trust issues. They didn’t really come up so much when she first wanted to be committed but as feelings intensified it became harder. One night while lying in her bed she told me how she really likes me and basically it sounded like she was falling in love with me. I like her a lot and see potential in a loving relationship and when she told me I started crying. The feeling of someone liking me that much hadn’t been felt since Mary. She was there for me. She says she has no problem being devoted and committed when she likes someone. Today her friend Rick is coming from Chicago to stay at her place for a couple of nights. Naturally my anxiety increased with this knowledge. She tells me they are just friends and he’s sleeping in the spare room. I want to trust her. Its hard cause i saw the name Rick in big letters on one of her notepads and it had a big heart to dot the eye. This does things with my trust issues. She wants me to trust her and i want the same but this is bringing up old issues and making it hard for me to deal with. She is aware of my anxiety and says they are just friends. Most of her friends are guys she says. I’m confused, and find it weird Walter is sleeping over the first time they meet. He does live in Chicago but i just have this feeling that Sharon has an ulterior motive. Like she will try out another guy that she’s been dating online and if he’s good then shell go with her heart. And it’s good for people to follow their heart so they are happy and I want her to choose me for her heart. I guess the fear of losing someone I’ve been looking for is scaring me. She is so many things i look for in a girl and really makes me feel wanted. She shows a lot of affection. I hope she’s telling the truth and he is just a friend...although i know more can develop between friends. I guess whatever happens was meant to happen and if she’s not true i don’t want someone like that anyway. Its so similar to meeting her. After we talked on MSN months after exchanging numbers at Venetian Snares, we met at a Altered Beats to hang out...she did say that if we didn’t go to AB then we would’ve had a sleep over the first night. and then the second time i hung out with her i stayed at her place and things kinda happened.
 Trust is a big thing with me though. I’ve gone to two Drum n Bass nights with Sharon and they went fine...no trust issues with her, but the people look sketchy...like they cant be trusted. Probably because of my bad drug trips. That’s why i stopped. Drinking relaxes me  and i don’t have bad trips. I think not taking chemical drugs anymore helps me. I can see the issues and perspective problems that have developed because of my drug use. That’s all i feel like writing now. I thought it would be easier bringing you up to speed for wednesdays appointment this way.
Randy

Randy was quite pleased to share that although Rick had stayed at Sharon’s place he could trust her and accept that Walter was just a friend and not a fuck friend of Sharon. Randy, who used to believe in friends with benefits was negotiating a committed relationship. I asked him to review his therapy and the changes he had made in the last year. I asked him to reflect upon the painful experiences and write to me how he had transformed and what did those experiences mean to him?. The next day he sent me the following the letter,

LETTER NO 9…RANDY’S LETTER TO ME

MARCH 16…2005

Sometimes you have to experience the bad stuff before you can see the good stuff. This is how I feel about my experience with Nancy before I started seeing Sharon.  Sharon and I have been seeing each other for almost three months now. In the beginning we were both coming out of relationships and didn’t want committment. As time progressed we became more and more interested in each other and discussed being committed. We still didn’t want titles like boyfriend/girlfriend, but we wanted to be exclusive to each other. Now we are comfortable with calling each other boyfriend/girlfriend. We make each other very happy and I haven’t felt this way since my first girlfriend Mary. With Nancy I think I felt I would be lonely without her and clung to her through all the bullshit we went through. Its really different with Sharon, she’s really everything I look for in a girl. Looks are one thing and she’s got great personality, we share a lot in common. I feel that life gave me the experience with Nancy so I would know what I really want and how to treat that special someone when I find them. The appreciation I have for Sharon is amazing and without the dark experience I went through, it would have been hard to find the light.  I really like Sharon and feel good being committed. It is easy for me because I am so happy and respect her so much. She shows me so much affection and really enjoys spending time with me, I haven’t felt this way since I was with Mary. We will take it day by day and hope for the best in our relationship. 
I did quite a bit of chemical drugs like ecstacy when i was with Nancy. This definetely worsend and created problems we had. Communication was misunderstood and perspectives were warped. Sharon doesn’t do drugs, if she does its very occasionally, like once a year.  I’ve been so happy lately that i stopped doing chemical drugs like acid and ectasy. Sure i think about it once in a while, but I’ve had too many bad trips. Bad trips are like a sad storey that keeps getting sadder. Once they start, they will always be there. And any problems like emotional situations in life and things like anxiety will worsen. I feel much more stable now that i cut out the drugs. I do drink occasionally and smoke pot once in a while. Usually i can only smoke pot when I’m drunk cause if I’m sober it causes anxiety attacks. Overall this newfound happiness in my relationship with Sharon is helping me improve my lifestyle habits. Real life is the biggest challenge and with each year i feel it harder to do drugs, they make life that much harder. Happiness is the real drug and it’s not bad for you.
Randy

Ps…It’s amazing how life teaches you lessons and I feel myself growing each day.

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It is my impression that Randy is gradually developing a realistic attitude towards life and intimate relationships. He is cutting down his use of drugs and is getting ready for a loving and meaningful relationship with Sharon. He wants me to meet her to help them have a healthy and happy relationship which would be a growing experience for both of them. I told him that he was more than welcome to invite Sharon so that we could all work together. He is quite excited by new possibilities in his romantic life. He is realizing how much his family of origin has affected his attitude and his intimate relationships and how much he would like to change himself for the better. He seems genuinely motivated this time. I hope I can help him fulfill his dream of having and maintaining a healthy loving relationship. In all honesty I am more optimistic this time than ever before.

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After writing this essay when I showed it to Randy to get his blessings before I could share it with my friends and colleagues for their comments, he requested me to end the essay by adding another letter. He wanted to share his progress since his last letter. So here is the final letter.

LEETER NO 10…RANDY’S LETTER TO ME

Dear Dr. Sohail,

After Rick went back to America, Sharon told me he liked her and made her feel uncomfortable. He was always trying to hold her hand and cuddle. Once he even kissed her neck. She pushed him away and told him to stop. She told me this because she felt guilty. She did cuddle with him a couple of times because she did not want to be rude. When he was gone guilt set in and her true feelings came out. She really loves me and she expressed her feeling after Rick went back. We have developed a real love for each other. After Rick’s visit, it made both of us ultimately aware of our passionate loving feelings for each other. Commitment is wonderful. It has been a couple of weeks since we first said we loved each other and things are great. We are even more open and affectionate towards each other. Love feels so good. I have been in situations recently where I could have been flirting but Sharon’s love inside me and my love for her is so great that I would never mess that up. What we have means so much to me and I have so much respect for her and our relationship. Genuine feelings like love are stronger than temptation and I am very happy with Sharon. I am looking forward to how this relationship develops.

Thank you for your time.  Randy

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