November 11, 2014

Ask Me Anything: Is Being “Friends with Benefits” Good Enough? {Weekly Advice Column}

girl night

*Editor’s Note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal opinion, view or experience of the authors, and can not reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here. 


Dear Elephants,

Welcome to this week’s Ask Me Anything, where no question is out of bounds! To submit questions for next week, please email me at [email protected] or private message me on Facebook.
I look forward to hearing from you!

Dear Erica,

Here is my situation: I am a 41 year old divorced woman who met a man, 10 years younger than me, and we became friends with benefits.

At the time I thought I was the only person he was seeing, but later found out that he had similar relationships with other women. We decided that we would just be friends and that worked for a while. But then we mutually agreed to add the benefits back in our relationship.

He has told me that he loves me but that he would not be in a serious relationship with me because I don’t fit all the qualifications.

He is my best friend and I can’t imagine my life without him, but I just don’t find myself attracted to or wanting to date anyone else at this point.

Sometimes I think I am foolish for even being in this situation but the thought of being this old and part of the “meat market” is terrifying.

Your column said ask anything but I am not even sure what to ask.

What do I do in this situation?


Dear Confused,

Your letter makes me sad because you are so obviously selling yourself short.

I get that you have been hurt and that you feel vulnerable—the dating world is scary, no doubt about it—but what is scarier is settling for this man who not only doesn’t make you a priority, he straight up says that though he “loves you,” he won’t be faithful to you because you don’t fit his “qualifications.” (Whatever that means.)

It also concerns me that you call this same person your “best friend.” With friends like this, who needs enemies?

Do yourself a favor and tell this guy to beat it. You don’t have to go back into the “meat market,” in fact, it sounds like some single time might be just the thing. As corny as it sounds, you desperately need to fall back in love with yourself.

Nurture yourself by eating healthfully, moving your body, reaching out to (real) friends and family, reading and sleeping. If you do these things faithfully you will reclaim your mental and emotional health. Once you are stronger, dating won’t seem so daunting and you’ll attract better men—maybe even one who fits your qualifications.

girl shawl

Dear Erica,

Right now I live in England and I’ll be here for another few years.

I used to do yoga and meditation in my home back in India, but here I live in a rental home. The house owner lives downstairs and another two rooms in the house are shared by two other people.

My question is if I do my chanting, will they see me differently or ask me to stop chantings early in the morning. I know it depends largely on the individual, but I am asking you this for your general opinion as a westerner.

What will a westerner think when they hear ohm chanting or see someone doing meditation? Even many Indians see me differently when I do yoga (though that’s different and I’ve gotten used to that).

Today is the first day I started doing it after 40 days of being here, but I reduced my voice while chanting so it was more like humming.

Should I just chant in my normal way?

Chanting in the West

Dear Chanting,

Yes, you should chant in your normal way!

I have no idea what anyone’s reaction will be, but you should be true to yourself. If your chanting causes them to have a negative opinion of you that’s really more a reflection on them than it is on you.

Personally, I would find this intriguing and see it at a possible conversation starter. If your housemates are of the same ilk as me, then your chanting might turn into an opportunity to make new friends.

If, on the other hand, your chanting freaks them out or makes them uncomfortable  and unwilling to interact with you, they probably wouldn’t make the greatest friends anyway.

Carry on and let the chips fall where they may! You might end up opening people’s hearts and minds to a whole different mode of spirituality.

Love elephant and want to go steady?

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Author: Erica Leibrandt

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photos: Sylvia McFadden/Flickr, Jose Manuel/Flickr

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