‘But I just want us to be friends with benefits’, Jerry said out loud just as the music in the nightclub paused. While she was embarrassed, other men looked at me with envy! ‘Works for me’, I said instantly.

More Than Friends With Benefits

‘But I just want us to be friends with benefits’, Jerry said out loud just as the music in the nightclub paused. While she was embarrassed, other men looked at me with envy! ‘Works for me’, I said instantly. Six years later, the only benefits we were interested in talking about were those from tax-savings.

When I first met her, Jharna was like none other. Full of life and always up for adventure. What I loved the most about her was that she was opinionated, ambitious and oh my god, so funny! Drunken hook-ups were our thing. It wasn’t like we were seeing other people, but for the longest time, she wasn’t even my girlfriend.

As much as we were trying to run away from labels, the law of attraction clubbed with human tendencies turned us into a stereotypical couple. Okay it wasn’t that organic. So this one time we were chilling with some friends and one of them referred to me as her boyfriend. She did not correct them, despite me giving her a look about it. 

‘Are you embarrassed to be called my boyfriend? She asked me in the middle of a work-day, over text. 

‘Where did that come from?’ I replied. 

‘It’s been a year that we’ve been together, how come you’ve never asked me to be your girlfriend?’ She replied within a second. 

‘I thought you wanted to be friends with benefits’, I rebutted. 

‘But what do you want?’ - my response to this led to us moving in, changing our relationship status on Facebook and going from having sex on a whim to only on weekends.  

Handcuffs were replaced by duplicate house keys and dirty talk was reduced to whose turn it was to take the garbage out.

Honestly, about two years into moving in together, we had grown into two very different people. I remember this one time she said to me, ‘paying bills on time is better than orgasm’, and that’s when I knew that we were never going to be the same again. 

Our magic seemed to have disappeared. We would fight over petty things like me being ‘insensitive’ to her period cravings or her having turned all my t-shirts into her night suits. She had started laughing at memes alone, and I began returning home as late as possible to avoid confrontations. Things were really going downhill. Until there was an intervention. 

Jharna and I were invited to a close friend’s birthday party. We hadn’t gone out together in almost a month and it felt strange. But we agreed to attend the celebrations. ‘I’ll pick you up on my way back from work’, I texted her. She replied with her usual ‘K’. 

She looked different that evening. ‘New dress’, I asked as soon as she got into the car, ‘No’ she answered. ‘What’s different?’ I probed. ‘Just drive’, she ordered.  

I couldn’t get my eyes off her at that party. The way she got people’s attention, how she made them laugh. Once again, Jerry was the heart of the party and I was dumbfounded. ‘I haven’t seen her like this in a while’, I murmured to the friend whose birthday it was. ‘What? Where have you been dude? Jerry is the reason we tolerate you’, he joked (I hope). But this made me think. 

Was it her or was it me? Had I been a really bad boyfriend to her? Jharna was the girl of my dreams - but it now felt like once she moved in with me, I started taking her presence in my life for granted. 

Every time she would suggest something, I would call it an instruction. If she would ask me to bring something on my way back home, I would call it an order. Just because we lived under the same roof and she was a more responsible person, I had begun rebelling like I would with my parents as a teenager. But I was an adult now - and all she expected from me was to behave like one. 

I cannot believe that one evening in a social setting would suddenly make me want to grow up. I wanted to be accountable for my actions. I wanted to be the perfect man for this amazing woman who had chosen me out of all the men in the world. 

As impulsive as it may sound - when we came back home that night I asked her to marry me, and the next thing I knew, we were having our crazy drunk sex again. 

I understood that relationships worked in stages, and to be happy, it was important to fearlessly plunge onto the next stage and consciously embrace it. Speaking of stages, Jharna and I are now expecting our first baby - and boy, am I freaking out!

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Teesta Rajan
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