But if I may pretend to be an expert on the topic, the status of relationships between the sexes can be summed up as follows:
- Married Couple
Married couples are precisely that. They have chosen to enter an institution, a legal contract binding them to each other. Roles and responsabilities are defined. Then there are lovers. A man and woman feel this thing called love and they get involved with each other's lives in an intense manner. The main difference between the lovers and married couple is that the lovers don't sign a binding contract. Then there are friends. Men and women happen to enjoy the happy state of friendship without sexual tensions.
Over the years various sub-catagories have developed to the main catagories. The most prominent one is of course - "Friends with Benefits." This is a state where a man and woman who are sexually attracted to each other but have nothing in common - exist as friends but once in a while have sex. I think of Bijay and Zen (in her pre-Eric days) as a good example. They didn't actually like each other enough to be a couple but somehow when it came to touching they were very close and enjoyed it (Bijay being one of the very few people I knew who's eyes would light up at the prospect of a naked Zen).
In recent weeks, I seem to have discovered an altogether new catagory - "Girlfriend Without Benefits" or if I wanted to be really official - "Pretend Girlfriend with no benefits." The girl in question is of course a 43-year old single mother I met recently called Agnes. Ironically the clossest person I had a similar relationship with also had a name that started with A but it's only with this lady that I'm discovering the various attributes of this altogether new catagory.
What makes her a girlfriend rather than a friend? The answer is simple and superficial. When we're out in public, we give off the signs of being a couple. We start this charade by walking showing up at public functions together and we leave together. When it comes to meal time, we dish food for each other and sometimes share the same dishes. We walk close together, we walk as if there were no one else. Once in a while I'll put my arm around her waist and she'll dutifully move closer. On the bus a hand finds a way onto a thigh or occasionally a hand brushes ever so softly against an arm. To the neutral observer, we look like a happy and contented couple.
More disturbingly we share some superficial links. As well as being astrologically compatible (She's a fire horse and I'm a wood tiger), her history with men reads something like my history with women - we would both have been better off reading the safety manual of HMS Titanic. Her ex-husband shares the same surname as my mother and she once lived in the same block of flats that I'm in. Are these signs that we are supposed to be linked? I would like to think that they are purely coincidental - though she did make a point that she thinks she's adding value to me because everyone thinks she's my girlfriend
However, while we do give the impression that we're a couple or at least headed for coupledome, there are utterly no benefits, at least for me that is. The lady has declared herself celebite (or at least for me) for the past year and more importantly has no money, unlike a Vietnamese lady I spent a bit of time with. Hence, there are no benefits, for me at least - she may be describing me as "PBFNC" or "Pretend Boyfriend with No Cost." This is indeed an interesting state of affairs, which cultural anthropologist in me finds deeply interesting.
I always assumed that coupledome required a heavy bout of bonking, otherwise it was called "Mateship," a state where the girl was equivalent to one of your mates at the pub. In Singapore I have a few girls I'd describe as "good mates," including one of my favourite journalist and a former Citibank colleague. Zen is I suppose what you could call a good mate, though she's probably another catagory altogether - namely Pet Foster Sister.
Not sure how workable this status is but I suppose the beauty of having a PGFNB is that I'm not restricted from looking for relationships with other fringe benefits