Poets and philosophers might dole out different viewpoints on friendship, but one universal fact remains -- Friends are like good underwear, they support, even when it comes to sex
Since evolution, true mates have stood the test of time. But Circa 2010 is a long way since our primate days ” so merely scratching each other's backs isn't sufficient anymore -- we form much more complicated alliances nowadays.
Friends in this age come with benefits. As the untainted frivolity around Friendship Day recedes, MiDDAY delves deep into one aspect of friendship that many Delhiites are practicing, but are hardly confessing to.
Many youngsters today are finding casual sexual relationships between friends an easier option than going for long-lasting bonds that come with strings attached. There's a new stick-together-sleep-together breed on the buddy block, and they're called "F*** buddies", no regrets attached.
But such bonding, as emotionally shallow as it seems, has a deeper understanding behind it in most cases. Here, friends not only share secrets and lend a shoulder to cry on, but also empathise with the absence of a sexual partner in the friend's life, making sure they fill up the void. "Contrary to popular perceptions, very often such people stay friends for life. They connect on a very different level," says sommelier and columnist Bhaichand Patel.
For some, it is simply about giving meaning to a sexual preference that they are forced to keep under wraps. "Until last year, before the law decriminalised homosexual intercourse, my life was a living hell. I would look in dangerous places for sexual gratification. And then I met Atul (name changed)," says 26-year-old architect Puneet Virmani. Today, Virmani is happy with his arrangement with his old buddy, whom he reconnected with at a college reunion five months ago. They are best buddies and do everything that 'normal' friends do together.
"There isn't an iota of jealousy between us because we have learnt the true meaning of friendship," adds Atul.
Others use it as a way of mutiny against a social order that curtails freedom. "We live in a paradoxical world; our parents want us to be astronauts like Kalpana Chawla but will marry us off to people they choose. In such a situation, sex is rebellion, but since we don't want to risk a relationship, enjoying it with a dear friend is the best alternative," says model Tulika Sharma (name changed).
But sometimes, it is not the non-conformist streak that leads to a physically intimate friendship -- the tendency often arises as a by-product of a fast-paced lifestyle. "It takes away the labour of searching for a mate, the toil of pleasing her and taking care of her whims and fancies. You are on an equal turf with a friend," says 20-year-old Vivek Nagpal, a student at Guru Gobind Singh (GGS). It is a d ©j vu to the fearless Flower Child years of the Sixties; only, this time, it is happening behind closed doors. "Since society has come of age, having friends with benefits is fine till none carries emotional baggage. Two people must accept the fact the way it is," says model Alok Bhatia.
But the fact can't be denied that some amount emotional baggage does get dragged along. "Two people who sleep together cannot be friends at the same time. There is a conditional ownership between the two which leads to acrimony and that does not take you anywhere near friendship," says ad man Prahalad Kakkar.
"I don't think it works but if it does then definitely I'd love to see it work," he adds. Ask sociologists and they air a simple explanation. "It's a passing fad, even the hippies of 60s and 70s who left their families ended up in forming families among themselves," explains Prof. Vivek Kumar, Centre for the Study of Social System, Jawaharlal Nehru University. And he adds a word of caution: "Most of the casual relationships I have observed didn't end in being 'casual' after all. So those who are into it should be careful," he adds.
Well, food for thought, but till then it is an agreement many are happily conforming to.
(With inputs from Ankit Kohli and Vatsala Shrangi)