And no, I'm NOT talking about friends with benefits. A lover is totally different.
There is a big difference between a friend with benefits and a lover. I've had friends with benefits before. They're the kinds of guys I would never want to date, even if my life depended on it.
They're underemployed, unintelligent, emotionally-stunted, partiers, or otherwise ill-equipped for a relationship. But they're fun, there’s chemistry, and every now and then we all have an itch to scratch.
Nonetheless, friends with benefits are like the fast food of sex — quick, easy, and only temporarily satisfying.
However, there is an alternative: a lover. The idea of a lover is anachronistic. Who knew they existed outside 19th century novels? Certainly not me.
A friend with benefits is fine when you don't mind rolling out of their apartment the next morning with your hair a mess, making your way through beer cans and empty pizza boxes. A lover is a good bottle of wine, conversation, and seduction.
Seeing as I wasn't Emma Bovary, it never occurred to me that I could even have (or want) a lover.
And then I met Alex.
Alex had just filed for divorce from his wife and was about to embark on a legal battle, leaving him zero desire to start a relationship. For my part, I had no interest in starting something with someone who clearly had loads of baggage he hadn't quite checked.
Nonetheless, we were drawn to each other in a way that could only be described as magnetic.
He was tall with longish dark hair, tanned skin, and a scruffy beard.
He looked like a cross between Gavin Rossdale and Michael Hutchence with straighter hair. I was minding my own business, working on a long-overdue article at a local bar/coffeeshop when he walked in and took a seat next to me. Every hair follicle of my hairless arm (thanks laser removal) stood on edge.
Within minutes, we quickly struck up a conversation, moving from the bar to a table. It only took a brief lull in the conversation for him to pull me towards him.
We were furiously locking lips when he whispered into my ear, "Let's go."
As though I could do nothing but his bidding, I obliged, taking him back to my apartment. His appeal was enthralling. He wasn't just another attractive guy; he embodied a manliness and sexual confidence that put every other man to shame.
Throwing me onto the sofa, he did things downstairs that frankly I didn't even think were possible. But it wasn't his sexual prowess that amazed me; it was his verbal appreciation.
"God, you taste so f*cking good," he said as he kissed me. "Your skin is so soft," he remarked caressing my leg. Or, "You're so gorgeous,” as he shifted a lock of hair from my face. He took me in, seemingly mesmerized by my mere physical presence.
I was taken aback. I couldn't remember the last time any man, boyfriend or not, had said anything like that.
Sure they liked doing it (or they behaved like it anyway), but expressing it so openly? That was a whole other scenario ... a nonexistent one to be precise.
Had I just gotten used to dating immature men that I was shocked when a man actually knew how to seduce a woman? Or was he just so eager because he had married so young and was now a free man?
Either way, I didn't care, but I knew that I liked it. And I wanted to reciprocate.
As I headed south, he made his pleasure known quite audibly: "You look so hot! I'm so turned on right now."
With most men I had felt like Barbie or maybe Pamela Anderson. Alex made me feel like Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Cleopatra, and Aphrodite all rolled into one.
My sex life went from feeling like Warrant's "Cherry Pie," an objectified screw fest, to Beyonce's "Rocket," a slow and sensual ride that induced waves of pleasure.
Having just broken up with a man who was emotionally abusive, my still-fragile self yearned to feel like a sensual woman again and not a shattered girl. And Alex was just the salve my wounded esteem needed.
Before I knew it, we were having afternoon trysts in his car, unable to wait until evening, and trading sexy texts which only added to the excitement. As opposed to friends with benefits, with whom I shared nothing other than a desire to bone, Alex I would often talk about music, literature, and philosophy.
I would tell him about bad dates and he would tell me about his divorce battles. Neither of us were ready for anything more yet we came into each other's lives at the perfect time.
When I met J and started to fall for him, I knew it was time to give Alex up.
Some people aren't meant to be permanent.
Alex had given me what I needed: he "brought the woman out in me" (in the famous words of Heart).
Though a committed relationship was my ultimate goal, not every person needs to evolve into a romantic partner. But not all sexual relationships need to lack intimacy.
What Alex gave me was undoubtedly something I would take with me into the next relationship. He had elevated sex to a whole new level and I would never look back.
With the right person, a lover can be just what the doctor ordered.