The case of Elaine Benes and Jerry Seinfeld of "Seinfeld," is a rare and curious one.
If you’re unfamiliar with the show, which would be equally as curious since it’s broadcasted across a plethora of channels at seemingly all hours of night, the two characters are close friends who also previously dated, albeit briefly.
While the prospect of two people remaining close friends after a breakup may seem commonplace on sitcoms, it’s a concept that’s seldom found outside the walls of television. Part of the reason it’s so difficult to remain platonic friends with a person you once had sexual relationships with is, well, because of that recurring prospect of sex.
Elaine and Jerry understood this on the show.
Despite toying with the idea of having sex from time to time, they deliberately tried to keep their friendship free of any sexual temptation in an effort to protect their relationship. They understood, like many people with close friends of the opposite gender do, that sex would likely only complicate things.
Sex makes people protective. Sex makes people jealous. Sex can make people a little, well, crazy. For these reasons, people find it hard to remain friends with people to whom they feel any sort of romantic connection.
And while I agree for the most part, I don’t think it’s impossible.
In fact, Dr. Theresa E. DiDonato, a social psychologist and professor at the Loyola University Maryland, believes that close friends not only can survive as lovers, but actually might make the best, and most rewarding, lovers.
You know how each other operates.
In a piece titled, “Is This Love, or Friendship,” posted on Psychology Today, DiDonato explores why those who value friendship highly in their relationship also experience the best relationship quality.
I mean, when people are friends first, they’re likely used to looking out for each other’s best interests. They’re used to listening. They’re used to seeing what ticks the other person off. They know how to make the other person laugh.
When people jump into relationships with people they may not know that well, it’s easier for problems to arise. And when these problems do arise, the parties invested won’t know -- or have the willpower -- to try and resolve them.
For instance, if you start dating a girl, and you find yourself bickering about petty sh*t early on, you might just chalk it up to not being a good fit and begin looking for someone you mesh with better.
However, if you knew this person on a deeper level, in the way that you know someone who you’ve been friends with for a long time, you might understand why you’re bickering – and find a way to fix it.
You will always have true, selfless companionship.
One of the key points DiDonato makes revolves around the idea of companionship. True friendship will always promote companionship.
With relationships, on the hand, this isn’t always the case.
A lot of times, when two people begin dating, they agree to do so for very selfish reasons, whether it’s because they’re looking for someone to spend some time with purely out of convenience or because they just hate being alone.
As sad as this may sound, many people date without the true intention of forming a union with another person, with both of their best interests in mind.
If you date someone you were close friends with beforehand, though, it’s less likely for relationships to be built on bad intentions.
Your best friend can satisfy you better sexually than anyone could.
As for the elephant in the room -- the sexual chemistry between two people who were previously just friends -- DiDonato says friends are at an advantage when it comes to fulfilling each other’s sexual needs.
According to DiDonato, “Couples who directly prioritize the satisfaction of sexual needs actually end up with less fulfillment of those needs, whereas valuing friendship appeared to promote sexual need fulfillment.”
Friends are less likely to feel awkward asking one another questions in the bedroom and actually care about the satisfaction of the person they’re sleeping with. So, although Elaine might’ve faked a few orgasms with Jerry over the course of their relationship on "Seinfeld,” it seems that friends are actually more likely to have good sex.
You will be OK either way.
If you’ve been tempted by a close friend who you’ve been having romantic feelings for, it’s important to make sure those feelings are mutual. Although friends might make good lovers, it’s not a universal rule -- especially not if the person you’re friends with has the same intentions that you do.
That said, if you feel as though you and your friend have been experiencing some sexual tension -- and have been refusing to act on that tension, due to the fear of ruining the relationship -- it might be something to explore further with that person.
Communication is key for any relationship, platonic or not, to survive. So don’t be afraid to talk things out prior to doing anything drastic.
Use your intuition. If you get the feeling that you and your...friend...are not on the same page, it’s never too late to laugh it off. That’s what friends are for.