Some of my friends tease me about how compartmentalized my sex life can be. They don’t ever see me hook up with anyone because I hardly ever pull people when I’m out with friends, and since I don’t date, I also don’t bring around people I’m dating to meet friends. There is occasionally some crossover, but for the most part my friends with benefits don’t mix with my other groups of friends, and the fuck buddies are by their very definition not people I include in my normal social life.

And truth be told, I can’t really explain why it is that I tend to compartmentalize. In some cases it’s because the person is interesting enough to be a friend I hang out and have sex with occasionally, but not interesting enough to mix with my general circle of friends, or our interests beyond sex and hanging out with each other just don’t overlap enough to justify inclusion in each other’s social lives. Yet there are some friends with benefits who would fit in well but whom I nevertheless don’t invite to things, and there really is no good reason not to.

It’s not a sense of shame that keeps me from mixing my worlds; I speak openly with my friends about my sex life. On the other hand, I think I can speak more openly about sex when my friends don’t know the other people involved. It’s one thing to say, “this person I’m fucking goes wild when I tease her with only the tip of my dick in her ass.” It’s another thing completely to say, “Jane really goes wild when I tease her with only the tip of my dick in her ass.” In the former situation, my friends have no idea who the person is. In the latter, they know her and I might be sharing information she wouldn’t be comfortable sharing herself. Discretion is definitely an important contributing factor in the compartmentalization of my sex life.

But what about the friends with benefits who really don’t care if everyone knows we fuck? In their cases, I think I don’t invite them more out of habit than anything else. Which is a shame because some of them are interesting people who would get on well with my friends. With that in mind I decided to take steps towards decompartmentalization.

A week after I got back to Vienna from NYC last summer a bunch of us met up to take a tour of the local Ottakringer Brewery. Sebastian, who has been a friend with benefits for ten years, lives with his boyfriend right across from the brewery—I could see his flat from where we were sitting drinking beer after the tour. On a whim I pulled out my phone to text him that he and his boyfriend—with whom he has been since before we met and who has known about us the whole time—should come over and join us if they were free.

Sebastian and I are good friends. In fact, he is one of the people I can be most open with in Vienna. We chat on the phone from time to time, but before the brewery we had only ever meet up when we were also going to have sex. On those occasions we would also talk about what was going on in our lives, have lunch together, play Trivial Pursuit in bed, or any other number of activities. Some might scoff to hear me say such a friend is one of the people who knows me best, but when we do get together we spend hours together talking about everything going on in our lives, and to some extent the fact that we don’t mingle socially makes it easier to be open about our lives.

Years before Sebastian and I had each taken a photo of the other’s dick because his friends had said they wanted to see what my cock looked like, and I decided if he was going to take a photo, I wanted one to show my friends too. So when Sebastian said he and his boyfriend would come join us and I told my friends, all I had to say when they asked who Sebastian was was, “you know, the cock photo.” Instantaneous recognition appeared on just about every face, and I had to laugh.

The two of them came over, and at first the three of us sat apart—more because everyone else was speaking English and Sebastian’s boyfriend didn’t feel comfortable speaking English than because of anything else—but before too long my curious friends started to make their way over, switching to German to make everyone comfortable. They were all happy to put a face to the cock, and Sebastian and his boyfriend had a great time getting to know my friends. And for me it was also a fun experience. There was nothing awkward about it at all, in large part because the two of them are so open about their sex lives anyway that it didn’t make a lick of difference that everyone knew a lot of the details about my and Sebastian’s sexual exploits.

And so I invited them to our annual Thanksgiving feast, and we all had a great time mixing there as well. In some ways our circles of friends focus on different interests, so I don’t imagine they’ll come over for every party we have, but it’s nice to know that they fit in when they do join us.

I haven’t really brought any other friends with benefits into my larger social circle, but eventually I will, and recently I had sex with two different friends—separately, though I suppose that’s not necessarily a given—and almost had sex with a third, so it would seem that the decompartmentalization process is working in both directions.

There may have always been a few exceptions of people successfully crossing over between the two groups, but if that was a trickle, I’m glad I’m allowing the gates to open and the water to flow as it will. I’m not actively pursuing friends to fuck or seeking out friends with benefits who can join my circles, but if something happens and feels right, then I can just go with the flow rather than fighting against the current.

Like the next time a friend offers to blow me during a party, for example.

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