Booty Call: "Friends with benefits"
July 7, 2002
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, c'est soir?
Oh sure, the colorfully hot film "Moulin Rouge" brought that phrase back into vogue. Mais oui, the French aren't the only ones taking sex casually. Europeans may have started easing our attitudes about sex, but thanks to a term coined from the hip-hop lexicon, American singles now are vocal about partaking in an old pasttime.
Ring, ring. "Hello, it's Booty Call."'
That may have been the name of a forgettable Hollywood film in 1997, but it does draw attention to the concept. Sex on call. Literally. No demands. No relationship. Just two consenting adults with no further expectations or emotional involvement. Hormonal? Yes. Attachment? Big no.
Booty Call is a pop-culture term, jokingly thrown around by those in the know. It's often devalued, maligned and misunderstood. It's also making a serious comeback among modern singles.
What exactly is "Booty Call," you may wonder? "Booty" itself is a slang term for a person's derriere. "Booty call" as a verb is used to describe the action of calling a person by phone for a "sex-only" get-together. It's hormonally, not emotionally. Often the call is made late at night, spontaneously and sometimes under the influence of alcohol.
Booty Call also can be used as a noun, describing the receiver of such a call.
Yes, Booty Call is casual. It's a la carte sex. It may be thought of as promiscuous, meaningless or even morally wrong. But it also contains a universally understood undercurrent of decorum.
The words "trust" and "mutual respect" often come up in the context of Booty Call protocol. Among the other ingredients are the use of condoms for safe sex and the designation of only one person as a Booty Call partner. "If you have more than one person (selected as your B.C.)," jokes my friend Trevor, "you are missing the point."
Why would somebody willingly engage in this practice, from either the position of initiator or fulfiller? As Trevor explains, "It's the simplest way to sexually interact without the B.S. of relationship expectations."
Or as my friend "Kat" recounts, "After my divorce, I had a resurgence of a new self, free to explore a new sexuality rather than just being a mother and a wife."
"Anita," another friend, has a less traditional arrangement. A younger, attractive man is willing to satisfy the bedroom needs not met by her "otherwise fulfilling in every way" relationship. While not a "swinging" situation (two people who swap or partner up with other people), everyone involved is aware of the agreement.
No matter what the specifics are of Booty Call situations, they're still like eating a Twinkie. They're a momentary sugar rush wedged in between the real nutrition of a fulfilling relationship.
"Maybe because we're not available to each other all of the time, there's more excitement," explains Kat. "Because of the anticipation of the moment, we bring our best to the table."
Most often the Booty Call partner comes from a past relationship that didn't work out. The sex was there, but the emotions weren't.
"It's good sex that I want to hang on to," admits "Anna," "from someone who already knows how to please me." It's also more practical than a one-night stand.
Adds 19-year-old Brandy, "A friend who is a Booty Call is safer than sleeping with strangers." Some even describe the setup as "friends with benefits."
That is, unless the intimacy dynamics change.
Problems surface when emotions get involved. When attraction turns into affection, the rules have changed. "There can be no infatuation. Booty Call is pretty clear on that," Kat emphasizes. When the dynamics shift, it's clear the arrangement needs to be renegotiated. If not, one person's heart will get hurt.
"Booty Call is an American trend because taboos are crumbling," Trevor reports. "It's also a trend because everybody thinks they can do it." But, like belly-flopping off a high dive, in the end, few do it successfully, without pain.
"As long as you are upfront and honest in your communication, there should be no regrets or remorse," confirms "Bev." "The trouble comes when you thought you communicated something, but the other person didn't get that clue."
Trevor acknowledges that "Booty Call is very convenient for living a shallow existence." If the opportunity for a real relationship presents itself and has any chance at growing into something of "depth and significance, then you've got to let the Booty Call go, because it will sabotage a good relationship," he says.