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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to guest Tracy about finding love within your friend group, staying grounded on the hard days and the importance of sowing your royal oats.
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Erica: So Kenrya, guess what?
Erica: We have our first patron on Patreon!
Kenrya: Aw shit!
Erica: Look at that. Look at that. Look at that. And not only is this just the first patron, this is the first patron at the highest level.
Kenrya: What's that level? That's the... oh, We Go Together.
Erica: We Go Together.
Erica: I ain't getting rid of you, you ain't getting rid of me level.
Kenrya: I love it.
Erica: So shout out to our good friend of the show, always supportive, Stephanie.
Kenrya: Hey, thank you so much.
Erica: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This is kind of the equivalent of yo mama always supporting you. You know how they be like, "She sold four copies of her album."
Erica: Her mama, her brother, her sister, and herself.
Erica: But Stephanie, thank you for being amazing and supporting the show, as always.
Kenrya: Hopefully the first of many.
Erica: The first of many.
Kenrya: Y'all follow Stephanie's lead and head over to Patreon and support The Turn On.
Erica: Yes. If you want to hear your name on this show, please support us at the $15 a month level.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: And with that, let's get started with the show.
Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Today, we're talking to Tracy, pronouns, she and her. Tracy is a 39-year-old cisgender heterosexual woman from the Midwest. Yes, ma'am.
Kenrya: She's a mother and program manager and she's here to talk about what happens when friends with benefits turns into forever ever.
Kenrya: Tracy is a pseudonym, so don't be trying to find her.
Tracy: Don't be looking for me.
Kenrya: Tracy, thanks so much for coming.
Tracy: Thank you for having me.
Erica: So last week we read an excerpt from the novella “Benefriends,” which features a couple that started out as friends, and then they morphed into lovers. What's your current relationship status?
Tracy: Married like a mug. Extra, extra permanent.
Kenrya: How long y'all been together?
Tracy: Since 2009.
Kenrya: That's a long ass time.
Tracy: It's a long, long time.
Kenrya: I ain't never been with nobody that long.
Tracy: Listen, I don't recommend it.
Erica: My barber maybe? Like, the fuck.
Kenrya: Shit, I don't even think I had any service providers for that long because I switched cities.
Tracy: I've been on-
Erica: Cell phone-
Tracy: A serial monogamous person.
Kenrya: Cell phone. Yeah, I was serial monogamous too. But the problem with my serial monogamy was that I just didn't want to be by myself, so there's that. That was only in hindsight, and I recognize that.
Tracy: And that's funny how that works, because now I'm like, "I just want to be by myself, want some time to myself."
Kenrya: There is that because you have how many children?
Tracy: Two children.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, that's a real ass thing right there.
Tracy: Yeah, the struggle is real.
Kenrya: So as our listeners have probably ascertained, you're married to somebody who you were friends with before y'all got together. So tell us the story of how that happened.
Tracy: So what had happened was-
Erica: All good stories start like that.
Tracy: So lots of mutual friends ... so my friends all went to school with my husband from about third grade through 12th grade. So, I met those friends in college, so they were already friends beforehand. So I joined the friend group and immediately, once we all came together as friends, everybody immediately wanted to hook us up. But I was-
Kenrya: Why is that?
Tracy: They thought we some similarities with ethnicities and such, without sharing too much. But they thought that we would make a good match, just our personalities, very laid back. They just thought, immediately, y'all need to be together. However, I was busy sowing my royal oats at the time and was not interested-
Erica: As all women should-
Kenrya: Yes, royal oats. Listen, I fell asleep to “Coming to America” last night.
Tracy: Yes, I was on a serious mission. So this was like, I was about to move to New York, one of my dream cities that I always wanted to live in, and I already knew that I was about to be just hot in the streets. And so I was like, "No. We will be friends. We will keep it that way." And I was just also worried about the whole friendship circle, I was like, "I don't want to mess it up." I'm trying to sow my royal oats. I know I'm not right, right now. So we just remained friends, and we were those friends that were just always showing up for our friends when they got married or if they were having baby showers and parties. We were the two cool friends that show up and come with libations and hang out, so we kept it friends for many years.
Erica: So you kind of touched on this, where you said you were hesitant to mess up the friendship circle. In the book we read, the two characters, Shad and Aisha, they are similar to you, a part of a big group of friends and they were hesitant to start anything because they were like, "If shit goes down south then we fucking up the whole groove of the group." Obviously that was a concern. When did you overcome that and was just like, "Fuck it"?
Tracy: So after I sowed my royal oats and got burned out, I was literally in therapy-
Kenrya: These niggas-
Tracy: Listen, I was out done, okay? I was like, "Wow, everybody is just trash-"
Tracy: I am taking a break from dating from ... I'm just like, "I think I might just be single. I need to find myself." I had just started therapy, I was like, "Yes, this is such a good space to be in." I was weaning myself off all the penis, I was like, "I'm done."
Tracy: And then had been doing therapy for a couple of months and then went to one of those good friend's wedding in Mexico. And the things that I was interested in a year or two before, they just seemed so frivolous.
Tracy: And now, all of a sudden I was like, "Ooh, stability and non-triflingness-
Kenrya: These got jobs?
Tracy: ... and a strong circle of friends who I also like. Jobs, employee, traveling freely." All of these things looked extra sexy under the Mexican sun where we were for this wedding.
Tracy: So I was in a very different place and I was just like ... I placed a high value in that moment, I think, on ... and it's debatable with myself if it was too much of a value, but I really placed the high value on trust and having a relationship with somebody or just embarking on what could be with somebody who was already connected to a circle of people who I trust and who I know would look out for me and just not recommended-
Erica: They already did the vetting.
Tracy: They already did the vetting and I had already known this person. So I was like, "This is safe territory."
Erica: Okay, cool.
Kenrya: So besides the fact that I have never actually wanted to fuck any of my friends. I haven't. Look at Erica face though. She like, "I think I have."
Erica: I'm like ...
Tracy: But I find that-
Kenrya: Bitch, I know you fucked your friends.
Erica: You got a lot of friends.
Kenrya: I do and I ... Okay. I can think of two friends who I fucked and neither one of those situations was a good situation.
Kenrya: Yeah. In general, it's not a thing that I want to do. And also, in one of those, it was absolutely just a one-night stand, it was never going anywhere.
Kenrya: Another one of the reasons that I have rarely gotten involved with people who I counted as my friends is because I know way too much about them. Was that ever a consideration or a possible barrier when you were thinking about getting with your now husband?
Tracy: No, because he tricked me because ... he was always the quiet, kind of reserved homie in the group, so it's hard to describe, but I was like, "Oh, he's kind of like a little mystery, kind of hard to figure out-
Erica: Because that group is a lot of large personalities.
Tracy: A lot of large personality personalities. And this person, my husband's personality, was like completely like zero, just chill, all the time. So it kind of made me be like, "Oh, I kind of ... and I can be a lot sometimes. I'm much more chill now, but I'm on all the time. So for me, I was like, "Oh." I was trying to get to know him. I was like, "Who are you? Who are you?" It was interesting because I was learning a lot of stuff out that he hadn't shared with a lot of the friends in that circle, surprisingly, over a long time.
Erica: Okay. So how do you think having a foundation as friends positively impacts your marriage?
Tracy: I think ... I mean, I recognize not all friends with benefits have a circle that they ... I don't know. Everybody's like, "Oh, a friend is like a part of a larger friend group." Sometimes it's just your one friend. But for us, because we had that circle, I feel like we had a group of people kind of always rooting for us, which is helpful when you embark on marriage because you have so many moments where you're like, "Um, is this shit worth it? Like, I'm about to call it quits." Right?
Tracy: And so it's helpful to have some objective friends that'll just listen and that'll be like, "You know what, do what you need to do. I'm hearing you out and remember why y'all first got together" or-
Kenrya: Friends of your marriage. Right?
Kenrya: People who want you to succeed together.
Tracy: Want to see you ... exactly. So I think that's been amazing to have, and it's also been helpful for me to also remember when shit gets hard, where I'm like, "Remember? Remember how all this started when we was like all one big group of friends, just hanging out, we didn't have all these responsibilities?" So I think that's really the big piece for me, but to keep it real, a lot of it too is more so on just the disappointments of like, "Okay, we're in this large circle and we're friends and so forth," but then when things, aren't where you want them to be in the marriage, I think you kind of look at that friendship a lot harder, whereas like, "Okay, is this friendly?" Like, "Friends, remember? We go way, way, way back, like what's happening here?" So ...
Erica: So on the other side of the coin, do you think that there are ways that having this friendship as a foundation negatively impacts the marriage?
Tracy: I think sometimes I think so. And it could just be how everybody handles things differently. Right? So I can only speak from my experience, but for me, I think when shit gets hard, I pull on that friendship piece and try to think about, "Remember why this all started?" And sometimes I feel like that that's not necessarily focusing on the now, like on the right here, right now versus this history, right?
Tracy: Yeah. This nostalgic, kind of like what we used to be and who we were versus now who we are, two tired ass parents working in the middle of a pandemic in this tiny ass space looking at each other and it's hard. And so sometimes I think that piece, and then I do think about our friendship circle, right? And when I get frustrated around, "Am I going to be the one that's going to defect? Like ..."
Erica: [inaudible 00:11:32]
Tracy: My shit going to blow up first. But I think about those pieces where ... it skews the reality sometimes, or it's just extra shit. Where it's like, "You know what, Tracy, what is it that you feel right now? Like, what's happening right now?" And just shut all of that out.
Kenrya: Right. That actually leads to my next question, which is what have you found really works in your relationship to keep in touch with each other through the highs and the lows, both right now in the middle of a fucking pandemic and just in general? Because 10 years is a long ass time.
Tracy: Drugs, alcohol, no-
Kenrya: Yes ma'am.
Erica: Bitch. Let's keep it all the way for real, for real.
Tracy: Let's keep it real. Honestly, that every blue moon it's like, hey, quarterly, semiannually, let's put something on the books like vacations, just having time to connect and get away from this ... I mean the daily grind is so exhausting.
Tracy: Oddly enough, too, when I think about things that have happened over the years, I would say, also tragedies have kind of brought us together and kind of made us remember the reasons why we got together.
Erica: So what do you do to be in touch with yourself and your body in the midst of being a present partner and a present parent?
Tracy: All the things. Yoga at home now, meditation apps, reading positive affirmations. I follow all the Black therapists on Instagram. Anything that I can get that really just reminds me of my relationship with myself. I think being in a long-term marriage, one of the things that has really made very clear to me is yes, being friends helps and so forth, but the first relationship is with myself. And so I think for me, it's just keeping myself grounded and really just trusting my instincts more and just recognizing, some days I feel crappy, some days I feel great, and just kind of leaning into that without apologizing for it.
Erica: That's really dope.
Kenrya: Yeah. So, you mentioned earlier about how y'all work in the little space together. I'm wondering how the pandemic has impacted your dynamic when it comes to intimacy, both with your partner and with your children because there's a lot of different types of intimacy and I feel like being trapped got something to do with that.
Tracy: Yes, honey. It is completely throwing the vibes off because all day long it feels literally like I'm pulled in 25 different directions. So it takes me twice as long just to do one task that I would normally do at work in a shorter amount of time because I'm also getting somebody some food, getting somebody a snack, helping somebody wipe their butt and then coming back to do a video meeting, all the while ... and as being a mother, both of us, my husband and I can be sitting at the table, but both kids will constantly only come to me, and so it feels like I'm sitting on the other side of the table, like "This motherfucker get a full day of work?"
Erica: This nigga right here.
Tracy: No interruptions. I be sitting there like, "Come on girl." And that's when all my calm stuff got to come in because I be like, "thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking a lot of thoughts." So it just builds up a lot of resentment throughout the day, sometimes, because I feel like I'm taking on the brunt of the work. And so that's when the friendship stuff comes in, where I be like, "Again, this is not friendly. Like, what the fuck?" So having to have those conversations every so often as ... and then it just throws intimacy off. Like for me, my love language is like, help me clean up. Help me take care of the kids, just help ...
Kenrya: Be an equal partner.
Tracy: Be an equal partner. Help me not feel like a maid that's exhausted at the end of the day, and then I'm supposed to get sexy? And want to be intimate?
Kenrya: This don't make my pussy wet.
Erica: [inaudible 00:15:53] titties.
Tracy: This make me dry. Okay? I'm like, "You about to get this headscarf and turn to the side and good night."
Kenrya: And you earned it.
Tracy: You earned it. You worked so hard to earn that shit. Terrible. And then enter drugs and alcohol. Sike, no. No, but enter just me, honestly, just being like, "Okay, this cycle has to stop. What actions can I do to change this shit?" And then usually I will work on my mood, go exercise or some shit, and then I'll be horny and then life will be better for a short amount of time.
Kenrya: Exercise is underrated for that. When I finished working out, I feel strong. I feel great about myself and I want to fuck. Immediately.
Erica: No, for real. You have blood flowing to all your parts, not just your head and your limbs, but to all your parts.
Erica: So I think people fail to realize that getting that blood moving will get-
Kenrya: [inaudible 00:16:55].
Erica: [inaudible 00:16:56] moving.
Tracy: It sure is. I was like, "Whoa, okay, let me just get my workout on." But otherwise, I get into this depleted space where I'm just like, "I just don't have the energy for it." And it's just ... so I think, again, but normally once we get out of our world and this small last apartment, we also just on top of each other, right? And focusing on everything, how you chew, how you move, why you sit that there. "What are you doing?!" It becomes ridiculous, where I'm like, "We need to go visit some people. We need to get out." So just mixing it up, I find ... and just having something to work towards. Just having a goal together. We need that shit to lighten the mood and just kind of keep us moving forward. I know some couples do all kinds of shit and I'm like, "That's not us, but we need to start doing that."
Kenrya: You got to do what you can when you can.
Kenrya: It's not like there's not a whole bunch of shit going on in the world right now.
Erica: A whole bunch of shit.
Tracy: A lot. It's heavy.
Kenrya: Yeah. A lot of it, I think just comes into granting yourself grace.
Kenrya: When you're coming up against this stuff. So kudos to y'all.
Kenrya: My next question is what does a successful marriage look like to you?
Tracy: Successful marriage looks like therapy, like therapy together as a couple. It looks like travel, just doing things together, leisure stuff in addition to just taking care of all of the responsibilities equally. It looks like just mundane, same routine. A lot of relationship and marriage is literally just somebody being able to be in that space with you day in and day out without it feeling like it's a production and work and so forth, like just being ourselves. So consistency and connection.
Erica: So you got a lot of shit going on. So I know this question, if you're like, "Look, bitch, I wish."
Kenrya: Right, [inaudible 00:19:17].
Erica: Exactly. But is there anything that you're looking forward to reading? Do you have like a, to be read pile? I have one, it's really dusty, but ...
Tracy: I have ... I just finished a book for the first time in like a year, thanks to the pandemic. It's called “Pachinko” and it's a really great book about Koreans living in Japan. It's a historical family saga. And I learned a lot about Korean, Japanese relationship, history that I didn't know about. So that was a really great book. And then my next book, I have a pile sitting right over here. If you were here, you would see. I'm just getting into “Patsy” by Nicole Dennis-Benn. So that's on my list. I'm going to get through that one next. And I have “The Water Dancer” that I want to get into, and I need to finish “Thick.” So that's my ...
Erica: All right.
Kenrya: All right. Yeah, I haven't finished “Thick” either, actually. I'm somewhere in the middle.
Erica: Okay. So I have a few rapid-fire questions. I'm just going to give you an either or, and you're going to tell me your pick. Okay? Hot or cold?
Erica: Give or receive?
Tracy: Receive, selfish. Aries.
Kenrya: Yes, Aries.
Erica: Beach or mountain?
Tracy: Beach. Mountain is dangerous.
Erica: Now, I know you, so you cannot pick "Neither" for the next one. Dog or cat?
Tracy: Oh my gosh.
Kenrya: Ugh. Yeah, neither. Lord have mercy.
Tracy: You pissing me off with this because you know I don't like no animal hair.
Kenrya: Same. Hard same. Fuck, it's gross.
Tracy: But I'll pick dog.
Erica: Last one. Country or city?
Tracy: Woo. City.
Erica: Alrighty. Alrighty. Okay. So why would you do hot over cold?
Tracy: Because I'm getting old.
Erica: And them bones don't move like they used to.
Kenrya: Mm-mm (negative). They don't like that.
Tracy: I need hot liquids to keep everything ...
Erica: Keep everything moving.
Tracy: Keep everything moving and grooving.
Kenrya: Now, I leaned back on a heating pad all day yesterday because I got old lady back.
Tracy: Listen, it ...
Erica: How'd you throw out your old lady back?
Kenrya: Why you ask so many questions?
Erica: Because I know ... it's so simple. That I want to make ...
Kenrya: I was reaching over- No. I was reaching over to the side of my bed to get my motherfucking water bottle and went, "Ooh!"
Erica: She was like, "I think I threw my back out reaching for a bottle of water." I was like ...
Tracy: Getting wild over there. Water in the bed.
Erica: I know, because you got to sleep with some water next to the bed.
Kenrya: Listen, you know I can't-
Tracy: At all times.
Kenrya: Yeah, no, ever since I was pregnant, I cannot go to sleep without water next to my bed. It's impossible.
Tracy: Yeah. I'm sitting here sweating right now, drinking a hot ass cup of coffee, but-
Kenrya: It's hot.
Tracy: ... I felt like ... because hot. I felt like I needed to start my day with a warm beverage and then it helps everything be regular.
Erica: It's wild how the older you get, the more routines you have to have.
Tracy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: Like if I don't do X, Y, and Z in this particular way-
Erica: My morning's off. I have to have a glass of orange juice with my green wheat grass powder, Miralax and all my vitamins.
Tracy: You know you ain't invincible. When we was younger, we used to be like, "I don't need nothing, I'm a hold it." Remember? It's like, "I'm a hold it and not go to the bathroom in this public place." Now?
Erica: There's no shame whatsoever.
Tracy: Well, look ...
Kenrya: You know I will shit anywhere. So.
Tracy: Listen. I have joined that bandwagon very quickly. I'm routine, like, "Oh, it's time."
Kenrya: So I have to say this. This wraps up this week's episode of The Turn On. Thank you for joining us and we will see you back next week.
Tracy: [inaudible 00:23:47]. I feel like y'all need special effects.
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica and edited by B'Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Now you can support the turn on and get off. Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app, then drop us a five star review and you'll be entered to win something that's turning us on. Just post your review and email us a screenshot at TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com to enter. Our Patreon page is also live. Become a supporter today and you'll gain access to lots of goodies, including The Turn On Book Club and two for one raffle entries. And don't forget to send us your book recommendations and your sex and related questions, and follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast. You can find links to books, merch, transcripts, guest info and other fun stuff at TheTurnOnPodcast.com. Thanks so much for listening and we will see you soon. Bye.
The Turn On
The Turn On is a podcast for Black people who want to get off. To open their minds. To learn. To be part of a community. To show that we love and fuck too, and it doesn't have to be political or scandalous or dirty. Unless we want it to be.