Living in a small, gated community north of Johannesburg, it would surprise many to know what sweet indulgences we can forgive ourselves. Whether taking a run down the road to clear your mind on a sunny day or languishing on the couch in darkness, with blue light streaming from the TV, we all have our vices. Mine is the company of an intelligent, kind and wildly funny neighbour.I am a 30-something woman that has chosen to focus on my career. Goal driven in nature, I aim to give back to those near and far as best I can. Learning and growing as much as I am able with a single purpose; to leave this world a better place than when I entered it. With so much to achieve, my priority list does not include long-term, committed relationships. I have never dreamt of being the girl in white, standing in front of the alter and vowing forever. That said, I do believe that marriage is a choice that all have the right to make, or not. I believe that love can take many forms and that in general, we are too prescriptive over what love should look like for those near and dear. It should come as no surprise then that this is not your typical fairytale, but there is a happy ending every time.Growing up, convention stated that sex was for marriage. Thereafter, alongside cultural and societal evolution, it became more acceptable for committed, monogamous relationships to be the basis of any sexual relationships. Emotions had to be readily available and everyone had their role in the relationship. Technology changed the landscape; online dating and swiping left or right became a norm. However, the goal still appears to be finding “the one” or its opposite, hooking up.I easily recall “why buy the milk, when he can get the cow for free” being thrown around as a threat of why “good girls don’t put out before marriage”. This was daunting. What prospects would I have as a 30-something woman with no interest in marriage and a severe allergy to cats? As it so turns out, I had many prospects and nailed the one that made the most sense to me.He lives across the road. We often greet each other in passing, ask after each other’s work and keep a watchful eye as part of community wellbeing when the other is away. None would be the wiser as this picturesque scene plays out in our safe, little community. Yet, this is not the kindness of strangers, but rather the result of a longstanding friendship, with added benefits. For several years, we have engaged in a very fulfilling platonic, sexual relationship. If a good neighbour lends you a cup of sugar, he was giving me a little spice.What started out as a flirtatious conversation evolved into a journey of passions. Evenings, nights and mornings spent together are enriching. We explore and listen to music, stealing moments of bliss from busy lives. We talk openly and without judgement. We support each other’s success and listen to stories of pain. And still, the best is yet to come. Our chemistry is palpable, and our kinks are compatible. As the saying goes, each to their own. Our flavours of fun traverse the spectrum of sexual intrigue and never have I felt so safe to be free in who I am. We dip in and out of his preferences and mine, all the while respectful of each other and our boundaries. And in short, being free in who we are is what this is all about. I am discovering my own happy ending, scrapping the checklist and redefining my view on healthy relationships. On the surface, call it what you will; friends with benefits, but there is a whole lot of heart. I care for him as he cares for me, but love is not what brought us together, nor is it written in our stars. Moreover, during the peak of hook up culture and the personal destruction it can invite, we have created an emotionally engaging and sexually fulfilling symbiotic friendship. One that we have enjoyed for the last three years.I wish courage to anyone who chooses to create their own. Flip the proverbial bird to convention of old and stand tall in your choices. Be mindful of the motivation for doing so and accept nothing less than the utmost respect for yourself and each other. May your kinks be compatible. And, to my neighbour: may I please borrow another cup of sugar?* A pseudonym was used to protect the identity of the writer. Do you have a story to share? Send it to email@example.com and include your contact details and a photo. Visit Landisa for more stories.