A friendship "with benefits": The non-engagement of Bret Michaels

A healthy looking Bret Michaels smiles and shows his love for rock and roll outside of the David Letterman show in NYC, NY on July 12, 2010 where the rocker was a guest. Fame Pictures, Inc

Waiting longer to get married isn't unusual these days -- in fact, it's kind of a trend (a story USA Today explored back in June). Think Prince William and Kate Middleton... I mean, heck, even Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins held off on the nuptials so as not to wreck a perfectly good thing in their eyes.

So when you talk about the blue-eyed rocker-turned-reality-show-star Bret Michaels, there shouldn't be too much of a surprise that he's held off on walking down the altar. How else could he have flirted and courted his way into the hearts of leggy strippers, dancers and aspiring models/TV star types?

However, I digress. 

I'm choosing him because of the latest media chatter which has bubbled on the likes of CNN, People and E! Online: giving his on-off girlfriend of 16 years a "friendship ring, with benefits."

Let's set aside the mere fact that I did watch all the "Rock of
Love" seasons (including that dreaded tour bus installment) and thus
know more about his dating preferences than I should. Instead, let's consider this new "holding phase" he's entered -- on the way to engagement, represented by a "friendship ring" and noting that it's the beginnings of a "great relationship."

Now that's interesting. I thought they had a relationship. Sixteen-years-and-two-kids-in, to be exact. That's more than lots of married couples even get!

But, when you look at it, I guess I get it. I mean, Michaels is high-profile and his popularity has increased over the last few years. He's got a career, seems to love the road, and I would wager he loves the freedom he has: all the perks of a marriage, with the label of a "work in progress" -- or lacking in the same degree of expectation or responsibility. Kind of brilliant.

His situation is also interesting because of how long he's prolonged the plunge. While Prince William and Middleton will eventually marry (and Sarandon and Robbins publicly acknowledged commitment to each other without a piece of paper), Michaels seems to slowly be crawling down the marriage path, taking his time before any 'I Do.'

This definitely takes the friends with benefits (FWB) thing to another level. True -- many people have had or do have that one person with whom they can fall back on for a little bump and grind, making out or just plain ol' companionship. After all, it does get you through the storm. But usually, using that term... Well, it's acknowledging that it won't turn it into more. So someone like Michaels, who's given a ring, has two kids and sixteen years...? Well, I'd say that's a touch more than an FWB, even with the sparkler he gave her.

The conclusion: Not rushing to the altar? Good idea. Keeping an FWB? Also cool, as long as you respect it for what it is. Prolonging a commitment? Maybe denial for the likely next step. That's probably when it makes sense to just call it what it is.

Personally, I'm amazed at how he's held off on marriage considering he's had nearly two decades with the mother of his children. And, any woman who can be cool with Michaels doing reality dating shows without protest, have his kids and stick by his side in illness is already cut out to be a wife and one of a rock star. Not only can she can play the game, but at the end of the day she knows that he's headed back to her. Now THAT'S a relationship if I've ever heard one.

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