Posts tagged ‘Friendship’
The first time I fell in love, well, I almost don’t count it. I was a freshman in college, and the young man didn’t feel the same way. We didn’t even date. He was my best friend. We were both English majors. We worked together. We socialized with each other and had all the same friends. He was funny and kind and smart. He and his brothers used to throw Egg Balancing Parties during the Fall and Spring Equinox. I used to write him letters that were more like personal essays, like this blog, and he kept them in a notebook that he still has, and he treasured them.
We spent nearly every day together. Sometimes it was every day. When I first met him I asked him if he was gay, and he told me he wasn’t. I don’t know what it was about him that made me ask. He wasn’t stereotypically effeminate. Maybe it was a sixth sense and years of socializing with high school thespians.
By the time that I got around to pressing the issue my friend and I had been as close as two people can be without having sex and being close. I was too young to know that if I had to press the issue with a confession of any sort that I could know in advance what the answer was going to be. If you have to tell a guy how you feel about him in order to find out how he feels about you…here’s a hint…he doesn’t.
But he let me down gently. And he was honest about it. He didn’t give me any agonizing details. He didn’t lie. He just said he wasn’t interested in me in that way and that he wouldn’t ever be interested in me in that way. I took a friendship sabbatical and came back, and after maybe a few verbal jabs that he endured with patience and humility, I returned refreshed and renewed and envigored about the friendship. He told me he was gay a year or two later. I should always trust my first instincts with my gaydar.
Now I guess I could technically get upset that he wasn’t completely honest about the gay thing, but I figure that a young man in his early 20s in Oklahoma in the early 1990s can be cut some slack in the honesty department when it comes to coming out of the closet. He didn’t lie about his feelings towards me; he just wasn’t feeling it, and maybe if he were straight he would have not felt the same way.
The second time I fell in love was a little over a decade later. I had just turned 30. I met a guy at a bar who was nine years older than me and was obviously a bad relationship risk on so many levels it’s hard to know where to start. It was a friendship and a casual sexual thing (which I’m not proud of and not terribly ashamed of, either). It wasn’t meant to evolve into anything else other than what it was. And then one day when we were in bed, he told me that he loved me. He clarified so I would know it wasn’t anything platonic, “I mean, I’m in love with you.”
I think that in my thirties, with nearly all my girlfriends having been married, and me having nothing to show for my life and very little in the way of dating prospects, that I was just desperate to be loved. I had worked it out in my head that love was a commitment, and I would commit to this guy.
Surely, he could see that he was getting better than he deserved in me and would treat me accordingly. I really thought that was what would happen; I thought that if I encouraged him and held high expectations for the relationship, that he would rise to the occasion and everything would be moonlight and roses and picket fences and 2.3 children in the suburbs.
Unfortunately, the second time I fell in love, I fell in love with a sociopath. He wasn’t capable of loving anyone, not even himself. He was incapable of fidelity. He was entirely self-absorbed. He was a pathological liar. He couldn’t hold down a job for any length of time. He had no discernible moral code. He’d been divorced twice and had abandoned two children, and I thought he could change because he told me he wanted to be a better person. I could oversimplify the relationship by saying that The Rat Bastard eventually dumped me because he told me he was gay, but the truth was that I had outlived my usefulness to him. The glass workboot didn’t fit.
I actually met Guy #3 before I met Guy #2. I worked with him, and then I didn’t. For a long time. We met up once during this time, and I stopped by the apartment he shared with his brother for a visit. I don’t even recall how this came about, since we had socialized with each other a few times, but we weren’t close.
About two and a half years ago, about eight years after we first met, I ran into this guy at the cafeteria at my work. I didn’t say hello. For one thing, I didn’t recognize him for sure. I thought maybe it was him, but I wasn’t sure. And then there was my crippling discomfort with the fact that I was now eight years older and several pounds heavier. I knew that I would be measured against the yardstick of my cute and skinny self and found lacking.
I looked up his name on the employee directory, and then I sent him an email. And then I waited. I think it took him a week or longer to respond. Obviously, I hadn’t made a very big or favorable initial impression. But eventually he did respond, and he asked me if I had plans for New Years Eve, and I told him I didn’t. So, we made plans for this pseudo New Years date, sight unseen. Well, I had seen him, but he hadn’t seen me.
It was a double undate, and I could get into the details of that night, but it’s unnecessary. He recognized me right away, and he didn’t register any shock or even any acknowledgement of my altered appearance. He kissed me on the lips on New Years, and then I drove him back to his car. That night I had worn some shoes that killed my feet, and I took them off, and he gave me his shoes to wear instead. That glass slipper motif again.
He seemed interested in pursuing a relationship, but what the hell do I know? Maybe he was just trying to encourage me to get out of the house more and get a life. I put him off with the excuse that we worked together and for that reason it would be unwise to date. Later, I added that I couldn’t pursue a relationship with someone who didn’t believe in God, and I stick by that decision. If someone refuses to acknowledge what’s most important in your life and denies its very existence, they can never fully know you.
Over time he became my best friend, and I think I became his. Again, the details aren’t important. In writing this I am breaking a promise that I made to not write about him anymore, but I think that he’s long since quit reading this blog. Also, I don’t want to write about how it all unraveled or my disappointment or what I perceived as his dishonesty. I don’t want to trash him for his failures or his frailties.
The most hurtful things he did or said I’ve kept to myself. Despite what seems to be my complete candor, there are still some secret scars that I don’t share with the world or with him. It’s like the gift that you do not give. I do not give it because I love him. I want to write about what made me love him in the first place…how he snuck up on me and caught me unaware and made me love him.
He was sweet. He was generous. He was kind. He had a great smile. I never went anywhere with him or did anything with him where he didn’t make me feel profoundly safe and provided for. He thought I was smart and funny and even pretty. He took pictures of me with no makeup on and saved them to his iPhone over my protests (I hate having my photo taken).
We could talk for hours. We went out into the world together and snuggled on the couch and watched television. He was a very talented musician. He had these great hands. And he had a quality about him that was fundamentally decent and boyish and vulnerable. It was like he’d grown up with the soft spot on his skull still intact.
You know how there were some experiments years ago about how family members could recognize each other’s unique odor by making these family members wear t-shirts for a day with no lotion and no deodorant? Then afterwards they passed the t-shirts around and each family member could recognize each other by smell alone. I could recognize him by smell alone.
And so I loved him, and one day I decided to tell him, but just like with Guy #1, if you have to be the one to break the news, then you should already know the answer. And his answer was perfect silence, which was, of course, humiliating.
There was an “incident.” There always is. But none of it matters. I was sick, and I couldn’t be in a relationship and still be in my sickness. You know that song, the one that says you only get what you give? He was sick as well. We couldn’t heal each other. We would both have to recognize a problem and then seek help to get well. And for that reason I can forgive any of the other bullshit and just remember that once I was in love.
I have a good girlfriend who recently got engaged to a man that she’s only known for less than two months. This same girlfriend met this guy through a radio interview that he did. She called in and asked him if he wanted to escort her to a friend’s birthday party. He said yes. I think my friend has seen Sleepless in Seattle one time too many.
So, he showed up on the weekend of the friend’s birthday party, having never met my friend before. He insisted that she take him to some convention thing that he wanted to attend that was way out of the way. I think this may have been the kind of thing where people attending wear pointy ears. They were three hours late getting to the birthday party. Then he reacted negatively to the lack of food.
“I thought this was catered,” he said to my friend.
“It was, but since we showed up three hours late the food was already eaten.”
This guy then stayed with my friend for two weeks. Let’s call him Loser, shall we? Now I can understand being unemployed. I’ve been unemployed (though never for longer than a month, since my eighteenth birthday, so that’s over 20 years now).
What I don’t understand is being unemployed for two years and couch surfing at other people’s homes indefinitely. I don’t understand manipulating my friend into buying a short wave radio for Loser’s “radio show.” I don’t understand how Loser can’t afford to buy his own short wave radio but can afford to purchase a diamond ring for my friend.
This relationship was going really well for Loser. He was having my friend pay for everything while he bitched at her over how she needed to blog every day to make money.
I got news for Loser. I blog five days a week. I don’t make jack shit doing it. Despite getting Freshly Pressed, writing five days a week, having over 160 posts and having posted to this blog for a year and a half now, I average maybe 100 hits in a day. That’s not enough to support any advertising. And advertising and book deals are the only way that anyone makes any real money from blogging. I’d have to be averaging in the neighborhood of 750 hits a day to support advertising. Forget a book deal. You have to have a “platform” to get one nowadays. And that would be considered some degree of household fame, way more than 750 hits.
Loser doesn’t blog himself. He was busy downloading things that slowed my friend’s computer performance and setting things up so my friend could blog and make podcasts. She was supposed to do this while he jacked off on her office chair and slept until 2 PM or later every day and contemplated how my friend could accommodate him by rearranging her entire home to move in his stuff that’s been in storage for years now. He told her where to move her things to make room for his; he didn’t ask. He actually complained that her house wasn’t big enough. Really?! How big is your house, LOSER?
As you can no doubt tell, I am beyond incensed for my friend. I wish she’d get angry as well.
Why does my friend allow herself to be treated this way? Because she wants to be loved. We all do. This man has convinced my friend that he loves her. My friend’s parents were married within a month and a half of having met each other, and she is susceptible to the idealized concept of love at first sight. But what she’s forgotten is that love isn’t just a feeling; it’s something that we do.
Loser’s words and actions show that he is only concerned with Loser. Recently, he came over to fix her computer and wanted her to come with him to his hometown to see him in his “natural habitat.” He tried to convince her that her issues with his selfishness really just stem from her fear of intimacy or reluctance to commit. That’s hogwash, and I wish so many women weren’t eager to fall for this sort of manipulation. We’re literally blinded by the word love.
The truth is that my friend is right to want to get out of a relationship with a man who doesn’t love her. It has nothing to do with fear of commitment or intimacy and everything to do with the fact that love implies a certain degree of sacrifice and selflessness. Where is he sacrificing for her in this scenario? He fixed the computer that he broke in the first place?! Does that count? I hope not.
A man doesn’t have to be a multi-millionaire, but a woman has a right to expect that he shows the same degree of ambition that she expects from herself. You see, with this criteria there can even be love among the homeless. It’s very fair and equitable. What’s not fair is when either partner thinks that their very existence entitles them to sit back and eat bonbons (or jack off in office chairs — whatever) while the other one toils for the living that allows them to live in the manner to which they have become accustomed!
Years ago, the country artist, Clint Black released a song called, “Something That We Do,” that I think really exemplifies my feeling about love. Sting and Don Henley also came out with songs that expressed the same sentiment, but I think Black’s version is the best.
It can be argued that love is a decision or that love is a feeling, and I think the best love is characterized by both. However, love is not really love without the decision, the choice, the commitment to sacrifice for another person’s happiness. The compromise has to be on both sides. Yes, there are days where one person might be giving 90% while the other gives 10%, but if you are giving 90% every day, then you might be in love. But your partner, obviously, is not.
It’s raining outside – finally we received some much needed rain this week. Rain seems appropriate for my mopey weekend. I am allowing myself an entire weekend to mope. It’s a luxury. I am going to sit around the house and do nothing but feel sorry for myself for the next two days. I am going to sleep late, neglect to shower, nap often. I ate an entire can of black olives, using nothing but my fingers, out of the can. I’ve eaten Triscuits with Easy Cheese. Later, I plan to pop microwave popcorn with real butter and eat the entire bag by myself. I will not so much as share a kernel with my dog. I may watch Legends of the Fall three times back to back just to purposely make myself good and miserable. I would cry, but in truth, I am not a very good cryer. I can’t do it to avoid speeding tickets or to show heartache. I sleep a lot when I’m upset, so I will do a lot of sleeping this weekend, and when I get done sleeping I will get ready to at least act happy again on Monday morning.
You might be curious as to what prompted Self Pity Fest. Well, it goes something like this. Have you ever had a friend of the opposite sex that you thought there was a mutual attraction going on with and then found out rather suddenly and abruptly that the attraction was more on your end than on his? Or perhaps even totally one sided? I just bet you have. I bet this has happened to you more than once. I usually consider myself to be a very intelligent and intuitive woman. And now I am feeling foolish because I will admit that in my previous ignorance and arrogance I actually imagined that my friend liked me more than I liked him.
There were plenty of “signs.” A friend of mine who had seen us interact would have sworn on a stack of bibles that he was nuts about me. And as long as I felt like I had the upper hand, so to speak, emotionally, I was supremely confident about the friendship. I could have continued to live in this state of rosy oblivion for months or years. In truth, when it comes to these things I am not any more intuitive than anyone else. I see what I want to see, and I hear what I want to hear. This blindsided me. Not only was I completely oblivious to my friend’s actual feelings, I was not even self-aware. Until it happened.
I won’t get into details, but over Labor Day weekend, my friend ended up flirting with a girlfriend of mine who was visiting from out of town. If we were really “just” friends this shouldn’t have bothered me, but the truth was that it did. Very much. I thought I had done a good job of hiding my distress. On the cab ride home from downtown, me tipsy, him drunky drunk, he accused me of pimping him out to my girlfriend. I imagined that he had wanted to make me jealous. I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction.
I went home the next day and stewed over my jealousy. What did it mean? Was I going to have to confront it? Should I? Would our friendship survive a confrontation of this nature? Regardless, after seeking the counsel of both Katina and another male friend I came to the conclusion that a confession was necessary, and that if the friendship were to survive, I would need some space. Trust me. Space is necessary because I do not take rejection at all well. I will say something so hurtful to you that you will wish I would have skinned you alive and dropped you into a cauldron of boiling hot oil instead. I especially do not like feeling foolish, and if I am scorned in a manner that makes me feel foolish, then I pity the man who ever changes his mind and decides he wants me. Because you only fool me once.
The confession went like this. I embarrassed myself and then humiliated myself while he sat there and listened. That was pretty much how it worked. Awkward doesn’t begin to describe it. Naturally, since I inspire undying platonic devotion in both straight and gay men (a blessing and a curse), he was hurt by the idea that he wouldn’t be able to see me for awhile. And worried that awhile might translate into forever. It won’t be forever. Just long enough for me to gain perspective, maybe get a little crush going on someone else, possibly get laid, although I gotta say that I have offers but the prospects in that department are less than satisfactory.
And that is the story of my mopey weekend. It’s nothing new or original, something people the world over have gone through probably since cavemen “invented” fire. The good news is that this time the guy I wasted my affections on wasn’t gay or a jerk. I consider that progress. Maybe at the rate I’m going I will find a man who isn’t gay or a jerk and who actually returns my feelings by the age of fifty. One can dare to dream.
Since I’ve been at my current workplace I have perfected the concept of the work boyfriend. The work boyfriend, for those of you who may be unfamiliar, is an unmarried, un-attached straight man that you work with who is willing to hang out with you at lunch and on breaks and a man who gives good chat. The purpose of the friendship is primarily for amusement. It is never to be taken seriously. The idea is that it’s all the fun aspects of an actual relationship without any of the negative aspects, such as, for instance, high anxiety and eventual profound disappointment. It is not an actual dating arrangement or a “relationship,” nor is it meant to evolve into one. In general, if said relationship evolves, it evolves into something I’ve coined as the undate.
The undate is any excursion made outside of work by you and the work boyfriend, or any friend of the opposite sex with whom you enjoy a mildly flirtatious rapport. The outing is like a date except that you usually go dutch and you aren’t going to be making out. Now, in truth, I realize that the male half of the undate may still think that this is leading somewhere other than friendship and/or that if he plays his cards right he might get some. However, since he’s been forewarned that that’s not going to happen, I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty about bursting his bubble. After all, I am fun to hang out with, even if you don’t get to make out with me.
The first work boyfriend I had at my current workplace was someone that I like to refer to as Work Boyfriend .5. We never evolved into the undate phase. This is actually a good thing since Work Boyfriend .5 was kind of an ass. We agreed on next to nothing. He was downright rude. His hobby was playing Call of Duty on the internet and drinking Gatorade. He was probably close to a hundred pounds overweight but thought fat women should be shot by firing squad. His idea of a dream job was being a law enforcement officer so that he could lord it over other people. If you can imagine Barney Fife being played by Kevin James if Barney also had Archie Bunker’s political views and a Dilbert desk job, then you know Work Boyfriend .5. But Work Boyfriend .5 was hilariously funny. And since the purpose of the Work Boyfriend is primarily for amusement, he served his purpose. Thank you, Work Boyfriend .5! Live long and prosper!
While Work Boyfriend .5 was still on the scene, I met Work Boyfriend 1.0. Work Boyfriend 1.0 was like the new and improved version with almost all of the bugs worked out. The biggest thing was that he wasn’t an ass. Work Boyfriend 1.0 was actually kind to me. Other bonuses were that he was better looking and we actually agreed on things sometimes. We are still friends to this day, despite the annoying presence of an actual girlfriend nixing any flirting potential, a six month falling out over what I like to refer to as “the infamous cell phone incident,” and the fact that we no longer work together.
I met Work Boyfriend 1.0 during a phase in which Work Boyfriend .5 and our other buddies and I were trying to figure out who was gay and who was straight at work. Work Boyfriend 1.0, when I met him, was mourning the loss of a female friend who got back together with an ex-boyfriend and decided she could no longer hang out with him after the reconciliation. That situation, combined with several seconds of him talking to my tits, convinced me that he was straight.
Sometime shortly after Work Boyfriend .5 left the scene due to an unfortunate incident that involved his typical rudeness, Work Boyfriend 1.0 and I evolved into the undate phase of our friendship. I think the first excursion was to go shoot pool after work. After that, we began doing things regularly outside of work. Work Boyfriend 1.0 was separated and going through a divorce at that time, so for me, there was never any question of its being anything other than a friendship, but I did have a fierce crush. At one point in time, I would blush scarlet at the mere mention of his name.
Work Boyfriend 1.0 and I were both lonely, and two lonely people recognize one another. I credit him with getting me to get out of the house to spend time with people, stop hibernating with my dog and drinking alone so much. At the height of the friendship, our boss used to say that there was so much giggling and general sounds of merriment on the row where we sat, that it was like Disneyland on crack.
Work Boyfriend 1.0 accompanied me to church. It became like a regular weekly outing with breakfast afterward, for several months. Sometimes he invited other friends to join us. He encouraged me to join a small group with him, and I made even more new friends that way. You might even say that Work Boyfriend 1.0 drastically improved the quality of my life.
Some of you are no doubt wondering what happened with the stud from The Morning After (see There’s Got to Be a Morning After). The answer to that question is that he’s still around, just hanging out and remaining anonymous, and I have a certain duty to protect his identity. Otherwise there’d be a line around the block for his services. I’m certain he couldn’t handle all the attention my tiny blog would get him.
Seriously, I broke that cardinal rule of all rules that you aren’t supposed to have sex with your friends. According to “When Harry Met Sally,” it changes everything. According to the prevailing belief structure of the moment, it has a tendency to ruin everything. I am familiar with the concept of Friends with Benefits, having done the concept on a couple different occasions. To be honest, however, my first Friend with Benefits was a friend in name only, someone with whom I did not feel I could converse with on my level and someone for whom I, sadly, had little respect.
The second experience with Friends with Benefits was better from the standpoint of the quality of the conversation and the relationship, but being honest I realize that the level of affection in that relationship was hideously skewed. He was one of those rare animals that should be studied in cages at a zoo: a man who was incapable of having a sexual relationship with a woman without falling in love with her. I guess that makes me a heartless, calculating, opportunistic young woman who was only out for one thing.
For those of you that haven’t maybe talked with me in a while, what happened with The Stud was this. Neither of us wanted to be in a serious relationship. We were very good friends, something we had been worried about preserving both before and after IT happened. So, even though I offered The Stud the supposed Holy Grail of All Relationships – Sex Without Strings – he turned me down flat. I’m not certain whether it was to preserve his feelings or mine. Regardless, it was the right call. Having sex with someone can produce feelings, and it does change things. Maybe not everything. But enough. Now when I look at my friend I see someone with whom I’ve had sex. I see him in that context. What’s done cannot be undone.
Have things been awkward on occasion since then? I think that’s to be expected. Once, an unfortunate turn of phrase he made when I was suffering from pre-menstrual syndrome threatened to make me weepy during a phone conversation. I am very fortunate in that my friend makes the effort to communicate with me and clear the air whenever he thinks it needs to be done. With a few minor hiccups, we’ve been able to maintain the quality of our friendship and move on. Am I sorry IT happened? Would I take it back if I could? No, it was a very beautiful memory. It was, for me, a moving experience. The second time it happened it was the end of a perfect day. Even though I know that we are not compatible as a couple AND (what really pisses me off) there will be no more good nookie, I am not sorry it happened. I cannot tell a lie.