I'll just admit this: I've said "I'm sorry" many, many times before and not meant it. I've said "I'm sorry" before and only said it to make the other person shut-up. So, I'm the first one to say "I'm sorry" if I think it'll get me out of a tight spot, but...
When I really AM apologetic, it's so hard to form the words. It's like, I can't just say "I apologize for messing up" and keep it moving. I run the situation through my mind looking for a loophole that justifies my actions so I don't have to feel guilty. So I guess for me, it's only hard to say "I'm sorry" when I feel bad.
Take last night, for example: I'm talking to a friend (well, she's really a friend of a friend, but it's whatever) and I quickly realize that she's (S) under the influence, which is absolutely fine by me cause I say when you're over 21, you officially need to be on your grown woman/man stuff, which includes making your own decisions about your day-to-day life. SO anyway, she's under the influence and I'm amused by what she's saying so I contact our mutual friend (B) to basically say (though not in so many words) "your friend is acting crazy, you need to call her and see what I mean..." MISTAKE.
I ended up apologizing to S because she felt like I put her in a bad situation. As I type this, I still am not sure WHAT happened... I've even conferred with B who also says that as far as she can remember, nothing bad happened. So only S knows what the real deal is. But the kicker was...
SHE BLEW OFF MY APOLOGY! Seriously, I'm not tripping (yeah, I put it in all caps, but that was for emphasis) that she blew it off, even though it took me forever to fix my fingers to type "I apologize." Mostly because, as I stated earlier, I was looking for a catch to the situation and in my opinion I hadn't done anything wrong, but I did have to accept that no matter my intentions, I still had hurt S's feelings and at the very least I needed to apologize for that.
I mean all is fine and well, now, but... what's the point in apologizing if you're just gonna blow me off anyway? Seriously -- what's the point in pointing out a wrongdoing if you don't want someone to fix it or make amends? If someone steps on your toe and you point it out, the assumption is because you want them to make amends by apologizing or being more aware of your feet, or both... but if they do one or the other or both and you say "whatever" as if it doesn't matter, then WHY DID YOU SAY ANYTHING?
Maybe people just aren't used to being apologized to. Maybe, because S and I were interacting solely through words tapped out on our phones, it was easier to think my apology was tongue-in-cheek. I don't know. I guess with as much as I apologize but don't mean it, this is karma and I shouldn't be upset. But when I really do put myself out there and apologize and admit to my "mess up" and take responsibility, I want some acknowledgment for that... a simple "thanks" or "that's cool" or "fine" would be wonderful.... but surely don't blow me off. I mean... what is that?
Open relationships. I've never been in one, but as I understand them, they are essentially relationships with no rules. They are supposed to be every commitment-phobe's dream scenario: all the benefits of a relationship with none of the sacrifice.
I mean, let's face it. Relationships are sacrifice. But we sacrifice to get something better. Allow me to take an uncharacteristic stance and suggest that when done right, relationships can be like a slice of our best idea of heaven. The current problem our society is falling into is that we don't want to do that "done right" part. But I digress. In any case, we sacrifice our time, our emotional stability and even our hearts for the chance at getting this slice of heaven. If you've sacrificed for nothing in return enough times then this whole idea of sacrifice is tragic; comical at best.
Enter the idea of an open relationship. Perfect for people who can't bear the thought of being done wrong again, but yearn for that special someone. I mean, can you blame them? It's like Coke Zero. All the taste of Coke with none of the calories. All the returns with none of the investment. It's perfect... or is it?
I actually just read today that Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis were in an open marriage and we all know the rumors about Will and Jada (though, I think that's a rumor people have thrown out because they can't believe a high profile black marriage is actually working). In any case, Ruby and Ossie were together for 50+ yrs, presumably happily. So having never been in an open relationship and seeing that at least one open marriage worked, I can't actually dismiss it as valid, but I do wonder about a few aspects.
First, let me explain where this post came from: I was having a conversation with someone and the topic of open relationships came up kind of randomly (had something to do with facebook, I think, lol). My general stance on life is: I have my opinion, you have yours and I can have mine without agreeing with yours and vice-versa. So my reaction was "I've never been in one and from what I can see, they're a whole lot of extra and seem to only be headed towards a bad place." She countered that they were good for the commitment-phobe in all of us. "What if I meet someone and take a liking to them, get in a relationship with them and then I realize I don't like them anymore? Then I have to deal with all of their attachment issues and emotions. Why not just skip all that and have an open relationship?"
I can take that argument and even agree with it a little, but here's my thing: Relationships are, in every way, an investment. You put a part of you in, hoping to get a good payoff. Many of us leave relationships in the negative. Not only did we not get anything out of it, but we also didn't even get back what we put into it. That's a rough loss to take. But the deal with investments are, the less you put in, the less you can get out. Relationships are the same way. Go for the open relationship and the type of relationship you have with that other person won't be close to what you could have in a serious, committed relationship.
I also look at it this way: there's just as much of a chance that someone will get hurt in an open relationship as there is in a closed relationship. All it takes is for one person to forget the real deal and let their emotions get in the way and it's all downhill. That's all bad break-ups are ever really about. Someone got their feelings trampled on. The frustrating part about open relationships is that if your feelings get trampled on, who's there to blame but yourself? Not that this is about blame, but that only compounds your feelings: "you did it to yourself."
I think open relationships are like playing with fire and managing to delay the inevitable. Somebody will get burned; I think Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis were the exception to the rule, not the standard. I think most of us aren't ready for what it really means to be in an open relationship, mostly because many of us aren't ready for what it means to be in a committed one.
Having said all that, I think that open relationships can be good if used as a short-term solution. Perhaps you and your flame are going through a transitional period; one of you is moving or is having a hard time, perhaps moving to an open relationship until you figure out the best next option is best; or perhaps you have just met someone and you think you might really be into them so you two agree to try an open relationship to feel each other out. And really, isn't this what most people do anyway? So I suppose it's those open relationships that go on with no end. The ones that start off and never change and so at some point, it's just confusing because if you're not talking about it then each person is left to make their own decisions about the relationships and what's happening. And that's when feelings get trampled.
So I say: open relationships that are purposeful and intended to be short can be good; it's the open relationships that have no boundaries and no purpose that cause problems.
I'm an unabashed TLC stan. They are my favorite musical act/group of all time. Period. It is my opinion that Left-Eye is one of the BEST entertainers of my time. Ok. That has little to do with my post, but when I got the inspiration for it, of course the first thing I thought of was the song What About Your Friends.
Ok. So what about 'em? In a previous post, I mentioned that family is different from friends because friends we choose to let in our world and based on some of our choices, we don't like ourselves very much. Just yesterday I was talking to a friend about her situation with another girl. Turns out someone she considered her best friend had been talking badly about her behind her back. She made rude and inappropriate comments about my friend's personal life, including her hygiene (which, as a female, is not something you want questioned). My friend went on to say that it hurt her most that she had gone all this time believing this girl was her friend and she had even put herself on the line for this girl, only to find out that all along this girl had been just playing around with their friendship.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Maya Angelou. To paraphrase, she says "When people try to show you who they are, believe them the first time." I believe that at the end of every relationship, especially the ones that end traumatically, one should take the time to re-evaluate what happened and what they're supposed to learn. It seems to me that to go through the heartache and pain we all do where relationships are concerned, and to get NOTHING from it is a waste of our time. If you've got to get your heart broken, you might as well learn something about yourself from it. But as I've put that into practice, there's something else I notice always stands out: the "told ya so" moment. There is always one instance I can recall that makes me feel like the ending had been laid out for me from the beginning.
If you've ever been a young girl in high school, then you know what a time that can be. High school, for many, is a great time but with those great times comes a lot of, well... drama. High school is what
The summer after our last year in high school, we both worked a day camp. In the middle of the camp she quit talking to me. And would not take or return my phone calls for months after. We did speak via instant messenger at some point later that year, my feeble attempt to rekindle the friendship and find out what happened, but she shut me down quickly, letting me know she just didn't feel comfortable talking to me anymore.
As I thought back over our friendship there were a lot of things that were illuminated, but the primary one was that she had shown her true colors to me time and time again, but I wanted to believe that I was different. So I did and I got burned and almost lost a real friend in the process. The way she treated me at the end of our high school career was almost exactly how she had treated a mutual friend and I watched her do it. So why was I so surprised when just a few months later she did it to me too? I don't know, but it's akin to the girl who is surprised that the man she stole from another girl, cheats on her. Or the person who is surprised that her boyfriend lied to her when she had helped him lie to so many others. "If they'll do it with you, they'll do it to you."
I think the bad thing about friendships that end sourly is that unlike relationships where in the back of our minds we know things could be over at any moment given the right set of circumstances, with friendships, we go into them, especially as we get older, sub-consciously expecting them to go the distance. Friendships really take time to nurture and grow. There's got to be equal effort from both sides or it turns into a big mess. Friendships, I think, are under-valued in our society. We have become so much a "me" society where it's all about what we want and what we need that we don't think about what it means to have a real friendship.
Another friend of mine (J) is cool with a co-worker (M) who recently informed her that J is her (M's) best friend. J and I had a conversation about M and while M seems like a great person, it's also obvious that she does not have a lot of friends and latches on to whomever seems like a good person. It's almost like she's so desperate for friends she runs them away. When I think about the people I consider my close or best friends, I can't recall a moment where I declared them such. It's something we fell into. It was a mutual thing that we didn't need to talk about. The secrets shared, the advice exchanged, the laughs given and all the other things that happen in a good friendship were enough for us to know, without declaration, that we were friends. Close friends.
I'm not saying that M's declaration of friendship nullifies it, I'm saying that to need to declare it suggests a lot. Romance is a big step. So I think declaration of the jump from friendship to romance is necessary... but friendships are so easy to create that just letting them happen is enough. It's the maintenance part that's hard. Especially when distance shows up. Unlike romantic relationships, friendships can withstand distance, but it takes work and commitment to the friendship. It also takes acceptance that there will be lull points -- times where you may not speak for months on end, but knowing that when you do get back together, it'll be like you never let up.
I think friendships are the glue that hold most people together. They keep us sane and support us when we get weak. To know that as individuals we get to pick who comprises our glue is a good feeling, but too many of us take it lightly. Good friends have good friends.
There's a great song called Leaving Tonight by Neyo featuring Jennifer Hudson (of both American Idol and Dreamgirls fame). The very first thing Neyo says in the song is:
I believe that love & trust are one in the same/I don't think you can truly love someone unless you trust them/That blind trust, beyond a shadow of a doubt/No matter what this person say or that person/You believe your manAnd I've heard this song a lot... but for some reason, these lines struck me (probably because, as this blog shows, I've been evaluating relationships a whole lot as of late). I get what he's saying and really, he's referencing a dating relationship. His point is, and you gather this as the song goes on, that you can't love your significant other if at every turn you're second-guessing everything they do. Searching for proof that they are not who they say they are. If you've been burned in relationships before, trust doesn't come easy. And if you're like me, and you know how ugly people can be in relationships, then trust really doesn't come easy. I do, however, like to believe that I am capable of rising above what I've seen and giving each new person a chance... I digress, however...
Can you love someone and not trust them?
My ex did me badly. I've referenced him before and I'll probably continue to reference him. I'd like to take a side-bar here and make a note: My relationship with this particular guy has all but completely shaped how I view a lot of things. How I felt, then and feel now contribute heavily to my perspective on love and relationships, even non-sexual ones. While he will not go down in history as my only relationship, he will go down as the first one that I was serious about and the first one to break my heart. So while I hope that I never spend an entire post on him and our relationship, I imagine that after a while, the story will be told through my various postings.
In any case, he did me badly and I don't trust him. I don't trust him for a few reasons, but at this point it's mostly because he hasn't earned my trust back. Not that he's trying to. In fact he isn't. We both know that what is currently happening in our lives is far more important than us (I can admit that, and though he knows that inside, he'd never admit it) or our history. In any case, I still love him because everyone has that "one" and he's mine and so I'll love him forever. But I don't trust him. I don't trust him one bit. When we do communicate, I take most of what he says, especially in reference to me/us with a grain of salt. Most of it, I let go in one ear and out the other. I do that to keep myself sane because if I trusted what he said to me, I'd be one of those girls... and you know what I'm talking about... So when we do talk (and that's less and less these days) I talk, he talks and we get off the phone and I don't (well, I TRY not to) think twice about it. Cause I don't feel like I can really glean any new information from what he's said.
I do love him. Always will, I imagine. I think this is the part of the post where I differentiate between being in love and just loving someone, but... I don't have time for that and I feel like anyone who doesn't know the difference, doesn't know because they've never been in love and so even if I try to explain it... it won't register. In any case, I love my ex and don't trust him and as far as I can tell that's how things will be.
Further, take a moment and ask yourself: "of the people I genuinely love, be it a fraternal type or romantic type of love, is it BECAUSE I trust them, or because of something else?" Family doesn't count, because you get who you get and whether you love 'em or not, you got 'em. Friends, et al... on the other hand are people hand-picked by us for us (and some of us, based on the friends we choose, don't like ourselves, but that's another post) so of the friends you have that you love (and no, just 'cause they're a friend, that doesn't mean you love them) why do you?
I asked myself that question (hence this post) and while I don't have a definite for absolutely everyone, I do know that "cause I trust them" wasn't my first thought. Take my BFF for example, J, I love him. I love him on a very platonic but very deep level. I love him like I imagine one loves a close brother (being an only child, I have to make assumptions about these types of things) and I DO trust him. Most likely more than anyone else. He was the first person I let drive my car without spending the ensuing time freaking out about the worst-case scenario. I trust him enough that if he called me up right now and asked me for $1,000 (I don't have that much money, but go with me) I'd give it to him without ever asking when I'd get it back. I trust him like that and there's not many non-familial people I trust that way. BUT, when I considered why I love him, how much I trust him never factored in.
Or even my friend B. Love her like a sister. I've entrusted her with my car (though, I have to admit, it wasn't an easy 2-hrs I spent waiting to get it back), told her private things and trusted her to keep them a secret (which so far, it seems like she's done a good job) but these aren't the reasons I care about her and love her. I mean, let's not discount the value trust brings to any relationship and you surely can't have a functioning relationship with no trust (see my relationship with my ex) but the lack of trust we have doesn't mean I don't love him and the fact that I trust J and B doesn't absolutely mean I do love them... or does it?
Is it possible that while I love my ex sans trust, that I actually DO love J and B because I can trust them? I mean, at one point, I did trust my ex and as time went on, the history we formed and the shared experiences gave me other reasons to love him. I love him now in the way many women love the father of their children. They don't particularly care for their ex-boyfriend/husband, but they do care about the man who helped bring their child in the world. I don't have kids with my ex but I did A LOT of growing up and maturing and self-understanding while I was with him and in some ways because of him. I know a lot more about myself now because of that relationship and while our relationship was NOT healthy (mentioned that before) there have been some good things to come of it. So, in part because I have that through him, I love him.
But I've learned a lot about myself and been encouraged and supported and helped in ways I wasn't with my ex through my relationships with J and B -- so is it not, arguably, all the same? Trust may be a GREAT factor about my relationships that work but it's not the end all be all.
So I guess the new question is, could I have the good relationships with these people (J and B are serving as the case studies, though rest assured there are more) if we lost trust? Hmm... gut instinct tells me that the relationship would be VERY different... and the original question here isn't about whether or not trust is necessary to have a good relationship (which is what I think Neyo is REALLY saying) but rather if trust is necessary to love someone. And so yes, if one of them did something to betray my trust, I'd still love them. I wouldn't trust them as much (that's putting it nicely) but I would still love them. The fact that there was a betrayal of trust doesn't negate the history I share with both of them.
So yes. Trust is quite possibly the most important factor (I always say it's communication, but that, again, is another post) in making a relationship work, but it isn't necessary to have trust in order to love someone. Perhaps trust is the beginning of why you love someone, but to paraphrase a saying I can never quote just right, "If you stop loving someone, then you never really loved them." or as my ex often quotes "True love lasts a lifetime." and I hate it when he says that, but that's because I know he's right...
What is love is the next question but I don't even know if I'm ready to tackle that. LOL.
At 21, I think the most important thing I have learned about relationships of all kind is the following:
Never, ever, under any circumstances, become friends with either your friend's significant others or your significant others' friends.
There are only four potential outcomes of that:
1) Your friend will think you're trying to get with her man
2) Your man will think you're trying to get with his friend
3) If there is a break-up your friend and their ex will want you to pick sides.
4)If you break up with your man, you have to decide if it's still ok to be friends with his friend(s)
I think that rule sucks. I think it sucks in the same way I think it sucks that you can't date your friend's exes. Not so much that it's a bad rule of thumb, but it sucks that life's gotta be that way. I mean what if your friend's significant other (s.o.) is awesome; someone you would have been friends with, without your mutual friendship. Or what if your significant other has amazing taste in friends and you like what they bring to the table. It sucks, but the reality is, where relationships are concerned, people are VERY territorial.
I lost a friend (though, to be honest, she probably did me a favor by ceasing our friendship when she did) because she didn't like that I was friends with her ex AND friends with his new girl. Looking back on it, though his new girl (now his ex as well) and I are still close, and quite frankly, I'd choose her over the other girl any day, the drama that resulted wasn't really worth it. To have someone I considered a best friend to second guess my actions, hurt. I never, not ever, was interested in her man but because I opened myself up to his friendship, she saw things differently.
I've also been in a situation where two of my friends (in this case, they both were friends of mine before they were together) broke up and having them both call me for advice was rough. As a female, I sided with my female friend more, but I still felt for my guy friend and wanted him to be ok. You can't reveal personal conversations to one about the other, but how else do you make the case for your suggestions?
And for as much as I hold on to that rule of thumb, I violate it on a regular basis. I mean, I love my friends. If I call you friend (and everybody in my world is NOT my friend) I love you and only want the best for you. And so, sometimes, I get a little over-invested in their lives and if you introduce me to your new person, and I like them, that shows. Too, we've all been introduced to our s.o.'s friends and hoped they like us and when they do... you want to foster that relationship, and sometimes it may go a little too far.
What prompted this post is a text conversation I recently had. Up until now, my friend has been the catalyst for any communication between me and this other person... but things changed today and it reminded me of my rule. So now, I have to find a way to dial it back -- keep our boundaries clear. Our relationship has to always been contingent upon the mutual friend. Our contact should always be because of the mutual friend. This keeps everything open and on the up and up, and then my friend won't have to worry that I'm sneaking around doing anything appropriate.
Just food for thought... mostly my own...
There's a song by Tango Redd and it features Lloyd. It's called Let's Cheat. I won't lie, the song is a guilty pleasure of mine and there have absolutely been times where the lyrics (posted at the end of this shpiel) were thoughts I've had.
But let's be clear: cheating is wrong. It's always wrong. There is never a time where cheating is acceptable, ok or the right thing to do. When you are in a committed relationship and you choose to step outside of that relationship, you are wrong and so is the person who goes into that with you, if they know about your situation.
Having said that, though, I have to admit that when I was in a committed relationship (3+ years) I considered cheating. I also came to understand why some people cheat. I've long said (and still say) that if you find yourself in a situation with someone and you no longer want to be in that situation, then get out of it. There's no reason to sleep with someone else because you're unhappy. Free yourself to be with whomever makes you happy. I've since had second thoughts about that statement, but in the end I always come back to it.
I understand that sometimes people cheat not because they don't care about their significant other or because they're unhappy or because they don't want to be in that relationship.. sometimes people cheat just because they can. A guy is out at the club, meets a girl who's gonna give up the goods and so he goes for it. Not ok, not acceptable but that had nothing to do with his girlfriend and had everything to do with him.
In my case, the times I did consider cheating it was always because that would've been so much easier than having a complicated conversation with my boyfriend about how unhappy I was. The majority of our 3 year relationship was spent long-distance, and let me say, LD relationships SUCK. There's no two ways about it and very few people can do it long-term. In fact, my advice is ALWAYS: If you don't see the distance between you and your significant other changing for the better in the NEAR future (6-8 months) then you need to reconsider things. People don't realize what distance will do to you, but it hurts. And my unhappiness was because of something neither of us could fix and I became more unhappy as I looked down the line of our relationship and didn't see either one of us being able to change it. If I had cheated (and maybe I did, I'll get back to that) it would not have been ok, but there was more to it than selfishness, at least I think.
So all this talk about cheating, but can we define it? The reason I said maybe I cheated on my boyfriend (and since we've been apart now for going on a year, we have talked about this) is because I had an emotional relationship with someone else that I did not and on some levels could not have with him. I go back and forth over whether it was cheating because I'm a big believer in intent. I think your intentions can make all the difference in the world, in certain situations. I did not become attached to this man because of any sexual attraction. We connected on a deeper level and I did not try to stop it or change it and I wasn't honest with my boyfriend about it. This calls into question the definition of cheating. To keep it simple, I look at it like this:
If you are in a relationship, a committed, two-way relationship with another person and you have a relationship with another person that you either would not or could not divulge all of the details of which to your significant other, you. are. cheating. The end. In other words, if your significant other couldn't be a fly on the wall any and every time you come into contact with the other person, you're effin' up (no pun intended).
I've seen the cheating situation from both sides of the fence. I was cheated on (ironic, I know) and between having seriously considered cheating, potentially having cheated emotionally and having NO friends who've never cheated/been cheated on... I've heard all the arguments. I have more sympathy for a cheater than I used to (when your close friends fall under that category, you learn to care) but overall, I have little tolerance for it, especially when done repeatedly. Breaking up IS hard to do, but if you're cheating on the regular, it's time to be out. It's time for you to AT LEAST take a break and reconsider your life and what you're all about as a person. I mean, seriously, serial-cheating requires serious work. The lying and the scheduling... let's keep it real. If you cheat regularly, you spend more time working to keep it a secret than you do either a)enjoying the "fruits of your labor" or b)working on your (obviously) failing relationship.
I think I'm mostly disappointed in our generation/society that acts as if cheating is an alright thing to do. It's not, but people don't shun and disapprove of it the way they used to. We allow our friends to cheat on their boyfriends and girlfriends while turning a blind eye, if we are the cheater, we fully expect that if we're caught we should be given a second chance AND what's worse is that if we are the victim we give a second chance with almost no consequences. I'll just say this on the topic, 'cause I know the who, why, when, where, what and how of a person who takes a cheater back differs greatly from situation to situation: If you allow someone back into your space after betraying you without consequences that lets them know that what they did wasn't ok, you're setting yourself up to be betrayed again. Disagree with that if you'd like, but think long and hard about what I'm saying, first.
So all in all -- cheating is wrong, I may have cheated and I empathize a little with cheaters... but it's not ok to cheat on someone repeatedly because you're to lazy to (wo)man up and be about your stuff. I feel like that should go without saying, though.
*The lyrics, as promised, are below -- and as a disclaimer, while I enjoy this song and may even relate a little, from time to time, to the lyrics... I don't encourage it. lol*
Tango Redd f/ Lloyd -- Let's Cheat
Girl dont turn yo phone off let it be action tell him you was wit ya homegirl and the music was blastin tonight thell be no issues no commitments after lets cheat tonight lets cheat tonight lets cheat tonight lets cheat
Sweet boy yes u already know
You gotta man but the nigga keep treatin you wrong
So pretty lady wont chu follow me home
Forget about cho man baby baby come where u belong
I know the feelings that chu had for him strong
Think bout it good looks and the crieg clogne
Clearly u see the picture is drawn
5'6with body of filet mignon
Sexy ass lil crabbery bone
Im only hea for one night so if u going come on
Yeauh i know u think cheating is wrongbut what love got to do with me and making you moan
Your body tone and the way that you work
Got me wishin waitin and ready to get under dat skirt
So baby take yo mind off dat jerk
And have a good time what he dont know wont hurt
Girl dont turn yo phone off let it be action tell him you was wit ya homegirl and the music was blastin tonight thell be no issues no commitments after lets cheat tonight lets cheat tonight lets cheat tonight lets cheat
Ima pimp wit a grown mind
I shine babygurl i dont needa spit a line
I get mine got a man thats find but chu no in your mind
That you will have a better time if you throw me a sign
Got your eyes wide shut from the ectasy and xo
Babygirl turn off your metro
Give me the green light girl we kud let go
Toss your legs out the window of the 6-4
Show you things that your man prolly dont no
Show u what a real nigga really down to ride for
Tonight prolly wont happen no more
Take advantage of the chance baby go with the flow
Let your seat back baby let ur hair blow
Take you places shawty you aint never been before
Rain sleet or snow it will never stop the grow
Neva mind yo man baby he will neva know
Got what you need shorty give me what you like
I wanna take you out tonight
Here's the question: Where is the line between a friendship and a romantic relationship? What defines the two? Separates the two? Is it just sex? Are we still "just friends" as long as either a)Neither of us has a desire to have sex with one another or b)We're simply not having sex? I don't know that I have the right answer, but I do have an answer...
While I think that there really is something pretty deep that separates a romantic relationship from a deep friendship, I think that line is being blurred more and more in our society. We have the types of relationships with friends that was once saved for only romantic and committed relationships. We use friends to support us in ways that was once something done only by a significant other. This is where the conflict comes in between your boyfriend and your best friend. This is why there's the argument of whether or not men and women can have truly platonic friendships. As a woman who has a male best friend, a guy who I have no desire to sleep with, but love and appreciate on a very deep level, I've read and heard it all. My friendship with him was definitely a thorn in the side of my now broken and battered former romantic relationship. Did I choose one guy over the other? Yes. I did it all the time. Sometimes it was my boyfriend, sometimes it was my guy friend -- but I was always having to choose.. more on that in another post... In any event, people told me that it wasn't fair to my boyfriend to have to compete for my affections with another guy. My boyfriend told me it wasn't fair that my guy friend could be there and he couldn't. He felt closed out and maybe he was, but does that invalidate my friendship? Because my boyfriend was insecure, does that mean my friendship with a guy was less than platonic? I don't think so.
The issue with a heterosexual woman and a heterosexual man being just friends sans sex must stem from an idea that two people can't have a deep friendship and it not be sexually charged. This argument must go on to assert that if two women, or two men have a deep friendship it may be sexually charged BUT they are not sexually attracted to each other so that sexual charge is null and void. So it's impossible for me to have a non-sexual, deep, platonic and loving relationship with a man simply because he's a man but it is absolutely possible and even expected of me to do it with a woman....
It's all a sham. First off, plenty of women and men who probably don't consider themselves homosexual or bi-sexual have deep friendships with individuals of the same sex that ARE sexually charged. They just don't act on them OR that sexual charge manifests itself in ways other than... well... sex.
I'm heterosexual. I'm not heterosexual because I've never met a woman to whom I was physically and sexually attracted, nor am I heterosexual because I'm "supposed" to be. I am heterosexual because I have an attraction to men. A sexual and physical attraction to men. I have a sexual attraction to men that I do not, have never and will never have to women. I do believe that if were transported to a place where only women live, I would still be attracted to men. This is an important distinction. This does not mean that I can't appreciate another woman's beauty. I have a friend who I think is absolutely gorgeous. I say it all the time. I don't want to have sex with her and my physical attraction to her is not the same as the one I have for, say, the guy who works in the office across the hall from mine.
I have a very close friendship with another female. It's different from the close friendships I've had in years gone by. It's different from the close friendships with women that I have now. My friendship with her is not like anything I've ever experienced. Not that it's mind-blowing or deep or larger than life, it's just very different. What makes it different is that there is a certain level of physical comfort we have with each other that I can't say I have with any of my female friends. I've never viewed anything about our relationship as sexual or potentially sexual but conversations with other friends about this relationship have me looking at it through a new lens. This relationship is the catalyst for this post which has been whirling around in my head for quite some time. If my friend and I had the same relationship, but one of us was male, would we be on the verge of jumping into a committed romantic relationship?
This all seems so contradictory to me. On the one hand, my deep, loving, platonic, completely NOT sexual relationship with a man, a heterosexual man, is invalidated by many because "men and women can't do that". On the other hand, my deep, loving, slightly sexually charged relationship with a woman (who may or may not be heterosexual) is completely validated and expected, even encouraged. I've never had to convince someone that my female friend and I are not sexually involved. Not ever. Even people who know the extent (read: complications) of our friendship. I have, however, had to convince and re-convince family and friends that my guy friend and I are just friends.
So is it a gender thing? Is what separates a friendship from a romantic relationship dependent on the gender of the two people involved, plus sex? So I'm not playing with the fire known as a committed relationship as long as either the other person is a female and/or there is no sex? Hmm... Very interesting.
I was in a tumultuous and never quite on track relationship for about three years. If I counted up to today's date, we've known each other for five and a half years. That's a long time to know anyone. If you've read my past entries, then you've seen a little bit of my cryptic posting on it all.
The relationship was not healthy. Not ever. As I look back, though we had some really really good times, the relationship, once we actually got into one wasn't healthy. It was always about one of us outdoing, one-upping or generally out-smarting the other. We loved each other, sometimes I think I loved him more than he me, but there was a certain level of competition.
I learned a lot about what it means to be in a relationship from being in a dysfunctional one. And when I say relationship, in this sentence at least, I mean any type. A friendship, a familial relationship, a romantic relationship... whatever. I learned, among other things, that sometimes it is absolutely ok to just show up each day for your relationship and let it take you wherever it may. Titles are not necessary and explanations sometimes only hinder it. Though this particular relationship for me was not a healthy one, I can think back and know that our best times were when we weren't concerned with what our relationship looked like to other people, rather, we just let it be whatever it was and whatever it was was what felt right to us at the time.
Too often, we let others define our friendships and relationships. We let our friends tell us about our boyfriends and girlfriends and we let our boyfriends and girlfriends tell us about our friends. Who they should and should not be, how we should and should not feel about them. It's dangerous to let a friend dictate another one of your relationships, but we do it all the time. When you let someone else step in to your relationship, two things happen. 1) They take on a lead role; that is, they are in charge. This isn't what anyone wants, to allow a third party to be in charge of what is supposed to be a two-person relationship, but when you let someone step in and make decisions for you, allow them to feel entitled to butt in when not invited, they have officially taken charge. 2) The other person in the relationship will begin to resent you. No one wants to date someone who has to have thirty other people make decisions for them. We date one person at a time, because we only want to deal with one person at a time. It's impossible to please a group of people for a long period of time.
This was my fatal mistake, I think. I was young, naive and impressionable. I felt like my friends had my best interest at heart and so I believed a lot of what they said, even when my heart was telling me that though they had the best intentions, they're assessments of the situations were off. On the flip side, I also allowed him to convince me that my friends had it out for him and maybe they did, but it wasn't important for him to like them or them to love him, it was important for me to feel comfortable in all of my relationships.
So while we're currently very much apart and hardly speak -- mostly because for me, us talking is hard for me to do -- I'm still learning from that relationship and hoping that I hold those lessons near so that when the person who is right for me and who is ready to journey with me into a healthy and supportive relationship comes along, I can make much better decisions. What's a relationship you can't learn from?