You may be expecting me to write about “The Meaning of Life”, or “What is Love?” here, but I’m stuck on something far simpler. Or at least it should be simpler. Can women and men ever really be just friends? Okay, it’s much more superficial than those other questions, but it’s one that genuinely plagues my life every day and it irritates me that I even have to question it.
Anyone who knows me knows I have a lot of random friends from a lot of random places. Even those closest to me can’t keep track to be honest. Most of my closest friends over the years have been women, but the easy-going, grab a drink and talk about nothing friends have always mostly been guys. I did have one very close friend who was a guy, but he royally fucked that up, which is really when my questioning began. We met through an ex and he was always “his friend” over mine, despite the fact that we worked together as well as hung out socially. When the ex and I broke up, there was no question in this person’s mind that he was picking sides and he was siding with me (don’t judge him here, my ex really did a number on me. Actually, a lot of his friends messaged me showing their support at that time so “bros before hoes” can fuck off). He was incredibly supportive and encouraged me to take my time and do whatever I needed to get over that break up and move on with my life. Good guy. And then he started acting weird. I suspected something was going on that he wasn’t telling me about and expressed that to a mutual friend who suggested he speak to me about whatever he was thinking. And then the bombshell, he had feelings for me. So predictable. Everyone said it would happen. He was a “nice guy” and really had very little experience with girls so any kind of attention he got, he would run away with it in his head. Thing’s went downhill quickly after that and it ended up in a horrible mess which would be too long to explain in this post. Long story short, we are no longer in contact at all. I felt bad when he told me he had feelings, but I had always been impeccably clear on my feelings towards him and the fact that we would never be more than what we were. I can’t be responsible for what’s going on in his head after all, only he is in control of that.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first or the last time this has happened. I like to think that I’m incredibly honest. Some people might say I’m even blunt in my direct nature, but I would rather that than misunderstandings so why does it keep happening!? These situations tend to fall into three main categories: 1. When I’ve been in a relationship, they know about the relationship and they know that it’s serious. 2. When I’ve been single, not interested in a relationship and never showed them any suggestion of feelings. 3. When I’ve been single, not interested in a relationship but perhaps we’ve been on a few dates. In every case I’ve done my absolute best to be completely clear about how unavailable I am, but I’ve learnt that when I say “no”, so many men hear “maybe”. It’s ruined friendships, hurt feelings and made me feel guilty so many times. People know me as an honest person, a lot of people say that’s what they like about me, so why would they think I’m saying something I don’t mean? Also, it’s worth noting here, that this situation has never happened with any women. They’ve always taken me on face value and believe what I say, which is interesting.
On the plus side, I do have some friends to this day that could’ve taken that route and didn’t. People that I know could’ve developed feelings for me but on understanding my outlook have decided that they would rather a friendship than to let those feelings continue. I respect that a lot. I do believe that we are in control of our feelings, about anything, and if we choose to then we can change them. It might take a lot of time and effort, but it is possible. So, I appreciate the fact that I have friends that have valued me enough as a human to make this effort. The problem is, because I’ve been in this situation too many times to count, as far back as when I was a teenager (being the angry emo girl that was nice to the “nerds”) that I’m cynical. I don’t know who to fully trust. When I said “no” are they hearing “maybe one day…” and they’re actually just not wearing their hearts on their sleeves like some of the others? How can you tell the difference? Then there are the friends who are attracted to you in a physical way, and maybe you’re attracted to them in that way too, but nothing would ever happen because of the friendship. I know that I am very clear in my mind what is a physical attraction only and what is more. My best friend is ridiculously attractive objectively, but I’m not attracted to her. A guy I used to work with is crazy hot subjectively, but I would never want to sleep with him let alone date him (even the idea makes me laugh). But, I can’t expect everyone to have that separation. So, that’s another thing I’m cautious about. I don’t want to be cautious around my friends. Not like that. I want to feel comfortable and open and trusting but part of me thinks that there’s always the potential that they will end up getting hurt one day.
It’s something I haven’t figured out yet. I guess only time will tell. Everyone’s different and I can’t make assumptions, but we’re all humans and we live by patterns. It’s not just a coincidence that this has happened to me more than once. Maybe I’m doing something wrong? I’ll let you know if I work it out.