As a very free spirited and relatively care free person, I approach all of my relationships with a certain openness and flexibility. I try not to project expectations onto family or friends or partners. I respect the fact that people have very different ways of showing their love, affection, and support. I embrace the fact that people seek out connection and expression in various ways, and I am honest enough with myself to recognize that certain people’s natural affinities complement my own.
Despite all of this, I still can’t avoid getting hurt. One theme that has been causing me some social grief ever since middle school has been the awkward unrequited friend attraction.
I make a friend. We get along super well. I make it very well known that my romantic interests lie on someone else, because that’s the truth. We stay friends. Then one day, I am made known of my friend’s sexual or romantic desire. I make it known that those feelings are unreciprocated as gently as possible. I also make effort to open up a new thread, a chance to resume our buddy-centric interactions. And then, maybe a few weeks without contact. Maybe a few months. Then we chat each other up again, and I assume that its all been forgotten, that’s been dealt with, it’s out of their system, whatever, it’s all good. No.
Again. Friendship develops. Emotional openness. Bonding. Laughter. Memories are made. Inner selves are discovered. Inside jokes are built upon and elaborated. Gifts are given. Fun is had. And then again, that desire gets in the way. That unreciprocated desire. And then again, it’s goodbye. I’ll hear from you in a few weeks, I guess. Take your time.
Shit hurts, ok? This kind of friendship is conditional and built upon the most unstable of foundations. It is immature and closed minded, and it is so unhealthy. It is convoluted and unfair and damaging.
It can hurt more than a breakup. It can be more empty than a purely self serving hookup. It can make you question whether or not people actually take you seriously. Are you just a sexual object? Is there something wrong with you because the people you cherish closely seem to put more importance on what they can get from your body than your humor, your kindness, your intelligence, your emotional openness? Are all of your relationships empty? What’s going on?
All these questions get raised. Enough of them can cause some serious self esteem issues to develop. It hurts, I know. It’s confusing. It sucks.
I won’t blame anyone for me feeling hurt. I won’t sit here with my mouth agape, wondering just how someone could pretend to be my friend and just how someone could let their desire get in the way of such a good bond. I won’t assume that someone has just been pretending the entire time, either. Maybe the confusion is just too strong at the moment. Maybe it’s hard to decide whether or not someone can stand interacting platonically with someone you want romantically, sexually. Maybe it’s ego, casting me as the enemy for not reciprocating that interest. Maybe it’s entitlement issues. Maybe it’s a lot of things. Some people mean well but can’t process things well enough to really engage in true friendship. Some people are just assholes.
Patterns are meant to be recognized, examined, and evaluated. I believe life should be easy and that relationships should be simple. So I am encouraging more simplicity in my relationships, and I will make note to put most of my energy into those relationships.
Simple relationships are honest. Simple relationships involve needs being met in a straight forward manner. Simple relationships are not constrained, but simple relationships clearly state their boundaries. Simple relationships are in the moment, adaptable, flexible, but simple relationships do not lie.
I’ll listen more closely to my intuition. I’ll nip it in the bud. Life is too short to get involved in thorny and knotted relationships. I have to agree with Mark Manson, it has got to be a fuck yes or no. There are 7 billion people on Earth, we can all find friends who become our brothers and our sisters, our cousins, our tribe.
So if you’ve recently been bummed because you’ve felt cheated and hurt by a disingenuous or highly confused friendship, don’t fret. Get your intentions clear, release the past, move on with better clarity. It can be easy to feel inadequate when people you really care about bail on you because of unrequited attraction. It isn’t you. It’s not that people only see you as a sexual object or that you’re not funny/cool/interesting/substantial enough to deserve true friendship. Nope. Nope. Nope. Go share your attention, energy, and time on people who can handle their desires effectively and who can accept the truth of a situation. These people are better at life. These people know what they want and accept the reality of what they can’t have.
It may feel easy to victimize ourselves, but it takes way more effort to blame the world. So know what you want, be honest, and take it easy but don’t take it the wrong way.