Let’s say you have a friendship with a person who is not the same gender as you (and you are both heterosexual). Let’s say there may or may not be some spark between you. Let’s say the friendship is platonic and continues to be this way and is mutually accepted as such.
Let’s say both parties are looking for something grandiose outside of their friendship. A romantic experience with a person that affects connections on multiple, maybe even all levels.
I know a thing or two about this stuff because I came across it while getting to know the romance and erotica writers over the past couple of years. Some of these people are living in alternate, non-traditional relationships, and some of them spiced up their existing, long-term relationship by introducing things like power-exchanges, swinging, poly or some form of kink into their connection.
Point is, they already have what many people don’t – a core relationship that connects them on multiple levels and prevails in mutual love, passion and respect probably because they explored, together, alternate ways to inject some spark into the ordinary, mundane life that happens when people are together for a very long time.
About a year ago I ‘met’ online a man from the east coast in the USA who went through a horrible divorce. He met someone new and fell into the kind of passionate love affair that movies are made of. It didn’t last, there were red flags that pointed to narcissism, yada yada, and he is now, as far as I know, still single and still looking.
There are friends in his life with whom he has (had?) both platonic and sexual relationships with. They were fun and easy and the dialogue flowed both ways, but neither party was in it for the elusive ‘last and forever committed love’.
Here’s the thing:
These friendships helped each individual learn about relationships from the other. For the man, he gained insights and experiences from the female friends he spent time with, both platonically and sexually. There were insights, there were different perspectives, there were a lot of things that fueled the soul and spirit. Neither party felt used because communication remained open, and when one or the other developed ‘deeper’ feelings, there was immediate and continued dialogue between them addressing things head on.
But many people struggle with communication. Men struggle with it, in terms of volume coming from the women (I think). Women struggle with it in terms of sudden silence, ghosting and the like (I think).
A lot of times, when people who are seeking, and not finding, the passionate love they want, they turn inward. Just today a story about ghosting came up again in my feed… there were multiple dates, open dialogue, a request to meet again and then… Nothing. Silence.
The woman in this case sent another text requesting a respectful ending if in fact it has ended. The man in that case obliged and told her he met someone else.
Now, why couldn’t he have just done this right away instead of leaving the woman, who was invited to a third date by him after a successful second date, hanging with nothing?
It’s cowardly, disrespectful and not nice.
Now, you may say, two or three dates doesn’t require explanations, that they don’t owe anyone anything. I disagree. I realize people date multiple people while trying to figure out with whom they want to be exclusive… I still believe in etiquette. Politeness. And again, respect.
You had fun together, then you had more fun with someone else, now you have to choose.
You’re allowed. But why not do the nice, polite thing and tell the first person goodbye so she (he) isn’t left hanging not understanding why?
If you don’t practice manners, politeness, common courtesy with someone you liked enough to go on repeated dates with, what does this tell you about the kind of relationship you will have when you fall for someone? What does this tell you how you will treat someone whom you may feel love for?
I’m on a roll here so I’m going to keep going:
Say you have a friendship you enjoyed for a period of time. Say you like the person, feel emotion and respect toward them, yada yada, and then, suddenly, you drop them without an explanation.
If the friend was a true friend, they will recognize patterns and behaviour and understand the reason for silence and need of solitude. Sometimes, one doesn’t want to talk (or text, or chat) – I get it.
But to just drop off indefinitely without a word?
It’s kind of cruel. And yet, it happens to so many people…
(Ok I’m off the soap box now.)
Back to the friendship.
On the one hand, having a friend to rely on to ‘practice’ for future romantic relationships can’t be a bad thing. (I don’t mean use the person and lead them on, I mean in terms of communication. Share insights and perspectives with the other person for the purpose of gaining insights and perspectives about relationships.)
I get that there is possibility of pain for both. I do. I remember having written a letter once to someone who appeared to want something more than friendship from me back in my University days, a time before texting and internet. I wanted to keep the friendship but wasn’t sure where his head was at, so I wrote him a letter and left it in his mailbox.
It cleared the air and we managed to stay friends for many years after that. (We grew apart since then, he moved far away and our lives have not crossed in over twenty years now.)
But I remember the lesson. Or, I took it as a lesson.
Point is, friendship is important. Friendship, especially if it was nurtured and mutual over a period of time, is a crucial element in mental and emotional health.
Don’t you agree?
The only thing that works for both parties is mutual respect. If you claim to have respect in your repertoire, then act respectfully. It’s not really that difficult.
I’m not claiming to be perfect at this, frankly, I am not good at relationships of any kind, but I’m working on it (and writing about it, which helps me.) I’m just saying… at a time of years like Christmas, when everyone wants love and companionship, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to count on friendship to see you through the lonely times?
It all begins with communication.
It all begins with words.
In terms of dating apps and the stories I was going to tell, I deleted them. I have been browsing them for a few months now and I cannot tell you how sad my demographic (over 50) appears on these apps. I found little fodder for my stories there, so I will stick with my imagination and personal experiences.
I know this post sounds a little convoluted, but I’m just trying to work through some things, gain a deeper understanding about relationships which often, at least for me, begin with friendship. And my friendships, the real ones, are rooted in words.
Sadly, not all of my friends understand how central, primal, the written word is to me. If we’ve grown apart, this is probably one reason why. But I won’t stop writing, so the ball is in your court.
Thank you for reading this post. If you have anything to contribute, I welcome your opinions and perspectives.
See you in the comments.