Friends and lovers
It was a cool evening. A lot had been happening recently and I need to clear my head. So I picked up the phone and dialed the number. The one I knew I could call anytime and yell “What the hell is wrong with the world?” and he would say, “Who was it?” The one I knew I could message or call at any time with a poem or a sob-story or a joke. And he’d listen…and talk.
Ring…ring…ring…”Yes ma’am, kaise yaad kiya?”
“Apko yaad to bahut karte hain, bas aapko hamari koi kadar nahin so I called to remind you I’m alive”
“Is that so now? How very considerate. As a matter of fact I was going to call you after dinner tonight.”
“Haven’t you eaten as yet? We’ll talk later.”
“No, I’ll eat now and listen to you. That’s all I ever do in a conversation anyway”
“Any more of that and I won’t need to cook the food. It’ll get burnt in the fire you’re breathing.”
“Oh shut up interrupting me now and listen…”
I like this story so far, except that it starts to sound like a prelude to the plotline of ‘When Harry meets Sally’. Once in a conversation with the same friend, we were discussing hypothetically (I hope!) about the mutual attraction in our friendship. He asked, “Why do you assume people can’t be friends if they sleep together?”
I don’t assume it. I know it. I believe it. I think when the L-factor (that’s lust, not love) shows up, friendship goes out of the window. It doesn’t have to be that way but it just invariably does. And yes, of course, its the guy’s fault!
I do believe the Ladder Theory. There is no such a thing as a purely platonic relationship. Every male-female relationship (blood or otherwise) retains an element of sexuality about it. Think about it. Why should it be surprising or shocking? A male-female relationship carries a heightened awareness of the other person as being different from oneself, a ‘becoming conscious’ of how well (or badly) the other person and you fit into the relationship dynamics together.
Where am I leading with all of this? Here’s where: I have a good number of males in my life….family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances. Each person who has a presence in my life is there because of a certain underlying attraction on both sides. Does that necessarily mean we have to act on it? The world would be one gigantic orgy then (and I’m not being funny).
Practically speaking, I don’t think it’s a good idea to get involved romantically/sexually with a friend. I don’t think romance & sex are the next higher levels of friendship. I really think the two are different things and should be kept apart as far as possible. A friendship has a certain ease about it. There is the feeling of seeing the world together, of forgetting oneself (and the other person) and viewing the rest of the world through a common set of eyes, being connected to a common thought process. A relationship on the other hand makes you conscious of yourself and the other person. It forces you to focus on ME, HIM (or HER) and US. It is so narrowing. And harrowing.
In fact, I am beginning to believe that I can’t really be friends with men any more. Attraction has always existed in the relationships. But it seems to be turning into a huge monster these days, threatening to mangle the equations. I mean, after all, what is it about anyway? So you are attracted to me, so maybe I’m attracted to you….why the heck should that change anything? There may be a hundred reasons why the relationship should not be made into anything other than it is now, but none of them will work once the big L rears its ugly head. And ugly it is, no doubting. Suddenly you’re having to be conscious of what you wear, how you sit, whether its okay to hug the person any more or not. All at once, you’re having to think over every statement and whether it could be interpreted in any other way than the one you thought it meant. And completely out of the blue, the comfort, the ease, the greatest thing about the friendship has vanished..POOF!
I’m not going to sit on an ivory tower and pretend I’m above such things. Certainly I feel such urges (and that is all I will believe they are) too. Ideally I would think its no big deal…attraction is not a reason for a relationship. Friendship is not a good enough reason either. Attraction + Friendship does not necessarily equal love. Of course it can be argued that love isn’t necessary for a relationship. Personally (and I am not drawing any value judgements here) I find the ‘no-strings-attached’ thing does not work for me. Its too….rather, its not enough. I might forsake my prudish outlook for someone who I am attracted to but who does not really matter to me. But a friend is someone who is very much alive and present and important in my world and I cannot bring myself to reduce the person to just a body that I can use and discard at leisure. It is demeaning somehow.
My biggest grouse is that men don’t seem to want to accept a decision that they don’t like. The only equation seems to be “If there is attraction, there must be sex”. Its not the propositioning that irks me so much as the refusal to accept a no. Things just have to turn nasty and the friendship has to end. Of course I haven’t even began to talk about the bitching later. A close guy friend (do they exist any more?) once said “If the girl is attractive, you just want to sleep with her. If she says no, you tend to pretend it didn’t matter and that you didn’t want to anyway. And if she’s especially pretty, then it’s just easier to bitch about her.” I am speechless…it’s a bloody Catch-22.
I know I incessantly gripe about how the past was better but I really do miss the days when people were just people, not objects to be desired or be desired by.