How much of a friend can someone be, if all you get from the relationship is a broken heart and the memories of moments that seemed sweet become sour. “We are just friends.” Is convenient, but reckless. Yes, I’m talking about the kind of relationship where there’s casual sex involved and not about your bestie. How did I ever become entangled in dysfunctional friendships? I certainly do not believe in the phrase, friends with benefits. For starters, I don’t have sex with my friends. But I do take full responsibility for my choices and at least ninety percent of my feelings. Still working on managing the remaining ten percent. I also wish the rest of the world could work on managing their feelings as well, so we could all avoid relationships that leave us upset at the very least.
There are many aspects to casual relationships that I can analyze, but I think is best to clear some definitions in order to better express my feelings. I could start by defining what causes a broken heart. Is often thought broken hearts come from a big traumatic event. But have you ever considered the summation of smaller events that happen continuously, that lead to overall disillusionment? This too can cause a broken heart over time. Is also common to blame the broken heart on someone else’s actions, but remember, it always takes two to tango. I don’t know if you do, but I ask myself; “and how did I even get into that situation?” The more and more I started to ask myself this question, the more I stopped to really check with my true feelings. After all, I can only change the way I think and the way I handle my feelings; those are the ones I am responsible for.
After a long term relationship many years ago, I was no longer in love. The relationship finished and I was not at all interested in dating. I needed my space and furthermore, to regain my identity. That’s the first flag there by the way; I let go of myself while in the relationship. After some months, I started to date again and thinking I should take it easy, I decided I did not want anything serious. Casual dating for me please! I wanted to disconnect and have fun, no feelings involved. In the past six years I found myself dating men that wanted no commitment. Most of them felt lonely and wanted company and intimacy only on a physical level. For the most part I was ok with it because I was not emotionally invested myself. In relationships where there’s no more than just physical involvement, I find it easy to become bored too quickly. There were also times when I felt the other person was moving rather fast. I felt suffocated and ran for the hills.
Meeting the family after the fourth date was very uncomfortable to me. I would come up with a million excuses why I didn’t like that person enough. Then of course, when I was the one who was all excited, the other person suddenly went missing in action without any previous warning. I have indeed taken a look from both sides of the street. I asked myself many questions.
What did I do wrong?
Why can’t I meet a man who can be honest about what he wants?
And what was the first answer? They weren’t honest to me because they weren’t honest to themselves. They didn’t know what they wanted, so how could they possibly tell me? I know this because I wasn’t honest with myself either. I didn’t know what I wanted. At times I wanted commitment and at times I was petrified of it. I was afraid to loose myself again in a relationship. I see now that everyone I met was a mirror of myself. Each reflected some of my hidden feelings. The universe was putting all the evidence in my face and I was still unable to see it.
But enough is enough and I became sick and tired of the disappointments. I did not want to become bitter and I certainly wanted to know why I kept attracting men who were emotionally unavailable. After going through all the story lines in my head, I found one common denominator in all of us. We had all suffered from heart break (usually recent), neither of us had healed. So we avoided commitment because we feared getting hurt. So as soon as a connection started to develop, one of the sides would cut the cord continuing with the spread of further disappointments. Consequently adding to the heart break load. Until recently when a friend said to me, “what DO YOU want?” Because he noticed I felt uncomfortable with the situation and preferred to keep things clear, which I appreciated. I realized he could not give me what I wanted, but he knew and he was honest about it. In return, I had to be honest to myself. This was the turning point; the point of deeper reflection for me.
I was running away from commitment out of fear, not out of lack of desire. I wanted to have the romance, the company and the intimacy but was not putting all my heart into it. I was not giving the other person a chance, turning them down too quickly. I feared the very thing I wanted and needed; connection. As humans we need to connect. We avoid relationships out of fear of developing feelings, or out of fear of being rejected; but isn’t fear also a feeling? Isn't loneliness a feeling? And all the other feelings that can come as a result of these casual friendships that more than often don’t end well… inadequacy, lack of self worth, unwanted, disappointment, etc. Sometimes the effects are mild, until they pile up by other similar experiences. Then we don’t know what to pin point because it wasn’t a big event that caused the trauma, but that sack of small events that piled up with time. The loneliness that we may feel is precisely due to the lack of connection with ourselves and with people around us. Engaging in short physical relationships to numb our pain only causes more pain, further spreading negativity. Why not spread beautiful and positive feelings instead? For that no one is responsible but ourselves. We are responsible for our output; our choices, our thoughts, and our feelings.
Now that I see lack of self awareness (awareness of my own feelings) was causing me so much pain, I can be mindful about my choices. Checking with myself and honestly answering to myself; how do I feel? What do I want? How does this situation look for me? What is attractive to me about it? How will I handle it? This questions must be answered by the heart, not the head. We are entitled to changing our minds. The importance again, is to be honest with ourselves and to be honest to others. In that order, it cannot be so otherwise. It always starts within.
…Also think how we connect with our friends, we are open with our friends, we feel safe with our friends…without fear and yet, friendships too can be broken. But we don’t have sex with our friends and so that makes everything different. But why? Sex apparently complicates everything. So don’t call anyone your friend with benefits, because I doubt you would have sex with your real friend. A lover is a lover and a friend is a friend.
…hum, but I’ll leave this casual sex thing for another topic, another time.