Every time we were in the same state, our friendship was a farce and felt like a front for something far deeper.
I get the impression that people think my heart is two-sizes-too small when it comes to relationships. I was once a fun-loving friendly fellow who would try with all his might to stay friends with an ex. I spent a large chunk of my life thinking the progression of a relationship is as follows:
1. Guy likes girl.
2. Guy and girl date.
3. Girl dumps Guy for better-looking Guy.
4. Girl tells Guy that she wants to stay friends.
5. Guy and Girl become lifelong friends and it’s like that Gwen Stefani song “Cool.”
I followed this self-imposed series of events with many of my ex-girlfriends for many years under the impression that it was what normal people did. In fact, I know people who do this same thing with success. Some of the finest friends I know started romantically. However, this is not always the case and–with me–never should have been the case. You see, after years of repeatedly beating the dead horse of a failed relationship, I’ve decided that all horses shall be slaughtered and buried. It’s not that I’m a cold person and don’t care about some of the people I’ve loved, it’s just that friends and lovers are two totally different things. It’s like the quote from Wes Anderson’s short film Hotel Chevalier: “I promise, I will never be your friend. No matter what. Ever.”
Let’s talk about real life friendship. My best friend and I have known each other since we were 14. I think we became friends after he asked me for a bite of my chocolate pudding at lunch in middle school. Or maybe I asked him for a bite of his pudding? Either way, we became inseparable during our years together and have an arsenal of inside jokes and little catch-phrases that make most people think we’re off-the-wall gay for each other. However, at no point during our friendship did either of our penises even come close to each other’s nether regions. That’s right. No mouth-stuff, no hand-stuff, no smashing tips, no finger-blasting, s’ing D’s, licking B’s…nothing. We’re best friends because we have a lot in common and enjoy each other’s company.
Let’s talk about a girl I once dated. I spent a lot of time pursuing her and she spent a lot of time pursuing me. We also had a lot of inside jokes, spent a lot of our days together, laughed at the same movies, listened to the same music, and generally enjoyed each other’s company. Unlike my best bud, I spent loads of time inside this particular human. We did all different kinds of disgusting sexual things that two people who have an attraction to each other should do. There was this one hilarious time where she cheated on me, though apparently it wasn’t cheating because we were never “official.” My bad on that one–I really should have specified that I wasn’t into that whole scene. After I made it clear that I didn’t want to be romantically involved anymore, she asked if we could still be friends. A large part of me wanted to do what I had done for so many years and be her friend. I wanted to say: “Look, I hate what you did, but I want you in my life. So we can try.” Because, that sounds reasonable. It really does! Except I’ve come to realize that it’s just not realistic. This is how it would've panned out, based on loads of past experience.
1. Guy listens to Girl complain about her new boyfriend, Sexy Bro.
2. Girl listens to Guy complain his new girlfriend, Foxy Fox.
3. They hide their looks of disgust from hearing about their once lover explain the ins-and-outs of getting filled up by their new beaux.
4. Guy and Girl hide their feelings for each other from Sexy Bro and Foxy Fox.
5. Girl and Guy inadvertently create their own little universe where they’re the main players and their new significant others are nothing more than supporting players…minor involvements.
6. Guy breaks up with Foxy Fox because she thinks people swallow spiders when they sleep.
7. Waiting for Guy to be single again, Girl dumps Sexy Bro for being way too sexy.
8. Guy and Girl do the whole thing over again and the universe is on perpetual-repeat mode.
The problem is, the friendship we would’ve attempted to maintain over the course of our new relationships would have been the furthest thing from friendship. The goal of the “can we still be friends?” question is to have a 100% platonic relationship devoid of anything sexual. It’s a relationship based on a lie. Neither party wants to be “just friends” and the two people end up each other’s back up. So I told her I didn’t want to be friends, because we were never friends. Our intentions towards each other were never friendly. I never hung out with my best guy friends with the hopes of sex. My friends and I hung out because we liked hanging out. This girl didn’t want friendship and I didn’t either, but getting over the compulsory obligations of friendship took a lot of admitting. I remember sitting her down and asking her what she wanted…what she really wanted:
“We’ve always been friends,” she said.
“That’s not true. We spent time together because we were sleeping together,” I said.
“Friends sleep together.”
“Hey–how many of your female friends have you had sex with?”
It's not about the idea of guys being unable to be friends with girls. Guys and girls can be friends with each other without sex, obviously. It's just like what 98% of When Harry Met Sally teaches us. I have friends of the opposite sex with whom I've never slept with. A lot of people do, am I right?
My decision to cut this girl out of my life was admittedly harsh, but totally necessary. I didn't want to put either one of us through a movie we've all seen a million times.
Of course, I didn’t come up with all of this on the fly like an expert MacGyver of love. Like all good things, I learned the hard way: through trial and error. I was in this situation with my girlfriend, who I’ll call "Elle," when we decided to forego our tumultuous relationship for a platonic friendship.
At first the new relationship went well. We chatted as if we were two bros in a dorm room, stopped saying, “I love you,” and refused to participate in any romantic endeavors. We were far away from each other, so neither one of us could see the other’s look of disgust when we’d talk about our new involvements. We’d talk often, laugh at the same jokes, watch the same movies, and inevitably we'd end up together every time we were in the same state. Our friendship was a farce and felt like a front for something far deeper. We couldn’t be together and we were too afraid to cut off all contact, so we gave birth to this disgusting deformed Chernobyl baby of bastardized friendship. Our involvements became ancillary characters in the drama that was us, and that was incredibly unfair. Friendship was unattainable because we had a history, and any relationship tainted by sex is what it is: tainted. So that’s why my last few ex-girlfriends have remained ex-girlfriends. There’s no reason to beat this dead horse because it won’t come back to life. It’s like that quote that has circulated the Internet:
"We can still be friends" is like when your dog dies and your mom says, "You can still keep it."
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