Happiness

Just Friends

My first best friend was called Luke. We met at nursery when we were three or four. Our favourite games were Cops and Robbers, Zoo Animals and Keepers and Barbie and Action Man. It wasn’t weird to me AT ALL that he had a willy and I had a mini. And he was never scared that I had cooties, or at least that he would catch them.

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Luke and I were best friends during infant school but must have grown apart once we began junior school. Maybe because that’s around the age that little girls are encouraged to form close relationships with other girls, thus creating a separation between the young sexes. Or perhaps my cooties developed.

Looking back, it’s a relationship that would probably mark my appreciation of being friends with the opposite sex as an adult. I absolutely adore girls and have lots of girlfriends that I admire and have a lot of fun with, but I’ve also had way stronger, way longer lasting, way more meaningful relationships with men.

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Even in my romantic relationships, there has always been a level of friendship amongst the companionship and romantic or sexual element. Perhaps I simply enjoy the company of men. I feel secure in the brother-sister-like dynamic and in some cases, the more uncle-niece-like dynamic. Even with male acquaintances or those I’ve just met, I feel a lot more comfortable in social situations than I do amongst the same level of females.

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And please, I promise this is not the awful “I hate girls”, “girls just don’t like me”, “I find boys so much easier”, “I’m not like other girls” bullshit cliche. To me, those demeaning comments translate as going against your own womanhood, insecurity, or simply surrendering to the sickening ‘cool girl theory’ (Google it). Deep down, what those comments scream to me is, “I want boys to give me attention”. Sorry.

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Criticism on this part of my life has been rife for as long as I can remember, and 99% of the time, the criticism comes from other men. The only friendships that didn’t garner any criticism was those with openly gay guys. I honestly didn’t understand the criticism until recent years. Up until the age of 20, I was dumbfounded when outer voices would tell me, “(insert boys name) has a secret agenda”, “(insert boys name) must be gay”, “(insert boys name) wants to fuck you.” Mainly because the statements are ignorant, and also because I’m not that stupid. I’d reply with noooooo, honestly, we don’t fancy each other, we’re just friends! The critics in question would give me a sarcastic thumbs up with their eyes.

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I can see why. In films and television it’s cliche for male and female friends to fall in love and get together and live happily ever after. My favourite is He’s Just Not That Into You’s “You are my exception” scene.  There are also countless songs written in the voice of a guy that is secretly in love with a friend or his friends girlfriend. It’s almost like friendship should be rewarded with romantic love. No fictional man is happy ending up as “Just Friends”.

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The majority of women have at least one or a few male friends, and most would say, “OF COURSE you can be friends with the opposite sex”, probably with similar explanations than the one I gave above. But I have to admit, it does make me wonder. How could so many men be wrong? And surely, being honest men – too honest a lot of the time  – could they know their own sex much better than I ever could? Do they know some enlightened secret that us with vaginas don’t?

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I mean, biologically, (straight) men and (straight) women are inwardly programmed to mate (I add brackets because the of course subconsciously the dynamic changes with gay or lesbian friendships). So is it possible to have non family male/female platonic friendships?

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Giving my word that they will never be outed with their brutal honesty, I asked some best friends, family members and acquaintances – the youngest being 25 and the oldest being 70 – and only men I (maybe naively) am certain would have no reason to lie to me – the old age question: Can men and women ever really be just friends?

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To be honest, I feel that the last entry concludes perfectly and sums up every entry in the most rational, eloquent way. This exercise has given me a new light as to how men truly feel. I think there are a few situations where the equation of men + women = friends could be so simple that it could be successful;

  1. Both parties don’t find any attraction in the other
  2. The attraction is fulfilled with sex or similar sexual experiences, subsequently broken for both parties, but an appreciation remains, allowing friendship
  3. The male feels unrequited attraction to the female but can control it enough to continue enjoying her company (although, I’m not sure how long this would last without the male becoming frustrated or bored, and most probably ending when the male finds another object of his attention or starts his own relationship)

It’s definitely made me sit back and question just how ‘friendly’ some of my male friends are. As long as the female’s intentions are clear and there is no cock-teasing, who says you can’t be friends with a guy that gently, subtly fancies you? I kinda fancy a few of my friends (I do have eyes) without being attracted to them. And I really can’t see a When Harry Met Sally situation arising out of any of my present friendships. I have never really fancied someone I’m friends with, or even casually slept with a friend. But again, I think this is where males and females differ: I think females know straight away whether they want to sleep with someone, and act specifically to that feeling. But men, being from Mars and all that, sometimes don’t separate their ‘friend’ actions from their ‘I want to be deep inside you’ actions.

But, who knows, perhaps there are exceptions to the rule.

Whatever the answer, all we can do is be aware of the differences between the sexes and be aware of their feelings and intentions. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy their company, as long as everyone in the equation is a respectable, decent human being.

(All images taken from POPSUGAR and my own phone/family album)

 

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Advice, Happiness, Uncategorized

Break Up to Wake Up

I have never heard anyone say a that their break up was easy. Even if it was the obvious option, a mutual decision, or for one parties best interests. Even if the love you shared has slowly dwindled into nothing but a comfortable familiarity. Even if that person ripped your heart into one trillion tiny pieces, the loss of a constant presence isn’t something that can be forgotten in the mili-second it takes to say, “Goodbye”. The simple yet agonising pain of missing someone can be overwhelming and at times inconceivable.

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Of course, some people are quicker to get over than overs, and some are lucky that they are kept busy or disconnected enough that time heals the pain faster without much thought. But, I am almost certain that even those people have at some point found themselves awake at four am thinking, “fuck.”

Love is a real strange thing. You meet a stranger. You like them. You spend your very precious time with them. You share your inner most feelings, emotions and fears with each other. Whether the connection hits you like a punch in the face or is more of a slow burner, creeping up on you unexpectedly, it becomes so strong that our emotions translate it in our brains as ownership. They are yours and you are theirs. Out of the 7.125 billion humans on planet Earth, you have a favourite.

Now take it right back to the begging: you meet a stranger. A stranger that has a whole universe of their own before they enter yours. A stranger that owes you absolutely nothing and to whom you owe nothing in return.

But our brains somehow persuade us that we will never ever ever find a stranger whom we prefer to the present favourite stranger, meaning that when the break up comes, we enter panic mode.

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Cat Stevens wrote, “the first cut is the deepest”. I personally believe that your first break up hurts more than any other. Largely due to the fact that after the first, you have the comfort of experience. You got over them, so you will get over the next. And the next after that.

At 20, I broke up with my first boyfriend after three years together. I honestly, seriously, literally thought I would never meet anyone that made me feel more at home than he did. I thought that, at 20 – 20!!!! – that I would end up un married and childless, with ten dogs and an extremely large wine cabinet, still crying myself to sleep over the loss of my first love.

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I can’t tell you that I felt amazing and free and could laugh at my previous sentiments after two weeks. The cold truth is that I was sad for a good six months. I tried to date after a while, but the table space between the new unknown man and I felt like light years. It wasn’t getting better. I then made the cliche mistake of organising a catch up (let’s-attempt-a-friendship / I-just-want-to-look-at-your-face-in-person) coffee, after which we kissed and I begged him for another chance. Cough he said no cough. I was humiliated, and the hurt I’d felt over the last four or five months quadrupled and hit me in one big blow. I promised I would never beg a man ever again.

After that incident, I felt better by the day. My mindset became completely different, until I met someone whose company I genuinely enjoyed and felt I could have sex with without crying afterwards. I never cried once. A few nice men later, I found myself head over heels in love again. This time, it was my first love that felt light years away, and the forever alone sentiment, down right laughable.

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It is never too late to move on from Mr. or Mrs. Wrong. My mum met her Mr. Right after a failed marriage, two children and countless relationships along the way, aged 49 in Stansted airport after a delayed flight. They have now been together for almost six years and are yet to have their first argument. That’s the best example I have, and it’s a pretty good one.

A big part of waking up after a break up is acceptance; accept who you are, what makes you happy and the kind of person that could add to your unique breed of happiness. Even if your heart is broken and it was completely that persons fault – it wasn’t really their fault – you just weren’t right for one another. Once you come to that understanding yourself through time, self love and rational thinking, that acceptance will come naturally, and forgiveness will follow. If hating that person gives you the power to move on, so be it, but only through letting go of that hate will you truly, truly move on and discover your true love within yourself and for another.

Louis CK said, “Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce.” It’s the same with all relationships, whether you’re married or have been dating for four months. A rational break up is always, always, always good news. Life is far too short to be in a complicated or anything less than happy, fulfilling relationship. Plus, the greatest things in our lives happen because something changes. Perhaps the relationship has been subconsciously holding you back from being exactly who you want to be or doing exactly what you want to do.

Being with the absolute right person for you is the easiest thing in the world. However much you try to tell yourself otherwise, or how ever much the nostalgia and the panic mode clouds it: if someone makes you miserable than they are not that person, and you should not be with them. Period. And anyway… You’ll never find the right person if you never let go of the wrong one.

You – whoever you are, whether I know you personally or not – are amazing, and you deserve happiness. The best thing you can do, the only thing you can do, is turn your hurt and heartbreak into a positive drive. Use this time to find yourself, excel at work, get healthy, sort out your shit with no ties. If you’re the revenge type (maybe you should re read the last few paragraphs if your answer is yes), happiness is the ultimate revenge. Being self destructive will get you absolutely NOWHERE. Take that from someone who has made that mistake and learnt from it.

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THINGS I WISH I’D BEEN TOLD TO DO 

  1. SPEND AS MUCH TIME WITH PEOPLE THAT MAKE YOU FEEL HAPPY AS POSSIBLE. Family, girlfriends, guy friends, your pets, your therapist… Etc.
  2. TREAT YOURSELF. Whether that be buying yourself a break-up-gift, pampering yourself, a holiday. Happiness if priceless, even if it’s fleeting. Although please keep in mind your rent.
  3. TALK ABOUT IT. If you can feel certain friends getting bored of it (insert question of friendship quality, sorrynotsorry), find someone that has perhaps been in your shoes and is a talker AND a listener. It really will help. They might even point out some things as an outsider that will bring you to your own realisations.
  4. DO NOT CALL/TEXT/EMAIL/‘ACCIDENTALLY’ BUMP INTO/MEET FOR ‘FRIENDLY’ COFFEE. Under no circumstances. Unless you share a child. Exchange possessions, get your shit and leave. I KNOW it’s hard but it really will make it a lot easier in the long run.
  5. READ:HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU IT’S CALLED A BREAK UP BECAUSE IT’S BROKEN HEAL AND MOVE ON 
  6. WATCH: 19 Best Movies to Watch After a Breakup  I couldn’t have written this list better myself. 
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