If we treated or friends the way we treat our partners, many of us would be friendless.
At a very informative and enlightening workshop, I once heard this statement. We all had a good laugh then quickly moved into embarassed giggles once the truth of this statement was realized. Over the years, I have often found myself sharing the same statement with couples young and old.
The results are astounding.
For some reason, we seem to think loving someone, sharing expenses and our bodies gives us a license to do and say pretty much anything. It is almost as if this is the price we must pay when we decide to love.
Maybe it’s the reason that so many of us forgo love in favor of fucking around, hooking up or whatever the new term is these days.
With tricks, the negotiations are typically quick and to the point.
Desires with anonymous or fairly anonymous persons rarely have to be renegotiated and if things don’t work out (oh well) what have you really lost ? Unfortunately, many of us bring this same limited and predictable way of interacting into our primary relationships then wonder why things are so screwed up.
In order for our relationships to work we need to start with one of the most important ingredients : wanting it to work and then handling decisions and things that get in the way.
When we meet someone and decide to build a friendship, there are certain expectations.
If we agree that we like each other, we might not spill our guts day two but we will definitely set a few rules and decide the nature of our interaction. More than likely, if we have a bad day at the office, we will not torture our friend and point out each mistake they have ever made.
Likewise, if we have a friend that we have pledged undying support, we do not change our minds when something is presented that we don’t understand, wouldn’t do or causes us distress.
We typically do not allow for conditional acceptance, biased opinions or just plain vindictiveness from those we refer to as friends. Unless, of course, we no longer want them as friends.
I once dated a guy who stole money from me, lied and then said I drove him to this behavior. This was after having supported him financially and emotionally for four months.
I have never had a friend behave in this manner and I have offered my friends all types of support. In a similar fashion, when getting into heated debates and passion-filled exchanges, I have never threatened to beat a friend to death or thought of throwing him or her down a flight of stairs.
This remains the province of intimate relationships.
What I’ve learned over the years is to not compartmentalize my feelings and the ways that I interact with friends or lovers. Recently, due to damn-near two years of unemployment, I chose to borrow money from a dear and trusted friend. The borrowed money allowed for transportation to job interviews and some grooming so I wouldn’t scare the hell out of the people interviewing me.
When it came time to repay my friend, neither of us could remember how much had been borrowed.
I quickly interjected that his friendship meant more to me than nickling and diming about what was owed. He stated a number. We agreed. He was paid and that was the end of it. I have always struggled with keeping a tab on how much either I borrow from or lend to a paramour or how much they have borrowed from or lent to me.
My thinking has always been it’ll work out and we live and love together so at some point you will owe me or I will owe you.
I admit this is not the best way to handle financial matters no matter who it is and it presents a set of problems and drama that would never fly in the course of trying to build or maintain relationships with others. This is one way that I have consistently mistreated those that I say that I care for.
However, there is hope.
When living with someone we can sit down for a face-to-face discussion regarding what each person needs in the relationship and then adamantly hold each other to the agreed upon arrangement.
When we place equal value on all our relationships, we don’t allow any of the ones we truly care about to circle the drain.
We look for ways that we are less than kind and considerate.
We recall the compassion and tenderness that we offer a close friend who has shared the same dilemma for the tenth time and offer this same empathetic ear to our partner when a problem is presented the first time.
We make sure that all the planning and preparation that goes into an outing with friends is also utilized when it is time for one-on-one interaction with our beloved.