Writer chooses to remain anonymous.
Every year this week since I graduated from high school, I make a promise to myself to date or have a meaningful relationship with someone. And every year, I don’t. Somewhat.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t dated. I have had some “satisfying” relationships, but not many last till Valentine’s Day. It’s some coincidence I have never understood. In high school, it was an unwritten rule that you had to put some effort into Valentine’s Day by doing something for a girl in a school across the valley. I wrote x-rated letters because the school system allowed us to remain anonymous. It was fun.
And so this week came as surprise to absolutely no one that I am not in any relationship on another Valentine’s Day. I am writing this with full respect to all my age-mates who are in good relationships. If you are one of them; you have something good, keep it strong. For me though, this time, I am grown-up and don’t feel like I am missing anything to be honest. I have learnt something that has shaped my view of women; friendship. I call it absolute friendship. In my opinion, it’s a perfectly acceptable way to live till you find a girl you truly like and can talk with on a level that you both find satisfying. (I generally have a low tolerance for meaningless conversation.) I will tell you what this absolute friendship means to me.
People have desires, men and women. The friendship I have learnt to practice, though, is one where I stopped trying to be friends with people I want to sleep with. This means that when I start being friends with a girl, I have absolutely no desire to sleep with them, which means I cannot date them; I am their friend. For the girls I want to be more than friends with, I make it known to them, in ways I know.
I learnt that true friendship with women is not one where I mislead. I am not the guy who tells a woman that “just friends” is just fine, when in reality I am simply waiting less-than-patiently for her to open up the gates of pants paradise. If I did that, it would be cowardly, manipulative and passive aggressive. Instead, I have learnt to talk about life, school, work, career, and even sports with the girls I am friends with. Interests.
Here is why I chose this absolute friendship over dating.
First, after all those failed relationships, I have come to accept that deep inside, I do not believe in dating, at least the version that I have grown up with. To me, two people who were strangers before getting together to fool each other, hiding their imperfections and exaggerating their good points until one person gets comfortable enough to slip up and reveal their true colours is not my idea of finding my soul mate or life companion. It’s probably the main reason why most of my relationships which started this way didn’t work out.
I also realized that I want to be the perfect boyfriend. I want to be stable and reliable. I want to be a good provider, a pillar of strength, who gives things out instead of taking them. I’m none of these things at the moment, even though I know I will someday. It will bother me if I had another girlfriend and didn’t offer her that. In friendship. I am not expected to give that, but when I do, it feels nice. Also, the difference, for me, between dating a girl and being her friend is the attention. Want someone to focus just on you and cater to you like you’re the centre of the universe? That’s not me.
I’m a very boring person. I have very limited interests, namely: television shows, career, money and football. (I am for real.) I don’t like bars, dance clubs, crowded places, tourist attractions… I don’t mind trying new stuff from time to time, but I always end up going back to the big four. I figured having a girlfriend would mean I would be required to “learn her ways”. That is not the case with friendship.
My first girlfriend told me she valued her independence and I told her that’s something we shared. I still chuckle at that because to me, independence and relationships are somewhat antithetical. Inevitably, dating takes away some of our independence and knowing when enough has been taken away is something I never have to worry about in friendship. Being in a relationship means I have to learn how to strike a balance between co-dependence and personal independence and I don’t think I have figured that out yet.
In summary, I have found that absolute friendship with girls gives me the freedom to explore self-actualization and discover what is important to me in my own way. This to me is better than having to rush into finding a girlfriend to “show” that I am doing something right. Society expects different though, like it will on this Valentine’s Day. I also accept that all of my above reasons show that I have some growing up to do, and some experiences to live through, and quite frankly, I can’t wait! I am especially looking forward to that time one of the girls I am friends with will tell me she loves me. Handling that will be fun, wouldn’t it?