Can’t We Just Be Friends?

Sunset Somewhere at 47,000 ft

I had to admit it…. This time we just couldn’t be friends.

I made a serious commitment to myself more than 10 years ago regarding romantic connections. From that moment forward, I would conduct the relationship from start to finish in such a way that we could be friends if it ended. Making this commitment led to profound changes in the way I approached and handled relationships. For example, from the beginning of any new relationship, I would let the other person know that this was one of my core relationship principles. I asked for their cooperation, and if they came back with a bunch of reasons why this wasn’t possible, I took a hard look at whether or not I wanted to continue my investment in the relationship. Often, I elected not to continue.

Another result of that commitment was that I came to view intimate relationships as simply friendships with something extra. That something extra might, at certain point, become a detriment rather than an enhancement to the relationship, at which point we could thank one another for the time spent in physical rapture, and revert to our core: Friendship. I became more respectful, kinder, more open to possibilities and less grasping for threads of connection. I felt far more fluidity in the workings and non-workings of day-to-day relations with others. No more catastrophizing if things were not in sync — at the very least we had our friendship to fall back on. I let go of a deep-seated fear of losing everything and started approaching others as though there was nothing to lose. I became much more accepting of change, of differences, of the ebb and flow of connection. I no longer felt that the end of a sexual relationship would mean the end of connection, and this alone opened up many new possibilities about relationship structure to me.

All of this growth was so positive it hit me hard when I realized I couldn’t keep my commitment. This time I knew, friendship was not a possibility. Even though I knew it was true, it was difficult to admit this failure to myself. I had always believed that if the other person did not want to maintain a friendship that I would take the high road. I would let them go gracefully and hold true to my commitment by leaving the door open for that person to walk back through, if and when they were ready. This time, I knew I would not do that. I had been lied to, repeatedly. I had been suckered into a relationship with another who held the end goal of breaking me down, of destroying my promise to myself. One who was all sweetness, appreciation and compliments until I agreed to sex, then poof, they were gone. I’d been hoodwinked! I was never more than an ego-boosting conquest. In place of sweetness there was silence, in place of appreciation, disdain, in place of compliments, criticism. And in place of friendship, a black hole where all of my efforts to be kind, understanding and accepting disappeared without a trace.

Photo Credit: CS Bravo 2015

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