Ten years ago, if you had a problem in the bedroom, you would come to me.
My friends flocked to me with their problems, concerns, woes and joys of intimacy. They asked if they were making the wrong moves. They asked how to make their partner happy. They asked everything possible to alleviate their concerns about sex.
And I was content to be there for them. Never in the bedroom with them, but as close to.
It wasn’t until one of my girlfriends pronounced me the “Intimacy Guru” that I understood my role in their life. I was the friend you talked to about this uncomfortable subject.
My friends rarely consulted the opinions of anyone else with their bedroom problems. For whatever reason, I was always the one. And, despite any wild or unconventional advice I gave them, they always listened.
But I never signed up for this role in their lives. I didn’t position myself as someone of authority, or someone who wanted to counsel my friends.
I wanted to be a good friend. And somehow that meant I was the perfect person to be the guru in my friend’s lives.
This Is How My Guru Status Started
I never thought my friends were conservative. The girls in my friendship group came from a conservative background. Private school, appeasing mummy and daddy style of conservative.
Sex wasn’t discussed. Sure, someone mentioned it once or twice. But this was usually followed by unapproving stares or embarrassed giggles.
I used to find the reactions strange. I grew up with them and yet didn’t share their bashful attitude. I didn’t think there was much to feel embarrassed about, considering how normal sex was in everyday life. We were stuck in junior school mentality, and every conversation was Sunday lunch with the grandparents.
You could say I broke the rules with my girlfriends. I started talking about my bedroom life, revealing small yet poignant details. I needed people to talk through my own issues. Who else would I speak to? Wasn’t this what my girlfriends were for?
As I talked more about sex, my friends warmed to it. Their embarrassment subsided, and the conversation opened. I didn’t know this is what I was doing by talking about my sex life. I didn’t set out to create an open dialogue, but it happened anyway.
The power of my conversation meant I was becoming known as the “Intimacy Guru” because I wasn’t afraid to talk about it. Was I knowledgeable about the topic? Sure. An expert? I’d say not. But being willing to talk about changed everyone’s perception of me.
Cementing My Guru Role
I discovered my friends wanted someone like me to break down the rules about this taboo topic. Not me over someone else. Anyone.
Yet no one stood alone and broached the conversation before me.
I didn’t know I was helping my friends explore their relationships until one of them thanked me. “You make it ok to talk about,” said Julie, after she sought advice about sleeping with her boyfriend for the first time. “I felt like I had a trustworthy friend I could talk to.”
I became fixated on the word ‘trust’. Because with female friends, trust was fickle.
The female judgment has always eaten away at me. As I made friends, I learned how scathing the female world was. Every little thing you said and did was under scrutiny, and it was possible to commit sins with one misstep.
So when one of my girlfriends started talking about their sex lives, I listened intently. And I responded with as much consideration I could muster. If I could help by offering a differing point of view, I would. Above all, I listened and asked questions.
I didn’t think it was too much to do for my friends. But from their reactions, it was an undervalued behaviour.
The ‘Advice’ Consultations
I started taking consultations with my friends. Not actual consultations. But they would make coffee dates with me or drag me into the bathrooms at a bar only to talk about their sex life.
“What do I do when he…” would be the prevailing theme. Navigating the unknown. My friends wanted to know that they weren’t alone in their sexual pursuits. They wanted to think their bedroom antics were normal.
Most of the time I reassured them. Because as most of us know, there isn’t anything normal with sex. Everyone’s version of normal differs, and changes over time, so it’s impossible to label normal.
As long as they weren’t getting hurt, and they were comfortable with the person they were with, I tried to support them as much as possible.
I was always wary of giving advice. I had my two cents, but I never wanted to tell anyone what to do. For my sake, if someone took my advice and it didn’t go well, I didn’t want to be the one who did that to their life.
But for my friend’s sake, I never wanted to lead them astray. My experiences were my own, and it didn’t mean they would experience the same. If I could make sex a more comfortable topic, a more approachable part of relationships, then I was happy.
So Who Are You In Your Friendships?
As much as my account is about intimacy, it’s also about your place in your relationships. How people see you, and how people value you. And where you fit into their world.
I remember telling someone about this role of mine some years later, long after my friends had their sex lives figured out. This person questioned me, wondering why I had a ‘job’ with my friends.
Though we don’t sign up for a role in our friendships, it’s the reality of what happens. Every person is perceived and valued in a certain way by the people in our lives. We end up with these roles imposed on us, and we live out our lives fulfilling these roles.
For a long time, I was the person in my friendship group that my girlfriends could confide in. I wouldn’t pass judgement on them, I wouldn’t laugh at their sexual misfortunes. I cared about their bedroom life and wanted them to feel comfortable between the sheets. This was my role in their life.
Are You Happy With Your Role?
I happened to love my role, for the time it existed. But I know that not everyone would feel the same.
Some people end up being the punching bag of their friendship group. Or the bank of their group, the person everyone borrows from. Friendship dynamics can shift without much notice, and we can end up being up living as a person we don’t love.
No matter the role you find yourself in, you need to live happily in it.
It’s Ok To Change Your Role
If you don’t, if you resent your role, you need to change. You need to start saying no, start saying what you want, and start demanding the way you want others to treat you.
Sometimes it’s impossible to shake the rules imposed on us. And if you find yourself becoming the friend you don’t like, it’s ok to walk away from those friendships. We can’t be the same person forever.
Am I Still A Guru?
Well, that leaves a lot to be determined. I’m not friends with those girls anymore, so for them, I’m not. But I like to think I offer value when it comes to this topic. And that of relationships too.
As I’ve aged, I consider the conversations I started and the bonds I formed by being true to myself. So whilst I’m no longer the intimacy guru, I don’t shy away from talking about my sex life.
And I wonder, how many retired gurus are out there, just like me?
I look forward to finding out.
I’m Ellen McRae, writer by trade and passionate storyteller by nature. I write about figuring about love and relationships by analysing my experiences. Some of the stories are altered to protect the people in my life. But my feelings are never compromised.
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