In the brief periods where I have swiped away on Tinder, I’ve come across familiar faces. I’ve been living in a small town for a few years now, so bumping in to people you know is inevitable.
One guy was not someone I knew but an ex-lover of my friend who no longer lives here. She had always spoken highly of him, saying he was a nice guy, considerate, interesting to talk to etc. We started messaging.
I felt weird about it. I asked another friend if I should message my original friend and ask her if it was ok. We wrote the message together.
Her response was: “Yeah it is a little weird but I have no plans on coming back to Bilbao any time soon so”. Eventually I told the guy that she had said it was weird and that she was a good friend of mine, I missed her a lot, and that.. well… even though we had planned to go for a drink, I wasn’t in to having a date with him, and if he wanted to meet up as friends for a coffee that was great but if he didn’t that was fine too. His response was: “That made me laugh. I thought we were already meeting up as friends”.
Sigh. Friend. A hard word to define. I love my friends deeply and I often think about what makes a good friend. My friends I usually meet dancing, or in work, not via Tinder or some other dating application. The more life experience I get, the more I realise that I have a different concept or definition of friend than other people.
My ex and I broke up partly because he put his (male) friends and their sexual/racial harassment of women first, before me. I had once said, when the relationship was going well, that I considered him to be my best friend, to which he scoffed, and said he hated the concept. When things were going badly, during an argument he told me that I was less than his friends to him, that they would be at his funeral and I wouldn’t, that our relationship was just temporary. It was said in the heat of the moment and I never really got over it.
When I was a teenager, I had a lot of what I considered to be male friends. One by one they tried it on, I said no (I don’t fancy my friends. Something happens in my head where people are put in to a box marked friends, and like family, they are out of bounds. This also happens if I know a man has a girlfriend. I just don’t fancy him), and suddenly, they didn’t want to hang out anymore. Or I said yes, we became an item for a while, it ran it’s course, and then we didn’t have much contact.
I’ve come to feel that a lot of misunderstandings between men and women come from what I term as the “heterosexual game”. Men are expected to bear the responsibility of being forward, getting rejected etc, pushing and pushing because she says no when she means yes, she wants to be chased, and women are supposed to wait for men to approach them, and give subtle, yet confusing, mysterious signs.
At the bar, a man buys you a drink. You accept. Maybe you are scared of the consequences of rejecting him. You chat. If a man buys me a drink, I buy him one back. I hate that sense of “owing” someone. If I want something more with someone, I say that directly. If I don’t, I don’t. I’m learning to be more and more direct about what I want and what I don’t.
Recently I’ve been trying to rent a room in my apartment. Long story short, someone who I’d briefly met at a party came to see the house. I found him very physically attractive. I told him (via text) that we had decided on someone else for the apartment, one of the reasons being I didn’t want to live with someone I was attracted to. He ignored the advance, which is fair enough, and life continued. My friends here laughed at me: they found it really weird. But in my head, in my logic, it’s weirder to pretend you want to be friends with someone, then make a sexual advance, and then you’re suddenly no longer friends.
Maybe I take friendship too seriously. Maybe I confuse family, and friendship. I don’t know. But I prefer to be honest and transparent. If I fancy someone, and I get the opportunity to say so, I do. I like to make the first move sometimes.
I hate losing friends. I hate it when they move away, or get so wrapped up in a relationship that they don’t have time for you anymore. I hate it when they put up with things in their relationships because they need stability, economic, emotional. A strategy I’ve used for quite a while has been to keep my friends and my love life completely separate, meaning that if I consider someone a friend, I don’t want to lose that friendship in having a sexual relationship with them.
I suppose the reality I avoid facing is that all relationships are transient, that people come in to your life, walk with you some of the way, and then your paths diverge again. That sometimes you are closer to one person, sometimes there’s more distance.
I’ve come to suspect that I am an example of a woman with a strong personality in my own culture, but here I’m like some sort of Queen Kong, putting my foot in it wherever I try to tread, always out of step, always driving on the left; too open about my sexuality, too dry, too loud, too outspoken. I watch Broad City, or Amy Schumer, and I recognise myself in these strong, Quixotic, bad ass bitches, and I like it. Not many other people seem to, and that is tiring to live with.
I suppose that the trick is, wherever you live, to find people who love you for who you are. I am a strong flavour, and maturing like a fine wine, but I’m reaching a point where I like myself a lot as I am, and if others don’t like it… they can just avoid me. Not everyone is going to like you in this world, and it’s better to decide what kind of person you would like to be and what are your values than trying to please anyone else.