The Complexities of Friendship
Sex means trouble. Sex means feelings get hurt. It means colours of emotion intensify from purple to blue to yellow to amber and red… brains, hormones, and the rest of the world gets involved, but can we ever learn to navigate sex without severing the heads of our friendships?
As there are many different types of streams in the world, there are many ways to love someone. In an almost childlike manner of simplifying things, it often gets boiled down, crudely reduced, to sexual or romantic love.
Often times, all of the potential in a friendship, which is infinite, gets overshadowed by the desire for sex like it's a precious gold medal, or some kind of cornerstone that you MUST reach before even thinking of walking further in any direction. We often find ourselves in situations where a conflict of interest becomes a giant clusterfuck and someone usually ends up crying in the shower. Why?
Sleeping - Fucking - Eating.
Our purpose in life includes experiencing the carnal pleasures of the physical world, to have fervent sex and orgasmic food, to feel the wind blowing against our skin and the softness of grass. To be enticed by the scent of a lover, to feel safe, secure, motherly or paternal.
Amidst all these tantalising, immersive experiences that are embedded in our DNA, it’s easy to get caught up in them and misrepresent them according to whatever story we're telling ourselves in our heads.
We know that in monkeys grooming activates the endorphin system. Was the same true in humans? In a series of studies, Robin Dunbar (most famously known for the number attached to his name, 150), and his colleagues demonstrated that very light touch on the subject's skin triggered a cascade of endorphins that, in turn, can unleash a whole rollercoaster of emotions.
Understanding this helps us piece together why people might react a certain way. Having an eccentricity and affectionate way of being, is sometimes mistranslated in the minds of others. A touch on the shoulder, a look in the eye that doesn't fleet but lingers, curiously wanting to know more. A warmness that melts the room, a friendliness that is mistaken for lust.
These things I love and admire in myself and in others, I choose to show love freely. But it comes at a cost.
Moral Values/Emotional Intelligence
Perhaps it's because we prize a sexual encounter with higher esteem than a compelling, engaging, fascinating conversation fuelled by intellectual savviness. A debate scintillating chemistry at a small gathering of friends, so much so that the rooms quietens, people direct their focus on the heat, edging to hear the shots from either side as if watching a tennis match. Can an encounter like that be more significant than sex?
There have been times where I've had the conversation of... "I don't think this is a good idea. I love and respect you so much as a friend, I don't want to lose that." The response has varied from extreme to extreme, from the most understanding, empathetic agreement between friends, to bitter rejection and victim role-playing - turning us strangers over a sour strife.
It's most common with males, but it has happened to me with a woman too.
Telling someone you don't want to have sex with them can be taken as a right hand stab at their pride and ego, often at the cost of a friendship, sometimes at the cost of the whole group.
It might be that you were trying to act in the best interest of the group in the first place, or you simply didn't feel sparks fit for the bedroom, although fit everywhere else. Maybe you saw potential for a best friend. It doesn't really matter - the point is, it takes two to tango, it takes two to build a friendship, and it takes one to know thyself.
“A belligerent samurai, an old Japanese tale goes, once challenged a Zen master to explain the concept of heaven and hell. The monk replied with scorn, "You're nothing but a lout - I can't waste my time with the likes of you!" His very honour attacked, the samurai flew into a rage and, pulling his sword from its scabbard, yelled "I could kill you for your impertinence." "That," the monk calmly replied, "is hell." Startled at seeing the truth in what the master pointed out about the fury that had him in its grip, the samurai calmed down, sheathed his sword, and bowed, thanking the monk for the insight. "And that,"said the monk "is heaven."
- Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
Above all, the most important thing to hold up high is communication. We have evolved to envelop many kinds of emotions and connections, and in this day and age it has never been more crucial not to leave any gaps, anything left unsaid. Don't be afraid to trial and error, but just remember to learn the lessons too.
“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” ― Mark Twain