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Just Friends

I’ve been single for more years in this life than I’ve been attached. There are probably many reasons. The unfortunate side effect, however, is that I’ve not made many friends who are women; I’ve always found it difficult to be “just friends” with a woman, especially if they’re attractive to me. This, of course, is exacerbated by my perpetual bachelorhood. Yet, as ever, there’s a lesson in all of this.

In general, I am not the best kind of person to maintain a friendship with. Maybe I’m too self-involved, or maybe I just don’t care to put in the work. I prefer to just keep things simple, and if we cross paths once in a while, that’s usually enough. Seeya next year, maybe? I know that any good and meaningful relationship requires conscious effort from both sides, and it requires a deliberate choice to build, shape and perpetuate a connection with anyone. I’m certain that part of the failure of early coupling attempts were due to my strange belief that it should all just click and flow, as if by some pre-packaged design. Why women couldn’t just be what I’d imagined, presumed or wished they could be was frustrating — and quite immature and naive, to say the least. Even worse was when someone I’d been admiring from afar for a time would show up and — not surprisingly — couldn’t live up to my exalted, impossible expectations of them, nor the dream relationship we were to have together, should it ever come to pass. Is that what they’d call being a hopeless romantic?

I believe my early family life has a lot to do with it. Doesn’t it always come back to that? I feel redundant sometimes for repeating myself on this notion. So much shit comes up later in life that’s directly correlated to those early years, doesn’t it? Social gatherings were awkward, loud, and forced, to me. My parents became strangers, in a way, donning some kind of social mask. People always asking the same questions, superficial gossip, outright sexism, drinking and such never resonated with me. I needed something more engaging and intellectual, not simply to get loud, to watch people get drunk, to complain and gripe, or just to pass the time. Thankfully, sometimes other kids my age were around. That was another challenge in its own right.

I’m a consummate introvert, and have always lived quite thoroughly (often obsessively and tortuously) in my mind and imagination. It takes me a long time to trust someone — though with women, I’ve generally been too quick to accommodate and compromise (we are not worthy…). I doubt that’s trust. In fact, it’s probably just the opposite. To me, there are many aspects of life that are a lot more interesting than trying to engage in conversation — primarily because I’m simply not really any good at it. I don’t like to beat around the bush, nor to chat just for chatting. I do enjoy discourse, tackling philosophical topics, languages, arts, music, books, films and all that. I suppose the way in which I store information doesn’t always equate to useful or interesting recall when trying to talk to someone else about it. “Have you read <insert book title>?” Sure. It was good. I… enjoyed it. It changed my life…?

Over the years, I’ve felt myself loosening and relaxing my opinions and attitudes, especially regarding issues and beliefs, ideas and ideologies that I have absolutely no empirical evidence with which to defend them, nor direct experiences from which to draw legitimate conclusions. The evolving collection of articles on this blog have for years been my primary template of exploring and amplifying this self-unraveling process of self-analysis. While it is entirely an ongoing monologue, my hope is that once broadcast and given unto the ethers that someone else might benefit from it — now, or in the future; these aren’t new issues, after all.

I know I’ve done myself a great disservice by not working a little harder at making new connections and maintaining relationships with women, just as friends. The well-practiced “Hmm, girlfriend or wife material?” filter gets in the way, and that’s based entirely on scarcity and lack precepts; it’s only too easy to disqualify, cancel or throw away something interesting, enriching and life-expanding based on superficial, selfish ideals. I’ve always been extremely selective with friends, but I have been trying in these last few years to be a little more open and interested in creating or keeping connections. It’s a balancing act of sorts, which corresponds to how much cognitive and emotional capacity I have in any single day. Disrupting routine to add in unpredictable elements is stressful. Distracting. Yet, when I have made the effort, and stepped past the isolationist tendencies, the feedback is immediately rewarding.

Whether it is with a woman or not, we all need connection, diversity of perspective, and a chance for life to surprise us.

Solvitur ambulando