To start off my new Catching Up Feature, in which I write about times in my life that were slightly more eventful than the present, I thought I'd take on a doozy: Can men and women ever just be friends, as exhibited by my friendship with Big Relationship, my ex and current best friend after 4 years of dating, and the saga of one of the most frustrating and deceptive men I've ever known, Summer Romance.
I'm not sure if I agree with Harry on this one, that men and women cannot just be friends, but it's pretty damn hard. I have two very good examples to back this up. Case point #1 involves the situation of two people who dated at first, and then tried to become friends afterward. Or, aka, Big Relationship and myself. Now, I will tell people that Big Relationship and I are best friends, and we are, in the sense that we've known each other longer than most of our other friends have known us and for five years of our lives we were as close as any two people can ever be. If you've had that, how can you do anything but remain great friends?
So we have, or at least that's what I like to tell myself. But truth be told, our relationship lacks a lot of the makings of a strong male-female friendship, if such a thing even exists. There's an unspoken rule for no flirtation, which everyone knows is a cornerstone to opposite sex interactions. [Or maybe that's just how I manage mine...hmm...] To a degree, I mean. And we just aren't as tender or emotive as we once were, from this sort of invisible wall that I guess we've, well in my opinion he's, put up since the breakup. It's really just a strange dynamic; two people who know and understand each other better than most people ever will, who have an invisible barrier between them.
I bring this all up because I'm seeing Big Relationship this Friday when he comes to see the show I've directed, and also because this summer I saw Summer Romance for the first time in eight months. It wasn't be the first time we've seen each other since we broke up in Summer 2008, but it was the first time we've really gotten to talk about everything that happened between us since. The Summer Romance Saga is a long and complicated one, but I will try to do my best to recap it in a clear, unbiased and most importantly uncomplicated manner, if that's possible:
Summer Romance and I worked together Summer 2008, and always engaged in minor flirtation, but I had heard that he was involved with someone else we both worked with, who we'll call Other Woman, and knew that it would be unwise to get in the middle. Plus, when I met Summer Romance, what is now my infamous Declare My Feelings For L. and Get Shot Down Weekend was coming up, and my mind was totally preoccupied by that. So Summer Romance and I continued our flirtation. I asked him about Other Woman, and he told me they had been hooking up in the spring but that he was single.
So anyways, as we all know I confessed my love for L., he broke my heart, blah blah. (Which, in case you're wondering, I never let him live down.) So when I returned home I was feeling a bit down, clearly. So when Summer Romance asked for my number I thought, well, why not, maybe I'll have a...yup...summer romance, at the least. We had a great connection instantly, even though he was 24, which at first I thought would be a problem. He had also just recently gotten a job as a math teacher at Big Relationship's former high school, which I also thought could be quite awkward, but no, none of these apparent dealbreakers ended up being a problem. The only problem turned out to be Other Woman.
See, Summer Romance may have thought he was single, but Other Woman certainly did not think so. And I, naive hostess who was not privy to the convoluted world of work relationships, did not know any of this. So Summer Romance and I had a few dates and they were going great, and I was (kind of) starting to feel less brokenhearted about L., although truth be told he was never far from my mind. And then the problems started. And continued. I'd overhear Other Woman talking at work about Summer Romance in a very possessive, girlfriend-y sort of way, yet whenever I'd try to bring it up nonchalantly to Summer Romance he'd completely deny all my allegations and make me feel overly jealous, etc, for wondering. So we'd go back to having another great week or so, and then I'd overhear some more Other Woman convos. Or, even worse things. I'd wake up at Summer Romance's apartment after having spent the night, have breakfast, kiss him goodbye, and happily prance (okay, drive) home only to see that Other Woman's fb status would read "Going to lunch with [Summer Romance] and his parents!"
I'd then get frustrated and try to end things with Summer Romance, he would fight with me until I didn't, I'd somehow believe him that there wasn't anything going on between them. I'd even explain away the inexplicable things, like the fact that there was mascara smudge on his pillows in the morning even when I'd washed my face the night before. Truth be told, I'm infuriated that I let it go on as long as it did. I'm a little notorious for being picky about the guys I date and ending things not so far in.
So when the hazy days of summer began to draw to a close and my returning to college three hours away from home began to loom menacingly, I begrudginly had "the talk" with Summer Romance about "where this was going." (Ugh.) I put it out there as "we had a fun run, summer fling, keep in touch, go our own ways, etc" and so imagine my shock when he said he wanted to "do the real thing," and have a legit, monogamous (or so I presumed) long-distance relationship. I hesitantly agreed, only to un-agree a few days later after my Other Woman instincts got the best of me. This didn't work, as Summer Romance has a great way of making me doubt my instincts and trust him completely, which is something that NEVER happens with me, and so after a teary, tender and, what I thought to be honest, conversation we decided to really go for it.
Stay tuned for Part Two!
[Image from KnightleyEmma]