Tag Archives: secrets

“Just Friends”

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“Men and women can’t be friends because the sex part gets in the way.”

“That’s not true.  I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.”

“No you don’t.”

“Yes I do.”

“No you don’t.”

“Yes I do.” 

“You only think you do.”

“You say I’m having sex with these men without my knowledge?”

“No, what I’m saying is they all want to have sex with you.”

“They do not.”

“Do too.”

“They do not.”

“Do too.”

“How do you know?”

“Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive.  He always wants to have sex with her.”

“So you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?” 

“No, you pretty much want to nail ’em too.”  —When Harry Met Sally

The past few days this idea has been everywhere.  I turned on the Today Show this morning and heard all the reasons why men and women cannot really be friends.  It was an interesting discussion because it assumed that at least one of the two involved was in a relationship already.  The “experts” talked a lot about trust and crossing boundaries and sharing things with a “friend” that you would not share with your significant other.  Perhaps because of the audience demographic, the segment ignored the dynamic of two single friends of the opposite sex.  Then tonight, in a very different realm of television, Family Guy talked about Brian’s attraction to Lois, and his unrequited feelings led him into therapy.  And incontinence. 

It’s such a fascinating relationship and everyone has an opinion on the topic.  I think that most opinions depend heavily on whether or not a person has fallen hard for a friend or not.  However, the fact that a guy or girl hasn’t had feelings for a friend does not mean that they have not been the object of secret affections.  It’s really interesting to look at.  I’m sure that there is plenty of sociological or psychological studies that have examined these interactions and feelings.  It would be interesting to know just how many co-ed friendships cross the platonic line.  I would think a study on this would be near impossible, however, because how often do we risk the friendship and admit the feelings?

I wonder when all of this starts.  And when it all ends.  I know that for a few of my childhood years I felt more comfortable with and enjoyed the company of boys more than girls.  I remember the first friend that I realized I wanted more than friendship from was probably around seventh grade.  I’ve crossed that dangerous line time and again since that formative year.  It really is a point of no return for most friendships.  I have liked guys that I then pursue a friendship with, and had friends that I had feelings for, but I never feel quite the same once the feelings subside.  Does it kick in at different times for everyone?  I can’t imagine that there is anyone that hasn’t felt the pain of knowing that “friends” just isn’t quite enough. 

There is something unique to the male-female dynamic that is different from any other relationship.  Whether there is romance at stake or not, my friendships with guys are nothing like my friendships with girls.  I love the book Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller.  The book has so much to offer and opens up so many fascinating thoughts and ideas about why we are the way we are.  One of the things that Miller looks at in-depth is love, with attention to romantic love.  He writes beautifully about how man was not meant to be alone.  God saw that he needed someone around, he need help and companionship.  And then he waited.  He named animals and that wasn’t good enough.  Nothing would do but a woman, made of the same stuff as man, a piece of himself.  She was the same, but separate and different.  She was what man needed.  I’m sure that I should see this as proof for heterosexuality, or providence to keep humanity going.  And I guess it could be those things.  I think, however, that God knew that guys need girls.  There is just an innate need, a hole that is filled, by companionship with someone of the opposite sex.  We are not meant to be alone.  However, as a girl, I was also meant to complete and complement a guy.  Some might think that it’s insulting or demeaning that Eve was made from a piece of Adam, not on her own, to be his companion, to meet his need.  I think that is one of the most beautiful parts.  Yes, she was made for his solace and pleasure, but she was made because nothing else would do.  Women were created to be loved and to love.  Perhaps it’s maternal instincts or antiquated gender roles, but I think that is such an awesome honor.  God’s plan for me, for my gender, is love and friendship.

“Why do I fall in love with every woman I see who shows me the least bit of attention?”  —Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I assume a big part of the problem is that we all like attention.  We want to feel loved, feel validated, feel special.  When we find someone who makes us feel alive and adored, we don’t let them go.  Friends do this, build us up into our best selves.  This attention creeps into the parts of our minds that spend too much time making things complicated.  We like feeling special.  The way we feel about ourselves becomes connected with the way we feel about the friend.  Then it all gets messy and lovey. 

All of this culminates in the ultimate question: if men and women can never really just be friends, do you sacrifice the love for friendship, or risk the friendship for love?  I always opt for the former, but I also tend to ask my self the torturous “what if…” a lot.  There really is a choice to be made.  You can’t be “just friends” and “more than friends” at the same time.  Which do you choose?  How do you choose?  How much do you risk and how much can you stand to lose? 

“How long can I go on like this, wishing to kiss you/ Before I rightly explode?/And this double life I lead isn’t healthy for me, in fact it makes me nervous/ If I get caught I could be risking it all/ Well, baby there’s a lot that I miss in case I’m wrong/ And all I really want to do is love you/ A kind much closer than friends use/ But I still can’t say it after all we’ve been through…”  –Jason Mraz, “If It Kills Me”

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SecretPost

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When we live such fragile lives/ It’s the best way we survive Dirty Little Secret

While running errands today I heard the All American Rejects song that reminded me of the Post Secret (www.postsecret.blogspot.com) event we organized.  I’ve started checking the site each week since then to read the secrets that people are willing to share and the see how they share them, which is almost as important and interesting.  I know that I submitted a number of postcards when we put on the event, in part to share and in part so that it didn’t come off as a total failure.  I was surprised the night of the event to see how many more people shared their secrets.  Or, if they were like me, how a few people had so many secrets to share.   At a school in a city where so much is invested in appearances, it was both a beautiful and ugly moment when all these things we hid were shared.  Granted, the project is anonymous, so the secrets are still somewhat secret.  There was still something cathartic, something powerful in giving secrets a name, to condensing it into a four by six inch piece of paper. 

It was refreshing and energizing to see such openness and authenticity in a community that was only really linked by the art.  There’s no way to know whose cards those were and if they had any other interactions aside from the project.  It’s almost easier to think that people who don’t know me, who don’t see me every day, were seeing things that I never admit to anyone, whether trivial or deep.  It’s easier to tell someone who I don’t have to maintain contact with that I’m broken and dark and messy because the reality is that I don’t really matter to them.  There is less judgement, less pity, less chance that I’ll ever have to talk about the secret again.  There is also something healing about getting to be that confidant for someone else.  It’s nice to know that you are not alone, but you are also not discovered.

I think it’s interesting the secrets that we keep and those we finally let go.  The trivial habits and vices that we will never reveal and the monumental thoughts and fears that we do and don’t share.  I think that some things just eat away, are so corrosive to a person, that they just have to come out at some point.  Others, in the light of time and distance, become less dangerous so the time comes to allow them to be known.  Still others reveal enough of themselves in small ways, over time, that they simply cannot be denied or hidden any longer.  And still others will never leave our lips.

I want to talk to people more about what I’m feeling– about fears and pain and joy and hopes.  I want to talk honestly and fully.  It’s easy to say that I’m afraid of being alone or that I feel lonely, but it’s another thing all together to really talk about why and what I actually feel, specifics instead of generalities.  I want to be honest with people about how I feel.  I want to tell them what they mean to me, to be up front about feelings that I hide.  But it’s too raw and real and risky to get into all of that, so it stays silent.  There is too much that I do that I’m embarrassed of, that I want to be reassured in, that I hope I’m not alone in.  But the fear of actually being alone, being abnormal, of humiliation is too intense.  So, no matter how much I talk myself up, I decide to be honest, I face my secrets, I keep it all inside.  I hope one day this isn’t true.  I hope that I can be open, show my friends and strangers alike the things I hold inside, like I was in my postcards.  One day I want to choose to keep my secrets back, not let them keep me.  I don’t think we’ll ever not have secrets– sometimes it’s nice to keep something to yourself.  I just want to feel comfortable enough not to keep myself to myself.