THE FRIENDSHIP BARTER
À la the movie, Clueless, he was the Josh to my Cher and in my later years, the “straight” Will to my Grace. I couldn’t have made it through my quarter life crises without our daily emails and endless therapeutic talks at the neighborhood bar.
We became friends in a marketing class in undergrad right when he offered me the professors’ old exams he got from his frat’s test bank. I made an A on that exam and in return, he gained a friend for life, or so I thought. Thereafter, we became inseparable. At the crescendo of our friendship, I just knew we would forever be close. We would likely face the obstacles most male-female friendships were bound to encounter: non- understanding girlfriends or boyfriends and the occasional making out when one had too much to drink; and we would overcome it all without a dint on the friendship— and we did just that! I even fancied myself the best man at his wedding when it came to that chapter of his life and looked forward to my androgynous tux attire.
Yes… it started as a platonic relationship and it stayed that way for seven years. I never imagined a time would come where we would cease to exchange witty banter over a Mudslide (for him) and a Vodka straight up (for me).
We never had a true falling out. Never the unresolved poignant argument that would’ve been the tell tale sign of his eventual withdrawal from our friendship. We had sex, we both decided a relationship was not feasible as I was just now getting involved with someone I really liked and he had proven to be noncommittal in all his past relationships. He told me over dinner a little time after that, he, as always, was still not looking for something serious and was not sure we will be right for each other, reasons were listed… I agreed with him and knew that although he was the best friend a girl could ever ask for—a conscience, advisor, sounding board, and sometimes inspiration—he could never love me in the way I was accustomed to or needed. I prefer my men to have no reservations about their feelings for me.
Interestingly enough, my refusals to continue down our path of tongue and sheet twisting after that discussion—seriously, who would? — was enough for him to give me the proverbial finger. Seven-plus years of friendship disappeared like a thief in the night. I have now been relegated to a position of an ex, with most of my emails, phone calls, and text messages being answered two weeks to a month after the fact, if at all.
Sound the bells!!!! I am now a victim of what I’ve coined the Friendship Barter— the non-monetary transaction between males and females, where men barter their friendships to women in exchange for a future sexual encounter or relationship. So in this case, true to all unsuccessful barter transactions, when I failed to continue our newly minted sexual relationship, my man “bestie” ripped away our friendship, leaving me with a broken heart worse than what Meryl Streep’s character felt in the Bridges of Madison County.
Friendship seizures such as mine are not usually cases of men with a broken heart that need to withdraw from their respective “Grace’s” to milk their wounds. From talking to some of my male acquaintances, this is just a man’s way of bowing out. Since we already slept together there was no need for him to stick around; especially since I didn’t want to continue sleeping with him. The only way we would have remained friends was if he grew tired of me first.
There are no movies or known remedies about this kind of break-up; this is what I like to call the silent heartbreak. First off, you cannot explain your pain to yourself or your girlfriends as they’ll remind you that “he was not your boyfriend or the love of your life after all”… so you suffer alone. You also don’t have the rights a wounded girlfriend has to demand closure nor can you curse him out over drinks in a seedy pool bar—you never “dated”. When you and a girlfriend part ways, you usually see the warning signs. You have a huge fight; and then you might decide never to speak to each other. With men “besties”, you just have to slither away and milk your wounds in private. This kind of pain tends to linger longer than the kind of pain you get from a boyfriend/ girlfriend heartbreak. Because in a man “bestie” situation, one doesn’t have any emotional guards up like they would in a significant other type situation—this will be like Carrie loosing Miranda, Samantha, Charlotte, or Stanford without warning and then not being allowed to grieve that loss. Absolutely devastating!
So as someone who is almost out on the other side, this is what I learned from this experience:
- First, let me just repeat since I know we’ve all heard it before, attractive hetero men and women cannot be friends, it’s just an urban legend like the one about “Cinder–f’***ing—rella” living happily after. I should have known better than to think I could have a “straight” Will, not put out, and experience no negative repercussions.
- Second, if you have a man “bestie” that you would consider sleeping with, know that the only ending is either a successful relationship or heartbreak. A pure, lasting, always close friendship is not an option.
- Last thing… and this is the cincher… A man’s words are a woman’s foreplay (oh those Moses scrolls like email and text messages to each other, the witty banter over drinks, Dios mio!…); women, beware; opening your ears are more dangerous than your legs.
Freelance writer/ blogger @ www.avadrake.blogspot.com
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