F.T.B.

I sometimes wish ending a friendship in real life were as simple as it is on Facebook.

[Click: “Unfriend”]

[Are you sure you want to unfriend _______? YES or NO}

[Click: YES!!!]

[ _______ has been unfriended.]

Wouldn’t that be awesome? Two simple clicks and you’re rid of the person you no longer want to engage you in conversations you don’t want to have. They will no longer be able to send you invitations to events you don’t want to attend (at least not with them). You won’t have to run into them at your friends’ place. It’s just over!

That’d be great!

Normally when I’m ready for a friendship to be over, I simply “Fade to Black.”(FTB) With the FTB, there’s never any drama. There are never any harsh words that you two can’t come back from. There are no hurt feelings (well, maybe there are, but you’re not around to see them). It’s just over and everyone moves on. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Every now and again, the FTB doesn’t work. The person you’re trying to shake, just won’t go away. They seem not to pick up on the non-verbal cues that you are no longer interested in their company. The fact that you no longer respond to their phone calls, texts and emails seems to be lost on them. The fact that you’ve declined all of their invitations to hangout seems meaningless to them. The fact that you (still) won’t accept their Facebook Friend Request somehow goes right over their heads. And the worst part is when they ask “Did I do something?” You want to respond, “Yes, as a matter of fact you did. You ignored my Fade to Black!!”

I’m not sure who said it, but people often credit Oprah with the quote “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” I believe them. And once I’m a believer, if I don’t like what I’ve seen, I remove myself from the situation. Sometimes I FTB because I catch someone in a lie. Not the kind where it’s possible they were mistaken or misspoke. I’m talking the kind of bold, unsolicited lie that makes your skin crawl. Sometimes I FTB because I think the person is a gossip “A dog that will bring a bone will carry a bone.” (My momma) Again, I’m not talking about an innocent sharing of information, but rather sharing with me intimate details of someone else’s life that would devastate the person if they knew I knew. Sometimes I FTB because the person is too clingy. If you know me, you know that I move like a lone wolf. I know lots of people and I have a good deal of people that I call friends. Yet and still, I am very comfortable all by my lonesome. As such, I’m a little unnerved by people who expect me to become their Siamese twin. Not interested!

So, after the FTB fails and I’m forced to address the situation head on, someone ends up with hurt feelings. And I’m always blamed for the hurt feelings. Sure, by the time I realize my FTB has failed, what little patience and tact I possess has been exhausted. This leads to a harsher than necessary explanation of why I no longer wish to be in the company of the offending party. This leads to the offending party being offended. They usually share their hurt with others and, hence, Chrissy is the bad guy. However, had they just left me alone when I attempted to disappear, all of this could have been avoided.

The moral of the story, kids, is that “When someone shows you who they are, believe them!” When I show you that I’m no longer interested in your friendship, believe me!

Can Men and Women Really be “Just Friends?”

Can men and women really be “just friends?” In my younger years I would always answer this question with an emphatic, “YES!” Now that I’m a little older, and presumably a little wiser, I’m less likely to answer the same way. In my younger, more optimistic (and possibly more naïve) days I would say “yes” because experience hadn’t yet shown me anything different. In the years since then I’ve learned that it is highly unlikely that men and women can be just friends.

Starting in college I developed a close circle of friends that has, at some times, consisted of more men than women. I’ve considered many of these men to be amongst my closest friends. However, at some point 80% of them have expressed interest in me either directly to me or to someone they knew would share their feelings with me. The first couple of times it happened I blew it off. When it began to happen with more frequency, and with individuals with whom I’d had longer friendships, I decided that it was highly probable that men and women simply can’t maintain plutonic relationships for long periods of time.

I once got into a debate with a friend on this topic. He and I started as friends but he later expressed interest in me. He was a firm believer that men and women could not be friends. Period. Back then I still thought it was absolutely possible. He bet me that if I were to poll three of my current, long-term male friends who had never expressed interest in me that I would find that they too at some point had been interested in exploring a romantic relationship with me. I took the challenge and polled three friends. The results were mixed. While none of them had previously expressed any interest in me, two admitted to having “considered” me at some point in our relationship.

After reflecting on my own personal experiences I’ve decided that it is absolutely impossible for men to be friends with women without wanting more at some point. Maybe this is true for some women as well but not for me, or any of the women I’ve polled. Men have told me, that it is a waste of their time to invest time in a relationship with a woman they don’t intend to have sex with (at some point). For these men, cultivating a relationship with someone of the opposite sex is singular in purpose: mating. That’s it.

So, ladies and gentlemen, what’s been your experience? Can men and women really be just friends?????

(Clarification: We’re talking about heterosexual men and women. However, that raises the question: Can two gay men be friends? Can two gay women be friends? Based on the experiences of some of my gay, male friends, the answer is “no!” What say you?)