Today I thought of a metaphor that summed up my conception of friendship and loyalty so easily and coherently that I almost couldn’t believe it. I stared into the distance, incredulous and overwhelmed, marvelling at the eeriness of its simplicity and smiling- a little warmly, a little warily- at the resolute idealist that continues to live in me.
I have frequently felt like I am ‘romantically’ difficult because of how I interpret intimacy and choose to trust others. There exists an obvious dissonance between the idea of what I want and what people come to think I need- a hopeless miscommunication and an unavoidable misunderstanding. You see, all the daydreams I have of a happy, satisfying life involve the idea of good, solid friends in a much larger capacity than of any expectations of love. Every time I have befriended people, with all my heart and over significant periods of time, it has been with a purity of intent that has never wavered towards notions of finding “something more”. I have not been in love with anyone yet and quite honestly, if anybody ever ‘sweeps me off my feet’ someday, it will probably be a loyal friend who stuck around and not a ruggedly handsome dude I am infatuated with. It has been confusing sometimes because the standard I hold for friendship essentially translates into some freak polyamourous version of platonic dating, and I have wondered endlessly if I have it all wrong in my head.
And no, I don’t think of myself as asexual or aromantic or demisexual or any of that stuff. It’s also not that I don’t imagine myself ever being in love. It is just that where I stand now, I dream of fire-forged friendships and fierce loyalty and reckless brotherhoods much more than I fantasise about meeting someone I want to be with.
I know it is a little strange because I am twenty, not twelve. But hear me out.
The media fails to validate my convictions intermittently by making love the endgame in most happy endings, and considering how I literally never crush on anyone, it just makes me feel even weirder about the way I am. I mean, I actually feel betrayed when I find out a person I spend time with as a friend has feelings for me, so these movie scenarios might never mean anything in the narrative of my life. I barely have any precedent to base my worldview on in this department, and I feel like my intentions are not very relatable to many.
So you must see how crucial this metaphor is to me.
This whole ‘friendship is transcendent’ business I have preached so loudly about throughout my life has been very scattered and intuitive until now, but when I was out tonight, it occurred to me as I ranted about the ethics of genetic manipulation (prone to unexpected digressions, as always) that I just want, more than any other social achievement, for somebody to ‘pick’ me.
To illustrate, imagine a giant stadium full of a billion people, all complex and unique in their own ways. Now imagine yourself stumbling through this crowd, trying to navigate your way out, distraught and panicked, pathetically out of your element. Now, within the chaos, imagine that somebody stops you, smiles, and slowly lifts their hand to point at you. You frown in confusion and look around, telling them there are others more worthy of being pointed at and that you are not much of a person anyway and this is quite odd and sudden but they shake their head, slowly and certainly, and keep pointing. It flusters you and you lash out, but no matter what you do, their hand does not shake, not once, not even for a second. I choose you, they say, and that is all. You realize, with awe, that they truly mean the gravity of their words, that they have no plans of walking away, that they don’t deal in unclear subtexts. And eventually, you find the courage to point back at them, you learn to look into their eyes with the same stubborn commitment they ambushed you with. Now there is no fear and there are no levels of attachment – you did your pointing, this is just it, there is nothing more to it.
When I picture this scenario, I realize that when I make friends, I simply point. This is why it is all such an idealistic muddle for me. Friendship is bias and friendship is love. There is no fundamental difference. I wasn’t misinterpreting anything, I just wanted to be pointed at, regardless of the context being love or friendship or anything else. I am not as stunted as I thought, after all. I was offering myself completely.
Of course, in the real world, there are always the precursors of interactions and time and social norms, but I believe the idea sustains through the deconstruction. Whether it’s family, best friends, or romantic partners, all that we really need from each other is a genuineness of investment and an intensity of loyalty. The nature of affection is secondary- what counts more than the source or the dynamic that constructs it is the authenticity and the confidence that founds it. It is the sheer clarity with which your people place trust in you. It is the security of their beliefs that cements everything.
To care is to point. And to be pointed at is a privilege.
I can’t say to what extent I have felt this sort of connection in my life, but I like to think that there are some out there who understand what I mean without so many words being written and read. I believe in friendship like this. It has to exist.
It is too goddamn easy.