I just got off the phone with my ex-girlfriend. I called her to tell her that on 3 separate occasions during our relationship I had other girls express interest in me romantically.
Normally that wouldn’t be too big a deal, however, I remained friends with all 3 women after their confessions and never told my girlfriend at the time. They were good people and their friendships were important to me. And, I didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable all the time knowing what was happening around her.
I’ve always gotten along better with women than men. I feel more like myself around women. I have more to talk about and they understand me better.
That’s not the case with most men. At first it’s all good and we get along fine, but as time goes by, they start treating me differently. They make little comments under their breath about something that cuts me down in an almost undetectable way. I feel the digs and the condescension and I know that our relationship has turned a negative corner.
I’ve learned that not a lot of men want to be friends with a guy that teaches yoga, dances ballet and hip-hop, loves Pitch Perfect, and isn’t gay. It doesn’t matter that I also play sports and compete in martial arts. It’s all just a little too abnormal.
I’m a sensitive person. I go where the energy is good and flowing. Where there is tension, I’m out, I don’t have the stomach for it. It’s hard for me to force friendships with a lot of guys when I can more easily hang around a group of women. It’s comfortable and always has been that way. Even when I’m teaching kids, I always have more fun with the girls. The boys seems so strange and hyper to me, like little mutants.
This has been a problem in my romantic relationships. It makes me look “shady” and “attention starved.” But I don’t feel that way inside. I just want to be around people that are nice to me and give me the sense of fitting in.
I don’t, however, want to go around having sex with every girl that I meet. The effects of sleeping with someone are serious and they change the dynamic of a relationship forever. I’ve learned that even in platonic relationships, there’s usually a moment when 1 or both people have feelings for each other. That doesn’t mean that it’s love or fate and needs to be acted on or the world will end. It’s just our emotional nature reaching out to connect to something, and with a little discipline we can push right through these stages and experience a friendship that many people would have ruined or walked away from.
I’ve adopted a policy of being upfront with the women I meet. I want good friends. I don’t want any blurred lines. So there’s usually a conversation at the beginning of every new friendship and it goes something like this;
“Hi. You’re awesome and I love having you in my life.”
“Thanks, you too :).”
“I’m not looking for anything romantic. I don’t suspect it will go the long haul so I’d rather preserve the friendship we have now because it’s important to me.”
“Oh ok. That’s a strange thing to say but yeah, I guess I feel that way too.”
And after a week of awkward tension I get to have remarkable female friends that love and support me and vice versa.
I used to amputate all of my romantic relationships. The day I broke up with someone was the last day I ever talked to them (minus a 2 week grace period of really hot break up sex). That was it, and I never thought about them again. Even worse, I cut off all my platonic friendships with other women every time I entered into a new relationship.
Then I had an interesting conversation with a girl that said to me, “why would you just cut someone out of your life that knows you so well and was ultimately a really close friend?” And I thought to myself, goddamn that makes sense.
But it makes other people uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable. It’s hard to understand. It’s primal and territorial and in our culture it’s just not cool. But I think people are missing the boat here. Because I have maintained a couple friendships with ex’s and close girlfriends that have turned into family. It doesn’t happen overnight, in fact it’s completely unrealistic to think that people can go from lovers to friends without some serious time apart, but it’s possible. And I think if we can be honest with our partners about the importance of those relationships, and we can show them that they aren’t shady by standing firmly on the significance of those friendships, then our partners can learn to embrace them as well. Because people care about other people and want them to be happy.
I would love a few more guy friends. I think it could help with a lot of things. But at the end of the day, I’m happier around women. And if it was up to me, if I didn’t have to worry about anyone else’s feelings, I would be surrounded by women all day dancing in ballet shoes or sitting on the couch talking about life, because that’s what feels right to me.
I called my ex because I wished I would have told her about these confessions as they happened. We were supposed to be close and I have always billed myself as an honest person. It’s a hard conversation that I’m just now learning to have.
Kirk Hensler is the creator of ‘Organizing Inspiration – How to bring your brilliant ideas to the world,’ a course for entrepreneurs and creatives to identify their brand, create a work process, and implement an intuitive working schedule.