Last year was tough, and ended in a dramatic change to my life once again: I moved to Sydney.
That's right! This somewhat small-town girl from the ever-forgotten about West packed her bags, Kindle and as much tea as she could fit, and crossed the desert for the bright lights of the big city.
I found a nice little place in the trendy part of town, built all my own IKEA furniture and decked my bedroom with art from local artists. Pictures of my family and friends on my headboard, and the ones I loved and lost forever immortalised in print on the throw rug at the end of my bed. An adult bedroom; unlike I'd ever had before.
Since moving to the big city life has been 50 shades of different. Whilst my old friends have still been there behind the scenes, I've made new friends, tried new things, and low and behold actually dated. A little.
Before you start to thinking that this is some Sex and the City blog, I'm not going to wax poetic about my sexual adventures. You don't need to know those details. Rather over the past few years and particularly this last one, certain truths have been driven home to me. The vast expansion of the dating pool in Sydney has only increased the belief.
Theses truths are as follows:
1. Straight men and straight women cannot be friends.
This debate was made famous in the classic romantic-comedy When Harry Met Sally decades ago by Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. If you never saw it, it's the movie when Meg Ryan faked an organism in a diner to prove a point and a woman nearby asked to 'have what she's having'. I would have asked too, Random Diner Lady.
But this argument itself is somewhat counter-productive for the main characters who spend so long debating if they can be friends, only to not at any point actually ever be real friends.
Before you disagree of the bat, think about what they were really arguing; can men and women truly be friends without a sexual element on at least one side? Younger and more naive I used to think (and hope) that the answer was yes. I distinctly remember at least one heated argument with a female friend on the subject years ago. But as I get older and my experience with the opposite sex grows and changes I realise that I was wrong, and the answer to the question is a respectful 'No'.
I used to have a lot of male friends. I liked it, I thought male point of views were often so interestingly different that I liked to have them around. Males DO make for great companionship, that part is undeniable. But what I failed to realise or acknowledge in my younger years was the underlying sexual nature behind a lot of these relationships.
I do not at all mean this in a negative context mind, only that chemistry is a formation behind most relationships. Zero chemistry often means that things are going to be more strained or forced. Then when the want for, or even the actual act of, sex shakes that up sometimes beyond repair. What tends to trick people the most is that this level of attraction only has to go one way.
Now I've never slept with a friend, but I cannot think of a single male friend that I have ever had in which this hasn't been the case. If you can you're either an exception to the rule, naive, or you're not actually that close to this person. Work relationships are touch and go on this - you're not usually friends at the beginning, rather thrown together by occupation which can actually lead into Stockholm Syndrome and therefore a whole other issue. This doesn't mean you can't be friends with people you work with or even just friendly, just be aware of it. There are too many clichés out there based on relationships that start from working together, however innocently, and not all of them positive.
Now I am sure that at least one male friend of mine will read this and think 'but I never fancied you, Sam'. Fair enough, not every one of you will have, but my argument is 'it only has to go one way'. So if you're reading this thinking you never wanted to, even for a moment, sleep with me then that's ok - I'm not offended. But I, even for a single moment, will have at one time thought it of you. Surprise.
I reiterate here that the inability for straight men and straight woman cannot be friends (I emphasise on straight as men and women can be friends with the LGBT as well without any issues - women in particular stereotypically love gay men) is not necessarily a negative thing. The fact is you can't be real friends without an underlying sexual chemistry, it doesn't mean you can't try or spend time with them regardless.
The rule, generally, will also not apply to children (unless they're just very developed), people you are aquatinted with by association (a friend's partner you've met a few times), or your friend's parents you may be friendly with. It also emphatically crosses out familial relationships because this is not the incest hour and I refuse to go there.
Homo sapiens are not, by our very nature, slaves to our instincts. We have literally evolved beyond that over millions of years to become the thoughtful beings we now think therefore we are. Rapists, murderers, psychopaths and crazies may argue otherwise, but every single one of us is responsible for our own actions. No one but you (perhaps unless you're a Sim Character or on Days of Our Lives) can force you to act on a sexual chemistry you have with a friend. Just because it's there doesn't mean it will go anywhere. My argument is just that it is always there, not that it can't be ignored or that you can't resist the temptation it provides. We aren't always slaves to sensation.
Even if sometimes that chemistry causes more trouble than not (I say from experience).
2. There is no such thing as 'I am not interested/not looking for a relationship'.
Before you get angry, when I say 'not looking' I don't mean it in the literal. People 'look' for or actively do not 'look' for relationships all the time in just about every way, shape and form. What I do rather mean is when people say the words with the specific intent to put you off pursuing one with them.
Both men and women say this, so I'm not just attacking men here as is the stereotype, and chances are most people have probably said this to someone at least once in their dating life. And the reason is simple: they're just not looking for or interested in a relationship with you.
If you haven't read the book or seen the film He's Just Not That Into You then I suggest you do so because sometimes we get so hung up on the little things when the answer is so clear. Why aren't they calling or replying to your messages? Because they're just not as keen as you hoped. Sometimes they're possibly actively avoiding you, too. It happens to the best of us.
Just like men and women can't be friends, this does not have to always be such a negative thing; when the right person (whether you subscribe to the soul mates only or multiple loves ideologies) they won't be throwing the 'I'm not looking for a relationship' curveball at you to throw you off. And you won't be hitting it at them either. Unless of course it's that commitment-phobia that gets to some of us as well which is a little different.
No, people will tell prospective partners that they are not interested in or not looking for a relationship at the current time because deep down we are all still just too afraid to tell people what we really want. Whether it be that we only want sex or that we don't like them enough. What we should really be saying, is 'I'm not looking for a relationship WITH YOU'. Then we'll stop trying to change their mind by proving how amazing we are (as you know you are).
It doesn't have to always be because they're bad people, they just don't fancy you enough or feel as strongly as you do, or vice versa. Simple.
But we are most likely always likely to continue this way; women will always swap stories about the guy who never responded to their message, their girl friends will talk about what a jerk he was, and then across the way he may be rabbling with his mates about the girl who didn't get the message. Or the opposite way around because equality. All because we just don't clarify what we truly mean or how we truly feel in a situation. The human condition.
I will end now by just saying that these truths are my own based on observations and experience within my own life. I consider them universal truths, but that doesn't mean that anyone reading has to agree with me. I am not the prophet, truth speaker, or oracle. No gods or angels came down from the heavens to tell me the truth so you don't have to take my word for it if you so adamantly disagree.
So whilst I have changed a lot over the past couple of years and now feel a much more adult and realistic, less Disney-Enchanted view on the whole romance thing. It's not sad, just more of a wave goodbye to the naive and rose-coloured mentality of my youth in favour of a 21st century modern day woman's approach, in my own way.
Neither of these truths are disappointing or negative to my mind, but they certainly make things a little simpler and a little less hurtful.