tw: slight nsfw language and talk of objectification and sexualisation
I tend to talk about friend groups a lot on the blogs. I’ve always been someone that has traveled in a pack. In high school, I had a group of three girls I hung out with a lot and I felt like I understood them on a near-cosmic level, like soulmates for friends. That was until we inevitably fell out and started on our different paths.
In my freshman year of college, I had crabmeats, an acronym of all of our friends’ names put together. I was so surprised I was so easily able to form a friend group, having been scarred from my previous friend group encounter. I felt like I had finally gotten it right.
Until two of our friends dated and then consequently broke up and we all moved to different dorms and eventually stopped talking.
Then, my junior year I thought I had really gotten it right. The group was now smaller to about 6 of us and it felt solid. This is it, I thought. These are the lifelong friendships they talk about in the movies.
Until the person I considered my best friend stopped talking to me because his girlfriend didn’t like the fact that we were talking and I spent the entire semester wondering if I did something wrong.
Entering my senior year, I thought to myself now this is it. My best friend is talking to me again. Our group has grown a little bigger, but that’s okay.
But I still found myself dissatisfied. I looked around and felt that I wasn’t happy with the people I’ve surrounded myself with.01 A little brave to post this on a public platform where any of them can read this, huh?
Perhaps that’s an exaggeration. I love my friends to death and I’ve always characterized myself as someone not only fiercely loyal, but someone who prides myself in having the best friends in the world.
This semester, I felt a cold and sobering moment as I sat in my friend’s dorm room in the late drips of the night, chatting away. I remember sitting there and looking at my friend and his friend next to him and thinking of how much I didn’t recognize the person across from me. How he’s changed so drastically from the person I met in my freshman year to the person that sits with me now.
Which one is the real version? I think. The one that I knew? Or the one that is here now?
My friend Emma describes this as the end of the honeymoon phase, a phase often attributed to the early part of a couple’s relationship where everything is incredibly positive. Emma says the same thing applies to friendships, too.
As my senior fall concludes and my last semester waits around the corner, I’ve been thinking about relationships a lot. I find it interesting and exciting that these people are the ones I might tell my kids about, the “college friends” that will inevitably pop up in all of my stories of my college shenanigans. And as a result, I’ve been thinking about the people I want to surround myself with.
Recently at a late night conversation, we were discussing all the things we didn’t like about our friends.02 In a healthy, accountable way. This is a good thing to do. As we did this, I realized that often the critiques I had of my female friends were so vastly trivial compared to the ones of my male friends.
“He tends to ignore people if they have nothing interesting to say, particularly women” versus “She was somewhat difficult to deal with while going through her breakup.” “He surrounds himself with questionable people that make me feel uncomfortable and unsafe at parties” versus “She sometimes is very sensitive and we have to be extra mindful of our words.” “He has a habit of getting physically violent when he’s upset or angry” versus “She sometimes is really needy.”
And I stared at the ceiling in somber realization. The bar is in hell and I am complacent.
My freshman year I remember being so in awe of how I managed to find such good guys. “They don’t make problematic jokes!” I excitedly exclaimed to no one in particular. “They don’t make gay jokes or racist jokes or sexist jokes. They’re generally respectful of me03 Now this part can't even be said for all of them. and I’m just so happy to find genuinely such good guys.”
There’s a common trend on TikTok of girls asking their guy best friends what they really think of women and then usually posting screenshots of themselves crying after they read the answer. I feel similarly.
I think it needs to be said that my friends aren’t outrightly or outrageously horrible people, but I think I’ve come to the somewhat (basic) conclusion that I truly am not an equal in their eyes.
I sometimes feel as though I am just an option for my male friends. That my worth is inherently tied to the fact that I am a “maybe” fuck for them. And when I express that I don’t have feelings for them or that this is not going to go anywhere, but I really would love to be friends, they disappear from my life just as quickly as they appeared. Or other times, I am only respected by my male best friends because I am not being pursued by them. Only when I have no sexual appeal to offer them do they finally treat me as one of them. That I am able to be seen as full and human.
I recently described my feelings about the whole ordeal as if I am “in a parasocial relationship”04 a one sided relationship where one person extends emotional energy, interest and time, and the other party is completely unaware with people I personally know. That I’ve built up this persona of who I believe them to be in my head and now I find it difficult to resolve the image in my head with the person before me.
I don’t quite know what to do. Or what to make of it. Often times, the Internet is quick to tell you to cut them. To drop them and move on. And while I’m usually a proponent of this advice, I find it hard to do so when I have so much emotional investment in the relationship. I do not believe my friends to be bad people. I believe their actions can be rectified. But to what extent do they want to change? What extent are they receptive to my feedback? To what extent is it even any of my business if we are no longer best friends? If this is the life that they’ve just chosen to lead?
On a deeper level, I feel a much more palpable fear now that this is my fate. That the men in my life are now destined to be this. To be, for lack of more apt words, disappointing.
That the best I can hope for is that they don’t say slurs or make insensitive jokes, but they’ll always still lean into that feral man side of them that will look at me like some object. Or tie my value to my attractiveness.
Is this all there is? I ask myself, but now in a completely different context. Will I ever be seen as whole? Will I ever be more to them? Will I ever meet another man who will make me feel whole?05 For what it's worth, Raymond does make me feel whole. I feel like a person around him. He holds me in incredibly high regard, and I appreciate it so much.
I feel a bitterness and a rage as I think of all of this. That when I think of the shortcomings of my female friends, they often are attributed to men. That the onslaught of emotional instability results from the treatment they received from a man. From the neglect they felt from a man. The dismissal of a man.
And it irks me that this is simple reality, what people would treat as nature simply running its course. Boys will be boys, they say.
Sometimes, when I’m being silly and fantasizing, I think about what life would be like in the future, if I were ever to have children.
And then a horrible sinking feeling sinks in my stomach as I think about everything I’ve had to endure as a woman. The way at age 8 I was criticized for the way my body looked, for not being as skinny or as pretty as the other girls. The way that at age 12 I was told I had dick-sucking lips by someone I had viewed as a near father figure. The way at age 15 someone took a photo of someone touching my ass and spread it around the school for everyone to look at. The way at even now, at age 20, I had someone tell me “You know, Cami, I totally would but out of respect for Raymond, I won’t.”
So how could I? How could I willingly and knowingly bring a person into this Earth knowing that they could fall to the same fate?
I don’t know. I really don’t know.
- A little brave to post this on a public platform where any of them can read this, huh? back to text ↑
- In a healthy, accountable way. This is a good thing to do. back to text ↑
- Now this part can't even be said for all of them. back to text ↑
- a one sided relationship where one person extends emotional energy, interest and time, and the other party is completely unaware back to text ↑
- For what it's worth, Raymond does make me feel whole. I feel like a person around him. He holds me in incredibly high regard, and I appreciate it so much. back to text ↑