Friends Without Benefits

I have never claimed to be cool. A month or two ago, my parents were texting me while they were out for the evening, trying to get me to join them, and I dug my heels in and cross stitched and baked while they were out dancing at a local ballroom. I’m just lame. And when I’m not acting like your grandma, I’m generally just behind the curve. I get into things like 5 years after they’re popular. We’re just now watching Game of Thrones. Good music? Pretty sure I’ve never heard of that cool indie band you’re talking about. Another example is Podcasts. I only got into them about a year ago, but now they’re a staple of my day. Yesterday, as I was completing some busywork to round out my Friday, I listened to this week’s “Why oh Why” and it got me thinking.

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The host is a woman close in age to me who recently broke up with a boyfriend and is navigating the dating scene. Her frequent guest/foil is a guy she met at a bar who was good looking and charming at first blush, but has proven to be a misogynistic douche whom most listeners want to strangle. Myself included. He’s freaking terrible. But when she’s playing audio recordings of their conversation, it’s clear she actually somehow cares about this guy. Freaking Randy.

Everyone has “this guy” in their life. Whether it’s that guy you knew in High School, a friend you’ve lost touch with, or in some cases a family member. There’s people we feel a sense of obligation to. People we inexplicably love without always liking. Sometimes it’s situational-we shared a weirdly bonding experience years back that your hear won’t let you forget. Sometimes it’s a sense of duty-I love this person because nobody else does. But most of the time, there’s an x factor of friendship that keeps you hanging on long after your conscious brain would have you cut the cord.

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Except I kinda can’t stand you. 

I tried to research this strange phenomenon. I did. But it led me to a pile of Buzzfeed articles about being friends with your ex. And this is more than that. Your ex is someone you’ve definitely shared enough history with to care about for the rest of your life. A Randy is not. And yet, some strange alchemy brought you together and keeps you there. I can think of a few people I knew in my late teens/early 20’s. We have NOTHING in common right now. And yet…if you pick on them I will defend them to the end. It’s loyalty. It’s life. It’s a strange sense of obligation you can’t really put into words.I hesitate to call them friends-I’ve got a whole different blog about people who you may not see or talk to very often, but who were friends once and whose opinions you value quite highly even though There’s some your lives and situations and interactions have changed. But a Randy is someone you just feel like you should love, even when you don’t like them. So, as I sit in my basement on a Saturday night about to crawl into bed at an early hour with my BFFs from Criminal Minds, I salute the strange bonds that create and maintain friendships. I’ve been terrible about maintaining actual, meaningful friendships over the last few years and I strive to be better about that. But at the same time, some girls I’ve known and loved for 20 years drove several hours in December just to support me at my first ever art show. That’s pretty freaking amazing. So cheers to you, girls. And cheers to my anonymous Randy, whomever you are. I’ll never tell.

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One thought on “Friends Without Benefits

  1. For whatever reason, I have always been good about eliminating toxic people from my life – but one of my defining traits is loyalty, and it took me a while to learn to better differentiate those who fully deserved my loyalty and trust of confidence.

    But I have had friends who take on these ‘Randys’ as you call them, people who have done nothing to earn that trust in the first place – male and female … and I try to be a good friend, but sometimes it is something people need to learn on their own. And it is a hard lesson.

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