A few months ago, while on the coattails of summer’s craziness, I lived through a strange experience of friendship that left me to the tendency of some friends to take, take, take… and take. Call them what you may, I like to think of these types of relationships as “convenience friendships.” This particular story involves a man – a player – that came between a sister and me.
It all began when a series of events led me to introduce two single friends, each from a separate corner of the lonely-hearts club. She, a dynamic sister with a bright future glazing in her horizon, sociable, a people-pleaser, ever-so insecure, met him, an attractive, slightly pretentious man, whose confidence, self-righteousness and charm could blow anyone’s pants off.
I went along with the venture, trying my best to facilitate what was an unlikely combination. She had returned from abroad at the beginning of the year and was detached from the life she left behind. But I, like others in our friendship group, was excited to hear about her stories, supposing that her brilliant mind was ticking over with exciting plans and was full of stories about new people and far-away lands.
On the other side of the equation, he and I had begun seeing each other quite often on the weekends, having a crazy time between us and with other frivolous friends. He spoke about his desire to calm down a little, to find someone with the prospect of longevity. So, when circumstances led them to meet, there was clear and open interest on both sides.
As the weeks went by I stood on the sidelines answering the questions of one about the other and tried my best to bridge some of the obvious differences between them. But it appeared that nothing was going to work between them. He had told me that he had been sleeping around, and even took another sister home on an evening in which she had called me to chase information about where he was. This came in his relationship disclaimer, that so as long as there was no future between them, and the attempts to make something work had reached an expiry date, he was free to do as he wished and with whomever he pleased.
She on the other hand was reappearing in my life quite sporadically to gain information about what he was doing, where he was and what I knew about him. It was strange because, aside from staying at my place when she first returned from abroad, I would only hear from her when she wanted something. It reached the point where I gathered that even she was aware of this, telling me one day “Let’s catch up soon, girl. I feel like I haven’t seen you at all.” I was not too concerned at this point; I was busy.
But, it was all to boil over after one wild evening when he and I shared a kiss at a club. Having been told that nothing was going on between them, I fell to his charms and was one of two women to be swooned that evening with his kiss. I realized that what I had done was foul when I turned to see him with that another sister. Indignant, I left the club. The next day I spoke with him to clear the air, only to discover that he and my friend, she, were seeing each other that evening for round two.
At this point my anger about having been used as a go-between-girl between two unmatched people had reached its climax. After months of being there for both of them, I was eventually pushed to redundancy, the friendships began to end and my interactions with both faded. I also can’t overlook the notion that I was slightly jealous. Two friends, who I had known for 2 years on separate grounds, had run off together and were leaving me behind.
So one evening, I directed a comment to him, amongst friends, that questioned the worth of his friendship. Given how proactive he was in broadcasting to the world a sense of moral superiority and excellence in friendship, he took my criticism poorly and defensively. I considered him a dirty rat, so I didn’t care about how he reacted.
But then, the following day, I received a phone call from her questioning me about the evening in which he and I had kissed. He had obviously told her to spite me and I imagined this was accompanied with the usual dialogue of “she must love me,” which he regularly uses to justify burnt bridges with women (those he burns with men are because they are jealous of his style and charm.) Cornered, I asked to meet with her the next day during my lunch break. She accepted but brought along a mutual friend so to avoid any conversation about what had happened. This was a clear indication she was not interested in hearing what I knew. I told her anyway.
A week later, having boiled over in self-reflection, I sent her an SMS with a stern warning her to watch her mouth with other people. She had fragrantly spread the word amongst mutual friends that I was the saboteur between them as they went about sewing the seeds of their rock-sold connection. I doubted, at this point, that she believed me when I told her about him sleeping around. This sickened me in my self-righteousness because I knew they were having unprotected sex, for which he would take no responsibility. A typical player – selfish and irresponsible.
The entire scenario left me feeling foolish and ashamed. Aside from considering him a friend of mine – an arrogant man with little no consideration of other people’s dignity – I had also fallen victim to subtle ways of a sister’s convenience friendship.
In all of this, I did things I was not at all proud of. I was very wrong to have kissed him without appreciating fully that she still may have had feelings for him by virtue of not knowing he was sleeping around and meeting new women. Her interaction with me was so sporadic, and always so focused on her needs with him, that I was never given the opportunity to know that she was still pursuing him at that point. But, as they began seeing each other again, with talk of them moving in together, a common enemy for them both has been the best method to cover up their obvious differences. Ultimately, my former sister got what she wanted – to fill a void in her life with a charming man. My services to her have dried up and so too has the friendship.
I scratch my head occasionally and wonder whether or not I should still care about her. But then I realize that it was a lesson learned for me and that so too will it be a lesson for her when she finally gets burned.
And that is how one friendship of convenience reached its inevitable end.