The latent violence of toxic friendships

Groups. Deceit. Lies. Defences. Biases. Cover-ups. Truth.

What do you think of when you think of a friend? All the good qualities in a person that you chose to be with, I suppose. But do you ever stop to wonder if these “good qualities” that so are prominently visible in your thoughts actually exist in the friend/ group of friends you think you’re close to? Do they reciprocate the sharing of naked truth that you so staunchly indulge in? Or do you think you could see through the façade if only you looked close enough?

Aristotle said Human beings are social animals. But then why do a lot of us feel deeply unsatisfied despite being included in multiple social groups? It’s almost like the more friends we try to keep close, the more webs we keep getting tangled into. While friendships are certainly desirable, certain problems are inevitably attached with these desires. You could strip down to your darkest thoughts of self-loathe and turn completely vulnerable before another person, but would that make them a friend? Would your actions define your relationship with someone else? As I grow older, I realize how caught up everyone around me is, fighting their own battles and eliminating anyone who doesn’t fall perfectly into their carefully charted plans.

Shouldn’t calling an individual your “best-friend” come with certain responsibilities? The way I look at it, calling X a best-friend would mean that you are volunteering to share their happiness and more importantly, their despair. It should mean that you would laugh heartily with them, but hold them closer when they cry. It would also sometimes require you to overstep your inhibitions and do things you wouldn’t normally do. But what happens when X does not reciprocate your actions, physically or emotionally? Theoretically that would constitute a one-sided, toxic and make-believe magical friendship. But practically we’re usually too consumed in giving/ receiving to really think about whether the constituted friendship remains truly mutual or not. Either way, this normally ends with one party feeling the wrath of emotional hurt. So here’s a story I’ve been meaning to publicly tell for a while now. If nothing more, I hope it makes a good read!

As I lay next to him, a drop of sweat finding its way to my right breast, I realized how we could never truly be friends. I had known him for a few months now. I’d held his hands a couple of times before we shared stolen kisses, away from the circle of friends he had closely woven together. It was exciting, I must admit, to be desired by him. But as the rays of sunlight lit up our hotel room, the darkness of lust that had perhaps blinded us, found its way out the huge windows. Promises of the night seemed illusionary. The tag of friends with benefits that he had wanted to bequeath upon us now lay around ignored. Words that followed the night contained painful silences that begged to be filled with truth.

As days went by, our conversations turned redundant, meetings were forced and the truth was never told. The group of friends turned hostile, as sides were taken. And our time together was no longer talked about. In an attempt to erase history, he started distancing himself from me. He no longer desired to be the best-friend, a word he had casually embraced earlier. I was no longer included in the group dinners. On confronting him, I was told how time plays an important role in solidifying friendships and short intervals of close relations don’t really matter. While friendships do get stronger gradually, does time provide you with a base to undermine people’s emotions on? So I did the one thing he’d asked me to not. I told people. I told them about us, about our shared desires and the consensual sexual relations we’d shared. The truth, however, wasn’t sufficient for the group of people to snap out of his captive sorcery.

I will perhaps never understand how friends can turn away at the slightest of inconvenience caused. I’ll never really figure how relationships can be objectively calculated in proportion to time. But if you no longer sense the mutual respect and desire to stay friends, it is important that you leave (regardless of the time and energy you’ve spent on them, since spending anymore would only make it worse). While I learnt the fragility of promises made in closed spaces by people, I do hope that someday he realizes how the girl wasn’t actually crazy but merely just another person he’d conveniently discounted when she had the audacity to wander away from his deceitful tactics of handling life. And I wish you to never be trapped in similar situations that only make you fall deeper into sticky facades. Latent violence of such toxic friendship can seep in to do more damage than most other relationships.

So here’s the post-script: We were friends. We were best-friends. We had sex. There were groups of friends involved. Lies and deceit were valuable assets. Defences were thrown around and biases tried to cover-up this truth that needed to be unfolded.

I hope this made you think.

Have a good night folks!

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2 comments

  1. Incredibly important account of the mechanical, egotistical, quid-pro-quo nature of friendship in a capitalistic, opportunistic and hollow world we have now begun to live in. We no longer have the stories of Calvin & Hobbes where differences were embraced, plurality was accepted, and feelings were kept. I feel that the feminine energy in your piece was just reminder of how men run away from their own prescribed vulnerabilities, but then again use them to privilege themselves from ever wanting to confront their own follies. And this leads to people like us hurt, violated, gaslighted and even incredibly broken. The takeaway from this article is the sad, ugly and grotesque truth is that most people will never understand our worlds completely; but faith is important. And faith, compassion and spirit is how you sustain relationships. The problem with friendship is that it has now become eluded with desire, instant gratification and objectified. It’s become a sexual consumption of sorts, that can then later be renounced as it stops to fill fragile, insecure and vulnerable egos.

    Liked by 1 person

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