Broken Wagon Wheels

A platonic friendship, what a wonderful phrase. A platonic friendship, ain’t no passing phase. It means no worries, for the rest of your days! It’s for you and me, you’ll learn to see! A platonic relationship…

Except, of course, outside of vague Lion King references, that’s not how it is in the real world, right? Don’t get me wrong, friendship is all well and good, but the reality is it’s all about ascending above such childish concepts and arriving at that romantic and sexual hotspot that we’re all secretly craving. You can take your fancy jobs and your high end positions and take them back home to your mummy, because if you don’t have someone hanging off your arm, then you ain’t worth shit.

Renee Zellwegger described herself as “I’m not single, just busy”. A statement that seemed so wildly out there and crazy it was actually on the front cover of many gossip magazines. “I beg your pardon? Give me a second whilst I spit out my morning coffee and almost drop my monocle. You mean to tell me this… this woman is satisfied with not having a man in her life? Pah! Must just be an excuse to make herself feel better because she clearly isn’t getting any.” That’s just it, though. If one were to make a claim about their happiness with whatever somewhat unorthodox life they lead, it gets reconstructed into this self-deception by those listening.  No one is truly happy living off the beaten path – they just say they are to make themselves believe it. And none so true a situation can I see than in much of the public’s approach towards platonic and romantic relationships.

Some of the most common responses to a breakup are terms such as “there’s plenty more fish in the sea”, and they’re all true. They’re comforting and aid to ease the pain, knowing that the happiness you shared with another can be relived. But that shouldn’t be the end goal, surely. You don’t need to always get out there and “get back on the wagon”, you might not always like the direction that the wagon is going – you might be perfectly fine just walking at your own pace. It’s a commonly accepted perspective that a person’s life narrative must consist of finding that one person, the soul mate constructed to perfectly fit in sync with yourself, and that to not do so is to somehow fail in this regard. This intangible expectation can lead to a personal instability when it comes to one’s self-esteem. How can you be worthwhile if you can’t find someone who finds you worthwhile? A relationship for relationship’s sake is a dangerous concept and yet why do we all seem to expect it of ourselves and others? Go fishing all you want, but make sure you don’t wind up with a sack full of crabs.

This is where one of the weirdest and most poisonous of terms has entered our vernacular – the idea of being “friend-zoned”. Brought to public attention by the US TV show, Scrubs, the notion that you only have a short amount of time to “seal the deal” with someone you’re romantically interested in before you end up stuck in the quagmire of “just friends” is a common concept. But it has become something more. The friend-zone has since escalated to include any platonic friendship between two people who society deem as possible romantic partners. This bastardization has left the impression that the idea of being a friend is somehow less than being a lover – that it’s the goal of every man or woman, to rise above this barrier and form that one, true relationship. There are countless websites with guides on how to beat the friend-zone, all of which seem to imply that this is the end goal of every man or woman who’s friends with another.

Speaking personally, I’ve always been what is labelled as a “serial monogamist”. I love deadline relationships. It’s nice knowing that this doesn’t have to go anywhere and instead I can enjoy being with the person, learning more about myself and them. There’s no need to think or worry about the future – enjoy the now. You don’t refuse to watch a film just because you know the credits are going to roll. Is this a fear of commitment? I wouldn’t think so. It’s just recognizing my place – I’m a young adult living a transient lifestyle and right now there are other priorities on my mind. And yet this view has been met with contention for those who seek “the one”, to which I ask – if you’re so busy looking, how do you know when you’ve found it? When do facts become twisted to fit theories? I have friends with whom I share highly emotional and intimate relationships with – guys and girls both of whom I don’t mind falling asleep with, guys on whose laps I’m cool to rest my head on, and vice versa. This isn’t some hidden act of romantic gesturing, but rather a manifestation of my intimate feelings towards them. These are my friends and I love them. Its concerning to note that people may disregard the very true and impossibly vast potential of their friendships in favour of something they don’t even know about yet.

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This hypothetical wagon need not only ride the road of romance but also carry down the avenue of ambition. In the same vein that introverts can be labelled as shy despite not being so, single people can end up being viewed as lonely, or on the prowl. When you’re single, do you need to mingle? This societal expectation creates a breed of people so afraid of being alone that they jump into another relationship with no regard for the ramifications of their former. Learning to love yourself is learning to spend time alone. If you always have someone with you, providing a romantic role for you to fill, how on the fuck do you even know yourself? A friendship is a powerful, powerful thing – it’s something to be cherished, not a placeholder until something “more real” comes around the corner. It’s not something to be thrown aside when romance is on the table. Friendship is the drunken self-urination, everyone can see it but only you feel the warmth. Let the romance hit when it does. For now, just enjoy your friendships – and maybe bring a spare pair of pants.

Words by Laurence Williams