With graduation quickly approaching and the realization that I am not with “the one” I will marry, I cannot help but wonder what guy will one day become my other half. Whether it was middle school or high school graduations, prom, my 21st birthday – and now college graduation – I always want to share such times with someone that completes me (as much as I loathe that validation).
My problem with all of this is that there has always been one guy who has been there as my backup lover or sidebar boyfriend, and I have never known what to do about him. Whatever you want to call him, I call him my best friend and worst nightmare, better known as Anthony.
Anthony became my future husband when I was 11 years old back when we dated for one sweltering summer in Northeast Philadelphia. Our Italian tempers and demanding personalities drove each other insane, and our personalities clashed from the moment he uttered his first words to me: “You got a boyfriend?”
The University of Illinois in Chicago conducted a research study found in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships that states: “Sexual attraction is often present in cross-sex friendships, common to both sexes, and is more frequently evidenced by males.” This could potentially explain why Anthony made such a ballsy first move on that particular day when I in fact did have a boyfriend.
However, there is something about him that I still have not been able to shake, and our parents haven’t been able to let go either. Even though we decided to be friends after that one summer, for 10 years to date we have been going through this back-and-forth cycle where we are never on the same page.
When we attempt to be friends we find ourselves constantly wanting more. This more includes cheating on past boyfriends and girlfriends with each other, sneaking to see each other behind everyone’s back, telling each other “I love you” on more than 100 occasions, and drunken texts throughout which we fight, cry, and then laugh about the morning after.
While all of this may seem to be harmless, it caused horrible break ups, gut wrenching arguments, and the ever-bold question that rears its head: “Why the hell do we keep doing this?”
I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason, but I cannot help but think Anthony means more to me than I realize. Maybe I am insane, but 10 years is enough, don’t you think?
The Journal of Social Issues covered a topic such as this within their “Study of Women’s Romantic and Friend Relationships” in 2000 and concluded, “Cultural scripts strongly endorse gender roles by prescribing that women and men express different motives and behaviors within relationships. These roles (e.g., passive female, active male) create dynamics and dependencies that contribute to the idea that heterosexual relations are a likely, natural and normal outcome of cross-sex interactions.”
From this quote I conclude that since men and women do have separate traits to bring to a relationship, they can easily become complementary within a friendship and carry over into a meaningful relationship. But what happens when this relationship fails to officially start and becomes the broken record that is discussed for more than a decade?
As this is the first of a two-part column, I hope that you all will recap with me next week as I delve into an interview with a social psychologist in order to get prescribed advice on my never-ending saga with my dear Anthony.
Since we both never know if we really belong together or are just living a lie, I hope some professional wisdom will solve our problems for good. Deep down, I feel as though we do want to be together, but the pangs of our past and the fear of a failing relationship has been holding us back.
Is our relationship a childhood fantasy tailored made to keep us hopeful, or has this 10-year merry-go-round been spinning just for the mere need of drama in our lives?
Giavanna Ippolito can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.