On my very first date with my boyfriend, I didn’t know if he was going to kiss me. I didn’t know yet that he loves Concord grapes, plays the saxophone and has never seen a Woody Allen movie. But I did know for certain that I wanted this person with whom I’d just eaten dinner to be in my life, somehow. I remember sitting across from him at a table in a Portuguese restaurant, smiling, and thinking, “Whatever happens after this date, I really hope we become friends. You’re cool.”
Flash forward six intense, crazy-in-love months and this man is not only boyfriend — he is my closest friend now, too, the one who knows everything about what goes on with my family, what goes on at work, what weird dreams woke me up in the middle of the night.
And I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing.He is my boyfriend, he’s my best friend, but he’s also filling a vacancy that slowly opened up in my life recently. You see, I don’t have a lot of friends. No, I’m not a complete nutter who can’t keep any friends, I swear. It’s just that, in the past two years, all my closest friends have scattered, literally, around the world:
Christiane was born in Germany and moved back there to be closer to her family; Stephanie joined the Army and right now is stationed in Iraq (at a prison, of all places); and Phil and Andrew are both in grad school in Boston, and it turns out people don’t have much of a social life while they’re attending Harvard Law School. Last, but not least, there was my best guy friend, who I had a pretty major falling-out with last year (it was tangentially related to this story), and I’ve scarcely seen that guy since.
I do keep in touch with my international buddies as best we can. But what sucks is that, back here in New York where we all used to live together, I can’t just make off-the-cuff plans anymore or instantly share stuff that’s going on in my life. I miss being able to do that more than I can say; loneliness is a heavy feeling. It sounds depressing, but there is not a single person under the “Favorites” list on my iPhone whom I could call and grab sushi with after work.
Except my boyfriend, that is.
Don’t misunderstand me about what my relationship is; it’s amazing, he’s amazing, and I don’t want to sound as if I am ungrateful that he’s my best friend, too. I’m glad my relationship is rooted in a friendship as opposed to, say, lust or greed or any of the other emotions that compel two individuals to pair up. But to paraphrase Belle’s boyfriend on “Secret Diary of a Call Girl,” my boyfriend is a friend to whom I want to do things I don’t want to do to my other friends. And that’s where the mental compartmentalization comes in. It has occurred to me that if my boyfriend were to be (God forbid) hit by a Walmart 18-wheeler, I would be isolated. I would be truly alone then and that’s just not sensible for my own well-being. A boyfriend shouldn’t be everything to me, right? What lovers have together isn’t the same thing as what friends have together and I don’t want any obfuscation.
Besides, it’s not fair to him to be inundated with all my stuff. Being someone’s one and only doesn’t mean he should be the one and only person you talk to about your personal life. He, after all, has three very close friends in addition to me with whom he can talk about stuff. Does any one friend really want to hear about every single perceived slight that occurs at work, or every snotty comment from your sister, or every pair of boots you just have to have? I sure wouldn’t, if I were someone’s one and only close friend. I know it’s a disingenuous reason to look for some more friends, but I partially need to widen my social circle so I don’t suffocate the poor guy. (Try as he might, he’s just not as interested in Anthropologie shopping sprees as I am.)
I am trying to make an effort to befriend new people; I’m just a little shy, so it’s hard to be aggressive. But, hey, someone needs to get a manicure and see “New Moon” with me and it’s not going to be my boyfriend.