Growing up with older sisters, I always longed for a brother. A male friend, the next best thing, remained an elusive entity for much of my life, with the refrain ‘there’s no such thing as friendship between men and women’ holding true.
Then one day, I had one of those rare specimens. I met David at a singles event, dragged there by a girlfriend. Gathered around the oblong table in a smoky bar, it was clear she was interested in David, and clear that David had his eyes on me, as Murphy would have it.
After an intense conversation, it was no surprise that David asked for my phone number, and not long after, a friendship developed. I thought it was great to have a male friend, as authoritative dating advice claimed a male friend created the ideal circumstances for meeting a man, the tall, dark and handsome kind.
I was a happy to gad about with David, but I surprised myself when I yanked my hand out of his when he took hold of it at a movie date.
I continued to avoid his growing attentions and attempts to zoom in on my physical space. It became increasingly uncomfortable and I suspected the friendship might be short lived.
David wanted more than a friend. When he presented me with the idea, I dug deep and reluctantly accepted.
This allowed him to see me more often, demand more emotionally and frequently proclaim his desires.
Apart from his one friend, I was his whole world. The pressure was enormous. His language was littered with swearing, he told the same joke, laughing at each of the many repetitions, and his favourite rant comprised praise for his ex-girlfriend.
In competitive sport, the competitors often say, ‘coming second is like kissing your sister’. It must be a win or get out of the game. From the bench, I realised I should have been honest with myself and used one of those clichés that often, unfortunately, ring true: ‘I only like you as a friend’.