I used to be one of those women. You know, the kind that would trade their left hand just to have steady commitment and security in their love lives. I wanted a relationship, badly. And I put up with a lot of unnecessary frustration trying to mold some of my lovers into potential long-term beaus. But here and now, I don’t even recognize myself. The old monogamy-craving, relationship-thirsty me is gone, and a free-loving young woman has stolen her body. I just want to be friends.

This all started in my last year of college after I had recovered from a three-year relationship, promiscuous (exciting) single sex life, and a non-relationship heartbreak. I began to assess my life, realizing that I was about to have my degree, officially start my career, and didn’t even have someone fully committed to holding me down emotionally, physically, and spiritually. What I had were friends. What I wanted was a boyfriend, soon-to-be fiancé, and eventual husband. But it just wasn’t happening.

I was unhappy. I was working a full-time job that I hated. I got laid off. I got another full-time job that was much better but not catering enough to my passion. I quit. I focused on writing full-time. I moved back home to New Jersey for the summer. I packed my things. I moved to Brasil. I explored new cultures. I picked up another language. I sat on the beach. I watched sunsets. I met people. I gained wisdom. And finally, I found myself. I met Arielle at her purest essence, stripped of insecurities, stress, and unhappiness.

The result? I didn’t need anyone to hold me down emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I was already grounded. And thus, anyone new that I met was just an extra gift, the whipped cream on top of the hot chocolate. My life is sweet, and I can make it sweeter. But he is not a required ingredient. Rather, he’s an extra smile, laugh, hug, and kiss. I accept the men in my life for who they are and any positive role that they want to play in my life.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s better to be friends than immediately rush into a relationship. I’ve gotten to know some of my lovers better than their ex-girlfriends because the “façade” that we, as humans, often present as partners hasn’t been there. We show up at each date, conversation, or lovemaking session with our authentic selves. I’ve seen the insecurities, frustrations, anger, and vulnerability in the same way that I experience my best female friends. I’ve also seen the growth, transformation, happiness, and excitement as we go through life. And while I used to have a “cut off” rule of refusing to speak to a man after a year if he still wasn’t interested in a relationship. I now realize that most people don’t even show their true selves until after a year or two or three, so we often commit to their “representatives.”

I see relationships as exciting possibilities, not life or death priorities. I’m focused on building with my lovers, individually, rather than attempting to box them into some role in my life that they may not be ready to fulfill. In the same way, they’ve shown me the same respect, particularly as I continue this journey of traveling, growing, and laying a strong foundation for my career.

Perhaps more men and women should consider being friends for an extended period of time instead of immediately going for a relationship. Building deeper connections without any expectations or requirements might end up giving us the healthy, honest, and transparent relationships that we all deserve.

What say you, Clutchettes? 

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