08 March 2013

V for Amicizia

Fever pumped in my ears as I rode the tube, nearing one a.m. I had not said goodbye properly to V and I did not see the look in her eyes as I climbed down the tram to run into the metro station. I was afraid they wouldn't tell me anything.

I have been thinking about V insistently for the last two weeks although she didn't even exist before that. Her appearance can be thanked to our marvelous and previously equally inexistant support network that has set up meetings and dinners in every major city of the country at least once a month. In a single month between 4 and 6 events take place from the southern islands to the chilly northern mountains of Italy, and all of this did not exist one year ago. Poly's were dead in the water, now the community's thriving and the media can't have enough of us. I'll remind myself to toast to this next encounter I go to.

But I'll probably forget, because I'm thinking of a woman. Whoever knows me knows well that this is nothing new, I'm always thinking of a woman that I like and that probably does not share the same feelings for me. Indeed V is the perfect replay of this scenario: I usually brush the whole thing aside telling myself they're not smart or open enough to figure me out, and here's where things are getting tough, 'cus she's not dumb.

Even if you don't know me you can guess that I don't particularly enjoy riding the subway with a fever in the middle of the night. I only did so because I was at a party. V's party. Now, I have no idea what I was looking for but I presently had a horrible sensation of not having found it. I knew that given the hour, the connection station was probably closed, leaving me with 4 km to walk with my fever under heartwarming rain. This is Milan's idea of Spring, if you're wondering. God needs not be asked twice for this kind of twists for effect, so he readily closed the transfer station and as I walked out into the night and started jogging to keep my body warm and not allow the fever to rise, I did ask myself if I was truly gonna stick to the story of not being in love. In fact I was full of questions and was almost glad the station was closed, for this gave me pause for thought, so to speak. I also realized I would look better on the blog.

I am in love. I'm in love with V. At the beginning, when she first turned to smile bright upon us at one of the Milanese encounters I couldn't even stop to think that she was cute, there was almost immediately something else that stroke me about her. Something more. I don't keep this things in check, exactly what it is that strikes me about a person, so it's not until now, writing these lines, that I realize it was always more than just looks with her. Not to say that she's ugly, there is indeed nothing remarkable about her in purely physical terms. She's beautiful in a very common way. But it's only under the knife that I could tell, for the look of her enthralls me. The way her attention is always set on something, and her demeanor is full of intention. She does not wander, there's always something going on inside her head and this fills me with curiosity.

So out of the stark incapacity to even put things on paper, my system's first reaction was quite simply and perhaps predictably, to fall in love. This is not something I hid from her, I was in fact very forward with it, as I usually am, as part of a strategy that I probably oughta review for it has pretty much never worked. Fine, it's not a strategy per se but rather the conscious choice of not having a strategy, which had an original purpose of not putting too many expectations on things. Inloveness is already all too efficient at such a task. But that hasn't worked out as expected either, for the level of expectations that I put on love has not diminished, I've only become more cumbersome and perhaps more demanding. As if the lack of a strategy should work AS a strategy and the honesty in it should be thanked by furthering my objectives. Pay my forwardness with falling for me, it seems to say. And I know that in a way, it's what I expect.

But that's not how it works.

She took a short look at me and quickly decided I was going to be her new best friend. This is the single most unattractive, uninteresting, unsexy, boring, party pooping, bummer turnoff anybody can put before me, and when I heard the magic words (I never really did, she spared me the pain) she was still high enough in my ranking for me not to close the chapter on her definitely.

I did however warn her: I'm not good at being friends. Which was of course an underestimating, information-manipulating, Stallinist way of NOT saying “I don't have any friends. The ones I have cling to me like rats drowning in the ocean cling to a speed-boat. They don't get anything from me, ever. No phone calls, no e-mails, not even spam, nothing, and I only look for them when there's a two-for-the-price-of-one at the Japaneese restaurant or a tooth breaks and they happen to be a dentist”. I didn't just say this because it's both mysanthropous and sick, and whether I'm sick or not is something I'll start discussing with myself come the time (probably around the year 2036).

I left her with that and reluctantly began a process of mourning. I had to get off the love-fever and I had to give objective analysis to having any romantic chance left with a person that had just quite clearly friend-zoned me.

Now, there's a disclaimer I have to add here.

Friend's zone

A lot of women find the term friend-zone offensive, because they oppose this term to fuck-zone. In other words, you don't fuck your friends, so since you're not gonna fuck me, that puts me in the friend-zone and the reason why this sucks it because I was hoping to get laid.

Such a conception is fine for high-school, but by the time you grow a heart it is reductive in the sense that it excludes there being anything on top of sex. It is also misleading because usually friend-zoning will be used as a term that specifically excludes sex, when this is the case only for most friendships, but not for all of them.

My problem with friend-zoning is that it is created with the purpose of setting limits. Limits that have not been agreed upon inside a relationship but that try to be imposed from the person that friend-zones, and that are established as a precautionary measure, not as an actual need. The person that friend-zones, in my experience, is interested in stopping an already present and possibly evolving process of attraction from the person that is being friend-zoned. This however does not properly implies a certainty from the part of the friend-zoner that no attraction will ever be born inside them but simply means to stop an ongoing process of attraction in order for it not to get out of hand or simply for it not to be a nuisance.

So friend-zoning cannot really be an imposition, it's just a deal. The friend-zoned person will of course accept the deal often, but he or she doesn't have to. The deal is simple: “I really like everything I see inside you so far. I'm just not attracted to you and I'd like it if you either stop being attracted to me, or don't ever mention that you're attracted to me again, and certainly don't try anything funny”. So strictly speaking, as a deal it presupposes one of two possibilities: That attraction can be commanded to stop, or that it can be lied about forever. I find the first supposition just dumb. It is kind of like reading a book and finding it interesting and the commanding oneself, for the sake of stability, to NOT find this book interesting anymore. The second supposition is of course perfectly alright except perhaps because it entails dishonesty, which I'm comfortable with. So in practical terms, accepting a friend-zoning means quite simply to accept to lie about one's own feelings and to act according to this lie. It also means accepting that a series of needs inside a relationship will never be met (but will probably not go anywhere).

So I don't have a problem with setting limits per se, which are due and necessary to everybody, but with doing this in a preemptive strike manner, which is the friend-zoning manner. You don't really know what kind of relationship will come out of the interaction with another person. You know you don't want to kiss him or her right now, but you don't know if you'll find him or her attractive later on. And what I really dislike about friend-zoning is that it gives me the strong sensation of attempting to establish how relationships will evolve: Attraction is impossible because we're friends.


What transpires here is the real reason for which I don't have friends: I just don't understand friendship. Friendship is this relationship of affection, inside which any amount of love can be felt and exchanged, without it ever involving attraction. Indeed the difference between friendship and “deeper” kinds of relationship is precisely that of attraction. Friends don't kiss, and they don't have sex.
And they never... do that thing... love each other in that... intimate kind of way, if such a thing can exist or be defined by anybody alive.

Talking to the cat (B), however, it became evident that friendship is made up of few rules that make it not unlike monogamy. It's a set of rules that are pre-established and pre-cooked by society and allow for a certain type of interaction that has, in a way, been socially policed. This interaction distinguishes itself from lovership nominally to begin with, but eventually, also practically. Friendship helps shape the type of affection that it names. So when we become friends, our love will tend to be more friendly.

In other words, firendship complements lovership inside monogamy by creating an affective space that does not threaten monogamy but rather allows it to thrive, absorbing all exogamous affection in safe containers. It is because one can only have one partner, that friendship is so strict about its rules. Friendship is monogamy's way to cope with people's polyamorous nature. When I said this to the cat it hit me like I had fallen off the bike I was riding: If it wasn't for friendship's limits, if it wasn't for friendzoning, all affective relationships could involve anything, and all affective relationships could become loverships. Or rather, everything would be loverships (relationships based on some kind of love), they would just have different degrees and measurements and items in trade, that would be defined per case. Which is precisely what my life is becoming like. Easton talks about this in The Ethical Slut (I did make it to about page 50); she says that she's had sex with all of her friends, and that it is only some people whom she hasn't that give her food for thought. “How come?” she wonders, “when it's something you can share even just to try it, like going to the movies.”

Of course, there is one essential step that we're missing here, and that opens the chasm between V and Me: Attraction. She does not yet feel attracted to me, and she never may. Attraction is not born rationally, but rather follows the unconscious rules of our erotic pulsions. This, at least to begin with. Then something may or may not be added to this equation, and that is: intellectual attraction. My problem with normal friendship is that it does not establish intellectual attraction limits, and yet, it means to police physical attraction. Which is where I guess we're different to the monogamous crowd. One kind of attraction can easily lead to another.

Indeed in my case, it's not only inevitable but rather fitting. The more I like a person intellectually, the more that person will become beautiful in every aspect, including the physical. As a matter of fact, I thought that an intellectually uninspiring girlfriend would never have a chance at making me fall for her, and for this too I have been proven wrong. So strong levels of admiration and or affection in one department can easily jump or translate into other sections of my feelings. As you can easily guess, I am attracted to an awful lot of people.

I love to feel how this is something I share very intimately and strongly with the kitten, but I do realize we're the odd bunch. Monogamy-abiding crowds are apparently very effective in establishing taboos inside friendship that resemble kinship taboos. You just can't feel attracted to your sister or brother, no matter how much it would make sense. They are screened behind a taboo, that makes such thing impossible. In a way, years-old friends become like that, it is impossible for them to feel attraction for each other. No matter how much sense this would make.

When there is no balance about this, no reciprocity, I feel rejected and rejection hurts. The fact that feelings have jumped from a place to the other, that my sense of awe now pervades every conception of the person whereas for that person there is no awe or it remains limited to just an aspect or two of who I am in his/her eyes, this irks me and pain soon ensues.

Best Friends Forever

V's friend-zoning worked to a degree and although I didn't take any distance from her, friend-zones are usually equipped with electrified barb-wire which provides all the shock therapy one needs to “get over that bitch” and V's friend-zone, although not being amidst the most stringent, was clear-cut.

And then something happened. I was all good and well at the friend-zone's exit (all friend-zones have an exit: away from the person) waiting for my levels of attraction to fade to a point where I could just enjoy her friendship and then either disappear or have the third Italian friend ever. And then... almost suddenly...

She began looking for me. I couldn't be surprised since she really meant it when she said she wanted to be bff's. But she began looking for my insistently, and she began stalking my activities and reading anything of mine that she could find. I even gave her the address for this blog and she seems to have read everything I've ever written inn'it. Our online communication bulked up with questions and answers and discussions and debates, and she was never short of praise and enthusiasm, indeed she was all over me. A strange question rose from the objective part of my brain, sober and undiluted: Is she falling for me?


As I arrived home, my back hurt, my nose dripped and my fever had miraculously stood still. It warmed me up under the rainy night sky and four layers of sweaters. I had thought about everything a few times over and realized that there was nothing I could do now but wait. Nobody could answer my questions. If V was falling for me, she didn't realize about it. If she wasn't, there was no clear time at which I could call it. Either way, we were both walking identical paths, indeed parallel. Paths of discovering each other, and in this discovery filling with wonder and admiration and curiosity to continue digging. And love.

But she's the Shroedinger cat, for while she's walking my same path and I am hers, this path is taking us in different directions. The more I find out about her, the more attracted I am to her. Whereas she just loves me more... like a friend.

I think of her constantly and I'm taking a huge gamble with every passing moment that I spend with her. I am just waiting, I'm waiting to see if I can get through and reach her heart, to put it melodramatically. To find a different look in her eyes. It may never come and I'll have to decide, sooner or later, if I want to stay close to her as friends or if I even can. Painlessly.

I'm Léu and I don't have many friends.

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