Apparently, I'm guilty of it. Many years ago, a friend told me I'm like Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride whose flirtatious energy just spills over onto everything around her. Ten years ago, it was cute. Today, it's just exhausting. And the worst part is, I get it.
I get that I'm "too friendly", I understand that men have trouble reading "mixed" messages, and after years of the "you asked for it" social inculcation, even I blame myself sometimes. After all, this isn't Europe or America where the girl-boy thing has been honed to a fairly decent fine art over the years. This is India, where repressed sexuality and abundant morality are inextricably linked. Into that mix, toss in a girl who laughs easily, and hugs playfully - and of course, it's okay to hit that.
And I'm so angry right now. Over the last week, two friends have clearly taken the plunge - to cross what I thought were fairly clear lines of behavior. These are friends who have gotten to know me over the last few years and have seen my relaxed side, my flirtatious side, my fun side. And the fact that I behave the exact same way with all my inner circle of friends. Because they're the only people I feel safe with. That includes them.
And now, I get into a bind because those very friends now feel like predators. Their homes are no longer safe havens of fun, one-on-one time with them now feels like the dreaded exercise of dodging a rather large elephant in a tiny room. And finally, the ransom of "friendship" that is negotiated with threats of "I can't go back to how it was before."
It seems it's that easy to play tug of war with trust and safety and affection that has taken years to build. It's that simple to find out that something I spent years nurturing wasn't mine at all, that it actually belonged to the guy who waited long enough to make me his friend before he could say with entitlement, "Fuck friendship, I want sex." And just like that, I find myself without one more friend, without one more part of my life.
And then they wonder why I was so "mysterious" and stand-offish when they were just getting to know me. The real answer is, "Because I want to give myself a few good years of laughs before I find out what an asshole you really are."