I’ve never been a huge fan of risk in my life. The memory I’ve talked about often before is great at logging patterns, not only from my experiences, but from the experiences I see and hear about from other people, so like…I’ll never dive into shallow water. I’ll never drink and drive (I barely ever drink…in fact…pretty sure it’s been years since the last time I even had a sip of alcohol). And I am really super socially anxious, so I pretty much understand every social interaction-based fear any person has ever had. So while I’ve never been faced with, ‘I am having ‘more than friends’ feelings for this friend of mine now,’ personally, I TOTALLY get why a person would be nervous about putting those feelings out in the open. They involve a lot of personal emotional and social risk.
But risk, especially social risk, is damn near necessary to reap any reward at all. I know this. Because if a person NEVER puts up any social capital, they lose anyway. Human relations are weird that way. One can save money or resources, but social capital can’t really be saved. It’s just a different kind of loss. If a person risks it, they could get the pain that comes with rejection, but they COULD get the elation of reciprocation. If that person never risks letting the feelings out…attempting to change and grow the connection…they get the pain of potential loneliness…jealousy…always wondering ‘what if?’ (That last thing is maddening. I’ve never had THIS specific problem in my life, but I’ve definitely had bad cases of the ‘what if’s’…no fun).
There’s this great stanza in the Indigo Girls’ song Closer to Fine…
“I wrap my fear around me like a blanket.
I sailed my ship of safety til I sank it…”
That’s the problem with a person letting anxiety rule and never taking their armor off for another person.
It’s that double edged sword. Yeah…nobody can get past that armor. But…nobody can get past that armor. And by trying to keep ourselves safe from pain, we’re also denying ourselves true intimacy and honesty with a person we have feelings for.
When I wrote The Same Story, even though I’ve never had a slow burn romance in my own life, nobody knows indecision and social anxiety more than me (unfortunately), so it was fairly easy to write Ralph and Sally’s story. Also, as I’ve said before, they were inspired by a real life couple I know, whom I watched argue with themselves, individually, about potentially messing up a friendship…but the feelings were so strong I can’t make them go away…and what if he doesn’t feel the same way…but what if she DOES…?
And I also know SEVERAL people who just wished they would have said…why didn’t they ever say…now they’ll never know…and they lost the friendship anyway.
Unresolved romantic feelings tend to do that. If those feelings have nowhere to go, the only choices remaining are suffering and forced deception…which will definitely change a friendship; distance…which will definitely change a friendship; or confessing…which will definitely change a friendship (BUT…could also save one or build on one).
I learn from my own experiences, but I also learn from those of those around me too. And I’ve learned that confessing is actually the least painful option there.
My novella, The Same Story, is on sale in ebook format for $.99/each for the next week.