Both my girlfriend and my friends with whom I maintain almost exclusively IRL relationships know me well, but I’m sure that I present to them different people or at least the same person but with significant differences in how much each knows or does not know in specific areas.
For example, I think my girlfriend sees me as a person that is reasonably smart but to a limited, predictable capacity. For about the first two months of our relationship I perhaps had her fooled that I was deep and mysterious and the owner of some logical capacity so complex that the unpredictable creativity of my worldview appeared constantly referenced and proven by intensely meta or seemingly non sequitur-ish (but poignant) metaphors or ‘takes’ on the situation at hand.
But like all good things, this came to an end after some normal amount of time, probably as the result of a build-up of instances in which her logic simply defeated mine and I either responded by making something up that further implicated my logic as shortsighted and altogether full of disconnects or admitting defeat and unintentionally showing the shame I felt. Over time I assume my girlfriend has steadily gained a firmer and tighter grasp on what used to probably appear as an unwieldy sort of intellect, so that today, my views – while respected – are taken for granted and have become predictable to her, lacking the insight they once imparted.
On the other hand, my IRL friends probably view me as either mysteriously smart or smart in unpredictably innovative ways, or possessing a relatively capable and trustworthy intellect that can most of the time add a unique viewpoint to the discussion. I think many of my friends mostly see me as a smart and intellectually-formidable friend (not that it’s a competition, but that our friendship is often in the context of frequent discussion in which viewpoints are discussed and challenged in a friendly and enjoyable manner). Some friends I feel are unaware of the ‘limits’ to what I might come up with while others may have some understanding of my limits yet sometimes appear genuinely surprised or intrigued (to the extent their egos allow) by whatever point I’ve brought into the conversation.
I think none of the people with whom I maintain almost exclusive IRL friendships know the extent of my perception to the point that I am almost entirely predictable. I think however that some have most likely picked up on my kinds of habits or regular ways of interpreting things that are perhaps biased or colored by some immature logic in a way that makes me in certain moments appear to say an unseemly thing or act in an unseemly way. To this end they might have had glimpses of my boundaries but still I think the bigger picture remains unclear to all of them.
Another difference between how my girlfriend sees me and how my friends see me is that my girlfriend knows the size of my penis and other sexually-oriented information. As she has seen it from perhaps many angles and in many situations and environments, I think she is intimately familiar with the majority of aspects of my penis – it’s color, shape, size, regularities and irregularities. She also knows how long on average it takes me to achieve an orgasm over a wide variety of sexual acts, what my face looks like during sex, the sounds I make, which positions I’m used to, and how much sex I typically want to have (daily).
But friends have hardly any of this information, while probably having, at one point or another, wondered about the size of my penis or idly explored a curiosity about what my face looks like while I have sex. But as far as I can remember, there has not yet been an occasion in which my penis has been exposed to any of those I call friends. I don’t use public showers i.e. in gyms or swimming pools that require a membership and prefer not to piss openly in front of others (actually I can’t) so any penis ‘flashing’ my friends might have been subject to has been merely coincidental and unintentional and left unmentioned.
I have not had sex with any of my friends (except maybe a few who were girlfriends at the time or who I had sex with in a sort or ‘trial period’ in which we were assessing whether our ‘thing’ would become longer-term) so unless an ex-girlfriend of mine has taken the time to describe my sexual behavior and mannerisms to a current friend, my friends remain clueless regarding this information as well. I do not foresee myself ever discussing with any friend, comfortably, the aesthetic aspects of my penis or things like my facial expressions during sex, any time in the future.
One of the biggest differences between how my girlfriend perceives me and how my friends perceive me is that my girlfriend has access to my ‘girlfriend side’ – a set of mannerisms reserved exclusively for my girlfriend. These include but are not limited to:
- facial expressions I make during times of anger, desire, sex and adoration
- certain pet names I have for her
- references to frequently riffed-off inside jokes (although these do occur with my friends as well but their themes are vastly different – for example my girlfriend and I riff off the idea that I can’t necessarily take care of myself re: hygiene and food preparation, or that I own her and that she is no one else’s and that she doesn’t want to belong to anyone else, whereas my friends and I riff off themes like the uncanniness of people and ‘meaningfulcore’)
- specific voice intonations that I would feel embarrassed to use in any other context, most of them mock-[something], such as mock-hurt or mock-pity
- real beliefs on minor day-to-day things such as acceptable level of sanitation in an apartment, acceptable amount of ‘doing nothing’ (like watching TV, watching DVDs, using the internet with only vague intentions), acceptable amount of noise in my environment, etc.
- very unsensational, impossible-to-dramatize moments of apathy and depression
Of course, my friends are not privvy to my ‘girlfriend side.’ It would be awkward and inappropriate if I were to show my ‘girlfriend side’ to any of my friends, as my ‘girlfriend side’ appears in large part how anyone’s ‘girlfriend side’ might appear and thus might be interpreted as somewhat of a come on, or just ‘really fucking weird.’ My friends are much more likely to see a sort of ‘friend side’ of me that can be, with certain people, just as unedited as the ‘girlfriend side’ but the product of a different filter. So where my girlfriend might hear me call her a certain pet name my friend might listen to me saying that yeah, I would really like to see that girl in the corner of the bar with her bra off, on top of me, or where my girlfriend might hear me talking about what I think would be good for us both to do in the future in regards to some kind of long-term cooperative project, or something, my friend might listen to me talking in an in-depth manner about the awkwardness of some situation I recently witnessed.
I also feel highly averse to ever showing my friends any sort of ‘real’ depression – the kind where I’m simply despondent. I’m more likely to articulate to my friends how the depression feels or why I might feel such depression but the actual depression itself – the kind where I stare and want to be alone and can’t make the smallest decision – is left entirely for my girlfriend.