Perhaps it’s just me and my strange group of friends, but there seems to be a permanent state of vague romantic attraction (read: settling) floating around any and all gatherings. If one were to draw a circle of all my friends’ names, and connect those names by different colored lines for every time they’d done any manner of hooking up or dating, that circle would become the most beautiful, intricate, nauseating dreamcatcher there ever was. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not under some illusion that we’re all incredibly sexy and just lose all means of resistance when we get within 10 feet of each other. I know that given alcohol, proximity, and comfort — everyone is bound to sleep with everyone at some point. But how have we not gotten by now, years into this charade, that it’s a terrible idea? I’m convinced the world would be a much better place if they could stop sleeping with each other, if only for five minutes.
When two friends hook up, it is inevitable that the social dynamic automatically changes, and everyone is immediately involved. You think you’re slick and coy, walking around the party giving each other fleeting looks and perhaps the errant wink, but in all reality you’re just making out in the corner as beer bottles almost fall from your grip, and everyone is staring at you and shaking their heads. This happens routinely. The, “Oh, they’re doing it now?” and the “How long do you give this one?” Two weeks. Two weeks is always the answer.
And now it’s the holidays, that time of year when the parties are sparkly, everyone is back in town, the sexiest cardigans are being broken out, and the conditions are ripe for good old fashioned drunk friend sex. And being at these parties, watching these things unfold, I am overwhelmed with the desire to reach across the room and separate the two. “What are you doing?” I long to say, “This is the guy who will walk around all day with Cheeto dust on his fingers and give you a hug in a white sweater. You don’t find this guy attractive.” But what would that do? In the moment, the friend hook-up is the most incredible thing that’s ever happened to either party. They wonder how they could have been next to this gem for so long and never noticed it shine, or something even more cheesy and untrue.
We all know where these things go, of course. Two friends who awkwardly avoid each other for the foreseeable future, a situation which necessitates the picking of sides, the pretending like we don’t notice, and having to listen to two versions of the same boring, sordid story for at least the next six social gatherings. I have friends who refuse to talk to each other for this very reason, and that magical spell will only be broken once one of them misguidedly hooks up with another friend and can transfer that awkward tension to yet another in a series of human mistakes.
I love all of my friends, and I would recommend any of them to a new prospective date. But we all know each other too intimately, and are far too interconnected to risk an explosive breakup or a horrendous morning after. Can we spare ourselves the agony and the ecstasy and just accept that people within a tight-knit social group should keep it in their pants? Has the thought never crossed their amorous minds that if one of them has chlamydia, it’s just going to be some horrendous domino effect and we can hold our next cocktail party in the lobby of the free clinic? This has to stop somewhere; let it stop with this message. We’re better than this, and we’re not even that cute anyway.