Scott De Buitléir feels the pressure of his peers on matters of the heart.
“Scott, he’s lovely,” my friend exclaimed. “Hold onto him, he’s a keeper.”
“That could be a bit awkward,” I replied, much to her confusion.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I kinda stopped seeing him a few weeks ago…”
At this point, our other friend slaps my face full-force in punishment for letting him go.
As my cheek stung from the attack, I looked over at the guy my friends had just approved in vain. That night was our first night out together as “just friends,” and we ended up hanging out with a load of my friends – who all loved him – but there were still moments when it felt like we were still a couple. That was a bit strange, because we were actually never a couple. Stranger still, that feeling didn’t feel too bad, but I hadn’t been expecting to go back on my decision.
I was pleasantly surprised that he didn’t think my suggestion to be friends wasn’t just another empty cliché. He texted me shortly after the break-up (which wasn’t really a break-up as we only went on a few dates) and we were regularly in touch, just not as much as when we were dating. I noticed some things that looked flirtatious, but I figured that I was reading too much into messages, as per usual. Still, I couldn’t help but laugh at some of his cheekier messages. He was still the nice guy I met when we were dating, so maybe the problem was more that I forgot how to act around a person I was once romantic with.
We met up a few weeks afterwards, and we soon bumped into a few other friends of mine, some of whom he knew as well. (That’s the typical thing about Ireland; the rest of the world gets six degrees of separation – we get three if we’re lucky.) We had a few drinks before the suggestion popped up about moving on to one of the clubs. It had been a while since I had a decent night’s boogie, so I was delighted to stay out for a bit longer.
All through the night, I couldn’t help but notice how our bodies reacted to one another. We were standing fairly close together, close enough that we could’ve easily looked like a couple to others. There wasn’t much (or any) physical contact, but I caught myself leaning into him at one point, before realising what I was doing and reminding myself that he was a friend. You wouldn’t act like that with your other friends, I said to myself, so get a grip. The body language seemed to tell a story about something more than friendship for the entire night, though, even when it came to a kind of awkward goodbye. I walked him to the exit of the nightclub, and for a moment, I genuinely didn’t know if we were going to kiss or not. I half panicked; what if I wanted him to kiss me? What if this is all just messing with his/my/our emotions? What if I’m only being influenced by my friends, and I could change my mind next week? To both my relief and disappointment, all that was exchanged was a brief hug before he went home.
In some ways, I scared myself when I realised how easily my opinions could be changed. After he was approved by some of my closest friends, I had started to think differently about him. If I’m being totally honest, though, I had been thinking differently about him for the entire night. It took my friends’ comments on him to make me admit it to myself, though. When I did, it made me no less certain about what was going on. One friend was sure that he was still into me, but I wasn’t too sure about that.
Then again, I wasn’t even sure about what I wanted, so how could I be sure about anyone else’s desires?