Friday 31 October 2008

What my Online Friends Mean to Me

I suppose this post is kind of going to be a bit of an odd revelation.

You see, there is a story out there that I have an online harem.

Fact is scarce stranger than fiction. What I do have is something very special indeed, something that for me, can only exist through blogging.

For me, it has only been possible, because of blogging.
And I'd like to tell you about it.

It's not something I really thought of when I started blogging. I guess we're all beginners at this. We're the first generation of bloggers.
And it has created something very special in my life, something truly amazing.

It is one of the reasons blogging is important to me.

I have asked permission from the two most important people concerned to run this post, though obviously they shan't be named. That's not fair on them.
In fact, I'm talking to both of them as I write this. I talk to both of them most nights.

They are part of something very special to me. Something I'm very protective about. Something that most of you who read this don't realise is a very important part of this blog.
In many ways, I don't see it as being JUST my blog, it's not. Many people are a part of it.

It is often said that the internet allows people to live lives they want to lead. Maybe. And many blogs out there may not be as sincere as they present them as. The middle aged bald guy posing as James Bond, the spotty shy girl posing a sex goddess. But maybe the people behind them are still real. Maybe they are more real because they are free to be the person inside, free from the judgement they might face on aesthetic grounds in real life.

Now in most respects, I'm pretty much as you would expect in Real Life. What do I mean by that?
Well, what I mean is that if you walked into a room where a load of bloggers who had just met were getting drunk and had to guess which one was me, you'd probably be right.
I generally behave in RL, much the same way I behave on this blog and in comments sections.

On the face of it, I'm a very open person, a person people tend to invite out and tend to invite to parties.

On Fridays my boss will often say 'The choice is yours, work till the end of the day or come and get drunk with me'.

All that aspect of life is pretty much covered for me. I never really need to worry about having a social life and having other males around to have a social life with.

I have quite a lot of male friends, so in some ways I guess you'd say I was a 'man's man'. As in hard drinking, gets wildly excited by football matches, into all the male bonding type stuff. Definitely a 'One of the lads' type. Usually hogging the limelight, if I'm honest. The 'Come ON, people! Let's get moving! Let's PARTYYYY!'.

That's me.

Indeed, I'm the sort of person likes to hold court at parties, likes to stand at the bar in my local and be the centre of attention. That's life how I like to lead it.

So in one sense, I'm very approachable.

But it really isn't that clear cut.

My general relations with the opposite sex are quite simple. For the most part, if you're female, I will flirt with you. Now last October I decided to go on a sexual abstinence bout. The reasons were actually quite simple. To work out what I really wanted from the opposite sex. Now, I do post some stuff here about communes and open relationships, etc, but please remember that these are actually untested speculations. This particular post is actually about reality. Day to day reality.

Now I broke my abstinence period a while back, but generally speaking I've still been laying off, though I have come to a decision that I'm actually going to return to the field on that one.
Because I've finally accepted that really, I do get it. I understand that things the way they are makes sense.
And what is the field?

My real life relationships with the opposite sex are simple. The vast majority of sex I have is with people I've just met and I've forgotten their names the following day. Occasionally I do the whole 'relationship' thing, but I get cold feet within three months at most. I just can't hack it. I am just constitutionally unsuited to the committed relationship. They make me miserable, no two ways about it. I actually cannot deal with them. I actually don't want to be in them, period.

And it isn't actually about the issue of sexual fidelity. That's not the problem.

The problem is, a person being in my life to that degree. A person being that close to me both emotionally and physically. I just can't handle it.

I think I've often said just how important a friend the Baker is. We really are a lot closer than most best friends, even. Even now he has a baby daughter, it's still true that I'm in his confidence to a degree D is not. I'm still the person he consults on his major life decisions and probably always will be. We've shared most things over the years, including sexual partners.

A few months back when we were discussing some of the crazy women in my past he came up with quite a profound point 'I think it's true to say that the relationship you and I have is kind of different to any of your other relationships with anyone though. One thing that's always been true of you is that you can never escape from worrying about who's in control. Basically all your friendships and all your relationships are based on that. It's your main consideration, you never really stop being conscious of it. You won't let people near you unless you're comfortable they don't pose a threat. I guess I can see it and understand it, because I guess I know why it's like that for you. And I think it's probably a good thing that you've at least got me in your life, where you don't think about that. I think I'm probably the only person in your life who you don't erect some kind of barrier to guard yourself against'.

And that of course, is the point. In real life I really do just guard myself against everybody. I just do it quite well. So well, that mostly no one notices. Except people who try to get close to me in the WRONG way.

The Chimney Sweep, I don't think he notices. Because I'm not having to guard myself against him. Over the years, he's subconsciously picked up what he can and can't do. It's instinctive to him. Neither of us ever notices there is a barrier there, because to all practical purposes there isn't. It's a barrier which is down. And which could not, in my opinion ever be raised. I don't think he ever notices that I have his complete confidence, that he asks me for advice on everything and anything, but that I often keep things from him. Haydee, for example. I only told him of her existence two weeks ago. The Baker knew from about March that she existed. The Chimney Sweep accepts that without question. Other things as well, in our dynamic. I adopt a protective role towards him in many respects, but also, occasionally if I'm honest, I can patronise him a little.

D, when she lived with me got used to the fact that much of my life was a total mystery to her. I knew who she slept with, because she'd ask my permission to bring them back, but I never told her where I was going or what I was doing. Merely 'I'm off out. Might be back tonight, don't know yet' or 'I'm going to be away this weekend. So I won't be here when you get back on Friday'. I never told her who I was sleeping with. Once, at her request I pointed a girl out in my local 'That's her, that barmaid. All right ain't she?' That was about it.

Yet by the same token, I had no real issue sitting on the sofa in just my boxer shorts channel surfing, or with her using the PC, even though it is in my bedroom whilst I had a Saturday morning lie in. I'm not private in that way at all.

And the deal I have with my family? Very simple. Don't call me, I call you. I visit you when I decide. You do not, under any circumstances, contact me.
In fact, I actually threatened to bar my grandmother's phone number if she called me again without prior consent and it wasn't an emergency. My exact words were 'You do NOT have my permission to ring up, at any time, just for a chat.'

And I've made it clear when I visit her in the home that there are a wealth of things we can discuss, but if she starts to ask me personal questions, I will just get up and walk out.

This is my closest relative.

She once said to me 'Don't you want me to care about you?'
I replied 'Not in the way you want to, no. I have people who look after me as much as I need looking after. You're not in a position to look after me. So there really isn't any point me telling you things you don't need to know. I'm alive, I'm here, I'm surviving. As long as you know that, you don't need to worry do you?'

Now I guess you're probably thinking by now what a cold bastard I am at heart. I'm not.

I remember at a party once a gay guy called Matteo saying 'It's such a shame Joe is so cynical about love and relationships because he's really a very loving person, when he lets himself be. Very tactile.' (I was lieing with my head on his shoulder at the time and he WAS playing with my hair).

And that is true. Around close friends where I don't feel threatened, I am. And dogs. I love dogs. I can't put them down.

And the way I get over babies is stereotypically female.

But I am quite a damaged person in many ways. I'm very protective of my personal space.
To a degree that is just way beyond most people's comprehension.

Basically, my life strategy is to have as many people in my life as I can, but never really let anyone get too close.

And that means, my life just isn't suited to actually being in any kind of loving committed relationship with anybody.

Thing is, I need female company. A lot, actually. Believe it or not, I prefer talking to women than men. And in my real life I have three female friends I can talk to without the 'complication' arising. The 'complication' is mixing the friendship with sex because I just can't help myself and then finding things are heading towards being a relationship.
And reality is, most of the times I bed random women it's mainly because I just want some female company. I want someone to lie next to and hold. I do flit from woman to woman a lot in real life, because I like women, I really do. I like being around them, I like being with them, I like being held by them.

But I hate the complications. I hate them coming into my life.

But there are needs I do have, emotional needs. The need for female company. When D lived here she provided that in an uncomplicated way. But I always had to keep a mental barrier there. It was hard sometimes to just look at her as a sister. I'm not quite as good at that as I'd like to be. There always was a little part of me which always fancied her. And it's something I think she, I and the Baker are all aware of.

It's why he asked my permission to start seeing her in the first place.

But in real life I really do bottle up these emotional needs. I won't allow situations to develop where I become emotionally dependant on women.

But there are certain things only women can give you. And I don't mean sex. Not at all.

It's feeling a woman's touch in your life. Being able to have women you can trust, to make you feel cared for, to ask you how your day went, to give you advice, to be there for you. Women you can tell everything to and feel safe.

And I just CAN'T open myself up to that from a woman in real life, I can't. I'm way too damaged to be able to open up to a woman in that way.

The internet has given me that.

It took me a while to get the hang of it, and it caused some confusion to me as well when I started blogging when I realised that I felt comfortable emoting to women online, in a way I wouldn't in real life.
Because part of it, of course, is that it's safe. They're not in your real life.
Except they kind of are.

If you want to say I have an online harem, I kind of do. But not in the way you think. It consists of a small group of women, all of whom know the others exist and none of whom think they are romantically linked with me. But between them, they fulfill my emotional need for female companionship.

And they mean I have no need to seek emotional companionship in what for me, is the more problematic domain of the three dimensional world.

What do they give me? Well, it's rare I'm online and one or other isn't around. I don't think it's ever happened they've all been online, but often I'm talking to more than one at the same time, and I think they're aware of that. And what do we talk about?
Well, they seem to know when I'm down, if I am they'll ask me why, or if I want to talk about it, I'll tell them things I wouldn't tell anyone else, I'll get them to go through posts for me, I'll ask them what they think I should do about work problems, or money issues, etc, etc, etc.

Each one of them is an important feature of my life.

Two, especially. Because I talk to them daily. In fact, quite often they're 'with me' for much of the evening. One of them is 'present' now, in the yahoo messenger waiting for me to finish this post. As she is most nights, at some point. We just natter really. I'll tell them what I'm having for tea, I'll tell them if I'm popping to the pub and I always see if they're around when I get back.

And I always say goodnight to them.


I have people in my life I say goodnight to every night. Ok, it may only be on Yahoo Messenger, but I get to say goodnight to people who are a very important part of my life.

I suppose the best way to express how, is this.

One night I interrupted a conversation with one of them to say that I was just going to 'grab a quick pint'. Well, a quick pint got sidetracked, but when I got back I decided to check comments whilst the girl I'd brought back got undressed. At which point, I was IMed by the other of my closest online friends.

HER: Hi Joester!
ME: You know, I hate to say this, but I can't really talk right now because I'm about to have sex.
HER: Too much information!
ME: Sorry, I really am. I apologise. Catch you tomorrow?

And the girl waiting in my bed asked 'What you doing?'
I lied 'Work related stuff'.

The other e-mailed me the following day to ask if I'd got laid. I kind of prevaricated and asked her why she thought that.
She pointed out that I'd signed off Yahoo Messenger two hours after I'd left without seeing if she was around to say goodnight to, which kind of suggested I was up to something I didn't want to tell her about.

I admitted her theory was correct.

She knows me too well.

She should do.

She's Haydee.

Bet you weren't expecting that now, were you?

No, nor was I.

I have known her a year now. Through e-mails initially, though now we talk on Yahoo Messenger. I think I actually fell in love with her on Christmas Day, though I didn't admit that to myself till about March. I actually told her that I thought I was in love with her in June(?). Since which point, it's been quite bizarre really.

And it's weird. It actually goes completely against all logic. But it just goes to show how, if you really want to, you can really pick a person up from what they write. I felt like I knew her a very long time ago indeed.

I have actually met her, and no, it wasn't actually a sordid encounter- we went round an art gallery and had a meal. And she is everything I ever imagined her to be. And a truly beautiful woman.

The honest to God truth is, if I actually was capable of having such a thing as a committed relationship, I'd want it to be with her. But I'm not.

What I am capable of, is having what I do have with her, which is the most important friendship in my life, in many ways. She fulfills a huge part of my emotional needs.

Believe it or not, right now I'm discussing the hugely significant fact with her that I happen to have a craving for Brandy snaps at this minute in time.

You see, this is the point. No, she doesn't love me, not in that way, and it's probably a good thing she doesn't. But she provides me with a hell of a lot of female companionship.

Female companionship. In a way I'm capable of dealing with, without getting freaked out by it.
It's not actually an emotional closeness I think I'd ever be capable of with someone I was sleeping with in real life.

I'm just not emotionally close to people I sleep with. I can never let them in, not in the way I let her in.

And the other girl who I chat on IM most nights, again, a very close friend now. Of course she is. I talk to her more than I talk to most RL people. And I was saying to her recently that I didn't think she realised just what a valued role she plays in my life. Because she's always bubbly, always pleasant, full of beans, always brightens me up. There's no one can dispell the thunder clouds like she can.

She's a little bottle of sunbeams. And again, in so many ways I feel I can let her in. I can spend hours talking to her, and do. She's actually my main adviser on Haydee- although she hasn't a clue who Haydee is and until this post, wouldn't have been aware the realities about Haydee. She has an amazing integrity, again I have to put her up there as one of my closest friends, because I say goodnight to her most nights. It's a small category of people I can say that about, and two of them are online. In fact there IS only one other person I can say that about- The Baker. Because he rings me most nights, if he's not around.

Now these two, as I say, count as amongst the most important relationships in my life. But there are others too, and yes, as it happens, the most important online ones happen to be female, in the main. There are two others I speak to at least once a week, sometimes for a short period, sometimes for hours. So I spend as much time talking to them as I do people who in real life would count themselves good friends. One has an amazingly wicked naughty sense of humour, and is just a really good laugh. A woman with no airs and graces and a woman who knows how to have a good time. And a woman who can see right through people. An amazing judge of character, a lot LOT smarter I think, then many people would give her credit for. Street wise.

And then there's my enigmatic friend, a real woman of class. Again, a great find in the journey through life. She can ALWAYS pick up my mood. And she can really cut to the chase. Sometimes I need her just to say to me 'If you're going to carry on talking on this defeatist way, I'm going to go'.

And I'm actually quite comfortable with her probing of me in a way I wouldn't be in real life. She can usually tell when I don't want to talk about something because she'll say 'You obviously don't want to tell me about it, so we'll move on'.
Now, only one person in RL has grasped that. Grasped when I don't want to talk about something and grasped that using that exact line, is the exact way to get me to talk about it. That person of course, being the Baker.

She's actually become one of my chief life crisis advisers.

These are probably the most important of my online friendships, the ones I regard as actually being features of my life. Friends I treasure.

And friendships I probably couldn't have in RL, not the way I do.

For the simple reason that I'm only capable of getting emotionally close to women who exist in three dimensional form if they are totally ruled out as sexual partners. D was ruled out, because we shared a flat, so that in itself created a barrier to sex. Of the two other women I'm emotionally close to in RL, one is effectively married and the other is a Lesbian.

The closest I'd say I am emotionally to an available heterosexual woman in RL, is Jo the Redhead barmaid at the Star, and for various reasons, we won't go into that in this post. It's complicated. As you would expect, in my case.

The bottom line is, I seem to have ended up conditioned so that physical intimacy and emotional intimacy are mutually incompatible for me. I've just ended up too hardened in real life. In RL, really, all I'm capable of is loving and leaving. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am. So what that actually means is that my online friendships are hugely important to me. They've come to fill a hole in my life that can't be filled any other way. They give me female COMPANIONSHIP. Totally platonic, with the exception of Haydee, where she also fills my need to actually love someone.

So all I will say is this. It's my female friends online that get the genuine me. It's my female friends online get me as I am. They get to hear about my day at work, they get to hear my stories about things I've found whilst tidying the flat, they get to see the art I like, to know what I actually think, they get to share aspects of my life.

They get a side of me no woman in RL can ever have, unless she's firmly ruled out as a sleeping partner.
And I don't rule out that high a proportion.

You see, at some point next week, I will probably bed a girl who drinks in the Star who I've had my eye on for a while and its being getting quite steamy. And it may be I bed her more than once. And she actually is a very nice girl.
But there is no chance I'll really let her in. And either it will stay a casual thing, it will fizzle out her end, or I'll end it if looks in any outside danger of getting serious.
That's what I mean by returning to the field.

That really is the only way I'm capable of physical relations with the opposite sex.

What I have with my online female friends is so much more important.

And Haydee just said (from the Yahoo Messenger where she's getting bored) 'Are you writing War and Peace?'

So I guess I better wind it up now :)


Anonymous said...

Funny, today as I was carving pumpkins I was just thinking about my friends and what they mean to me and about my blogging experience which was intended as an outlet for humour and for lower-order gonzo journalism and for essays on the art of writing.

Some of this has emerged and some hasn't. What took me by surprise is the sense of community that I fell into and the friendships I've made. And they're authentic friendships. I care a great deal for some of these people whom I've never met. I had never imagined this would happen.

Anonymous said...

In a sense online blogging is like real life friendships and relationships, well the emotional side of it - without the physical contact.

Have fun!

Anonymous said...

lol crushed, an online harem?
that must be as hard to keep happy as a real life flesh & blood harem

Indeed just as with real life relationships, if one does not dedicate enough time to people who visit and comment (and return the visits and comment) one tends to find they drift away.

Anonymous said...

Why are you so obsessed with sex?

Anonymous said...

I only read that to the end because I thought you would mention me... HUMPH!

Anonymous said...

FWG- Blogs evolve. This one certainly has. It bears no ressemblance to the tiny paragraphs without pictures it was when it stated. And the subject matter has vastly changed.

Over time this boog has essentially become more me- or at least my posts have. But the blog has become more of a kind of anarchic living room, I think.

The friendships are authentic, yes. In their own way, I see all these interactions as important.
Several are indeed now, a type of human connection I once never envisaged. But its good. I actually have friends I 'speak' to regularly who live in far of places. My world has become a lot wider as a a result.

Quasar- No, not really :)

As I say, it's more that its interacton which takes place through people knowing me primarily through the blog than through real life interaction. So it's different.

I have become a big fan of Yahoo Messanger- I don't like gmail because it makes an annoying clunky noise and you have to keep gmail on your screen. Yahoo messenger allows me to carry on with what I'm doing and chat as well.

If I have to concentrate on a post, I'll say 'Give me half hour' (usually a slight understatement) but sometimes I post and chat at the same time. And eat my dinner as well. And then I usually pop out around half nine- ten O'clock.

Visting is something I used to be poorly orgainised at. I'm getting much better since I started using Google reader effectively, but even so, I'm still finding I'm allowing too many posts to build up in it.

Kinderling- I think you'll find most people are. It's a bodily function.
I do think that society still has a very unhealthy attitude to it. Lots of silly taboos.

From what I can see is that generally most people feel they don't get enough of it and we're all wondering why.

Mainly because of all the silly hang ups and baggages we still carry as a society I think.

We're all hung up on it and I think we should all just do it a lot more with eachother just for the sheer hell of it.

As in 'I'm feeling horny, are you?'
'Well, shall we?'
'Why not?'

Does that answer your question?

Mutley- I did say EVERY connection counts...
I did in fact say that I have a variety of online friends- yourself included.

The point about the ones described here is that if I didn't hear from them for a while, I'd actually be worried about them, because it would suggest something was wrong.

You know I'm always there to chat to if gmail says I am :)

Anonymous said...

It is funny how it sometimes takes something different to shift you from old habits... as though the online barrier has taken away a little of your need for control, and allowed you to open up in a different way. It also takes a lot of courage to open yourself up in this arena when you have been bitten before. I'm glad you have, though.

Anonymous said...

I love my online friends, most of them close, LOL you have a harem? You lucky person you!! No matter what, enjoy your good friends, be it online or RL, they are hard to find.