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An interesting thing happened last week that has me thinking about loyalty conflicts.
I tend to think I’m a pretty loyal person. When I mentally “mark” someone as a friend, they get my loyalty and support in spades until we fall apart in some manner (and sometimes, even after). That, to me, is the core difference between a friend and a casual or “friendly” acquaintance. For one I reserve my strong emotions and my energy. The other gets very, very little.
Last Tuesday, I went home with Luke to chill before the weekly Thorn meeting. (This way, I would only have to arrange a ride home.) So Luke and I chat and hang out for about two hours before the meeting. I buy him dinner because I want to eat out, and we generally have a good time. This rather surprised me, actually [and sadly], because I frequently have a very hard time being really comfortable around Luke. It’s not that we fight, but I frequently feel as though I’m being a bother or being invasive, I suppose.
At any rate, we’re chilling, and I’m comfortable, and then Bob and the other GDI female staff member (“O.”) show up. Now, a joke was made between me and Bob a couple of weeks ago that I simply have to attend these summer meetings (despite my lack of self-made transportation) in order to keep Bob from being bent over and raped repeated by the Luke-O. tag-team. And damn if they don’t tag team and refuse to hear Bob’s ideas out; I spent one meeting playing translator for Bob the entire time to keep things from escalating into nastiness.
The dichotomy in the meetings is obvious even in the way we sit–Bob and I usually park near one another, and O. and Luke usually sit next to each other, no matter whose house we’re in or who else is there.
So Bob comes into Luke’s apartment, and he’s evidently had a shitty day, because he is all kinds of tense, and the immediate Luke-O. tag-team on an issue as stupid as whether some Final Fantasy game should be categorized as an RPG is enough to put that edge in his voice that I know means he may very well just walk the fuck out of the apartment, and damn any business that needs to be taken care of.
The problem is, he looks at me for support. Now, aside from the facts that 1) I don’t care a fig about a video game I’ve never played, and 2) I’m chomping on a wonderfully yummy and messy Jimmy John’s sub sandwich, I can’t just flip and tear into Luke after I just spent over two hours enjoying his company and getting to know him better. I wanted the whole lot of them to shut up before someone got killed, but I couldn’t be a bastard to either of the guys. The entire situation left me feeling a bit like an Asimov robot with a Law conflict.
On a slightly related note, being stood up by the Cool CS Guy Sunday is having me question how much energy I wish to put even into a potential friendship. While him sleeping through our coffee thing is very much not a big deal in and of itself (shit happens, after all), I am asking myself how many times I want to prod to get this to work, and how many times I wish to be disappointed for the sake of a relationship I’m not even sure will turn into a genuine friendship. Return on investment and all that, I suppose.
But then, I refuse to become cynical and guarding of my friendship–that’ll get me nowhere very quickly in my goal to understand the inner workings of myself and other people. In order not to do become a cynic, however, I have to avoid over-generalizing single friend-relations–I have to try to treat each new relationship as something completely new and fresh to give myself the maximum opportunity to explore the possibilities with minimum luggage from previous encounters.