I get incredibly lonely, quite a lot. I feel very lonely in unfamiliar spaces, yet seldom get the feeling exercising solo in the Gym. In fact, people and me plus exercise is often an equation for discomfort and irritation. It all boils down to the level of comfort, plus the addition (or not) of unfamiliar people who may trigger anxiety. So, why would I willingly sit on an adult ‘Buddy Bench’ and be the friend to ‘play’ with?
A lot of it has to do with understanding what loneliness and anxiety can do to myself, and knowing this… why wouldn’t I want to be the person who helps you as another lonely playground user feel better? It would be a pleasure, and the enjoyment gained just by having a chat, or maybe a quick round or two of Tag while we’re at it would tire us both out quite nicely.
The truth however is that, as adults, it isn’t just being buddies that matters.
Too often, I’ve started that process via Social media and the results… okay, let’s be brutally honest. I’ve now lost count (that is, it is more than ten) of the men who have attempted to initiate intimate relationships via online conversation using Twitter. Just Twitter, this doesn’t count email or Discord or proprietary gaming message apps. Then there are the stalkers, and the nutters who got upset when I stopped talking to them and so spent months (in at least one case) creating sock accounts to abuse me.
All I am interested in is friendship. Honestly. I’ve been happily married for over thirty years. I don’t want to have an online fling, or engage in soft-core role play. There is no interest in ANYTHING except friendship but even that has pitfalls. ‘Oh, I thought we were mates and then you unfollowed me’ is becoming a broken record as I remove those from my feed who have been selfish or racist, sexist or simply fucking dumb yet don’t even realise it has happened. This is the disadvantage, of course, on already sitting on a large number of other people’s Buddy Benches.
Conversations are copied into my timeline if other people I follow are on joint friends’ lists, and what often happens is that the reality of other people’s shortcomings becomes apparent almost by accident. A lot of time and effort is then expended on working out whether it is worth pursuing these conversations in public. In most cases, effort isn’t worth grief that results. Also, it can get quite perilous if you’re talking about someone else and someone you’d not considered might get upset sees themselves in the analogy you’ve posted, and immediately starts up their own, unrelated drama.
Nope, it’s not worth it.
What happens now is I pick and choose other people on benches to approach. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. If I feel comfortable enough, maybe one day it will okay to sit alone, but I suspect the chances of finding someone as a long-term friend will be quite small.
Maybe I might get lucky.