We all have that one friend who continually decides to make the wrong kinds of decisions. Whether it is as mundane as deciding on a horrible movie, or choosing the college major you know they will regret, these kinds of decisions can drive those of us standing by silently and thoroughly insane.
My friend, Nadya, is a hopeless romantic. Seeing as she is a 19 year old college sophomore, I can completely understand why. Lately, however, she has been in this relationship that was emotionally draining. Finally, finally, they broke up. So what is the natural course of action to take in order to get over someone you break up with? Personally, I go out with friends and eat my weight in candy. Others drink it away, go out and find new hook ups, or rebound; the options are endless. Naturally, Nadya chooses to begin a friends with benefits relationship.
Now don’t get me wrong — sometimes the FOB relationship can work out perfectly fine and can be a fun way to get back on your feet to start dating again. Usually, though, it’s a good idea to have these “benefits” with a person who strictly falls under the qualification of friend. Hence the name “friends with benefits” rather than “exes with benefits.”
Now it’s time for some background about her relationship. Nadya and Vince first met over Skype. I have absolutely no idea how that works, but they did. I remember their initial meeting happened on the most awkward group date that I’ve ever been a party to (for reasons that are a completely different story, but for now we are only focusing on Nadya and Vince). A group of our friends got together for Olive Garden and to go see “Red Dawn,” and right before we walked into the theater, Vince joins our group. I had no idea who he was, but one minute we were all talking, and in the next Nadya is throwing her arms around this stranger. He seemed pretty chill and very considerate, seeing as he drove two hours specifically for this group date. When Nadya’s sister, Cora, and I looked at the couple when the movie started, they seemed to be very comfortable together. Literally. I had no idea that the arms of the chairs in that theater could be put back so that one could cuddle unhindered.
It was smooth sailing for the first few months. Until Vince started revealing his aggressive and controlling nature. Nadya insisted that they were in love. As long as she was happy, I was fine with just silently being a skeptic.
A few months passed and Vince had to visit relatives in Italy over the summer. Nadya stuck it out like a real trooper, and I was actually starting to be convinced that maybe they did belong together — even though Vince told her that he would probably never love her, and that she would have to change her religion if she hoped at having a future with him.
Nadya was a good sport about a lot of aspects in their relationship: always being the one to make the long drives to visit him (excluding the first group date), having to hide her relationship from his family, having to hide her existence from his family, risking unprotected sex because it didn’t feel the same, and certain other stigmas that might have been deal breakers for young girls. As for the unprotected sex, Nadya had not ever seen a gynecologist. Fortunately for her, her mother decided it to be prudent to go see one. She was able to get birth control.
A controlling boyfriend with weird relationship quirks is one thing to deal with. Adding anger issues to the mix makes him another issue entirely. One frantic night Nadya called me and Cora crying, telling us that Vince had slapped her across the face because she was not in the mood for sex. We spent hours with her on the phone explaining how awful that was, and how it can be a sign of an abusive partner. She agreed that she would end the relationship.
But Vince got on his knees and begged for forgiveness, and she felt so attached to him. Therefore, nothing happened. But Nadya’s eyes were opened to the realities of her situation nonetheless. Neither her nor Vince were happy together, and they began to have long talks about breaking up. There were even a few breakup attempts. Finally, she worked up the nerve to end it for real.
Nadya has not been a single girl since her freshman year in high school. She has been with boyfriend after boyfriend after boyfriend. The idea of the single life terrifies her beyond belief. We talked through her break up, set up different activities to keep her busy as she adjusts to the single life. “Oh, but the attention!” she cried. Without Vince, there would be no guy to give her any sort of romantic or physical attention. As hard as it was for her to admit, that was something she felt she desperately needed.
Once she revealed this, my hopes of Single Nadya and her adventure of self discovery dissipated. And only one day after breaking up, her and Vince settled on the FOB solution. “It’s only sex. It’s amazing how quickly my feelings for him have completely vanished,” she justified herself.
This is why I thoroughly believe that for Nadya, being an FOB with Vince is a horrible, horrible idea. After close to a year of dating, attraction does not just fizzle away in a matter of 24 hours. Lingering feelings and confused hearts are part of being a teenage girl. Maybe in her mind, she’s fulfilling a physical void left by the end of their relationship. But there is no way that in the end, being intimate with Vince will help her move on. It’s way too soon, and she will only rekindle the strong feelings she is trying to come over.
Nadya can say what she likes to me to defend her clinging to the dregs of a connection that’s slowly dwindling, but I’m not buying it. I think it’s sad that she’s so scared to face being truly single. Maybe she doesn’t realize that being single will not mean that she is alone; she will always have the comfort of friends. She can ignore my advice and ditch me for her current boyfriend to her heart’s content, but she will always have me to lean back on. It’s a sad day when a girl can’t realize the strength that friendship can bring.
So, for now Nadya will be the one that makes me silently insane with her tumbleweed thought process. As much as I just want to force her to see things my way, I know that I can’t. The only way for her to figure out her life is to experience it. As hard as it is to be the bystander watching a friend slowly digging their grave, sometimes you just have to stand by to pull them out when they realize they’re in too deep.