I can't be friends with you

Apparently, there are certain rules I should follow if I'm to become friends with you.

One, I should share your interests.

Two, I should adapt myself to you.

Three, I should always have your back.

I know, I know, friendship is a good thing, and for the most part - or, some people seem to believe - you can never have too many friends. However, I can never seem to understand why these things have to be a one-way street. It doesn't happen all the time, mind - I have friendships where nothing seems to go wrong - but there will always be people who will act like jerks around this thing.

I'm not taking the high road here. I must clarify that. I am not taking the high road here, only because there'll always be someone who'll angrily come here and claim that I have acted like a jerk around my friendships. You cut me off because I wasn't who you wanted me to be. And now you're complaining about other people wanting you to be someone that you're not? Perhaps. How do I put this? I try, I really try, to the point that I suck it all up when things start falling apart, and only because I don't like the feeling of, well, acting like a jerk around my friendships.

I claim to be a cynic, but sometimes I think I'm actually an optimist. I'll always proclaim the negative, perhaps out of exasperation, but I always find myself tilting my neck in impossible ways just to see the positive. Perhaps it's fatalistic, I don't know. There has to be something that makes this worth it. And, somehow, I do find something, and I hold on to it, because I don't really want to be the one who says goodbye first. It always makes me the bad guy.

So, I end up appreciating that one flimsy excuse. You can only imagine what I do if it's not a flimsy excuse - if it's really something worth holding on to. We click. We get each other's jokes without even saying them. We may not disagree about certain things - I call her a bitch, you call her a friend - but it doesn't tear us apart. Call this me taking the high road, but I'll say it anyway: I really appreciate the friendship.

But sometimes you can only take so much. And sometimes you have to be the first to say goodbye, which gives you the unfortunate obligation of dealing with both the what-ifs and the vitriol. I'm beyond pissed off, she told me once, and I was hurt, partly because I pissed her off, and mostly because she never understands why I had to cut her off at all - because I know that if I cut her off later, I'll get hurt more by how terrible things really are going.

Perhaps that is why I can't be friends with you. With any of you, really. When cracks show, no matter how well things are actually going between us, I can't get myself to make the first move. At least until my back's against the wall and I have limited options - and the best option would be complete isolation. And still, all those things I hold on to, it will bite back in the end: if the best I have isn't good enough, then what else am I supposed to get?

Those friendships where nothing seems to go wrong? Cordial is what you call it, and while that's serviceable, it's not the sort where you can just confide in the other about things. There are jokes and thought bubbles, but it will never be enough, and it's not just me, I swear. So I went past that, and look what happened. Things always blow up. They demand too much, and I am too timid to stand up for myself, and right now I'd rather just curl myself up in a ball than try again. And trust me, I've tried again and again, and they all move on and forget me, and I don't forget them.

That is why I can't be friends with you.

And your responses...

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