Some years ago, after a close friend snogged an ex of mine with me around the corner, I had a conversation with another friend. She pointed out that every woman has a guy in their past* that should be untouchable by her friends. A person whom the idea of a friend being with would be completely upsetting. Or a person who, while you might eventually be able to handle going out with your friends, you would like to be notified and if possible asked about your feelings. Just so that you have the space and time to come to terms with them.
And I realised this was true. Moreoever, in my case, the said Untouchable was not the boy I had being dating for four long years but the person with whom I had had a brief but passionate dalliance with for a few short months. It didn’t matter that when my friend snogged said guy, I was already dating V and was pretty much over him. I was sure I didn’t want to be with him, I was actually in a happier place with someone I knew instinctively I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and yet I felt upset, confused and a little betrayed.
Many years down the line, my feelings on this have not changed. I would still be a little upset if I heard close friends of mine were dating this guy. Becasue he was Mine and we had Our Experiences enclosed in a little bubble in my mind and while he is now dating other people and that doesn’t bother me, for someone in my circle to encroach into My Bubble would be amiss. It’s like having a Venn diagram that doesn’t come together nicely.
I pointed this out to Curly, who observed that the reason that said boy was my Untouchable was because I had unfinished business with him. There was no closure. It ended, if ever, on a rather messy note. I thought back to my other friend and realised her Untouchables were the same – they were people she had not had closure with.
The other tricky thing about this business is that it’s surprisingly hard to guess who your close friends’ Untouchables are. You might think they are the person they had the longest relationship with, but as you can see in my case, that’s not really so. Someone actually named a male best friend as an Untouchable, the Will to her Grace. Although she had never been in an amorous relationship with him, she didn’t want any of her friends to be either. She admitted that she is a rather possessive friend.
Curly and I had a fun time trying to guess who the Untouchables in our friends circle were. But they can only be guesses. Because as I said, you can be surprised who it might be.
Which makes me think that maybe friends should have this talk and spell out clearly who their Untouchables are so that there are no… erm… incidents.
*Every man could also have a woman in his past. Every woman could also have a woman in her past, every man a man… But since I’ve only every been a woman and not had a homosexual relationship I don’t want to generalise (although admittedly I’m already generalising… but about something I’m familiar with).