Awkward Affection


Look, I’ll be honest. I’m not very good at consoling people, or being a shoulder to cry on. When people cry, I just kinda of flap my hands helplessly and ramble senselessly, or pat them on the back awkwardly whilst keeping as far away from them as possible. I won’t even try to explain my own bewilderment when I cry. Trying to pat yourself on the back is an exercise in futility. Suffice to say, I suck at emotions and affection.

My friend sent me a message yesterday, to ask if I wanted to hang because the guy she likes kind of pulled the plug on their budding relationship for personal reasons. Now, my friend is very good at pretending to be ok when she isn’t, so when she openly told me she was upset, I knew she was feeling pretty shit. Of course, I didn’t hesitate to tell her I’d be over. I hung up my sewing for the day, had a shower and brushed my teeth and off I went.

I arrived at her house with chocolate, beer, and a creepy stuffed toy that I knew she would love because I hated it. (our relationship is based almost exclusively on opposites) I pretty much just crawled into her blanket fort – because yes, it is perfectly acceptable to make, and hang out in, a blanket fort at the age of 23 – gave her the pink gift bag and sat awkwardly while she cried quietly and told me she felt like an idiot. I did my best to console her but it was less words of comfort and encouragement, and more acting the fool to get her to laugh while we continued our Harry Potter marathon from the previous week. I think it worked, for a while anyway.

The thing is, I’ve never really been comfortable with affection. I have a tendency to apologise after I say nice things to be best friend because I always feel like I’ve made it too saccharine, and get subsequently embarrassed. My other best pal and I deal almost entirely in insults, just so neither one of us has to be nice! I just…find it difficult to express affection verbally. I am much more comfortable giving someone flowers, or chocolate, or some obscure gift to make them feel better. Yes, I would rather spend money on various useless or edible items than say ‘I love you’ or ‘are you ok?’. And when I do, I rush through it to get it over with quickly.

It’s not that I don’t feel it, I just get uncomfortable saying it. Maybe there’s classes that I can go to, teach me how to be nice. Then again, my approach works in all circumstances. Boyfriend just broke up with you? Here’s some alcohol to drown your sorrows. Just got a promotion? Have some flowers! A loved one has just passed? Have an awkward hug and botched attempts at consolation. Ok, so maybe not appropriate for all things but you can’t win them all. As Tony Soprano would say, whaddya gonna do?

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