THE OTHER KIND OF FLING
A FRIENDSHIP FLING MAY BE FLEETING, BUT IT COULD BE JUST WHAT YOU NEED.
It’s OK to switch friendship camps.
When you think about flings, you mostly recall those short-but-sweet distractions based on an instant connection, a few good times in the bedroom and, um, not much else. However, not all flings come in the form of a smooth-talking stranger with Channing Tatum-esque abs. In fact, you may find yourself in a brief dalliance with someone who has an enviable collection of high heels, can apply false lashes in five seconds or less, and shares your love of Pinot Grigio. Yep, we’re talking about a friendship fling. Like the dating equivalent, friendship flings are all about a good time, not a long time.
When 26-year-old teacher Kate met advertising exec Alex, 29, they hit it off straight away. “I’d just been through a break-up when I met Alex,” Kate explains. “While I’m generally quite shy, she is super-cool and confident. Most of my other friends are coupled up, and soon Alex and I were hitting the town together all the time. Whenever I was in the mood to go out, she was always right there with me, even if it was a school night. But after a few months, I found it hard to keep up with Alex’s partying and I realised that’s all we really shared.”
SINGLE PURPOSE PALS
This isn’t an uncommon scenario when it comes to a fleeting friendship. “Friendship flings are often platonically passionate,” says psychologist Sue Pratt of Lifeworks Relationship Counselling and Education Services (lifeworks.com. au). “Implicit within the fling is a sense of fun and excitement. It’s all about an intense connection.” According to the experts, we are more likely to have a friendship fling when we’re feeling lonely or are going through a major life change and finding it hard to relate to other friends. “These types of temporary friendships can also offer support during life transitions like the break-up of a relationship or moving to a new place,” says Pratt. “Your friendship fling may also be fulfilling needs you have at that time that aren’t being met by your other friendships.”
SOME FLING IN COMMON
For Amber, 24, moving from her hometown to the big city for work lead to her friendship fling with Tiffany. “Tiff and I met when I moved to the city but coincidentally we both grew up in the same hometown so that gave us an instant connection,” says Amber. “Our friendship was very accelerated. We were acting like best friends even though we’d only just met. But I soon realised Tiff was pretty insecure and needed constant reassurance about everything. One day she spent almost an hour asking my opinion about what outfit she should wear to go out for coffee! Although she was really sweet, hanging out with her soon became exhausting. We still hang out occasionally but our friendship has definitely faded.”
A REASON OR A SEASON
In the cases of Kate and Amber, both friendship flings helped them deal with a period of transition in their lives. However, some friends broaden our horizons even if just in passing.
This was the case for Rachel, 29, when she befriended a fellow traveller while holidaying on her own for the first time. “It was like the friendship equivalent of an amazing holiday romance,” says Rachel. “Even though Sam lives on the other side of the world, some of the conversations we had over a week changed my life forever.”
According to life coach Ann-Mhayra Aleckson (ann-mhayra.com), there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a friendship with an expiry date. “We all put these expectations and judgements on certain things, like a friendship is supposed to be like this, and a relationship is supposed be like that – when in actual fact they should all be whatever they are for the time that they are.” While friendship flings may be short and sweet, it doesn’t mean they don’t impact our lives like a lifelong friendship. “I’ll always be grateful to Alex for the way she helped me get back out there after my ex,” Kate points out. The measure of a friendship should ultimately be how spending time with your friend makes you feel, regardless of whether you met two weeks ago or you’ve known each other since Primary Two.