The other day I hung out with a friend, “Melissa,” who I hadn’t seen in a while. When I asked her what she was up to these days, she handed me an invitation to a sex party and said, “You should come!” I said “Totally!” and acted really excited about it. But I am probably not going to come, because I would probably feel kind of uncomfortable at a sex party. I’m just not a sex party kind of person. That’s why I responded the way I did.
Melissa knows this about me and had a feeling I was bluffing. So she told me about one of the events she has planned for the sex party. It involves someone putting food in their anus and expelling it onto more food. This time I said, “That’s gross and I don’t think I want to come.” Melissa one, me zero.
I am really glad for Melissa because she managed to make me uncomfortable. Making your friends uncomfortable is one of the awesome things about friendship, because it reminds you that you are different people, and in ways you can both respect. I am happy that Melissa’s sex parties make her happy and one of the things I love about her is that she is a sex party kind of person.
It doesn’t just have to be sex. One of my co-workers recently went skydiving. When he told me about it, I squirmed. He got a kick out of that. I got a kick out of it, too. I have one friend who doesn’t wash her hands after going to the bathroom. Sometimes when she gets out she tries to touch me. I don’t know if I get a kick out of that, necessarily, but I respect that it’s her way.
There are right and wrong ways to make someone uncomfortable. For one thing, you can’t make too much of the fact that the thing you enjoy is not something they enjoy. Then you’re just talking a big game, like an asshole. At the same time, you can’t be totally disingenuous about the fact that what you enjoy might not be for them.
It is not for them. It is for you. And a bazillion other people, too, but not people who are also in the friendship. And that makes you special and that makes them special and that’s what friendship is all about.