Many years ago, Reuben introduced Marlene and her sister to the group, firstly as a part of our Minecraft server collective, then later, as like minded friends. Marlene was still a teenager at the time, where I did not pay much attention to. As time went on, and she gained the courage to speak more in our public Minecraft chat, I found that her method of communication was quite ‘to-the-point’ with no to very little room for discussion. For example, a new player had joined our Minecraft server and the topic of romantic relationships came up. The new player directed the question to me about my relationship status. Before I could answer, Marlene immediately responded on my behalf, “He’s married and unavailable.” I am pretty sure the new player didn’t care whether I was single or not. She was just trying to strike up conversation. However, Marlene being as blunt as she was, pretty much ‘shut the conversation’ up right then and there.
Some years had passed and we all finally got together in person at Stormcrow in east Vancouver. Marlene’s in-person behaviour and attitude was quite a bit different than her online persona. Online, she’s straightforward and blunt, with little ability to bend to other world views. In-person, she’s playful and casual, though I could not decipher whether her world view in-person was as limited through her online persona or not. When I sat next to her, I asked if I could pat her head and she permitted me to with a smile. I patted her head gently and smiled back at her. Basically, Marlene was surprisingly lovely. It was around that time, I paid a bit more attention to her, as she slowly opened up to everyone.
As time went on, and more messages were sent between all of us, I started to take notice of Marlene more and more. It was around late 2019 when Marlene was 21, that I started taking much more notice towards her. She had expressed that she had gradually become more open minded about different world views, when I brought up how she ‘used to be’ as a teenager. She had become much more mature than when I first met her. She had a huge thirst to explore, was very inquisitive, was playful, wholesome, and creative. I thought how awesome she has become in such a short period of time. Which all were attractive qualities whether in friendship and/or in intimacy. In the beginning of 2020, I had a conversation with Amber about asking Marlene to be my friend with benefits, but wasn’t too inclined to do it because I wasn’t sure if Marlene was emotionally mature enough and open minded enough. Amber having witnessed the transitional growth of Marlene suggested I ask her, but I was very hesitant.
To summarize my thought process at the time, I didn’t want to risk causing a mental burden on Marlene, if she was indeed not nearly as emotionally mature as she comes off on the surface, which may cause a negative ripple effect throughout our mutual group of friends. The most common communication between our friends, is that our group welcomes people to speak their minds, and to offer a safe space for people to express themselves. So I didn’t want to be the reason Marlene stops communicating in the group. Thus, I made a final decision not to ask Marlene to be my friend with benefits.
However, this was on the notion that I thought Marlene was not sexually open minded and still emotionally immature to that degree. Otherwise, I didn’t find anything wrong with her. For me to ask a friend to be my friend with benefits, means I have developed trust in that person. More specifically, I would trust that person to be receptive of my proposition and whether they reject it or accept it, would all come down to how they respond. In this case, with respect and decency.
November 2021 came around and I published a long blog post titled “Plowing the Magnolia Fields” coinciding my desire to ask Marlene to be my FWB and why I chose not to. Amber, Kari, and Tom read it. Kari asked me if Marlene had read my blog post about her. I told her no, because none of my gamer friends read my blogs. Tom doesn’t count because we’ve been friends since we were 7. He’s not just a friend from my gaming group. He’s my brother from another mother. Amber read it and she insisted I ask Marlene to be my FWB. This was on the notion that if Marlene is as mature and open minded as she expresses herself to be, then asking her to be my FWB shouldn’t be an issue. Tom and I had a voice conversation on Discord in January 2022 about this topic. Basically, he mimicked my thought process that I should certainly trust my first instincts not to ask Marlene to be my FWB.
A month later in February 2022, Marlene and I had a long voice conversation over Whatsapp, where she opened her hobbies and her personality up to me. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. She told me that for the longest time, she felt because she’s the youngest, she was seen as ‘the outsider’, someone people had to tiptoe around, had to be extra gentle to because she was seen as ‘the kid’. However, as time went on, when people started including her in everything and spoke to her like she was ‘one of us’, it made her feel like she was actually a part of us, that people actually like her, and wanted to be around her. She loved the fact that her new found friends don’t see her as a kid and doesn’t treat her as one. I was super happy she figured this out on her own, because I always tried my best to make our gaming sessions to be as inclusive as possible. If I ever felt someone was extra quiet, or felt like they couldn’t get their word in, I would interrupt everyone just to ask them to say what they wanted to say, Marlene included. Basically, I treated Marlene the same way I treated Tom, Reuben, and everyone else in the group. For the last few years, the doubts I had with her maturity were washed away with how she evolved herself.
It was also during this conversation that Marlene told me she’s into bondage as an art form. She told me she’s a super sexual person and can be “a very nasty girl”. When she said that, I responded in a voice message, “I’m actually quite jealous. I wish you are attracted to me, so I can have a taste of you as well.” She apologized for making me feel awkward, which I assured her I wasn’t. I also assured her that being sex positive means topics of sex are normalized in day to day conversations, but that doesn’t mean people are allowed to express explicit details toward others at the same time. I mentioned that last part, to reaffirm that Marlene could share her sexual hobbies and sexual thought processes, without fear I would start sending her lewd messages without her permission.
^ Now I bolded the previous sentences to highlight something Marlene says to me later on. I would like you to keep a mental note of exactly what I said here coinciding what she tells me later.
In the beginning of April 2022, while Amber was giving me oral sex, Amber suddenly stopped, raised her head and asked why I don’t ask Marlene to be my sexting buddy instead. I was very hesitant. Even though Marlene has at the very least, on the surface proven she has become much more emotionally mature, is definitely sexually open minded, and has proven to be a trustworthy friend, I was still adamant that there was something off about Marlene. Perhaps it was my paranoia, but something just didn’t sit right about her. I mean, on the surface, she seems like someone I exactly wanted to ‘play with’ sexually and intimately. I did consider asking her, on the notion she was single and she was going through some stressful times. I figured until she finds a steady partner, we can have some fun and stress relief in the meantime. Alas, I brushed Amber’s idea aside again. Amber continued sucking me for awhile, until she heard me sigh. So she stopped and persisted, “I think you should definitely reconsider it. If Marlene is as mature as she has proven to be, and is as sexually opened minded as she has said she is, then this is just a matter of asking her. It’s two adult friends sharing their feelings.”
I sighed, then thought, fine, I’ll ask her. So I texted the following. Note how Marlene responded…
…I expected it as much. Exactly what Amber had said – two adult friends sharing, one asking, one rejecting gracefully, and I was absolutely cool with her rejection. I never brought it up again. I also never talked to her about sex related topics after that, because the opportunity never came up again. As you read in that exchange, it was two adults who shared their thoughts. Marlene rejected me, then thanked me for my honesty. I responded with a couple of emojis accepting her rejection. Two mature adults having a simple, playfully casual, and respectable conversation for consent. I thought nothing more on that.
In mid April 2022, a couple of weeks after that short exchange, Marlene blew up at everyone in the mutual gaming group when Reuben and I suggested we restart the Valheim server. She vehemently said no to a server restart, and even went as far as saying the server has been the most reliable in terms of emotional support, since no one else has been reliable for her. After she said that, there was a long bout of silence, as a few people in our common group messaged me with their displeasure. Basically, how could Marlene say any of us were unreliable, when all we’ve done is include her in everything we’ve done? So I spoke up against her immature antics. I called her out on how any of us could be unreliable, when she hasn’t asked any of us for anything otherwise. Even then, I have gone above and beyond what has been asked of me, to make sure people have as much of an enjoyable experience they could in every game I’ve hosted on my home server. I even always ask Marlene to join us for D&D games, and even ask her to join us on Discord whenever we have a group chat going.
^An excerpt of Marlene’s attitude and behaviour during our group chat in mid April 2022.
Marlene blowing up at all of us here, that day, made me so disappointed in her. She was having a fit that resembled that of a panicking child. A lot more was said the day, but I’ll leave it at that, lest I am reminded of how angry I became.
Two weeks passed, and I reached out to Marlene, asking how she was doing.
“Bumbed a bit”?!?!?! o_o She was like a bomb that went off in our group chat! That’s hardly ‘bumbed a bit’!
I was still quite upset with Marlene because whatever she said in mid April 2022 in our group chat cancelled out everything she expressed in February 2022 during our private conversation. However, regardless how upset I was, I wanted to be a friend that cared. So we continued speaking about that until she said the following to me…
At this point, I was absolutely stunned. I was at first shocked by what she said, because I was absolutely sure it was two adult friends whom are sex positive, who had a short, playful, and respectful conversation about consent. I asked. She rejected. I accept her rejection. She thanked me for being honest. I never brought it up again.
So what changed her mind? What made her lose her trust in me?
At that point, everything I thought about her – everything I believed her to be from all that we’ve spoken about, and how she said she loved that she was no longer seen as ‘the kid’, ‘an immature brat’, ‘the outsider’ pretty much crashed down on me that moment. I went from utter shock to utter disappointment.
Below is a continuance of what was said between us. Note that while my messages to her seem calm and collected, I was raging with disappointment.
To be clear, I apologized to Marlene because I made the mistake of treating her like a like-minded adult friend who is sex positive. I honestly thought when she told me she loved it when we all treated her like ‘one of us’ combined with the private conversation we had in February, that finally, I found someone whom I can freely share my thoughts with. As you can see in our exchange, I did not once say anything lewd about her. I did not tell her any sexual fantasies about her. I did not once believe Marlene was sharing her sexually charged hobbies as a sign she wanted me. I only asked if she would like to be my sexting buddy once and no more after she rejected me.
So it mind boggled me. Her reaction on what we talked about earlier in the year was completely contradictory to how she behaved later in that month.
Now, I want to emphasize on a few things that she had said to me, that really upsetted me.
She said, “Like sorry if I fed into that or what, I just thought I finally get to be myself and share stuff. I saw it was sharing with your friends that are just your friends.”
What she said here really bothered me. Firstly, yes it was just sharing with friends, as *I* was also sharing with my friend. I was sharing my thoughts and feelings with Marlene, my friend. What? Only she can share things, but I can’t?
Secondly, it’s like whatever I spoke to her about in February 2022 didn’t compute with her. I never felt like she fed me into anything. Instead, I thought she had proven to me that she was a dynamically emotionally mature individual who is sexually open minded, which means by that point, she had gained my trust. I only share these sort of thoughts and feelings with people I trust. It seems to me, that Marlene suggests that trust and sharing things are mutually exclusive, which of course makes absolutely no fucking sense.
She said, “I think it’s the fact that you are also like 20 years older than me.”
This is how I realized she was still ‘just a kid’, ‘the outsider’, ‘someone we had to tip-toe around’.
So what if I am 20 years older? I thought she said she was super happy that she was now ‘one of us’, that we didn’t see her like a kid anymore. Which meant age shouldn’t have anything to do with anything. So what is it? Does she want us to see her and treat her like a kid we tip-toe around, or does she want to be seen and treated like an adult – like the rest of us, where we can express ourselves freely with?
It seems that Marlene’s perception on what acceptance is, is limited to how others should accept her and does not include in how she accepts others. In other words, I’m too old to engage in a sexual relationship with her, because I am 20 years older, yet I should still accept her as ‘one of us’ and not ‘be gentle’ or ‘tip-toe’ around her because she is an adult who can ‘take it’.
Not long after those two sets of disappointing conversations, I tried my best to ‘go back to the way things were’, in the sense of speaking with her normally. To generously give my time out to help everyone, to help her. However, I find that I am totally turned off by her as a friend. For example, not long after that, in a different group chat, I decided to reopen our Minecraft server. There, I told everyone I am starting a new map, but I can move people’s builds over if they like. Marlene, after a back-and-forth on the notion she didn’t want the old world to be lost, suggested I move her main builds over to the new server. So I spent a few hours doing that. Marlene logged in a couple of days later for a few minutes, then messaged me and said, “I’m actually ok with the minecraft world going. I don’t go on it anymore“.
To be clear, I so desperately wish I don’t have these pseudo-negative feelings towards Marlene. I am still very disappointed in everything she has said and I know she is otherwise, a decent goodhearted person, who can be very considerate in certain specific ways. As one of our mutual friends had stated, Marlene is at an age where she’s still developing her brain. Hence, her immaturity. However, even recognizing this, I have a hard time accepting what Marlene said to me and more absolutely, how Marlene thought of me.
I was once enchanted by her character growth and awkward charm. Her immature, underdeveloped behaviour, and contradictory attitude are the exact reasons I have lost my trust in her absolutely. So it’s truly a shame I have since become resentful after being soured by the interaction we had. I said I am disappointed in Marlene’s antics, but more than that, I am disappointed that I put my trust in her, just to have her turn it around on me.
Friends shouldn’t do shit like that to each other, ever. Alas, perhaps in time, my heart may soothe and accept all of this as a sort of ‘misunderstanding’, regardless of her attitude and reaction thereafter. I don’t want to see her as ‘she’s still just a kid’, but if I don’t, then I can’t ever excuse her for how she reacted. Which means I can’t accept her as my friend. So despite how she initially felt about everyone treating her like an adult, speaking to her like an adult, I will for the sake of my emotional health, see her as a kid still growing up to be an adult. Then I can accept her as a friend who is still just a kid growing up.