Saturday, June 29, 2013

On the Way to Adventure

My life-long dream is about to come true. As I'm writing this, I am sitting in a Qantas Boeing 747-400 on the way to Brisbane, Australia. Like I said, Australia has been one of my dreams since I was a child. I was fascinated by kangaroos, boomerangs and Crocodile Dundee, that I watched a million times with my mother, when I was little.

So, now the time has finally arrived to head down under. I'll be visiting my best friend Evannette, as she is spending half a year in Brisbane as an exchange student. 

My first flight from Helsinki to Singapore was also with Qantas, but operated by Finnair. The flight was not very pleasant. The space between the seats was timy, the food was bad and the cabin crew only did the most necessary things. Well, at least the company was nice. I was sitting next to this very nice indonesian girl, who was returning back home to Jakarta, after visiting her sister and her sisters Finnish husband. She gave me some great tips for Singapore, where I'll be spending 2,5 days at the end of my trip. Also I now have a reason to visit Jakarta as well as great ideas for Bali! This surely is one of the main reasons to why I love traveling: all the new people you get to meet!

Upon landing in Singapore, I headed straight for the rooftop pool. Changi International airport is an absolutely amazing place. In their three terminals they have for example a butterfly garden, a orchid garden, a cactus garden, a movie theatre, a game centre and a already mentioned swimming pool. It's safe to say that it would be easy to spend even a longer flight change at Changi, because in addition to all the entertainment, there is a vast amount of restaurants and shopping as well. Changi is indeed rated as one of the top airports in the world - and it deserves it!

As mentioned in the beginning, I am sitting in a huge Boeing now. According to schedule, it's supposed to take 7.20 hours from Singapore to Brisbane. I'll be arriving at 5.15 in the morning local time. In Brisbane time is seven hours ahead of Finland, so they'll be heading to bed back home once I land. Well back to the flight. I don't know if it's the pool or the holiday feeling (no, it really isn't), but the flight is amazing so far. The crew is fabulous, the food (and wine) is quite good (not quite as good as with Singapore Airlines, but not too far from it) and the entertainment screen is huge, at least in comparison to Finnair where is was SO tiny. Also it doesn't hurt that I have three whole seats to myself! :)

So, I am on the way to an adventure of a lifetime, and I am so excited. I'll keep posting as often as I can, so stay tuned!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Friends Without Benefits?

A while back I spoke with an aquaintance about friendships between men and women. He firmly believed that no such thing was truly possible. That there would always be some sexual tension. I have many male friends. Underlining the word 'friend'. However, many of these, who I have thought of as just friends, have, when the subject has come up, told me that they would sleep with me if the opportunity came up. Sure, these confessions have mostly been made under the influence of alcohol, but isn't that when you say the things you really mean?

Inseparable. (Photo from The Chaotic Soul.)

The subject of cross-gender friendships has been researched quite a bit. Maybe not so much in science labs, but even more on the silver screen. Psychology Today argues five challenges and six truths in an article about cross-gender friendships. In the article I found many things that I don't agree with, maybe them being cultural. For example the thought that cross-gender friendships are taboo as a child and that you don't really come in contact with the opposite gender until puberty. I don't know, maybe this applies to the United States, but I had a lot of male friends as a child. I even got along better with them than with girls. One thing in the article I agree with is that media doesn't really help with the confusion in forming platonic cross-gender friendships. In movies and tv-shows friendships nearly always turn into romantic relationships. It's the classic setting. A girl and a guy are best friends. One is getting married or finds "the love of their life" when the other one realizes that it's all wrong and they should be together instead. Then there's a lot a drama and a falling out, but in the end the guy and the girl always ends up together.

"'When Harry Met Sally set the potential for male-female friendship back about 25 years,' said Michael Monsour, assistant professor of communications at the University of Colorado at Denver and author of Women and Men as Friends. Television hasn't helped either. "Almost every time you see a male-female friendship, it winds up turning into romance," Monsour noted." (Psychology Today)

In an article in the Scientific American Adrian Ward talks about a research on cross-gender friendships. The research shows that men are more likely to misinterpret the level of the attraction in the friendship. Men were also more willing to act on this misinterpreted mutual attraction.

"Men were also more likely than women to think that their opposite-sex friends were attracted to them - a clearly misguided belief. [--] basically, males assumed that any romantic attraction they experienced was mutual, and were blind to the actual level of romantic interest felt by their female friends." (Scientifuc American)
Well, both articles state that opposite-sex friendships are indeed possible, but in many cases men and women see the relationship differently. So, is there always an underlying sexual tension within cross-gender friendships? One of my male friends once told me, that he has basically never slept over at a girls place without something happening. Is this a guy-thing? Because I have surely had many male friends sleeping over on my couch without there being any sexual tension. Or have I misinterpreted the situation?

(Photo borrowed from The Chaotic Soul.)
In the end, what's better than a great friendship turning into a great love story? (Photo from Why Library.)

However I have experienced situations when I notice that a guy I am spending time with as friends is starting to develop some feelings. It's a very tricky situation. It's difficult when you like a person, and want to spend time with them, but you only like them as a friend and they clearly want more than that. Before I was usually not very good at handling these kind of situations. I usually just let the situation go on, and after a while just ended up avoiding that person and not wanting to hang out with them anymore. The situation just made me uncomfortable and I didn't have the guts to tell them that I only saw them as friends. I haven't had that kind of a situation in a while now, mostly because I have told the truth. But sometimes it's not that easy. Sometimes you're not sure whether the other person is interested in more than being friends, especially if it's just a vibe you're getting, and you don't want to ruin the relationship by assuming things. But then again, if the relationship it ruined by that, you might ask yourself whether it was a relationship worth having.

I do have a few great male friends who I value a lot, but couldn't see myself in a romantic relationship with. The relationship with these guys is based on trust. It has been non-verbally clear from the beginning, that there is no attraction there. Although after reading the article in the Scientific American, I hope that this feeling is mutual. I also have male friends whom I have dated or had a romatic relationship with (past tense). Currently I see some of these guys as great friends, but there is still a romatic tension there, at least to some part. Still, I couldn't see myself in a romantic relationship with these guys (anymore). But what is that then? Can you still call it a friendship, it there are other feelings mixed into it? I guess it is a different kind of friendship. A more intimate one maybe. And that might be a good thing. Maybe it's even better this way, because you've "tested" it, and realized that you are better off being friends.

I believe that close cross-gender friendships are possible without sexual tension. (Photo from Psychologies.)

So what's the conclusion? Relationships are difficult. Well, nothing new there I suppose. Balancing cross-gender friendships and interpreting them right is very tricky, but in my opinion very much possible. You might have to face some difficult situations when dealing with friends of the opposite gender, but I think it's worth it. And yet again I come to the conclusion that everything can be solved by communicating and telling the truth. The truth might even lead to a closer relationship and at it's best to a life-long friendship. What's better than that?

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Running-Away-Syndrome

I grew up in a very emotional and touchy family. We feel very big feelings. And we say what we feel. (Well, at least when it comes to positive things, the negative part is a bit more difficult.) Ups are really high and lows are quite deep down in the mud. I used to have loud and emotional fights with my mum. I still do sometimes. She taught me something valuable though among all the big emotions. Don't go to bed angry. If the other one doesn't apologize, then just do it yourself. I havent' been very good at sticking to this piece of advice lately. Then there's the touchy part. In my family we've always liked to hug and touch. My mother is hugging people to an extent that they might find it awkward. But this is just one of the trades that make my mother so lovable and sincere. But touching IS imporant. It has even been proved by various research that infants will die without human touch. As we grow older our need to be touched doesn't go away.

"As we grow and develop, our need for touch does not disappear. We continue to benefit from the touch we receive from those who love and care about us." (Health Touch)

Touching is the essence of living. (Picture borrowed from Blake Rudis.)

From what I've seen in other families, my family might be a bit unusual for Finnish circumstances. Here you're not supposed to give affection or talk about your feelings. At least not in public and only with close friends. If even with them. If you tell someone that they are important to you and that you hold someone dearly, they might feel uncomfortable. It's just not something you say. But I can't help myself. I have noticed people get uncomfortable when I declare how much I love them (to friends), but that's just the kind of person I am. I feel very strong feelings and when I feel like my heart is bursting of love and joy, I can't help but show it. In either words or actions.

With friends this thing isn't that bad, the awkwardness usually goes away quite quickly. The real problem is romantic relationships. I don't like to play games. I am really bad at playing hard to get, because if I like someone, I just want to tell them. I really don't fit in the social system in that way. But in my experience, men tend to run away like scared little boys fearing that by revealing that I like them, I am expecting a big diamond on my ring finger. Because why else would I reveal something like that? The man feels trapped and forced into a corner. Silly me, how could I think that being honest was an option?! I'm sure I'm not the only one who has made these kind of experiences. And I'm sure this problem doesn't just exist here in Finland. Surely there are men (and women) all over the world who have this behaviour coded into their DNA. But I do believe that this kind of culture, where public displays of affection and talking about your feelings in an honest way are frowned upon, encourages this kind of behaviour. The running-away-syndrome.

I have many friends who don't like public displays of affection. Friends who think, that this kind of behaviour is private and should just be between the two people and four walls. I'm not saying that this is wrong, but I hope these people find a companion that feels the same way, otherwise it won't work. Otherwise both will feel uncomfortable.

Don't be afraid to touch! (Photo borrowed from TechAbly.)

In a way I can understand the running-away-thought though. I value my independence very much and I also feel distressed if I get the feeling that someone likes me way more than I like them. I think however that the biggest problem is lack of communication. In the end people are different. It is a good thing as well as a bad thing. Different customs easily lead to misunderstandings, which could be avoided by communicating. But sure, if saying what you feel and touching in public feels wrong, don't do it. I just think people would be happier by letting themselves feel more.

Then again we have that well-known phrase: Speech is silver, silence is gold. Sometime this might just be a good rule to keep to. But some people just take it too far.

So, does anyone know where I can take a class in playing hard to get?