Valentines’ day: I sit on my friend’s bed in her room as she changes clothes after a shower. It’s only 8pm we’ve almost finished a bottle of wine between us. We begin to talk about how compared to our friends at home, we haven’t seen many of our Maastricht friends naked.
My friend, whilst inexpertly stabbing her contact lenses into her eye, tells me about her boarding school experience of sharing a room with three other girls. This is not the start of an erotic fantasy. She told me how even though they saw each other at their most physically and emotionally vulnerable, she isn’t particularly close with her ex-roommates.
It’s true, the amount of flesh you expose is not proportionate to your relationship with someone. If this were true, we’d all be the best of friends with ex-boyfriends and people we shared a sauna with. However, surely once you become good friend with someone, the physical boundaries may blur.
This is evidently clear with a group of guys I know who live together. These guys share a bathroom, where one may be using the toilet, one in the shower and one brushing their teeth all at the same time. This must have something to do with team sports, they’re no strangers to a cheeky communal shower.
One friend told me, “the last frontier in a household is telling someone you just did a massive turd”. Personally, I would count the last frontier to be showing the person. That’s the kind of intimacy reserved only for sibling-esque relationships. No one really wants to see that stuff.
Whatever the last boundary may actually be, it does come with a load of other baggage. It can lead to a lack of perspective in a friendship. What you might once have deemed as criticism becomes a normal conversation and helping your friend to check a mole in a hard to reach place doesn’t immediately stick out in your memory as an exceptional moment.
Regardless, there’s no doubt that an intimate friendship can teach you a lot about yourself. And even if you don’t learn a thing from it, you are sure to get some utterly hilarious stories from the experience, and if you don’t actually remain friends with those people, at least you have the stories to tell your new friends.
Phoebe Ellis‐Rees, Bachelor Student of Arts & Culture