Childlike glee aside... I've been doing some thinking about the last year's relationship experiences, and I kinda had an "ah-ha moment" yesterday. Just a word of warning: this is a thought PROCESS. I'm thinking as I write, so I hope it makes sense!
I've gone on a few dates with three guys over the last year. I was never "going out" with any of them, but there was definitely something that was more than friends. I met D last August, and M in November. Both these guys I met online. Mr. BD I met in May. He goes to my church.
Each time, it's been the guy who has initiated the "let's be friends" conversation. Each time, I knew it was coming before it came, and deep down, I knew I felt the same way, but it's still disappointing, and a bit of a blow to the ego.
With D, it was pretty much the stereotypical "let's be friends." We've emailed I think once since, and that's it. BUT, he also lives in a different city (about a 45 min drive away) and we don't have any friends or activities in common (like work, church, social groups, etc). There was some weird stuff surrounding that non-break-up (can you call it a break up if you were never dating? What DO you call that, anyway?), and it knocked some of the proverbial rosy tint out of my glasses.
With M, the "let's be friends" conversation was not at all stereotypical. He explained where he was coming from, and that it wasn't a good time in his life for a relationship. Hmm... still sounds cliche, but it was sincere. We still didn't have any friends or activities in common, and he lives even farther away (about a hour's drive), but we still keep in touch, talking every now and then on MSN.
I've already told the Mr BD story here, so I won't go into it now. I will, however add that we see eachother often - at church and young adult social activities and the like. While we are keeping a bit of distance publicly, just till people stop aking if we're dating, we're still friends. We had a long chat just the other day about where we were and what we want our friendship to look like. He is SUCH a good guy, and I'm very glad that we're friends.
A common thread that I see in each of these near-relationships is that, unlike other guys I've gone out with in the past, I didn't know these guys in a common context before meeting, clicking, and beginning to hang out with quasi-romantic intentions. I had begun to think that it just doesn't work to think about starting a relationship with someone I don't already have a non-romantic friendship with. This was bothering me, because there was no-one who I'm already friends with who I would consider dating (well, never say never, but at this time I can't see it), and it's becoming incresingly hard to be totally platonic friends with guys. I don't know why, but it is (now here's a question that could generate some comments: Can you be truly JUST friends with someone of the opposite sex?). So in my mind it was working like this: nobody I'm already friends with that I'd be interested in, and can't be just friends with someone new, without it being complicated by the "hmm... what about this guy?" thoughts. So add that to the "relatioships don't work unless you already know them/are friends with them first" thought, and you can imagine I was feeling a bit of discouragement.
Now I will take a slight detour here to say that I don't NEED a boyfriend, nor am I 'on the prowl.' In fact, I am pretty content with the way my life is at this point in time. However, I would be lying if I said that I didn't have days when I wished I had that 'special someone.'
So I have been feeling somewhat befuddled as to how all this silly relationship stuff is supposed to work (hee hee, aren't we all?). I was wishing things were as simple as they seemed back in university... you have this friend who you've known for a long time, you're great buddies, then one day you realize, "Whoooah... wait a sec... what just happened to my stomach when he walked in the room? How did those butterflies get in there?" Then if he feels the same way, one of you asks the other out, and poof! You're a couple. (ha ha... riiight, like it's really THAT simple).
But it does work out well... you know the person, you have common friends, common activities, you have already seen how he/she acts in a group, you already KNOW some of your common interests. You can skip at least some of those awkward small talk 'get to you you' conversations. It's great! I had a very wonderful relationship with a guy who I am still really good friends with that followed that process, so that's in my head as something that works.
Friends first = good. It worked great for me.
Meet-to-romance=bad. Doesn't work. It's happened three times in the last year. Pretty hard to argue that evidence.
It was as I was thinking about this that a relaization dawned. I am in a different stage of life now. The university model worked well in university. But I am not a student anymore. The days of classes and campus clubs/interest groups and hanging out with large groups of friends on a very regular basis are behind me. That was university life. I am now working, meeting people different ways, and have a different kind of social life. It is still good, it's jsut different, and it requires adjusting, learning new ways of doing things. That's not to say that I have to throw out the old ways, or that the old ways will never happen, but I have to learn the ropes of this new stage that I"m in, and make adjustments accordingly. And of course, learning takes making mistakes and floundering around for a while until you get it.