Saturday, April 08, 2006

Not Your Buddy

A friend of mine recently passed along this article. I read the first paragraph and thought, "WOW. Every single girl (and single guy!) I know needs to read this." Go check it out... I'll wait... really... go read it...


OK, so I know only about 0.2% of you actually read the whole thing, so here are the first few paragraphs just to give you a taste:

The other day I was having lunch with a friend and she began to pour out an all-too-familiar story. The guy she'd been hanging out with four nights a week, the one who'd made her a jazz mix CD and asked her to be his date to his office Christmas party, the one who'd gone to late-night movies with her and made her pasta -- that guy -- had crushed her hopes (again) with a single, nonchalant statement: "I don't see myself in a relationship anytime soon." ...

I felt anger well up. This was not the first time I'd heard this story. I could count nearly half a dozen friends who found themselves in this same frustrating situation. After investing months in late night talks, meals together and flirty e-mails, each woman faced the sad reality that the guy actually wasn't planning to upgrade their friendship...

The author goes on to talk about how she asked a guy friend if he thought it was wrong to initiate one on one friendships with a girl, and particularly why he'd continue to act in a way that signaled a relationship when he had no intentions of carrying through on that. The guy's response was basically, "Well, she's going to read into things whatever I do, so if she doesn't say anything, it's ok."

Personally, I have been in a similar situation before (not recently), and have seen very similar things happening with various girlfriends. The girl is interested in the guy, they hang out one on one, have deep conversations, do things that are clearly "date-ish" and the girl is treated differently than other female friends. Then when the girl can't stand it anymore and finally says something, she gets a comment like, "Oh, yeah, don't't feel that way about you, I just see you as a friend."

I can understand how that can feel good - a guy gets an ego boost, gets to hang out with soneone who they (usually) know is into them, and gets all, or most of, the benefits or a relationship without the commitment of a relationship.

Now before you start yelling at me, I am not saying ALL guys are like this. They're absolutely not. And I think the kind of situation described above is tempting for both guys and for girls. BUT... guy or girl, I don't think it's right to act in a way that makes the other person think that you are intending more than you actually are. What is each person's responsibility in that kind of situation? (I'm talking about when one person has a pretty good idea that the other is into him/her. If they're clueless, well, that's a slightly different situation.) For example, if a guy sings to a girl while staring into her eyes, feeds her dessert, rubs her feet, takes her to the symphony, spends hours talking late into the night, etc etc etc, AND he doesn't do that with other girls, what is the girl SUPPOSED to think?

And of course, that leads to the age-old question of can guys and girls be "just friends?" The article proposes three levels of opposite-sex friendship: acquaintances, companions, and intimate friends. The author suggests that if a guy and a girl get to an "intimate friends" level (and I'm not talking physical stuff - I mean more like one on one time together, emotional connection, that kind of thing) it's usually impossible for one or the other not to develop romantic feelings for one another. Do you think that's true? Can guys and girls be just friends? To what extent?

Have you ever been in this kind of situation before where you've felt that you were getting special treatment and then realized that the other person isn't interested "in that way?" What happened? Or do you disagree that this happens or is a problem?

What are your thoughts???


Carrie said...

I have always been a fan of male friends. For me they are much easier to relate to and I generally don't have a problem with it.

I did, however, have a major problem in college with this. I had a major crush on a boy and it seemed to be reciprocal. We did everything together. We were inseperable. I was even asked by another guy I barely knew when the wedding was. But in the end we were just friends and I really did feel led on.

What happened? We went our seperate ways after graduation, then last year we ran into each other totally randomly at the Cherry Blossom Festival (we went to college in OK so it was really weird). We had coffee. I was heavily pregnant and glowing with happiness. He was sad that he didn't have a wife and I wanted to say HA HA HA! See what you are missing? But I didn't.

I am so glad that when my husband and I first started becoming friends he was a man and stepped up to the plate and said straight out that he wanted a relationship. We are best of friends as well as being husband and wife (honestly I don't understand those marriages where the people don't even seem to like each other).

anne said...

I also agree that this has happened to many times. And that guys can be great friends. Easier to relate to for sure.

I don't have as close of guy friends now that I'm married: more somewhere in the middle of acquaintance/companion. But in high school and in college I had some really great neither-of-us-were-interested kind of guy friends.

But it's such a hard balance. And so emotionally charged. It's never ok for either party to lead the other on. And people always know when someone else is into them. I don't think it's ever really an unconscious thing.

Gerhard Peters said...

HA HA I did read the whole article! So I'm not of the 0.2% :)
Also I'm the only guy (so far) posting a comment here.
Well what do I said....I have never been in a serious relationship but the article is good food for my thoughts

Tige said...

I might be blind but I've never met a girl who had feelings for me and I let her down. I've had plenty (ok maybe not that many) female friends who I've "connected" with as far as a strong friendship and usually (after I start getting a deep desire to have more with them) I get my feelings hurt over them not wanting (or us not being able to) have a deeper closer relationship. I've found that when I start feeling more for someone then I should or need to, I start to back away and get that seperation as the author suggests. Usually that does a good job at getting the emotions back on track (if they were off, by who's perspective, I don't know). Anyway I've heard and learned that the following statement is pretty true: "Reality is the best way to cure fantasy".

Dave said...

I have quickly scanned the article and other comments. So what do I think? I believe that girls and guys can be friends and spend one-on-one time together. However, as human beings and especially as people of faith, I believe we have basic obligations of love and respect to one another. Therefore I think I have developed a simple principle. However, I have to admit that I have come to this guideline after less than perfect behaviour myself with the opposite sex, much to my regret and shame. Anyways, the principle is limited time and touch. Essentially, you can’t spend more time or do more touch than you do with your friends generally. Therefore, in the case of the article and them spending 4 nights a week with each other…. I think that is suspicious on both of their parts. However, the onus is on the person that doesn’t want a relationship to address the issue (having a talk, correcting the behaviour, setting boundaries, etc…). As such, the guy in that article was dead wrong (if I have all my facts straight) and he lead that girl on much to his shame and regret I hope. So that’s what I think.

Paul said...


I read the bit that says intimate friendship is about people spending more than 2 hours a week together, and the word 'Riddington' immidiately popped into my head. We spent loads of time together. I guess 'intimate' is probably accurate, but I don't think we ever had a sniff of anything remotely romantic going on (It probably helped that you were dating for most of that time, that I was deeply enamoured with your best friend, and that we both knew where we stood).

The problem with the article is the same problem that's been made by so many writers on relationships in the past. In an attempt to provide basic definitions, simple answers and hard-and-fast rules, it's all too easy to forget that every relationship is just as complicated and unique as the people who are party to it.

Of course there's more than an element of truth in there. Most guys hanging around girls (and I assume it applies to girls hanging around guys) are looking for something romantic, and if people attempt to have a relationship on completely different levels, then it's not going to work. Most of the time boys relate best to boys, and girls to girls, but sometimes a platonic boy-girl best friend relationship can be a good thing too.

There hundreds of books and books and articles containing thousands of snippets of good advice. It's worth reading a few and keeping them in mind, but if you take them at face value, you risk never saying hello to people for fear that one thing might lead to another. For introverts like me, the risk of discouraging people from having good relationships is far more real than the risk of encouraging them to have bad ones.

Generally relationships are worth having. They have a strange habbit of going off in unpredictable and unexpected directions, but generally at least one person knows when their relationship is turning sour. If I'm going to take anything useful out of the article, it's that that person needs to do something.

Hmm, sorry, this is your blog isn't it.

Hillary said...

haha, yes, it's my blog, but it's YOUR comment! Say as much as you'd like! :)

I definitely agree witrh the "not hard and fast rules" statement. I think that's probably a generaly number to help give an idea of what she was trying to convey.

As far as a platonic boy-girl best friend relashionship, I don't really know if that's possible without there being some kind of attraction along the way somewhere. That's not to say that that can't be worked out, but those kids of friendships just don't stay the same, I don't think. Either one is attracted to the otehr, or one or both starts dating someone and the friendship has to change. But I do agree that it's important to have friends of the opposite sex. It's just also important to be respectful and honest with them if there starts to be a hint of somehting else going on.

Ah, if only it were as easy to DO as it is to SAY! ;)

Hillary said...

oh, and Dave, welcome to my blog - you've finally de-lurked yourself - muah ha haaa!

Anonymous said...

He he. I read the whole thing (and a couple of linked articles too) Maybe some thoughts will be a little random.

Interesting perspective and something that I do think happens way too often. The linked article about being a modern day Ruth I think really made some good points. We are in a culture where there are no clear rules for courtship & marriage. I find it extremely frustrating to meet a quality Christian woman and get to know her but then not being able to make that transition to 'more' or having that talk about 'yes I want to go somewhere with this' only to have them change their minds a few days later. I feel it is very important to be cautious and to guard the the hearts of the women that are in my life. Something I was taught early on was "Intemacy costs committment, don't spend intemacy you can't pay for with committment" I really feel the church culture today has put singles at a great disadvantage by making it more difficult to meet and get to know each other and putting WAY too much pressure on couple once they've made eye contact.