February 16, 2006

Wendy:

Why is it that soooo often guys want me as their best friend, like a sister, the one they pour out their soul too, but yet they won't date me? I'm their best buddy but meanwhile, they date someone who "goes all the way" but has the emotional capacity of a snapping turtle. Why am I the one they want to hang out with during the day, tell their deepest secrets too, but for the night time I'm not invited?


Then he wonders why, when he marries her, he eventually feels wilted attraction, and starts singing the refrain "I've lost that lovin' feeling, oh oh that lovin' feeling". I say, "Duh dude, that's cause you never had it." You had that with your friend "the sister", the one you skipped over when you walked down the aisle and married someone else to live unhappily ever after. I don't get it.


Wendy, I really enjoy hanging out with him and he and I have so much in common, so much more in common than his girlfriend, who offers next to nothing except, as far as I can tell, someone with whom to have sleep overs. At least I have the "dating doplar radar system" to sniff out his shallowness and not let him date two girls, one the friend (who never really gets a date) and one for sex (who never really gets friendship). But it still stings that once again that I'm the best buddy who, because I'm a great friend, just isn't "sexy".


The whole issue surfaced to the top of my irritated mind today. He called me again today and generally I think is intrigued by me.

Help!


Tracy Bowman writes:

According to romantic comedies, eventually he will see the light and realize how wonderful the friend is and marry her. I would love to say this is standard behavior, but as this girl has pointed out, it isn’t. If this friend of hers is still at the point where looks/sex interest him more than substance, she doesn’t stand a chance. And she shouldn’t; why want a guy that shallow? So what if he’s genuinely interested in her mind or their emotional connection—if that’s not what he wants in a girlfriend, that’s not what he wants. And it’s not what he’ll go after. He has to decide he wants a friendship with his girlfriend before he sees the light. Until then, she should try to form friendships with other guys she might get somewhere with, and who are interested in a well-rounded relationship.


Lucie Winborne says:

Wendy, there are so many questions that come to mind when reading this young lady’s letter that it’s almost hard to know where to start. But I believe that many times, asking questions is far more useful than simply doling out advice. With that in mind, here is what I would say to the writer if I could sit down with her face to face:

  1. Why do you wish to pursue a man who, if you describe him accurately, has proved himself so shallow?

  2. Why and how are you “hanging out” with a man who already has a girlfriend?

  3. Does his girlfriend know about you? If so, how does she feel about your relationship with her boyfriend?

  4. You say you think the man is “intrigued” by you. What exactly does “intrigued” mean here? That he is willing to drop his girlfriend for you? Do you want to be “the other woman”?

  5. You say the only thing the other girl seems to offer is sexual availability. On what are you basing that assumption? If it’s something, or many things, he’s told you about her and their relationship, he’s not being fair or kind to her in sharing intimate information with you.

  6. The man in question is clearly used to receiving free and easy sex. Will you be willing to provide the same if he drops his current girlfriend for you? If not – and it doesn’t sound like you would - how long do you think his “intrigue” will last? My guess is, regardless of your charms, not very long.

  7. You asked why you are the one whom guys always want as a best friend rather than a date. I think the answer has been far better stated by other writers who have gone through this experience, but the gist of their advice boils down to the fact that you are only hurting yourself by allowing yourself to be used as a “buddy.”

  8. By giving these men unlimited (figuratively speaking) amounts of your time and sympathy, you allow yourself to be emotionally used but not really appreciated – at least in the way you wish to be. A little feminine mystery would go a long way here. This is a delicate balance, as I’m not advocating coy or misleading behavior, and I think it’s a skill that far too many of today’s women have lost – or quite likely have never been taught, which is a real shame. But sometime, you might try watching some of the old classic movie couples. Do the women give free access to themselves as buddies? Do they talk, act, and/or dress like “one of the boys”? Not at all. There is a subtle withholding, and clear gender line drawn. The mother of Christian author Elisabeth Elliot used to tell her daughter, “Always keep him guessing.” Considering how men are hardwired, it’s not such bad advice, although it would sound dated to many in today’s world.


Wendy Shalit adds:

I think this is all good advice. But I would just like to add one small thing. I happen to know that this letter-writer is in fact a beautiful person and also not likely to be "promiscuous" with her emotional attachments, so I think her question is more difficult than it appears on the surface. In this era of casual non-dating, when even a man who likes a woman might not know how to pursue her, I think it's reasonable for a woman to hope that a friendship might develop into something more.

Don't get me wrong: I think the classic old are wonderful too, but the problem is, if your potential husband isn't going by the same script, he might not realize that you expect him to be Humphrey Bogart. Therefore I think it makes sense for a woman to be pleasant and friendly back to a man, enough to give a chance for their friendship to blossom further, but she must keep conversations short enough to signal that he'll actually have to date her to get more of her time. This applies, of course, only if he's not currently dating someone else (whatever their physical relationship may be). If he is, whether the couple is abstinent or living together, out of respect for this other woman and also out of respect for herself, a cooler demeanor is in order.







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