Saturday, July 11, 2009

Just Friends

I wrote this article a while back, partially to vent and partially by request. I want to dedicate it to all of my incredibly wonderful platonic male friends.

Just Friends

He looked at me across the table at our regular haunt, a coffee shop not too far from my neighbourhood. We had been dating casually for about six months, and it was time for “The Talk.” Decision time over the future course of our courtship had come. Both of us had our doubts, due to various differences in our worldviews, interests, and goals. However, he wanted to make one thing perfectly clear.

“You are such a super, incredible person. If this does not work out, I really hope we can be friends.” It was the kiss of death to our relationship, because basically what he was saying that he thought I was an incredible person – just not good enough for him.

This was not the first time that I have been on the giving or receiving end of the “just friends” scenario. It usually comes at the end of a romantic relationship, when things are fizzling out, but for some reason one or both of us just want to keep hanging on. Sometimes it comes at the beginning, when the chemistry is not right (or there at all), and instead of completely blowing the other person off, being friends seems like a viable option.

Yet now I find myself questioning my motives, as well as those of the other person. It is way too easy to end a relationship, then keep the person around as a friend – just in case one of us changes our minds. Or, as a way of working through unresolved emotions left over after the romance is over.

There don’t seem to be any rules or etiquette when it comes to being friends, post-dating. How much time are you supposed to spend together? Too much can result in a relationship mutation, dating without actually naming the activity as dating. Boundaries become unclear and feelings end up getting hurt.

Going back to being just friends can appear like a natural evolution, a coming full circle. But getting so close changes things, and I find it hard to look at the person the same way as before, especially if it ends badly. However, since most of my boyfriends were platonic friends with me first, making a clean break when the romance is over is difficult. When the person is gone, he leaves a very obvious voice in my life. Can friendship fill that gap, or create more problems?

Let’s look at my track record. Just about every friendship post-romance I have ever had has eventually fizzled out. New girlfriends make me redundant. New boyfriends get jealous. Growing apart, a major reason for relationship breakdown in the first place, takes its toll. I guess when the substance of your conversations consists of “Hi, how are you?” and “How about this weather we’re having?” it’s time to move on.

The whole “just friends” thing might even trivialize friendship itself -- the relationship did not work out, so let’s settle for something less. What then, is friendship? I don’t think I could be a lover to someone without being his friend first. It builds an important foundation. Any two people can have sex. Any two people can go to a concert or other public event. But not every two people can connect on that intellectual, emotional, and sometimes spiritual level that is called true friendship.

And that kind of friendship is a gift and a blessing, not a consolation prize.

1 comment:

Diran said...

Very well said. Very well said indeed.