Saturday, September 9, 2006

Cautions to men who want to be my friend (or more)

  1. Don't try to romance me if we barely know each other. I don't even know yet if I want to be your friend or acquaintance, so I'm certainly not ready to think about whether I want to be more than friends.
  2. Our culture has this ritual called dating. In the past, it was traditional for the man to pay for any outings conducted in the course of carrying out this ritual. In more modern times, the woman is supposed to contribute as well. However, we have not made the transition completely. Our cultural expectations seem to be some hybrid of the man pays and the costs are split. Usually on a first date, the man pays, but later the woman is supposed to take the initiative and offer to pay. Sometimes for example, one pays for the movie admission and the other pays for the popcorn. These hybrid expectations are too confusing for me. I don't know when I'm supposed to let the man pay and when I'm supposed to protest his paying and offer to contribute. However, if you follow #1 above, then this will not be an issue. We'll start off as just friends, so you won't have any notion of trying to pay for me. Later, if we become close, it's okay if one person sometimes pays for the other, because by that time, we'll know what expectations we have of each other and we'll be able to communicate more openly.
  3. I may have trouble making plans with you a long time in advance because my energy level fluctuates, and I don't know how I'll feel on a future date. There are some days when my muscles crave exercise and I'm uncomfortable if I sit still. There are other days when I'm really tired and don't want to do anything more than sitting on the couch reading, watching TV, or chatting.
  4. If we become close friends (e.g. spending time together more than once a week), and then you suddenly stop wanting to spend time with me (e.g. because you meet someone new whom you like better than you like me), then you need to let me know. Don't just turn all secretive and evasive on me, maintaining a facade that nothing has changed while pushing me away at every turn. You don't have to be brutally honest if that would entail telling me that you now find me annoying and repulsive. Just tell me that you have this new person or project in your life and will therefore be less available to spend time with me. You're afraid to tell me because you think I'll be devastated by loss of your presence. You may find this hard to believe, but I have a wealth of interesting things I want to do that don't involve you. I can re-adjust my life to do other things. But if you don't tell me, I won't re-adjust my life. I'll leave a spot for you, and then when you always weasel out of doing things with me with some weird lame excuse, I'll end up feeling rejected and I'll also have this empty spot in my life. The reason you are afraid to tell me things have changed is because you wanted to avoid exactly those things. But if you just tell me things have changed, then I can move on and do more interesting things with my life. Don't forget, the reason I have this spot in my life set aside for you is because in the past, you asked me to do things with you, because you wanted me to make that spot for you, not because I had nothing better to do.
  5. If you don't tell me what's going on, but just decide to take the secretive evasive route, at first I will expect you to keep on being there for me the same as you always wanted to in the past. Since you no longer want to do that, you will experience a sense of me wanting more than you have to give. This will lead you to think I'm in love with you. Believe me, you're not as hot as you think you are. I'm not in love with you, I just expect you to keep on being there for me because you were there for me in the past and you have not told me there's any reason why you aren't going to keep on being there for me now.
  6. If you draw me in to be your close friend by asking me to do stuff with you day after day for years, and then all of a sudden you turn all secretive and evasive and ditch our friendship with no warning, don't expect me to be unaffected. You will have broken something. If I gave you my friendship, I consider that a permanent commitment. I generally believe in treating everyone nicely, and I do even more so for you because I gave you my friendship. I'm not going to be mean to you, and I still want to be your friend, but you broke something. It's hard for me to trust or respect you any more. If you want to still be my friend, you're going to have to work at rebuilding. I know you probably don't want to, because the reason all this started is because you started wanting to put less time into our friendship. If you want to just let it all die, that's fine with me. But if you are still trying to make things be okay, don't blame me for becoming high-maintenance. Here's an analogy: you have a flat tire on your car. You don't want to put time into maintenance, so you keep driving with the flat tire. If the wheels are damaged as a result, your car will need even more maintenance than it would have if you had just fixed the flat tire. Don't then say it's a bad car because the maintenance costs are so high.
  7. If you actively exclude me from something, don't expect me to feel comfortable right away if you later invite me to be a part of it.
  8. On the other hand, for those of you who never became that close (e.g. if we get together once a month or less) and you decide you don't want to be my friend any more, you don't have to tell me. Just drift away. My life is not structured to make a spot for you, so I don't need to re-structure it to close that spot, so no warning is really needed.
  9. If you want to be more than friends, start by trying to be my friend. Be sensitive to my pace. If you find me pulling away, slow down. If you find me being responsive to being friends, it's okay if you want to try for more. I don't mind someone asking to be more than friends even if I want to be just friends. It's okay to seek what you want, and I'm glad you put it on the table so we could talk openly. But you could turn me off if you ask when I'm already pulling away from you, because that shows you're not hearing me. If friendship and romance were money, it would be like this: If you ask for 5 cents and I hesitate to give it, don't say, "Okay, give me a dollar then." Instead, wait a week and then ask for 2 cents.
  10. I've read in several different places that despite our modern, liberated times, it still works best if the man does the pursuing. I tend to agree. It's easy to agree since that gets me off the hook for making the first move. But I don't think it's just that. My experiences with humans indicate that the there's something to the idea. And having dated a reluctant boyfriend, I can say I'm not too interested in being involved with someone unless he has made the choice to be involved with me. I will initiate interactions with men I like, but I'm not likely to initiate making the leap from friendship to romance. Though I shirk that job, I do however think it's my job to work hard at:
    1. If I'm interesed in someone, I should provide him with plenty of encouragement.
    2. If someone does try to make the first move with me and I'm not interested or he fumbles it badly, it's my obligation to be kind to him, because he has put himself out on a limb, taken a greater risk than I was willing to take myself. However, if I decline and he persists, then he's not respecting me, and I will want nothing more to do with him.

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