Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ask Dude #2: Friends Without Benefits

Since this week’s Ask A Dude questions were such a hot topic I brought in the big guns; Dude #2.  Here are his responses which, in my opinion, are fantastic:

1.  I've been friends with this guy for years.  There's always been a little flirtation, but recently I realized I have much stronger feelings for him.  Should I tell him?  I don't want to scare him off, but I'm finding it hard to be around him.  Help!

The long term guy/girl friendship can be tricky, especially if just one is in a relationship. I think that unless we’re talking about a life-long friend since early childhood, then these platonic friendships are all deeply rooted in one and/or both of the people having stronger feelings than just “friends”. Some people are just better are burying those feelings than others.

My advice to a girl who’s found herself crossing over the platonic threshold would be to consider a few questions. First, does the guy have a girlfriend? And do they live together? A guy casually dating someone else shouldn’t pose an impediment to you, but if we’re talking about him living with someone else, then there could be complications. Second, how often do you speak to him or see him? Is he one of your “what are you doing tonight?” calls or texts on a weekend night? Have either of you sent the late night drunken we-both-know-what-this-text-really-means text to the other? I’m not sure there is a formula for determining what these answers mean, but I’d like to think there’s a roadmap for moving forward depending upon what the answers are. They may give you some insight into what the guy thinks of you or whether he’ll be completely shocked by your new way of looking at him.

After you’ve considered these questions, and you still can’t get him out of your head, there’s really only one thing left to do. Make plans casually for drinks like you would any time with your friend, have a drink or two together (I’d recommend a bottle of wine, and wait until there’s just sediment at the bottom of the bottle, but that’s just me), and just get it out in the open. Tell him the truth. You may end up all the better for it. At the very least, you’ll have your answer.

2.  Have you ever fallen in love with one of your female friends?  If so, what did you?

A girl I knew from high school – yes we made out once or twice when we were 16, but nothing more serious than that, per her choice. We ended up at college together too, she a year ahead of me. She became my quasi-steward, guiding me through my introductions to the small, liberal arts college social hierarchy. She hooked me up with her cute friends, and I in turn, never tried to recreate our high school mini-fling. College came and went, she always switching amongst “serious” boyfriends, me always switching amongst a freshman and sophomore, and we remained very close friends. Fast forward five years, and we’re both living in new york, speaking less often in the way New Yorkers do, and still meeting for drinks every couple of months to keep tabs on each other. I would speak more truthfully with her about my life than anyone else, and she would do the same (at least I think she was doing the same). A few years back she was in grad school and I was finishing law school, we both found ourselves newly single and completely unattached to anything or anyone. My mind had run through all of the possibilities – yes we were close friends, and yes I was potentially risking our mutual trust by doing this, but if what we had could translate to something more, then the potential for greatness was there. I took the chance.

We went for dinner by her, after she had newly moved neighborhoods from upper east to upper west. We drank. And drank some more. I told her that I sometimes wondered what would happen if we kissed now that we were both almost grownups. I also told her I thought the moment had a chance to be special, and that I wanted to kiss her. She casually laughed off my overture, as if nothing more than a passing, forgettable joke in the conversation, in a way that showed she didn’t want to do any damage to my red-wine softened psyche. I sensed her misdirection, and dropped the issue immediately.

Later that night, downtown in the west village, out with her girlfriends and some of their boyfriends of whom I knew none, at the kind of small, low-ceilinged lounge where the speakers above and all around you make you feel as if your entire body is shaking even if you’re not dancing. This was no problem for us because we were in fact dancing. Boozed up with my two white-footed left feet and awkward moves, next to her who moved so effortlessly, I was moving and grooving baby.

I went in for the kiss.

She put her pointer finger up to my face, stopping my lips cold. Shook her head no. I smiled the smile of a second defeat, this time soundly deflated, and nodded my understanding. It was not to be. I suppose it’s still all so clear to me because as seemingly hammered as I was, it instantly sobered me up. Maybe it was the rush of blood to the head.

I recently attended her wedding. I was the lone guy friend on the bride’s side. I briefly flashed back to that night a few years back while she walked down the aisle, and probably had a smile on my face as I did. Say what you will about my friend, she knew what she wanted, and I wasn’t it. And that’s ok, because at least I know.

Thoughts? 

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