Tuesday, 27 November 2012
Have you ever been in the situation where you meet someone and everything seems to be in harmony: you are both physically attracted to each other, conversation flows, there's some harmless flirting? Then, just as you're picturing your honeymoon in Aruba with that person, he or she runs a tractor trailer through your dream and says something along the lines of, "I like what I know about you so far, but I don't want to rush and possibly mess up things, so let's just be friends first."
But is that really possible to be "just friends"? How long, if at all, do you think it is possible to carry on a successful, fruitful, platonic friendship with a person when there is already more-than-friendly chemistry going on? My guess is not very long! It's like having a new, shiny, red BMW in the driveway and you have the keys in your hand, but you're being told you can't drive it just yet!
Don't get me wrong, I think it is a great idea to have a relationship that is rooted in TRUE friendship because it is a strong foundation, but from what I've witnessed, when you attempt to cultivate a friendship for the purposes of possibly trying to be more later on, what ends up happening is that:
A. It is not always a truly satisfying friendship for both people. Often times, one person may want a deeper commitment before the other is ready or able to make one. This could lead to feelings of discontentment, frustration, or even resentment.
B. In certain situations, the "we're just friends" approach can be used as somewhat of a scapegoat. Author Greg Behrendt said it best when he remarked:
"He will always be able to play the "friend" card on you. He only has to be responsible for the expectations of a friend, rather than the the far greater expectations of a boyfriend. He's got the ultimate situation: a great friend with all the benefits of a girlfriend, whom he can see or not see whenever he wants to." (It should be noted that although Benhrendt made the perpetrator a male, females may also be guilty of doing this!)
True platonic friendships--the ones that evolve naturally, spontaneously, and organically--have inherent boundaries and rules of interactions; however, when there is a friendship that is being formed between two people who, right from the beginning, have chemistry and/or physical attraction to each other, they end up in a state of ambiguity and inequality. They enter a state of limbo that I refer to as the: Friends+ Zone.
People in the Friends+ Zone do not have a totally platonic friendship. In fact, they may be outwardly flirty or even acknowledge the fact that they have more-than-friendly feelings for each other; however, they are also not actively dating each other. It's as if they're dipping a toe in the relationship pool, if you will.
1. I'm never quite sure how to act when we go out.
Is this a date or is it not? Is hand holding, kissing, etc. a reasonable expectation or not? Does he pay, are we taking turns paying, or do we go dutch? Do I wait for a "I had a great time - Let's do this again" text/call the next day or is that not necessary?
2. Figuring out what is acceptable or not in terms of the physical.
3. If we're supposed to be friends yet there are indicators that something more will develop, it makes me wonder about how that affects each of our interactions with members of the opposite sex.
If approached, can I act as if I am as single as a dollar bill or am I technically seeing somebody? Do I continue pursuing other options? Is it natural to feel guilty or as if I am doing something wrong if I am talking to other people? Is he/she seeing other people? etc.
4. Lack of accountability/responsibility***
The other person can check in or not check in...at their heart's desire. While one might expect a guy or girl you're dating to call or text somewhat regularly or even daily, being "just friends" may be an excuse they use to exempt themselves from being held accountable, or, for that matter, reachable! It must be stated that yes, friendship does entail emotional bonds, but a romantic relationship entails a deeper, more complex form of such a bond. However, in this situation, they can elude forming that deeper bond because they're able to exhibit a greater degree of emotional and/or physical distance/unavailability. While, this would be totally unacceptable in a relationship or amongst people who are dating, it is arguably more permissible in this instance because you two are just friends. Or, at least, that is what he/she will use as his/her counterpoint (or shall I say, scapegoat) when you bring up the topic of his/her distance.
He or she may actually treat you as a friend, and as such, they'll probably tell you about the normal happenings of their life, which may include divulging other people they find attractive and/or are also currently seeing. If you find your feelings for him or her growing deeper, is hearing them talk about other people in a romantic way something you can really put up with?
What is your stance? Can two people be "just friends," even if they are attracted to each other? Have you ever found yourself in the Friends+ Zone?