So, I know I've written a really thought-provoking blog not necessarily when I get comments or kudos (which don't get me wrong, I do enjoy); but, when I get emails about them. That's typically when people either have so much to say it'd be like a blog of it's own on your comment (which I'm fine with, too) or because there's stuff that it made them think about they're not really ready to share en masse. Those? Are the best. I got a few of those from the last blog, but there was one from one of my favorite guy friends that was just really greast food for thought.
And it really deserved a mention. I won't share his name, but I will share some of his thoughts from our conversation last night. ;) I started it last night, but got super involved with the groove I was in (Mommy Track!) and forgot. Then this morning, I read a GREAT blog from Stephanie about just making new friends in general- great thing to focus on at the beginning of any year. Anyway, the combination of the two made me think about the follow-up thing again, and the different types of friends that we deal with on a regular basis in the dating world.
Friends - Of course, we all have our same-gender friends and the people that we've met along the way that we've never dated. We've got our group of core 'friends' that provide our support and then we usually have that one special friend (or maybe 2) that you can call and they know by the tone of your voice whether they need to hand you chocolate, salon therapy, or a good stiff drink. Thank GOD for those special people. :D But, since my overall theme is dating, we'll move on to those friends...
I have dated my fair share of guys that have ended up being my friend, as opposed to anything more. When you think about it, most of the people we date will either end up in this or the 'frenemies' category if they stay in our lives. In fact, some of the best people I know were men I went out on a date with and then realized I didnt want to lose - so, I stopped dating them. There IS one who realized we belonged there, so he guided us into the friend zone (good call, by the way) - and I love having these guys in my life. They're friends, they provide perspective and insight and we never have to talk about fashion! LOL Sometimes, I think this is the best result to come out of dating.
Getting to the friend zone can be kind of tricky. It's not like you instantly end up there - you have to work to get it there. First, you have to work through any residual feelings that the other side may still be fostering of a romantic or hurt nature. Sometimes, that just takes time. Often, it takes an explanation - that's less fun, but fair. I'm usually pretty up front in letting guys know that we're going to be happier in the end if we were just friends... and I tell them why I think that. The ones that I end up staying friends with (all but one, really) get it and respect it. Usually, a couple weeks and they're dating someone else later... and we'll meet for drinks and laugh about how awkward dating is. And it's all good. :)
When it's not all good, they become Frenemies. Very rarely will a guy or girl come out and tell you that they're angry, jaded or just don't like you. We're all FAR too civilized for that. But there are guys (and girls, but I date guys) that can't quite completely rise above the fact that you chose not to be with them. So, they insert little snide comments and deep down, you kind of know that they're not rooting for you to win they way you root for them. So, eventually, they linger away. Which is good, because it's AWKWARD! Do you ever just want to ask them, "What the hell? Really?" I know I do - there are a MILLION girls out there (or guys if you're a girl) and probably hundreds of thousands that we could be compatible with. So, is it really worth hanging on to the pettiness of being bitter about someone who wasn't? Seems like a lot of wasted energy for me, but it does make for some good Happy Hour stories. ;)
And then there's the friends you date. The ones who haven't made it into any permanent category yet. It's a wierd limbo-land. Here's where we pick up from the last blog. I made a comment about making sure that I know where I stand with you if we're dating. There's different ways to guage that, of course - and my friend that I referenced at the beginning? He reminded me of that. Not that I had forgotten that there's nothing wrong with taking your time with getting to know someone - most men I've dated will absolutely attest to the fact that I'm a 'take-it-slow' kind of girl. But even I need signs, man! LOL So, when my friend and I were discussing the blog last night, he shared his perspective with me (paraphrasing here:)
"When I was still out there dating (he's in a long-term relationship now), I liked to take it slow. Get to know them, become friends with them, and see how we communicated and such before moving into anything physical."
Lest anyone's mind be in the bedroom, we were NOT talking about sex. "But, what about simple things like hugs, brushes on the arm, or kissing someone goodnight -even if it's on the cheek - at the end of dates? Surely that's not rushing to anything, right?" It can be was essentially his reply. Yeah, and maybe he's right. It's certainly a hell of a lot easier to transition into the friend zone if you don't have any of that going on. :) And, come to think of it, I've done something like that with a couple of guys before - the ones that you think might have some heavy baggage or a myriad of other reasons that something inside of you says, "Not yet."
Here's the kicker, though, I think - if you're going to go the "18-inches-of-personal-space" route, you're going to need to verbally communicate your intentions. Let the person you're dating know that you're dating them so they know what's going on. Because, let's face it, noone likes to be in the dark. If you don't, expect to find yourself in 'the friend zone' while the person you were getting to know is out with someone else.