Just a Friend

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“O’ baby you, you got what I need…but you say he’s just a friend”

Just a Friend – Biz-Markie

 

I opened an e-mail earlier today from one of my followers asking if I would write a blog to help him out with a situation that he was having with his girlfriend. 

I agreed.  I hope my response helps you shed some light on a very tough situation. 

CamronZoe,

“My best friend is a girl I have known for almost seven years.  We are former co-workers, and she now lives in a nearby state with her boyfriend.  We’re both busy with work and other relationships and don’t speak very often, maybe once every other week.  Mostly we text and send e-mails sporadically to keep in touch.  Our friendship is strictly platonic, but my girlfriend of almost three years has suddenly become irrational and insecure, saying that she is uncomfortable with me have a female best friend, and she has asked me to end that relationship.  I cherish my relationship and my friendship and can’t imagine giving up either.  What do I do?” – Follower

Despite the opinion of other relationship experts, I’m of the opinion that yes, men and women actually can be friends. I’ve had a male “best” friend, “Tariq,” since 1998 and counting. We have a similar dynamic to the one you describe, in that our relationship is strictly platonic; he lives in my hometown (G-Ville.), and like you, we are both in relationships (he’s married); and although we don’t speak to or see each other often, I cherish his friendship and couldn’t imagine not having him around.

So I completely understand your dilemma — and yes, it can likely be solved in a way that allows you to keep your romantic relationship with your girlfriend and your platonic relationship with your “bestie” — but it won’t happen if you dismiss your girlfriend’s real concerns as “irrational.”

I keep putting “best” in quotes for a reason. As much as I do believe that men and women can be friends, I’m also of the belief that your significant other — especially your spouse or a partner of multiple years — should be your best friend. If you’re heterosexual and closer to a member of the opposite sex than you are to your spouse, it raises the question, “Why aren’t you with that person instead?”

It’s interesting that your girlfriend has become insecure about your relationship after three years. Unless she just found out about this long-standing friendship –which would give her reason to be “uncomfortable” — she’s been OK with it all this time.

A girl who believes that “her” man should have only male friends would usually reveal that while dating or very early on in the relationship. This new conflict leads me to believe that there’s been a recent occurrence that has made your girlfriend ill at ease.

There have been a few times when a guy I’ve been in a relationship with has been “uncomfortable” with me having a close male friend. Those situations have mostly happened because I put my best friend before my relationship. For instance, I received exciting news once; called my then-boyfriend, who didn’t answer; then called Tariq and shared the details. When downloading to my boyfriend, I made the mistake of saying, “Well, Tariq thought … “

In another instance, my boyfriend and I were dealing with an ongoing issue in our relationship and I spoke with Tariq about it. He usually takes my side, but on this issue he told me I was dead wrong. When my boyfriend discovered that my change of heart had come because Tariq said so, he said he was “uncomfortable” that another man’s outlook held more weight than his own.

At the time I thought that my clearly threatened boyfriend was being irrational, but really, he was responding to the perception that another person — especially a man — outside the relationship seemed to have more clout or influence than he did. It made him feel less important in the relationship. And that’s a very valid concern.

Perhaps you’ve given your own version of “Well, Tariq said … ” one too many times and your girlfriend has had enough of it — hence his request that you give up this particular friendship. Instead or axing your friendship, which you clearly don’t want to do, discuss with your girlfriend about what the underlying problem is here. It may be that you’re giving your friend more “weight” than your woman.

Since your communication with your friend is already pretty minimal, you’ll need to make some adjustments to make your girlfriend feel more secure. That could include giving her the first heads-up about new information and communicating more with your woman to solve any issues in your relationship. There’s nothing wrong with talking to a trusted friend about issues you’re having, but your girlfriend doesn’t need to hear, “Well, so-and-so said … ,” even if the person you consulted was another man.

In the unfortunate case that your friendship has habitually line-stepped on your woman’s ego, your girlfriend may be unwilling to rethink her stance regarding your female friend. You will then have to make a tough decision about who matters more to you. After three years in a relationship with your partner, choosing her over your friend should be the obvious answer. And if it isn’t, you will need to re-explore what your real feelings are for your female friend.

Dating Isn’t Dead – (I don’t think….)

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I just read an article in the New York Times called “The End of Courtship?” over the weekend.  So ya’ll know I had to blog on this topic right……

I don’t think dating is dead, but based on that article, I do think common sense, basic standards and self-esteem might be on life support.

Frankly, all but one of the anecdotes in Alex Williams’ piece read like a series of case studies for He’s Just Not That Into You. The women interviewed seemed to conclude that “proper” dating is dead based on their interactions with men who were clearly and obviously not into them — hence why they got offers to hang out, hook up and stop by at wee hours for “whiskey and boxed macaroni and cheese.”

There has definitely been a shift in how people date and a rise in the casualness of it all, but even in this constantly evolving and confusing-for-most dating culture, I’d argue that there is no such thing as a man — one who is genuinely interested — not figuring out how to put his best foot forward when it comes to getting to know a woman. He may fumble and stumble, but an interested man will make some effort. If he’s not making any effort, he’s not all that interested. You shouldn’t be dating him anyway.

The only person included in the article who seemed to get that was Cheryl Yeoh, 29, who figured out that the way to go on proper dates was to accept only proper offers. Yeoh goes to plays and fancy restaurants and receives red roses from suitors, all the stuff that the other women in the article would like to experience. Yeoh insists that guys schedule a date with her a week in advance, which is a little extreme, but clearly not unreasonable — and, more important, it’s working. Don’t ever underestimate the power of having standards, and don’t engage people who won’t or can’t or just have no desire to meet them.

For all the dating and relationship articles about women needing to compromise more or lower their standards, I find that one of the biggest problems among my clients is that standards aren’t high enough. Somehow, many women have been “okey-doked” into thinking that they should just accept any ole man and any ole treatment and just be happy to have someone kinda, sorta interested.

That is rubbish. It’s better to be alone than to be treated like an afterthought.

Women have more power than they know, and I wish they wouldn’t be afraid to exert it. There isn’t any obligation to engage in text-only communication or accept offers to hang out after the club or have sex with no commitment. “No” is a powerful word. Use it.

Women should also not be afraid to ask for what they want. Not every guy is a mind reader, and even the well-intentioned and actually interested ones won’t always get it right up front (or down the line). Speak up.

He’s always texting? Tell him that you prefer he call or that you two talk in person. He doesn’t call enough for your liking? Tell him what you prefer. If he suggests that you “come by to chill,” hit him with a counteroffer: “Actually, I’d prefer if we went out. How about _______?” will work just fine.

If he’s genuinely interested in seeing you and not just bored or trying to have sex, he’ll agree (or counter with a place or activity that is within his budget). It’s not as if you’re asking him to create an Eighth Wonder of the World. If he’s remotely interested, he will try to meet your reasonable requests.

This was the case with my current significant other. He called one evening asking to see me and wanted to know if he could come over. I flatly told him no. (I don’t invite strangers into my home.)

He then asked if I could visit him at his home. Again, no. (I also don’t go to strangers’ homes.)

“Well, can you meet me somewhere?” he asked.

I was interested in seeing him, and glad to know that he shared my spontaneous streak and that his primary interest was to see me. But … I didn’t want to get back on the subway. “Could we do something tomorrow?” I suggested. “I can’t do the train right now.”

He offered to send a car to pick me up. When a guy is interested, it’s really that simple.