I don’t believe in men and women being ‘just good friends’, but it may not be for the reason you think it is…
“I think you’re really great but I see you more as a friend.”
Few sentences have the power to chill the red blood of man as this (‘I’m just not ready for a relationship’ is a solid runner-up but that one’s for another time).
OK, so the ‘Reality TV Show Results Pause’ builds precisely zero tension whatsoever in this instance; yes, I’ve heard these words, yes I’ve heard them more than once, and no, I never want to hear them ever again. Mind you, it has to be said that these words (or some bumbling variant thereof) have also escaped my lips on occasion. I’m no Julio Iglesias but it seems even I have left a few hearts a little scratched along the way.
It’s a complicated business this whole man + woman thing, requiring as it does (at least as far as I’m concerned) the ability to talk, laugh and *ahem, cough* for hours. Even that, it would seem, isn’t enough: there’s ’emotional availability’, ‘relationship readiness’ and I’m sure plenty of other terms that the average man will never have heard of but that I expect will fill many a page of the average issue of Cosmopolitan.
Last, but by no means least, there’s that elusive ‘spark’, the ‘X Factor’ that tells you, YES, this is the one I’ve been waiting for. Honey, you’re home….
To everyone that has read about – or worse, had the misfortune of having to listen to – my numerous tales of dating disaster, it may be difficult to understand just what a complicated and dispiriting business this middle-aged dating lark can be.
‘Why can’t you just go out and get talking to someone in a pub like the good old days and take things from there?’ Why indeed, why indeed…
Honestly, I have no idea why it all seems so much more complicated these days. Nights out are fewer and farther between with the responsibilities of fatherhood and work conspiring to make opportunities for meeting someone this way about as frequent as a Sunderland AFC win. And even when there is an opportunity to cut loose amongst the unsuspecting woman-folk of North East England most will be either pissed and/or married. Lucky for them perhaps, not so much for me.
And so to – bloody hell, here we go again – dating sites. As someone recently said to me, it may be that dating sites contain, ‘loads of people that haven’t dealt with their own sh*t,’ – hardly the foundation for the start of something beautiful. There are people that do know what they’re looking for but aren’t honest about this with the people that they meet. And there is also the fact that people can be much more specific / choosy regarding what they’re looking for as middle-age approaches, having had plenty of experience of what they don’t want.
To cap it all I’ll admit, I’m picky and I know what I like. And why shouldn’t I be? I haven’t had my life turned upside down just to ‘settle’. Knackers to that.
(Katy Perry – if you happen to be reading, my email address can be found in the ‘Contact & Further Info’ section, hit me up). In my roundabout way I’m approaching the point of this post. Amongst the dating disappointments and adapting to being on my lonesome I have in my life something with a value that becomes ever greater.
Lifelong friends that have been there for me for as long as I can remember. And, through my dating and blogging experiences I’m lucky to have made some new female friends along the way.
Finding that elusive romantic spark can be difficult and life would be so much easier if we could choose who we could feel it with. But we can’t, and that can bring challenges of its own, particularly when one party feels it but the other one doesn’t. I’ve been on both sides of this equation and it’s never easy but, such is life. As with most things involving relationships I believe that respect and honesty are key, with these it’s possible to become good friends with good people with whom that romantic flame doesn’t quite ignite for whatever reason.
People can have different feelings about mixed-gender friendships and some are cynical about the possibility of being close friends with a member of the opposite sex without, well, sex getting in the way. I can honestly say this has never been an issue for me (I know what you’re thinking…) and throughout my life I have always had close female friends, regardless of whether I’m in a relationship or not.
I’d like to think that because of this I am able to relate to women pretty well and feel very comfortable in their company and this has been a real plus for dating; I never get nervous about dates and know that I won’t have any problem with talking and being able to enjoy a night out with a date, regardless of whether the spark is there.
I confess, there is a flipside and there are times I’ve wondered whether my friendships with women have placed me firmly in the ‘Friendzone’ where all of womankind is concerned but fortunately, there are a few women out there that have proved to me otherwise.
But on the whole, I’m not complaining. I’ve always loved female company and I’ve met some wonderful new friends who have helped me to steer through the ups and downs of the last couple of years. Friends that I am confident will remain my friends for a very long time. The fact that a romantic spark isn’t present doesn’t lessen these relationships, to the contrary, I’ve found that people that I did have that spark with and that I thought were very special have proven to be only very temporary features in my life and have acted in ways that a friend never would.
For this reason, I don’t think of my female friends as ‘just good friends.’ They are not, they are good friends. Friends that I can rely on, that won’t disappoint me, let me down, lie to me or hurt me.
So no, I may not have yet met ‘the one’ but I have gained some special friendships along the way.
Maybe I’m winning at this dating game after all.
Matthew Williams, single father to two children and divorced ex-husband to an ex-wife, started the blog ‘Love, Laughter & Truth‘ in December 2015. The blog is an attempt to make sense of his rollercoaster life following depression, divorce, and his introduction to the weird – and sometimes wonderful – world of dating. He hopes that his writing will help others that find themselves dealing with similar challenges in life. You can find Matthew on his blog and follow him on Facebook & Twitter.
Image courtesy of unsplash.