Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Upgrading the "friend" status

The following musings have been percolating in my mind in some form or another for quite a long time, but for some reason that I can't fully explain, they have become much more focused recently. Probably just the cycle of life, of events happening around me. But for whatever reason, I find myself pondering the "buddy" situation.
I'm really good at being a buddy, a support system of some kind for a lot of people. This is great. I love the feeling I get from that- of being needed, wanted, of having my assistance and love be desired. It drives a lot of gears behind my magnetic attraction to playing with and spending a lot of time with kids, when I get the chance. It drove a lot of my ability to push through challenging situations at home, knowing that I could provide support for younger siblings and I wouldn't let them down if I could help it. And, I fear that it has directed me to a place where I am a fabulous friend for a lot of men my age. I've observed the trend for a long time- I'm really quite skilled at becoming good friends with guys I am attracted to- and then just staying good friends. Often a few dates will ensue, and then the equilibrium just drops into a comfortable friendship. They are often very open and honest and trusting friendships, very deep and genuine. But something about me or the way I go about things seems to leave me in a position to be "just friends," time and again and again.

I have unwillingly realized this again recently with a couple of my very favorite guys- a kind of "wait a second" moment when I realized that not only am I great friend material- I'm great filler friend material. That is, I'm a great constant to come back to when things don't work out with other women. I am great to fill the time in between relationships.

Now, I don't know how this will come across to readers, but it's not really written in self-deprecation, angst against the portion of the human race with Y chromosomes, or anger against the world. It's more a general pondering. I'm sure that friends of mine who read this might be thinking things like "you can't blame yourself," or, "it's not you, it's them," which is very kind, albeit not useful at all. One thing I've learned as a scientist is to look for trends and constants- and the trend is getting stuck in a friendship rut with guys, and the constant is me. I've pondered what to do about this, and the obvious thing is to eliminate the factors that are holding me in the trend- but that means stopping friendships with guys that I get a lot of enjoyment and enrichment from spending time with. Which then leaves a void, and of course to fill the void I wind up right back where I was. I guess I fill a gap in their lives and they fill a gap in mine as well, and if we were all ten years younger, it would be a great setup.

Of course, the other hang up is I'd much rather date someone whose faults and failings I know, who's a real person and a real friend, someone I already know I can trust and be safe with, than I would someone who sweeps me off my feet in a burst of twitterpation and it's only during the courtship that warts and blemishes start to come up. But most guys don't operate that way in my experience, which includes conversations with guys about this topic.

And of course, added to this are the times when it's hard to care as much as I want to. I'd love to be dating a great guy, but it's so much effort with so little visible response- and there's so much else to fill my time. There's my job and camping and road trips, and planning things for JNF, and choir rehearsal, and, oh yeah, doing activities with my guy friends that are in all kinds of shades of gray with regards to the term "date." It's a good life. And, just as I'd feared, I'm becoming more comfortable in it than I wanted to. So maybe I do need a Prince Charming to come along and save me from the comfortable rut I've gotten in. Maybe. But I'd still rather be his friend first.