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.


Carrot said...

I love this post! It describes how I felt so many times. But just keep hanging in there! Prince Charming is out there just waiting to find you!

Jenny Kendall said...

Hi Maria. I owe you a big one since you basically set me up with my husband, so I'm going to comment despite the danger of sounding shallow. Now all of this will probably not make a difference when Mr. Right shows up, but if you want some more-than-friends male attention get a make over. I know--shallow, silly. It's just another way of flirting. go get someone to show you a new way to wear make up. Drop some money on clothes that flatter you. Buy some perfume you like. Be as attractive as you can be. (that, in your case, is very attractive.)

Ross & Amanda Goodman- but mostly Amanda :) said...

Ross and I were 'just friends' for a long time before we started the dating thing. In fact, he got really tired of being called, 'Just Ross' by my roommates since there was no drama or excitement from me hanging out with him as were were 'just friends'. I love it that way. You are absoluteley right about knowing the downsides first. There were so many times I would notice things about him and think, 'Well, it's a good thing I'm not going to marry him, because that would drive me crazy!' The truth is, they still drive me crazy, but I knew what I was getting into because of our amazing friendship. It started completely plutonic and morphed over time into something beautiful. If you love your life and your relationships, then perhaps nothing needs to change as something already established will simply morph when the time is right. Or maybe there is a knight in shining whatever out there coming your way. Who knows? He, Only one! :)

Chelsey White said...

Nice !This post is great!A Prince Charming to come along and save you from the comfortable rut you've gotten in.

Miss Kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miss Kate said...

Maria Sederberg, not only are you my laugh-twin, you are my intellectual heroine (in the non-psychedelic sense). You know as well as I do like attracts like (paradoxical as it is), virtue cleaves unto virtue. And that's all I'm going to say.

apicaaday said...

i like your scientific mind Mia its so beautiful. Jenny Kendall has a good point it being..to get out of a rut you must make significant change. Her suggestion of a makeover is an intresting one.
You are a very beautiful person inside and out. And you are such a wonderful friend i can see why you might have this problem.
What if instead of pulling back from being "sterotypical chick" you allowed yourself to fall into that a little more. ...like batting your eyelashes, allowing a guy to "fix" something for you, giggling behind a fan. You know what i mean :) heheheh just being a little more....soft?pink? i'm not sure what the word is i'm looking for here. But then! Maybe you'll find the man, the macho, the prince. .....I don't know just an idea :) LOVE YOU!!!!!!!