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Just Friends

Thursday, February 9, 2012
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The previous post was from a woman trying to figure out the friend/date distinction, and now we have a similar question from a guy. If nothing else, hopefully it's helpful to know that this isn't a one-sided dilemma!

Dear Miriam,

For some reason, I've always been the kind of guy with more female friends than male friends. In my quest to find the perfect mate, I've put some thought into asking out some of those female friends only to find that I am already too deep into the "friend zone." I am wondering a) if it is possible to breach this zone (as exemplified in movies such as "Just Friends") and b) how to avoid getting into it in the first place.

Signed,
Just Friends

Dear Friends,

I'm not familiar with "Just Friends," but I do know what "When Harry Met Sally" has to say: "No man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive." You seem to have found a way around that, but it's led to another set of complications.

I've certainly heard of couples that started out as friends and then became romantically involved, but there's always the risk of making an unwelcome advance and ruining the friendship or getting together then breaking up and ruining the friendship. Either way, if you value the friendship, these are problems to avoid. The best potential I can see for moving from friendship to dating is to ask a mutual friend to find out if the girl has any interest in you. That way, you both have the opportunity to save face and pretend no one ever brought it up, but if there is something there, you can find out. Plus, friends love when their friends get together, and everyone wants the opportunity to play matchmaker (trust me, I would know!).

It sounds like you like having female friends and that you only want to avoid becoming friends with women you might someday want to date, but since you don't know who they might be before you get to know them, and then once you know them, they're already your friends, I can see why your conclusion would be to stop being friends with women. But I don't think that's the only option.

To help break this cycle of friend/date confusion, I encourage you to see all your current female friends as just that: friends. You need to put yourself in situations to meet new women who don't already view you as a friend, and from now on, when you meet a woman for the first time, pay attention to what kind of signals you're sending. If she's someone you might be interested in dating, ask her if she'd like to get together (remember, ask her to go out, not hang out!). As I mentioned in response to the previous question, if you want to take a girl out on a date, you should pay, there should be some hint of attraction/physical connection, and you should compliment her.

I keep asking myself: What's Jewish about all this? I'll go out on a limb here and say that you're probably a real mensch, which is Yiddish for a great guy, but nothing in English quite captures the sentiment. So you want to treat women well and be a good friend, and all that leads to exactly the situation you've described. What it also means, though, is that some woman is going to be incredibly lucky to find you.

Good luck, and be well,

Miriam

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