Tag Archives: confusion

Safe Guy Manifesto

Originally posted to Blogspot on:

February 17, 2012

For the ladies, and for any guy who’s just as confused about women as I am.

Two nights ago I lost a friendship that mattered to me. I don’t fully understand the reasons for this ending, nor, with the exception of a growing lack of response, did I sense the warning signs coming. But it had everything to do with me (a man) trying to maintain a friendship with a woman I cared about, and not realizing how uncomfortable my words were making her when my intentions were honorable. It’s not the first time I’ve lost a friendship for caring more than I probably should have (and showing it). But hopefully it’ll be the last. Below is a compiled list of realizations I’ve gained over the years about the opposite sex friend I’m expected to be, realizations that came to me after having made silly assumptions about the stability of certain friendships, including, but not exclusive to this current failure. I should note that not all friendships (including this) were ruined by breaking all of these rules, but each rule has been a source of trouble to someone at some point when I accidentally violated it, and I think it’s time that I make new assurances to my lady friends to keep them happy and give the guys something to think about for the future. After all, I know that the lady friends who matter most to me are the same ones who want safe guy friends (that’s been my experience at least). So, ladies, if I (or any other man you deem safe) start following these simple rules, then I (or we) should make you, the lady, content, and you won’t feel so compelled to walk away forever. So please accept this safe guy manifesto as your ticket to friends zone harmony:

1. I will no longer compliment your appearance. Maybe deep down I think you look beautiful today (and in general), and I want to tell you so. Maybe you’ve chosen to wear a shirt I really like, or a fragrance that really gets my attention. Perhaps your jeans even make you look thin. But you’ll never know, because I’ll never tell you. Heaven forbid you should think I’m coming on to you.

2. I will no longer tell you that you’re important to me. You probably are important to me, and I would love to tell you so because I think you deserve to know that. But doing so may make you feel uncomfortable, because that risks creating an emotional connection, and I have no desire to make you uncomfortable. So for all you know, you mean nothing to me.

3. I will not invite you to dinner. Maybe a lunch is okay. Lunches are safe and I know you want safe. Dinners are associated with dates and business deals, and you probably don’t want to believe you’re on either. Even if you’re hungry. I know I’m not an option for you, even if you think I’m a better guy than the ones you’d normally date. I won’t pretend that I am by inviting you to dinner. I know that dinner with me will weird you out.

4. If I call once, I will wait for you to respond. It may take you weeks or even months to realize you haven’t heard from me for awhile, and you may begin to wonder what happened to me. But that’s your cue to remember that I’m still waiting for your response. I will not call you or write you a second time until I’ve heard back from you first. I don’t want you to think I’m pushy or “needy” or have an unhealthy attachment to you. I hope that in knowing this, you will also know how rude I think it is to make someone wait for a response to a simple hello, and how much I’d rather call or write again just to wake you up. But I won’t because you’ll think I’m needy, and I know it wouldn’t have occurred to you that maybe I think you’ve forgotten that we’re friends, or that I think you’re becoming careless with me, and that if you don’t respond within a reasonable timeframe, then we’re not actually friends.

5. Anything you tell me as truth, I will believe you. You may one day show me that you never meant what you said, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt because I care enough about you to trust you. I will never question what you believe is true. But you’re welcome to doubt me if you’d like. I know that if I violate any of these rules, even by accident, I’ll have given you ammunition to distrust me.

6. I will forgive you of all of your mistakes. Even if you burn my house down on accident, it may hurt me severely, but I’ll forgive you. I believe in dealing with problems and resolving them properly. I know that giving up on you or your friendship for any reason is unfair to you, and I will not subject you to the worry that you’ve lost my friendship. I will also do my best to avoid making a mistake around you, because I know you’re not as forgiving, and I don’t want to give you an excuse to end our connection.

7. I will work extra hard to conform to your rules. I realize that I don’t have a voice in this relationship, so I will make sure that I don’t step on your toes by telling you what I might want. I realize that you won’t give my interests or values much consideration anyway. Doing so might cause you discomfort. And discomfort leads to your back swung in my direction. I don’t want that. (Oops, I just told you my want. Sorry. Won’t happen again.)

8. If I develop a warm interest in you at any point, I’ll be sure to keep it to myself. I know that’ll also make you run for the hills if you ever found out. On a related note, even if I decide I’d like to pursue you for romance because I see a wife-like quality in you that I don’t see in anyone else – and I’d like a wife someday because I’m not dead – I won’t act on that. I know that a good safe guy doesn’t try to improve his friendships or pursue his dreams with a decision so dangerous. I know that you don’t really want a good man to love you for who you are – you only say that you do – and you could never believe that the good guy who actually wants to give you his heart is the same man who should have yours. So I won’t even talk about romance with you. No need for me to be the guy who puts such a wicked thought in your sensitive head.

9. If for any reason a problem should arise, I’ll be sure to work with you as much as I can to fix it. It may take some time, and I may not know all the trouble areas right away, but I’ll work on them as you show me what’s bothering you. I know that my chances are limited, so I’ll do my best not to waste those three chances that you allot me before you decide that our friendship is unhealthy and that we should call it quits.

10. I will do my best to read your mind. I know that if I can’t figure out what you want when you yourself have no idea what you want, then I’ll eventually pay for it with your frustration and become discouraged because now you won’t call me back.

11. I will never express my discouragement over the things that bother me because you don’t want my negativity. If it’s not full of butterflies and rainbows, then you don’t want to hear about it, and I respect that. I know that a real friendship doesn’t include sharing the difficulties of life with each other. In fact, I’m pretty sure you’re already turned off by my honesty as you read this. You probably won’t have trouble unloading your troubles on me, though.

12. Despite the pain that will inevitably follow, I will be sure to protect your heart by lying down on that bed of nails and take my emotional scarring for you because I don’t want you to get scared by the slightest hint of appreciation and turn around and punch me through my heart with that bed of nails.

This list may be incomplete, but by following these twelve rules, I’m pretty sure I can offer you what you want. I realize that in doing so, I will have denied my own heart and sense of being, and perhaps violated my own sense of manhood, but I will do it anyway because it will make you happy, and because I value you and think you’re worth more than you give yourself credit for. Sure, in the end, most of the elements of this plan may leave me feeling inadequate, lonely, severely unhappy, and eventually resentful of you, but that’s okay because, while a good friendship is two-sided, a safe friendship is one-sided, and math teaches us that one side is better than none. So, from this day forward, as I enact this “safe guy manifesto,” you may now refer to me by my proper name:

“A lump.”

Is this adequate for you?

If for any reason the safe guy should depress you, though, and he will, then maybe instead of abusing him and kicking him to the curb when he doesn’t perfectly fit your rules all the time, you should lighten up, give him his room to breathe, and if his words or actions crosses your comfort zone, tell him so, tell him why, and give him the time he needs to correct his mistakes (and correct him again if he screws up again because he will; I promise you that). A good friend will work with you. But you have to work with him. Only kick him to the curb if he’s a sleaze bag or narcissist who doesn’t give a crap about you. Sadly, you seem to be slower at placing that kick, and I don’t really get that. Truthfully, I wish you’d stop acting so unreasonably because I, and other decent men like me, have got far more to offer you in friendship than you give me, or us, credit for. You’ve just got to lighten up and allow us to be men, and forgive us if we step on your toes, and inform us if we’re causing you trouble somehow, and, if you can stand it, show some appreciation once in awhile. I don’t think you realize what you’re missing here by limiting our hearts or running away so easily. We really are trying to consider and support your best interests. You just fail to see that because you’re too busy ignoring ours.

Backwards

Originally written (but never previously posted) on:

January 11, 2012

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a journal, even though I’ve had a number of topics culled from real life worth blogging about in the last few months. Drivers who honk at me from behind because I’m not cutting off the guy who’s trying to turn in front of me. My walking into a park restroom to find two guys forgoing the privacy of a stall to change into their athletic clothes while in the open (awkward). Missing my self-imposed deadline to finish writing a novel before Christmas because it’s ballooned to the length of four novels and needs to be split. The joys of losing three weeks’ pay during the most expensive season of the year, every year, because I work in education, something that has less time devoted to it than common vacation-free stupidity. And, of course, discussing my favorite books or movies of the year in an effort to convert anyone reading this to my side. You know, just a few of the topics I’ve missed writing about because I was too busy devoting my time to things that didn’t matter (computer games), and looking back I regret that.

Kinda makes you wonder what’s snapped me out of that dry trend, right?

Truthfully, I don’t see this turning into a real blog. Real blogs spend time investigating an issue. They ask the question: why are those junky cars in back of the college upside down? Oh, because that’s part of the firefighter training facility. Why is that water fountain marked with a sign that warns potential thirsty people not to drink from it? What’s unsafe about that water fountain, but is perfectly safe about every other water fountain within a hundred-foot radius of it? Did somebody spike the pipes there? Is it too close to the firefighter training facility where that gas tanker nuzzled up to the roof of that junky car on its side is possibly leaking into the underground water table? Is it just to make those warehouse guys in the back of the building hate their job? Am I only concerned about this because the Property Records Office wanted me to walk all the way across campus, not to return my lockdown key, but to confirm that I still had it? A real blog might attempt to speculate on these questions until it returns a viable answer. For now, I don’t think I care to do that. For now, I just want voice a concern that has suddenly become clear to me after having stealthily given me a number of headaches over the years.

The human race is a backward one. We want answers before we ask the questions. We want flat bellies before we bother to exercise. We expect money whether we work for it or not. It’s kinda crazy. If I’m waiting at a turnabout for the driver with the right of way to finish clearing the circle, is it too much to ask of the driver behind me to lay off his dang horn? If something in government already works fine, is there some reason why Senator X feels compelled to break it and then sink the economy with his new plan to fix it? If I want to finish fixing my novel before the 23rd to make a contest on time, do I really need to be wasting my time writing blogs? I’m beginning to suspect that we, as a human race, are approaching our decisions with ignorance. We think, therefore we are correct.

I’m not one to complain about this. I was once infamous for my tendency to fall asleep after drinking coffee. I think I’ve tricked my body enough in the last seven years to recognize that caffeine is supposed to wake me up. But it still doesn’t understand that five-mile walks in the park are supposed to encourage the same outcome. Nor does it understand that thirty minutes of cardio at the gym three days a week is supposed to trim a pound or two off my weight, not add three back. My body and I are still working on the things it’s supposed to do versus the things that it does do. It’s kind of an idiot, but I’m patient.

Women are still an enigma to me, and are the leading cause of most of my blogs, including this one. In most situations, a single lady who is available should be more readily accessible through texts, e-mails, or phone calls to a man than are the several married female friends he knows. I mean, I think that’s how things are supposed to work. If I were to conduct an impromptu Man on the Street interview right now in some crowded city, asking the question, “As a single man, who do you have better connections with, the single ladies you’re interested in, or the married ones who are forever platonic toward you?” I would assume that the common answer would lean toward the single ladies. Isn’t that the ideal response? Isn’t that the ideal truth? For some reason, whether through irony or cruelty, that’s never the case with me. And I know that “never” is too extreme of a word to use in any case, but I’m pretty sure that “never” is pretty accurate here. Perhaps that bears opening a window into my life.

When that show The Office was still in its prime, my married male friend wasn’t the one who called me every Thursday and insisted that I come over to watch it with him and his wife; his wife was the one who generally invited me over. Sure, he was happy to have me over to watch the show with them. But it was never through his insistence that I actually went over there. If I told him I didn’t want to come over this week, he’d usually say okay and that would be that. If I told her I didn’t want to come over this week, she’d try to bribe me with a pizza or a soft drink or something until I said, “Fine, I’ll be over soon.” As irony or cruelty would have it, in that same era when I would get these weekly invites to hang out with my married friends, usually through the wife’s suggestion (and that didn’t include the other occasional days in the week when the three of us would go to a movie or to Applebee’s—some weeks, not all weeks), I was waiting several to many weeks for the single lady I was interested in at the time to respond to my last three or more e-mails that I had sent her. Back then, I knew something was off about that dynamic. But I realized I couldn’t change it. At the time, I chalked up the single woman’s increasing lack of response to disinterest on her part. I didn’t want to believe that was the case, but the signs were evident. I kept writing anyway because I was in denial. I thought there was hope, therefore I was correct. In the meantime, I would hang out with my married friends, week after week, almost consistently by the wife’s invitation, wondering why in the world the single girl I was interested in wanted nothing to do with me. But now, when history repeats itself again and again, I have to start questioning whether I’m delusional, or part of a society that has missed an important ingredient in the recipe for a sensible life.

Ever since those Thursday nights when The Office was still hot on NBC’s lineup and people were still wondering if Jim would ever break through the thick shell around Pam’s heart, things had finally died down, the players in my life had gradually shifted, and I now have a new series of married friends that I hang out with on occasion. But the dynamic between the two social groups hasn’t shifted. The married female friends in my life are still quick as ever to respond to funny texts or questions I might have, and in some cases invite me on a group outing. And the single ones still take forever to even say hello. The married ones are generally speedy to help me with a problem. The single ones…well, I’m still waiting to hear back from them. In 2011, I started devoting special attention to a new single lady, the first to really catch my attention in about five years. Most of my married female friends have since spent time listening to me defending this girl even when it was clear that something in my connection with her was gradually failing. I, of course, didn’t want to believe that anything was failing—that the current situation was just the way things were supposed to work for us. The breakdown, of course, comes down to communication and expectation, and a clash that both have with the current season in her life. I still believe that frequent contact is imperative for the growth of any relationship, friendship or otherwise, and when that comes under threat, so does the relationship. This lady of interest had explained to me a couple of months ago that it isn’t normal for her to chat on a regular basis with a man she’s not committed to (as in preparing for marriage—I know this sounds a lot like disinterest, but this was happening even when she admitted to enjoying messages from me). When a single woman is the only person who tells me that (and I don’t think this is the first time I’ve heard this from a single woman), I realize something is off, and I become utterly confused by the logic. I’d expect this kind of statement from the married ones. Yet, none of them feel the conversational distance is even necessary. Is it because they’ve already established their emotional ties? I’m really confused by this. I actually want to be okay with her statement because I want to be okay with her viewpoint. And I know she has said this in context of committing to her singleness (another detail that isn’t this blog’s business). (The background story is too complicated for a blog, so I’ll just say that against modern logic, I’ve been supportive of her decision to keep a certain distance, even if it doesn’t actually make a lot of sense to me, and even if it secretly pains me.) This has not been easy, though. After going nearly a month without a phone call (in spite of my requests for a response), I realize my frustration has nothing to do with her lengthy breaks from communication, even when it’s obviously eroding the possibility for growth and even more obviously a repeat of my painful past that I’m certain is leading to disappointment if things continue as they are, but from the simple fact that my married (and notably emotionally off-limits) female friends are, on average, responsive within four hours or less. I feel like that’s kinda backwards. Aren’t the single ladies supposed to be the more readily available ladies?

So…. May I ask a simple question? Is this really my life? And is it supposed to be this way? This is the very reason why I’m tired of meeting new people; inevitably I’m just gonna have to start over again and again, remember a new name, discover a new face, again and again, get my hopes up, again and again, and then accept yet another reason why I’m not allowed to draw close to the single one who matters the world to me, again, again, and yet again, and I have no more interest in doing that. Many times I’ve prayed to God to give me a heart for singleness if He’s just gonna keep throwing me in the path of wonderful women who will ultimately break my heart. It’s not my boyhood dream to run face-first into so many dead ends. This is the kind of pain that offers no gain. It’s really just soft cruelty.

As I stated a moment ago, I don’t really need to explore this issue in-depth any further. It’s just something that has crossed my mind again, and I felt like writing it down. I don’t expect it to be the key to my resolve. Early tomorrow morning I’m supposed to visit the college dental school to sit in a chair for an hour and a half while dental students poke around in my mouth trying to figure out what state my teeth are in. I expect that in that hour and a half, they’ll reach the conclusion that my four-year absence from the dentist will render me in need of a new cleaning, and possibly an X-ray. At that point they will schedule me to come back at another time for the actual cleaning, which I’m told can take about four hours at the school. And this is good because when I tried to get my teeth cleaned at the school last month, the person responding to my card didn’t leave a message on the first call, nor did she answer my calls any of the times I tried to get back to them to schedule an appointment. The only reason I got in now was because I came across a dental student in the computer lab on my first day back at school for the new semester (on a Friday) and told him in my most formal and polite way, “Hey, get me an appointment, dude. Sheesh.” I got the call right after the weekend ended to come in Thursday morning bright and early. I filled out my first request for a cleaning in early November. But that’s why I don’t really have time to invest in this question further tonight. I should be asleep now. But I’m not because only normal people go to bed early enough to get adequate sleep. Nope, I’ve got to do things the nonsensical way because I am human, dangit!