Tag Archives: discouragement

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.

The Great Frustration

Note: In an effort to bring my blog up-to-date, I’ve been reading old journals and looking into old issues, investigations, and funny stories I once had. Rereading this journal reminds me that I don’t always see the bigger picture. Having said that, I don’t know how much of this I still agree with. When I wrote it, I was hurt because someone accused me of not being “close enough to God” and used it as a weapon to tear down my heart when that person had no knowledge of my spiritual journey and just assumed the accusation was correct. Like all things that frustrate me, I had to write down my thoughts in an effort to make sense of them. I don’t necessarily agree with everything I once wrote here because I can see where I’m basically making similarly misunderstood assumptions about people. But writing under the influence of pain can blight our ability to think with love and wisdom. So, the following is another example of what happens when my heart is broken.

Originally posted to MySpace on:

March 6, 2007:

I’m tired of letting this control me: this issue of who I am, and how I’m perceived. Since when was it anyone’s business to define my identity for me?

I still find myself asking God to heal my heart. And I think that’s a given for any of us—we all have something that breaks it. But I’m tired of asking for the healing when the things that keep breaking it are out of my control. Just a few minutes ago I caught myself asking for this—for this healing—and realized I’m asking because I haven’t let go of my hurt.

And why not?

I don’t know if my relationship with God is exactly what it’s meant to be, or if I’m missing something. Frankly, I don’t think God is keeping score. I have a relationship with Him—He knows it, I know it, what more is there to say about it? As far as I know, I’m where I’m supposed to be.

I know my relationships with people falter, though. Today, for example, I had one of the worse days at work that I’ve had in awhile. There wasn’t any one defining thing that made it horrible, it was just a medley of sour feelings, great frustration, and all around chaos that made being there awful. And I found myself getting angry. Over what? Over picky people? Over low pay? Over my own exhaustion? Frankly, there was nothing worth getting angry about. And yet, I still had to ask God for the strength to love others.

Such a strange thing to ask for at 2:30 in the afternoon, isn’t it?

Truth was, I found myself resenting the people around me: the strangers, the friends, the whole bloody circumstance. And it was torturing me. It was just another Tuesday in Boynton Beach, but I wanted so badly to run away and never look back. Much like I’ve felt about my place here for the last, say, decade or more.

It comes back to my broken heart—that lonely thing that has hope, but little outlet; the thing that allows me to appreciate my family and the few good friends that stuck by me for years and years, despite my bursts of intensity and self-reflection, but recognizes that they can only give so much; the thing that relies on God for fulfillment, and yet becomes seduced by the holes that He leaves open for others to fill. That broken heart—a device weakened by misunderstanding, unfairly shaped by frustration—that thing I offer to God for healing but can’t seem to free from the things that broke it.

The wounds have festered. They’ve mounted on top of each other. Simple joys have been compromised by stupid things. And I’m tired of it.

It’s time to get honest here: my wounds are relational. There are several things I’m unhappy with, but only one seems never-ending. Lately, I’ve found myself resenting women—that frail gender that wants to be more like men every day. And it makes no sense. My mom faced trial after trial just to make sure I had a decent upbringing. As my first example of what a woman was supposed to be, she did one of the best jobs a mom could do, enduring all sorts of crap from my dad, from demanding employers, and even the church (the ‘80s / no grace version) just to make sure her family had provision. That character should’ve engrained a firm understanding of what a good woman looks like in me. It was a true testament of strength.

To have that as my base, my respect for women should currently be through the roof (as it once was). But then, that might be part of the problem. Maybe she’s one of the few women in my life to ever understand what it means to be a good woman. And maybe as a kid, it blinded me from the reality that I’d face as I grew older, when that gender would come to mean more to me—that women, for the most part, just don’t get it anymore. And maybe it’s the realization that a good woman is such a rare thing to find that brought my heart into this accelerated descent that I can’t pull out of. In the end, it’s a scary thought. What do I do with that?

Not to say I think all women have missed the mark, granted. But I do wonder why, out of more than a thousand examples to shape my view, only fifty or so seemed to get the point.

In the end, I’m just frustrated. If not for the media blitz of Bennifer, Brangelina, Ronald (Rosie O’Donnell and Donald Trump—one can hope for such a pairing), Maybelline, Victoria Secret, and Budweiser, then I probably wouldn’t care that there are so few good women out there who might respect me. But add that to the endless words buzzing my ears at work, the endless surveys poking my chest on MySpace (which I usually don’t read, but you get the point), and pretty much 95 percent of the things and the people I encounter each day telling me it’s so bleeding important, and I can’t help but to kind of care. So the frustration mounts when good women chase after dirty guys, when bad women creep around in their shadows, and all women think I’m a nice guy and therefore must run for the hills.

Of course, I’m probably responsible for most of my broken state. And that’s the point here: I’m tired of letting these creatures with their psychological imbalances (not the fifty or so good ones that actually take sensible risks and demonstrate a fair amount of strength in the face of chaos) shape my identity. And more so, I’m tired of dwelling on the ones who broke my heart.

I hope by writing this journal, I can start releasing the hurt, to claim that I won’t be beaten by unfairness or disrespect. Though, I know I’m taking a great risk in posting it, since it might consequently leave me branded as a jerk (or at least a misguided soul). But then, that assumes the people labeling me in such a way think they know me, when the truth is, they don’t, and I’m far from this.

Of course, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that we guys aren’t screwed up, too. (My father didn’t get the point, and it often pissed me off that a careless guy like him still ended up with a good woman. And maybe that lessened my mom’s quality—she herself would admit that she can’t choose a good man worth crap, probably because there are fewer good men in this world than there are good women—and, to be honest, that’s part of my gripe with women—that they can sit here telling me I’m a great guy, and then go run off with some complete A-hole who doesn’t give a flying flip about them (my dad cared, granted, he just had a LOT of baggage that he couldn’t shake and it wrecked the family).) But, as a man, I know where I’m weak and I know where I’m strong, and I’m at least trying to improve on those areas where I’m not the latter. Therefore, for a girl to tell me I need greater intimacy with God because I admitted I was interested in her (and was hurt that she didn’t reciprocate) is just disrespectful—it attempts to invalidate my relationship with God to get her off the hook, which frankly, I don’t need—and I don’t need such a wound infecting my identity. Like all men, I have my issues, too, but I’m still a good man as far as I know; unless there’s something I fail to see. But if everyone who’s taken the time to know me can agree to this, then it’s probably true.

The women to come and go in my life, friends and family alike, I care for. I still believe in Chivalry, even if everyone else thinks it’s dead, I still believe in kind words, and I still believe in that dangerous little word called “love.” To let resentment creep in about these same people just sickens me. That is my issue, and it’s something I’m giving to God, even as I type this. But to let go of the resentment, I have to accept the fact that the people I care about will continue with their issues, and I have to be man enough to deal with it. To let a few misguided souls try to make me into something I’m not so they can feel better—so they can feel less challenged (accepting that I have a deep nature), or conversely, let themselves continue with their own destructive habits (choose a jerk over a good man)—I just can’t accept that. I am who God made me, and I’m not going to apologize for that. My family accepts me, my close friends accept me, and most importantly, God accepts me. So why should I start becoming the A-hole? Why should I lower myself into the shallows so a girl won’t feel “crowded”? I won’t resent women anymore—why bother?—but I won’t lower myself to their standards, either. If they don’t want a good man, then that’s their problem. I’ve gone thirty years without a girl by my side—I think I’m getting pretty good at it.

The important thing here is that I let it go, that I stop letting the arrows of discontent pierce me.

My prayer: “Lord Jesus, spare me the burden of becoming something I’m not. Give me the grace to be who I am without accepting misguided influence, or to offer it back for the sake of pleasing others. Let truth speak through my lips, even when it’s hard to hear it. Put people in my life who will help me grow, but let me love those, still, who have been like weeds to me, and let me know which is which, that I might recognize life-giving words from the poisonous ones. Most of all, be enough in my life that these things, for better or worse, will be merely a side trip, where You are the Great Adventure. Let nothing, no woman, no circumstance, no hurtful thing steal my joy. Don’t let me slip into despair from a broken heart—what’s done is done, and it’s up to You to heal me now. Help me to let go of the things that have damaged me, but transform me with Your Spirit that they may not strike another successful blow. Shield me from Satan’s onslaught, as he will do whatever he can to destroy me. You alone are good, though I thank You for the blessings you give, and for seeing the good in me. Be who You are through me, and let not my identity or my faith be damaged. Give me Your grace that I might reflect it back to others, especially to those who’ve injured me. Give me the grace to forgive myself when I still fail in spite of these things. I love You and thank You for helping me through all things. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.”