Tag Archives: friend zone

My Thoughts on Connections

This journal was written to clarify my viewpoint on dating to a new friend after she and I had spent an hour discussing the topic. Typically, I write better than I speak, and my verbal arguments tend to come out confused, so I thought this was necessary to write and share with her. After reading this again, I think it’s something worth sharing on WordPress, too. Maybe someone will agree with me, even if I have my doubts. 😉

Originally written on June 28, 2013:

At five o’clock this morning, I had woken up from a deep sleep, troubled in part from the reminder that I had eaten pizza a few hours earlier, but also troubled by the realization that some choices I make just don’t work out. In spite of how sure I am that what I choose is the right thing, or the choice that seems best, sometimes it doesn’t work. And it hurts. It is what it is, I often think. Safe response to the letdown. It’s my scapegoat for avoiding the fact that I don’t understand anything that steps beyond the boundaries of normalcy or logic (by what I think is normal or logical). Ego—psh. Many times I don’t understand why my choices are met with stronger opposition than what I expect going into them. Why should I? I don’t make my choices lightly, yet somehow my choices tend to leave me in neutral. And why is that? Why do I take great care in the decisions I make before I make them? Because I believe in what I stand for? Well, yes. Because I don’t like the idea of compromising who I am to fit some societal paradigm that may or may not have the correct thinking? This assumes, of course, that I have the correct thinking and that millions of others don’t, but that sounds like the definition of pompousness to me, and it’s not fair of me to assume that. Honestly, I don’t think I’m wrong, but for them, they may not be wrong, either. Maybe that’s why we have so many different types of people in the world with varying viewpoints. Maybe that’s why certain people are never destined to connect while others gravitate to their like-minded peers like bees to pollen. It’s a complete tangle of questions, understanding, acceptance, ideas, whatever. It is what it is. But is it? Sometimes what we believe in has opposition just because the world can’t be one-sided.

On the topic of dating, relationships, and other confusing things, I never really have a clue how to broach it in discussions because it falls in the same line of philosophy as multiple religions, politics, meat versus vegetarianism, dogs versus cats, and so on, which is to say that it’s entirely subjective and usually controversial, especially if society has one viewpoint about it and I have another. When asked of my perspective, I trust that my words are well received. However, I can see in many cases where perhaps my explanation lacks some keywords, and it often surprises me that I’m challenged on what I feel is a reasonable, logical, and trustworthy viewpoint.

Perhaps it’s a matter of semantics. So, let’s put that into perspective. Misuse of semantics is the atheist’s best weapon against the Bible. He searches for keywords that has a different meaning in ancient Hebrew or Aramaic or Greek and applies it to the modern American meaning, which is generally a corrupt shadow of the original. He isn’t right about it because a misuse of semantics does not change meaning, only the impression of meaning. But he thinks he’s right because it’s all he’s got to defend his argument, and he’s never wrong in his own mind. Doesn’t make him right. He ignores the meaning behind the word. Perhaps that’s why words are important to me: I know that words are so easily taken out of context, or given the wrong meaning. For example: The word love in our society has gone from meaning the combined verses of 1 Corinthians 13 to “My heart thumps for you, therefore I love you.” Maybe for our society, we can accept that as the new definition, but then what do we do with the original one? Nothing in 1 Corinthians 13 has changed relevance. I just think that we as a society don’t want to put forth the effort to maintain the original meaning anymore. We want what’s self-serving, not what’s in others’ best interest. As a product of this generation, I understand it. I’m human, I’m young, and I want what’s self-serving and immediate, too. Loving others is hard. It’s only fun when they love me back. But it’s not right for me to hold back because they’re not willing to reciprocate the action. Jesus never held back from me, and being Christian means to be like Christ. Why should I hold back? Why should I change the meaning of love to apply more to the “What can you do for me today?” attitude when the correct attitude, according to the summarized message of 1 Corinthians 13, is, “How can I show you you’re worth it today?”

To bring these ideas into the context of our discussion:

When I speak of the idea of growing in relationship with a friend, I don’t say that to dismiss the idea of dating, or to suggest that it shouldn’t be an early, or even an immediate part of getting to know someone. Love has to start somewhere, and dating makes that easier. I agree with that. I think where my idea of dating (or simply getting to know someone) is lost in translation with the common thinking—that dating and friendship are mutually exclusive—is that I have an extremely loose interpretation of what dating is. I don’t always know how to explain it, especially in a real-time conversation (this is why I prefer to write my viewpoints down—gives me a chance to organize my thoughts and to present them in a way that makes sense, or in a way that I hope makes sense). And real-time conversations have a knack for making me stop and rethink my viewpoint when the counterpoint is valid, so that makes it even harder to explain. But it doesn’t change the foundation of where I stand or how I view it. And it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t require a traditional dating relationship to get to know someone well enough to make a wise decision about her.

I won’t always have the answer the first day I meet her. But that’s why I talk to her. I may end up with just a friend, and I’m perfectly fine with that. But I don’t want her to think that I have to be just a friend because I choose to get to know her through means alternative to traditional Friday-night dating. I think connections are connections regardless of environment, and while I like the “dating” environment plenty well—there is a mystique about taking someone out to dance, getting her there in a limousine or something cooler than a Honda Civic, and lavishing her with flowers and compliments, for example—I don’t think it should be the only (or even necessarily the first) connection point for deciding whether someone is worth my heart. I typically know if someone’s worth my heart just from spending the time talking to her, even if I’m talking to her in the middle of a crowded bus station. It’s not the ideal environment, but I’m still getting to know her and appreciate her, so what’s the big deal? I don’t think dating is the answer for deciding my mate. I think it makes choosing her more fun, but I don’t think it’s the most important part of the relationship. I think what’s important is that she and I connect, that she and I understand each other, that she and I can work well together (which traditional dating, by the way, rarely explores), that she and I can accept each others’ faults (something else that traditional dating fails to consider early on), and that we can be comfortable with each other. I definitely think attraction separates friends from lovers, but I don’t think eventual lovers should avoid also being friends. Eventually romance will wane. I’m not blind to that reality. What’s left has to be solid. In time, physical attraction will also wane. Age trumps beauty generally, and a successful relationship will outlast that. This is no excuse for me to date or get to know a woman I’m not attracted to, because age is not a factor for me today. Women my age still have their looks, and I’m thankful for that. But, what remains when those looks finally fade? I still have to trust and love the choice I had made in case I live long enough to see her (and myself) reach that point of elderliness.

Obviously, this doesn’t contradict anything we had talked about. Friendship through dating happens, and it has to happen if the relationship moves into a marriage and that marriage is to have a chance at success. However, I think the mistake here, and the mistake in common societal thinking, is in the definition of what dating is, and in some cases, what it’s for. If it’s about taking a woman out to dinner and a movie, and then kissing her goodnight, well, that’s great and all, and I certainly have no problem with that. But, if the difference in deciding between whether she’s just a friend or a potential match becomes limited by just those dates (or lack thereof), and excludes all the other forms of connections—the times serving with her, helping her through a crisis or celebrating her victories (and vice versa), meeting her for coffee after a hard day’s work when you know her friends will be there, too, or sharing a laugh because some kid just sprayed me with a garden hose when I wasn’t paying attention—I think that’s all included in the package deal—then I don’t think we’re making a wise or an informed decision about our mates. I may not always call it dating because I don’t want to pressure her with expectations, or convince her that it’s okay to be anyone but her natural self, but all interactions with her add up in my viewpoint, and I pay attention to each one. I agree that the difference between a friend and a lover is attraction, but that’s the only difference I can agree to. The most effective thing a traditional date provides in the beginning, in my opinion, is an environment that expects romance without knowing who I’m romancing, and as I said, I’m not ready to romance a stranger. That is not who I am, nor do I think I should be required to change that in order to find what I’m looking for. If I can’t get to know her in a natural, healthy, truthful way, then she’s not someone I’m gonna trust with my heart, now or down the road. I may still like her. I may still want to make it work. But it will always feel forced to me. And I will always question what will happen when beauty and romance fades. A friend, I won’t have to question. I already know my answer. I’ll continue to stick beside her because I wouldn’t want any other. I trust her. I love her. It was my choice the moment I recognized who she was—the real her, not the photo-shopped version of her that I got to know in the beginning through all of those lavish, limousine-filled dates, or those dates that had the misfortune of starting with a Honda.

I don’t know if that confirms or clarifies what we had talked about, but that’s essentially my viewpoint. In an organic conversation, it’s inevitable that I won’t get to address certain points, and this is one of those topics that I think it’s important that I’m able to share as much as I can. I’ve had other friends question why I wouldn’t just ask a girl out the moment I meet her. They all think I’m dooming myself for wanting to build a friendship first. I could be wrong, but my impression throughout our conversation last night was that you agree with them. That saddens me in a way, because it reminds me that my viewpoints aren’t shared by the mass of that gender that I want to attract, yet, I know that forsaking a friends-first policy would mean forsaking who I am as a man who trusts and wants to be trusted. It would also mean forsaking my faith in a God who can arrange a relationship however He sees fit, formulas not included, and if He wants to grow a friendship into romance, I think it’s really unfair to all parties involved if one of the members doesn’t want to take the chance because the other is “just a friend.” That’s been the source of my relational frustrations over the years. I’ve had numbers of women tell me I’m a handsome, decent, caring guy, and yet none of them was willing to do anything about that. Those words are empty to me as a result. Why encourage me with something they won’t (not can’t) deliver on? It’s disheartening. I wrestle with God because He knows the women who would not ignore my qualities or usher me into that “friends zone” I hate so much. The fact that He hasn’t introduced me to such a woman makes me wonder if such a woman even exists. It’s no way to live, to know that what I value most about a relationship is the one thing I have to rush or discard completely if I want that relationship to become permanent. I can’t do that. It isn’t fair to me, or to the person I care about. Maybe my ego is wounded. Maybe because I know I’m worth the effort and the time, and even the romance—I’m positive I have a gear that no one has dared to discover and would be pleasantly surprised by had they given it a chance—I am perpetually disappointed by how easy it is for others to shoo the consideration under the rug because I’m just a friend. Yes, I’m a friend, a friend who has a whole lot more to offer than what they allow. And, I get that awkwardness is part of the equation. I just think the awkwardness exists because her heart refuses to see the truth, the beauty, the integrity, and the faith of what stands before her eyes. I think she refuses to see it because she thinks dating has to come first, and it’s strictly for the romance, and that it fits entirely in a stereotypical design of dinners, dancing, and whatever else invites warm feelings to foster. I’d rather not fall for that thinking. I think dating is just a cherry on an already beautiful cake that’s built with trust, hope, care, wisdom, understanding, affection, connection, and love—all the things that the best friendships are made of. Who cares if it happens immediately or in time? It shouldn’t happen before a time when it’s best, or when both people are ready to share the journey with each other and recognize the possibility that maybe they were even made for each other. If I am made by God’s design for the companionship of a friend He puts into my life, and she cannot see it because she believes that friends and lovers are mutually exclusive, then hasn’t one avenue of God’s will been squandered?

My firm opinion is that any friendship can transition to a romance (and a prosperous and faithful one, mind you) if those other ingredients (trust, hope, care, etc.) are present and accepted. Where friendship cannot transition well into romance is if one party is resistant to it (whether it’s a sense of awkwardness or straight-up fear of losing a friend), or if the attraction is missing (and I hope it’s because it was always missing and not because it went missing), or if the friendship isn’t really a friendship. It’s my belief that if a friendship dies because romance was given a chance, then that friendship was destined to die in time anyway. You said yourself that you’ve lost male friends to marriage. That is the inevitable ending to many friendships for you, for me, and for all of us. When men and men, or women and women are friends, there are no romantic boundaries to contend with (unless you have the most awkward friendship imaginable), so you don’t have to worry about losing them to other men or women, ideally. When men and women are friends, then you eventually have to contend with their boyfriends or girlfriends, their husbands or wives, and that can put a strain on the friendship and an end to the growth. It happens all the time, so that outcome is inevitable. For all the work we put into maintaining (and growing) an opposite-sex friendship, we still eventually come to a natural fade when one enters a romance with another person and the hints of jealousy and distrust (from the dating camp) begins to rise. Friendships can still exist in those conditions, but it’s a lot like trying to grow an apple out of season in the heart of a wasteland. It struggles, and probably doesn’t look so great when the season reaches its end. Romance, in my opinion, gives that friendship not only an added kick, but it keeps it in the right season all the time, and if you should marry that person, then only death can take that friendship away. I don’t understand why anyone would reject that.

It’s too much philosophy for early in the morning, and now I wish I was back in bed. But the ideas behind what we discussed really leaves me jaded about our approaches to romance, and I couldn’t really sleep thinking that I would consistently waste away my hopes for a companion, and ultimately a family, because I refuse to give in to an ideal that I don’t believe in. And it’s worse to think that the ideal I don’t believe in is driven entirely by semantics, and that most of the people I care about and would love to have as a permanent part of my life are so limited by it, and that they are so determined to keep my hands tied because they are so limited by it. It sucks, and I hate it.

That’s, of course, the full uncut version of my thoughts on the matter. I think some things you’d agree with. Many, I’m pretty sure, you won’t agree with. And that’s fine. I think what works for you works for you, and what works for me works for me. Granted, it appears to me that dating philosophy is actually a joke wrapped in an onion, considering we’re both still single in spite of our die-hard relational beliefs. In the end, I think knowing whether something is truly working really comes down to whether or not we trust God to provide the right man or woman for us, and whether we have the eyes, ears, nose (in my case), and heart to realize it.

In regard to application:

If God introduces me to a woman and I grow to love her and believe in her over time, for whatever reason I’m inspired to do so, then I will grow to love her and believe in her and not apologize for wanting to be her friend first, because she’s loved and believed in, and that means she’s important, cared for, appreciated, and absolutely beautiful in my eyes. Why should she feel awkward about being loved by someone decent and kind, especially if she and I would never know each other, or even about each other, if God had not been loving and creative enough to put us in the same room with each other in the first place? God puts people together; it’s up to us to decide what to do with it. We don’t always move in wisdom. But sometimes we do. We’re human. We’re stupid. We don’t have it all figured out. God does. Can we trust Him to do what He knows is best for us? Most of us can, but don’t. Sometimes we take days, weeks, months, or years to catch up to the realization of what great things He has put before us. I’ve struggled with that for years. So have you. So have so many of us. It’s a running theme of our own inability to see the truth for what it is. We see only what we’re comfortable with seeing. And that is severely limiting. I don’t give a crap about what makes me feel awkward. I have my lines (I told you about one of them), and I won’t cross those. But to deny an entire body of possibilities because the definition of a hundred-year-old word isn’t perfectly fulfilled seems limiting, and maybe even destructive, to me, and I don’t know why so many people are in favor of following it with such conviction, or that so few reject the limitation it causes. A great woman is a great woman. Friend or lover, she’s a great woman, and if I grow to love her in time (doesn’t usually take me long if she’s that great, but I have had my late discoveries, so it’s not terribly unusual), I don’t want to be denied her love because we didn’t get to know each other through official, notarized, signed and copied dates in the first week. Discovering that she has a sick sense of humor when that neighbor’s kid splashes me in the pants with a garden hose is a good enough addition to the layers and layers of connection I discover in her, to know her for who she really is, and to love her for who she is. That’s far more valuable to me than either of us dressing to impress the other, or putting on that dating face that may or may not be true. For me, traditional dating is nothing more than an additional way to get to know her. I am not limited to it, nor do I think it’s best to limit myself to it, nor do I feel it’s necessary to make dating the jumping off point of a relationship. If anything, it gives her an avenue to hide her true self, and that makes me uncomfortable. So, that’s the value of building a friendship first in my eyes. It isn’t me rejecting the dating lifestyle. It’s me including her into my life in the most natural way available. If I can’t do that, then she’s not worth going after. It hurts my feelings that that ends up applying to pretty much every unattached woman I meet.

Oh, and just because we’re friends, it doesn’t mean she can’t kiss me if she wants. What single man doesn’t want to be kissed by a pretty girl? Just saying. Friendship is a word. Dating is a word. What matters to me is the connection. If it’s there, then she’s got a great chance. She just has to want it, and she has to believe it can work. I’m saying it can work. I don’t give up on anyone I believe in easily, and I’ve already promised God that whomever He does bring my way, I’ll love her unconditionally, and I’ll love her well, and I will never throw her back into the sea. She’ll have to throw herself back out there if that’s what she wants. I think I’m a gracious and romantic enough person to make heading back out there undesirable. And let’s be honest, I’ve waited far too long to discover that great woman to want to throw her back. I thank God for any woman who can see that and trust Him about me. It’s certainly the evidence that He sees my heart and cares about my desire for the best there is.

Here I am still waiting to find out if a nice girl out there will give my love a chance. I’m still waiting. One day I hope the wait pays off. I care too much about making a marriage work in a society filled with broken marriages to waste any valuable resource available to get me and the woman of my dreams to that place of understanding and acceptance. Isn’t that ultimately why we want to grow connections with the opposite sex in the first place? To fulfill the hope that maybe we can make the present and the future work beautifully? Why bother if our goal is simply to have fun and feel good for a season? There will always be plenty of men and women who are readily available for shallow, aimless, purposeless connection. I could go out and date any one of those ladies today if I had wanted to.

Okay, I’m done. Any questions? Just kidding. I think I’ve said plenty. So, there you go. Next time the topic comes up, you’ll have a better understanding of my foundational viewpoint. I know there were so many topics and details thrown around last night that it was difficult to sense any grounding on the matter. I hope this grounds it better.

Enjoy your day.

My Lament

March 23, 2014:

Note: The following is an excerpt from a letter to a friend that I had written on October 17, 2009. The main question she asked me had to do with formatting a manuscript. But this friend also asked how things were going with me after I had apparently told her I was dealing with something that had rocked me to the core. I had replied with the answer to the formatting question as technically as I needed to make it simple to follow, which I’m not posting here, but lost all dryness and broke into an impassioned response when it came time to address the matter of how I was doing.

This is probably the truest of my thoughts about the relational misses I’ve had in my life, since I had no desire to filter anything out or try to think through it logically when I wrote it. Looking back, I can see how my life’s journey really was quite unfair at times. This letter is extremely personal, and the breakdown of things leaves me quite vulnerable, but I’m posting it anyway because we men rarely talk about what we’re thinking, even if we’re thinking it anyway, and it’s unlikely I’ll ever be this raw again. Granted, I’m posting this four and a half years after I had written it, and the events to trigger this impassioned writing are long behind me now. But the circumstances that brought me to this state sometimes repeat themselves, so I thought it might be worthwhile to let others see how badly they affect me when they do.

Just for the record, I know that we, as men, are supposed to suppress our moments of anguish Ron Swanson style, but I also know how unhealthy that can get if we’re turning our hurts into violence, anger, or other unwanted outbursts, so I don’t care how the following might be perceived. It’s healthy. I probably felt better for writing it. I might’ve even believed it would put me on the path of healing. So, get over it. It’s fine.

Also, I’m withdrawing names and identifying words to protect the privacy of those that I refer to in my response. It’s no one else’s business who they are.

October 17, 2009:

I’m not sure the thing going on with me is fixable. Years of wounds came to a head this week and I’m tired of dealing with it. I feel like the more I deal with it, the more the problem wants to persist.

It is what it is. There’s nothing I or anyone can do but to accept what sucks. I’ve done all I could to keep encouraged throughout the disappointments, and I just don’t have it in me anymore.
It’s one of those gaping holes that God can fix if He wants, but just hasn’t really given me the help to fix, and I need it fixed, and there’s nothing else I can do about it but to wait for the repair. It hasn’t been fixed. The specific thing that brought all this out is irreversible. The broader thing is unattainable under the circumstances I’m given. And it’s a struggle to face the day anymore. I’ve had all I can stand, and yet, the solution is absent. And now my heart is broken. However, I’ll get through it because life likes to distract me.

Yes, I found out that someone I once loved and pursued, but never won over, got married recently. And in all those years, I had never been able to stop thinking about her. I buried it because I couldn’t do anything about it. But every time I see her face it all comes back up. And when I saw her wedding photo, it all came back up. And call me emo if you want, but I just don’t know how to deal with something like that. She wasn’t perfect, and probably not even the best girl I knew. But my heart was with her. And I don’t know how to get past something like this. I think there’s something wrong when my lament of this has already outlasted my lament over my dad’s death and my uncle’s death.

So, as you can see, there’s nothing anyone can do. I wasn’t able to win her over and I had to release her. And I feel gypped because I haven’t been able to love anyone the same way since. The one or two that I tried taking the chance on, they were surrogates for a dream that was already crushed. They were good for who they were, but they never carried the weight on my heart that she carried, and I don’t feel like there’s anyone out there who can get my mind off of her. I prayed for someone better to come along since 2002 when I got the initial rejection (after waiting four and a half years for the right time to speak up—who does that?). And each one that I thought might’ve been that answer turned around and ignored me or rejected me, too. And nowadays the only girls I meet are just that—girls. [Late teens, early twenties]. Big freakin’ whoop. All they ever do is talk about their boyfriends. It’s irritating. Everyone else is married or unsuitable in one way or another. And I feel like there’s no way out of this misery. All I can do is fall into a distraction because if I’m not busy, my mind goes right back to the heartbreak. What sucks most of all is that I want to be happy for her. She’s happier now than I think she’s ever been. She certainly seems that way judging by the last couple of e-mails I got. I want to be glad that she finally trusted someone enough to take that leap. But I feel like this is preventing me from having any real excitement for her good fortune. And I don’t know how to get past it. She deserves the joy. She put up with a lot from a lot of people over the years. She deserves her happiness, and I want to feel that for her. And I’m pissed that I can’t let go. And I’m pissed that I never found that adequate “replacement” since the day seven years ago when this reality was officially on course. I’m pissed that no replacement has come since then. No man my age can handle this, and I’m annoyed that I’m still expected to. No one can say I haven’t tried. I’ve lost friends—other people I cared about—because I tried. But what can I do when every woman I meet refuses to take a chance, or even to return a phone call? I can’t change anyone else’s mind or heart. I can only take care of myself. I can only make my own decisions, no one else’s. And if everyone I meet is on another page, that doesn’t really help. And then the girl I loved most marries someone else and I have no one around to help cushion that fall (or better yet, to invalidate it, because a better woman would’ve made this inconsequential and would’ve given my heart permission to celebrate the transition into a new way of life). I’m tired of doing everything alone. And I’m tired of every journey I take leading to nowhere.

In the end, it’s one of those things that most people will treat as a common part of life, as something that really doesn’t need to be lamented. I was never with her. We were always just friends. In the end, this is nothing more than something a teenager would stress over. But when I consider how I responded to her, versus everyone else, I feel like this is an unfair conclusion. I don’t lament the people who lose the hearts of those they never respected. I lament those who choose badly. Love isn’t lost if it isn’t actually love. I feel like I’ve suffered a loss on the scale of death. It feels exactly the same. Am I being dramatic? Or was she that important to me? Did seeing her face really quiet me that much?

I rarely wish I could turn back time and do something different. I tend to accept what is, as is, and adapt accordingly. This is the one time, however, that I wish I had the power to travel back to 1998 and start over, to go through all the hellish moments I suffered again if there was any chance at having a new outcome (or to at least relive the moments when I still had hope). The fact that this, too, is impossible kills me. I don’t know what else to do now. All my other prayers, physical, financial, everything seems to get answered without a beat. But this, the emotional needs, the relational needs—it’s as if none of this is important enough to warrant an answer. I’ve been praying for a way out of this dread in one form or another since I was in high school. I thought for sure it would come to pass before I’d have to suffer something like this. And yet, here I am, miserable, hopeless, my imagination for what better would even look like lacking, and I feel like no one gives a crap.

This isn’t something I like to share. One of the reasons I drove her away was because I’d express my sadness openly to her. But what I could never tell her was that her involvement with someone else was the cause of it. Now, I’m just sad. And I have to bury it because no one in this life knows how to handle other people’s heartbreaks. If I try, that’s it for me.

I’ve fallen into a no-win situation. And it was all because I took a chance.

I hate everything there is about this thing called singleness. It’s become a poison to me. And all anyone ever cares about is being a friend. Not a date, not an option. Not that I’ve found enough women to want to date, granted, but that in itself is a problem. I think I hate this town, too. And this society. This busy, busy, kill-the-human-heart society.

I used to look forward to each day. I had to walk through Ikea yesterday just to feel like a man with hope again. This is ridiculous. I may not be much when I’m miserable, but I’m full of great qualities when I’m not. And these girls today won’t pay attention to the days that I’m not. They only seem to look at what’s unrealistic—that I can only be a “safe” friend, and that I’m always “down.” I regret the letter I sent to the girl from [location redacted]. She genuinely freaked when she read it. Despite my encouragement, generosity, and whatnot, she never saw the possibility of interest coming. And when I made it clear, she didn’t want to know me anymore. This is what I’m given? These are my choices? Take no chance and maintain a stale friendship or take a chance and lose the friendship? This is what these women give me? Who the hell do they think I am? Some emotionless retard? That “nice guy”? The one who’s a male girlfriend? Such lack of consideration! No wonder I’m a mess.

I don’t know what it takes to get some respect for a change. I don’t know why the guy she married was able to win her over, and why I never had the chance. I don’t know why I was ever led to her when it was clear I’d fall in love but never win her over. And I don’t know why in almost twelve years God never put anyone more suitable in my life. My years are slipping by fast. For every day I’m alone, that’s one less day I have to spend with the one that maybe will finally supplant [that girl] from my heart. She can be out there, if she’s made right, if she’s positioned right. How can it be that in twelve years, such a woman hasn’t arrived? I’m not bad. I’m not a lost cause. Why am I treated as such?

Sorry, [friend], I didn’t think I’d go off on this tangent. I kinda forgot I was writing a response to your questions. But that’s what you get for asking.

So that’s what’s going on. If you think you have words of encouragement that would help, then feel free to try. I can guarantee, however, that this is entirely on God’s shoulders to provide, and nothing’s gonna change until He moves in my favor. I don’t think it’s free will when I’m not given an adequate choice in the matter. I suppose those frickin’ websites like match.com are an option, but your experience has proven that they’re not much of one. If God won’t provide someone suitable to me in my everyday life, how can I expect to find one in the cyber world? That’ll just open me up to worse decisions. The Internet seems to be a breeding pool of liars and fakers. Last thing I want to do is to go out with someone who has a liking to pot or some tattoo fetish (though, why would they ever reveal that in the questionnaire?). I’m not even in the dating game and I already hate it. And I hate how impossible it is to even enter it.

Never in my youth had I thought I’d become the crusty old man. I’m really disappointed with the choices people make, including my own.

I don’t know if this can be fixed. It took me years just to get past my negative nature. I feel like in one swoop it all came back. And all it would’ve taken to repel it is some courtesy, like returned phone calls, regardless of how many houses or states away a girl might live. I feel like hope is a dead weight. The girl I loved most is forever with someone else. What else is there left to say? I can’t bear it anymore.

So there you go.

—Jeremy

[Note from March 23, 2014: I’ve long since gotten over the event that triggered this response, and I’m legitimately happy for the person this was largely about—because I’m still occasionally in touch with her, I have been able to express this legitimate happiness and well-wishing to her in the years to follow. But, as earlier and later journals will testify, the core problem of being poorly matched has not gone away. I have since met better women, which wasn’t the case when I wrote this, but they’ve put me in the same category as these earlier ones, so nothing has changed. Well, I don’t make a big deal about it anymore, so that’s changed. However, I couldn’t say whether the experiences have made me stronger or more callous. There’s a point when you have to throw up your hands and say, “Whatever.” That’s basically where I am now. I’ve stopped looking. Trying to stop praying about it. Sometimes I get thrown into a situation I didn’t ask for and find myself dealing with the aftermath. But that’s the nature of life. A good woman can still hurt me. Whenever I meet one who is unattached, I wonder if God has a plan for us. It’s natural and inevitable. If all goes well, I’ll stop thinking that before it causes me to walk down a troubled path. Sometimes it’s not enough, though; sometimes I can still believe in her, foster a little hope for her, and sometimes she can still find a way to hurt me. But I’m convinced that none of them intend to, and none of them actually know when they do. I have a habit of keeping to myself in those moments so I don’t end up hurting them back. That’s probably unhealthy for all involved. I’m trying to get better about that.

So, I hope this has opened some eyes. At the risk of moving into another tangent, I really do hate being shunted to the side without getting a fair consideration. Don’t get me wrong; I like the friends I have, quite a bit. But friendships alone can’t start families, which I want, and friendships can’t survive when another party comes in and sabotages the time needed to maintain it. If you’re single, a good woman, and I don’t find you repulsive, then don’t assume that I’m disinterested. At least consider me before you friend zone me. If I have to keep dealing with heartbreak over and over, then I’m gonna stop taking on new friends, just to let you know. Trust me, I have enough. I can’t keep up with the friends I already have. I don’t need new ones. I want a companion. A partner. Please stop assuming I’m not good enough for that. Trust me, I am.

Maybe you think I’m not interested because I don’t officially ask you out on a date, so let me clarify something important here: I don’t put walls around my relationships. I prefer to start with friendship, if I’m being honest. It makes the growing process and the looking back at where we came from all the more exciting for me. But, if you’re single, a good woman, and you don’t repulse me, don’t assume our time together doesn’t count as future-building just because I don’t end the night with a kiss. If anything, I’m trying to make the point that you’re worth the journey toward romance, and I don’t have to see you as the latest lipstick flavor of the week. It’s called wisdom and forward-thinking. It’s called consideration for you. It gives me a better chance to actually love you. I’d like to think that’s an attractive quality. Jumping into a romance without knowing you well is a bit like drawing a gun on me and saying, “Love me, dangit!” How can I legitimately love you if I don’t even know you? That’s why, if you’re a good woman, I want your friendship first. I want to choose you for who you are, not for who I hope you might be. Quit punishing me for doing things smart. The only thing you’re accomplishing by putting a glass ceiling over my head is to ensure that you and I have a dying friendship. That does not incentivize me to give you my time. The last thing I want is to knowingly walk into a situation that will inevitably rip my heart out. So, please stop doing things backwards and please stop being unfair. Yes, you should put the glass ceiling over me if I repulse you or don’t line up with your goals in life or simply can’t work well with you. But I’m asking you, please don’t do it just because we’re friends. Awkwardness goes away, often quickly. It’s nothing more than a state of mind. Don’t damage my heart, my faith, and my sense of hope because you’re afraid of a passing awkwardness. It’s shallow and it makes you look bad. Be realistic here: Taking the glass ceiling away is the only way we can keep the friendship alive in time. I hope I don’t have to explain why. If you’re rejecting me because I didn’t ask you out on a romantic date the moment we met, then you clearly don’t understand me. I will ask you out, officially, when I know we’re good together and can work toward a future. Not before. I have no desire to commit to the wrong woman, even if she’s single, good, and beautiful. Don’t expect me to dive off a hundred-foot cliff into shallow, jagged rock-filled waters because you have to label your men “friends” or “lovers” and not simply see them as just “good men.” I’m not crazy.]