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Parallax - Advice            July 31, 2000

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This week... We all play silly games with each other, where we say one thing, but we mean another. And then, when we actually mean what we say, no one buys it. In the lead question, our perceptive advice team looks into the ambiguous concept of 'being just friends.' They also look at a very possessive relationship, and - on the lighter side - offer their take on the latest (?) women's underwear fashion.

She can handle 'being just friends' for now.
But can he? Or is he just playing along?
 Date: 07/31/00

Mismatched bras and panties!
Major affront to men's fashion sense - or will they react peacefully?
 Date: 07/31/00

He's driving her crazy with his possessiveness.
Can the relationship be salvaged, or is it beyond repair?
 Date: 07/31/00

More from last week...

She can handle 'being just friends' for now

Dear Conversely,

Email to a Friend A guy I'm interested in told me that he was keeping his distance from me a little because he felt as if I wanted 'more' than he did at this time. I told him I am attracted to him, but that I am a big girl and can handle being just friends for now. He doesn't really ask me to do stuff all that often anymore, although he accepts my invitations. He sometimes doesn't return my calls... but he does return a good share of them. The fact that we don't talk or haven't done much in person, especially lately, means our friendship (or whatever else may develop) cannot grow or even become much of anything since we don't interact. But he had agreed with me that there's nothing wrong with us going out to have fun and with getting to know each other more.

I would love to know how I can somehow encourage him to do something with me. Also, a suggestion for an outing where we can spend good quality time together to get to know each other more, and after which he will WANT to spend time with me because we are interacting so well. Any advice would help... I just want a fair shot with him, even as friends, which for some reason is more difficult than I thought it would be.

Her view:

Dear Big Girl,

The way you have positioned the relationship makes it difficult for him to see you as a friend. I'm sure he feels that every time you try to schedule something with him you're trying to go further (not to be blunt - but aren't you?). I think you need to have a conversation and tell him that you really are just interested in a friendship, so he won't be concerned that your roving eyes and potential moves will create awkward situations. The best scenario here is to come up with a new boyfriend or at least an alternate boy interest - that way he'll be convinced you're not focused on ramping up the relationship.

And as far as putting on those moves - I think you should forget it. He's let you down very nicely here so don't make things difficult for him. I'm sure you know what this is like, so take the hint. If you have a great time together, that's wonderful, but that's all it is and he's made that clear. And sure, one never knows what can blossom. However, if you make a romantic relationship your goal I think you'll lose a friend as well as bring on some undue humiliation. So be a hedonist and make it easy for yourself. Keep him as a friend and be clear on that with him and yourself. Of course one never knows...

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His view:

Dear Big Girl,

You have entered that ill-defined, awkward-friendship stage of relationships. During this period, both parties know full well that 'let's just be friends' is really about having an excuse to continue seeing each other while the possibility of further involvement plays itself out under the surface.

My sense is he agreed to your request for this status because it is an entirely reasonable one, and because he would have been a jerk to say no. What kind of person says no to 'can we just be friends?'

But it appears he's not completely committed to the idea; what he's doing is just trying to keep up the bare minimum end of the bargain. In other words he's still keeping his distance because he knows nothing has changed: he still thinks you want more than he does. Also, he may be seeing/dating someone else, and that could be slowing down his response to you.

If you want to insist, I suggest you call him and make him an offer he can't refuse. Invite him on an outing to do something he really enjoys - preferably something where you can have a conversation but also enjoy the activity. If he agrees, wear and look your absolute best, but be very nonchalant. Don't push him in any way. If you can, tell him about the date you went on last night and how terrible it was. This will reassure him that you're not entirely focused on him and also give him the confidante role, which he might enjoy.

And that might be enough to get him hooked again.

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