So I have this friend named Elliot.
And let me be frank at the get-go. We’re friends because we can’t date.
And we can’t date because he has a girlfriend, who happens to live out of state.
I am somewhat puzzled by the whole situation because usually, when I meet a man and am attracted to him, but then find out that he isn’t single, I very quickly, but very politely, sever the relationship. What I mean by this is that I won’t endanger his relationship by flirting or being a big tease with him. I just don’t believe in it. Thereafter, if he is ever confused by my sudden temperature change and the boundaries that are the byproduct, I just tell him,
“You’re really great, and the problem is, I’d like to date you. But you’re not single, so I am keeping it at a comfortable distance.”
So far it has worked out well. No one’s feelings are hurt, and no harm is done, but at the same time, the outcome is that usually the man and I will drift apart. We don’t keep in contact. We stop frequenting the same places where we’d run into each other. Occassionally there’ll be an e-mail or a Facebook wall post. But that’s it. We hide from each other and the feelings that exist by isolating ourselves.
However, strangely enough, Elliot seems to be an exception to this rule.
Though we have clearly ruminated about the way things might have gone if we were both single, I still talk to Elliot almost everyday via chat. Occasionally we text. I share with him the important things about my life, like my ongoing job search, how I felt about Los Angeles when I came home from Chicago, how I feel about the (painful) MBA application process, etc. He knows a whole lot about me, because I am not one to mask myself and hide parts of myself from true friends.
It is obvious that we have a real friendship, not a superficial fabrication based on two people pretending that they like each other.
But it isn’t like we don’t have boundaries.
This Friday night, I invited Elliot to come with me as my date to go see 9 to 5. Of course, I have no intentions of seducing him or have him endanger his relationship with his girlfriend. I just see it as a friend inviting a friend out to the theatre, especially after we had a conversation wherein he mentioned that he had not seen any of the film musicals I dearly loved, such as “Singing In The Rain” or “Funny Face“. I sense that Elliot is weirded out by this invite and he hasn’t said anything definitive about it, aside from “I’m not dateable,” to which I replied, “Well, it’s not like a real date.” To which he replied with silence. To be truthful, if I were someone’s girlfriend, I might be a little bit weirded out by some woman they don’t know inviting their boyfriend out for an evening event. I get it.
It sometimes makes me frown to know that Elliot and I would most certainly hang out more if we didn’t have to worry so much about “what might happen”.
But oh well. Ça va. Instead, on Friday I will take another guy friend, a single one, in fact, who happens to be moving up north to San Francisco within the month. It’ll be a nice farewell. (And no, it’s not a “real” date.)
Early in my dating career, I used to be naïve and think that women and men couldn’t control themselves enough to be friends when they had that urge to date, but obviously, my friendship with Elliot is challenging this. And despite the fact that it is a friendship that will endure a few more trials than one that has only purely platonic feelings, it’s probably for the best.