Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics


Posted by shannonclark on July 29, 2002

Are Significent others friends?

Over the weekend I had a great conversation with a number of dear friends, including one who commented that she is closer and more truthful with her friends (even male friends) than with her boyfriend. That there is a high degree of not-knowing that is core to a relationship vs. a comfort and trust that exists between true friends. The comment in part arose out of a discussion of the difference between meeting a friend’s family and a boyfriend’s family, but it was more than that as well.

As her friend, she feels safe telling me almost anything – and we do indeed talk about everything and anything.

Not really knowing much personally about being in a relationship, her observation startled me – I always considered that first and foremost I would be a friend of any woman who would then become my girlfriend.

I wonder now if this assumption on my part is more than just wrong, but also a contributing factor to why I have been single for so long – i.e. if girlfriends expect their boyfriends to be somewhat mysterious, not entirely known, and different in their interactions than with friends – then by being interested in being a friend first am I unconsciously hinting to woman I meet not to consider me as “boyfriend material?”

Who knows – perhaps my friend’s observation is not entirely accurate – but I also can see the truth in what she is talking about – friends, real friends that is, are like family – they will stick with you through thick and thin – put up with you in all your varying moods – at your highs and your lows – at your best behavior and your worst (though real friends will also confront you later about your behavior – if that is needed). A relationship is often a more fragile thing – held together by some other forces – a mix of mutual attraction and desire, as well as perhaps friendship – but what would and do I know?

When I meet someone, I am interested in getting to know them, judging whether or not I would want to keep knowing them – over time I will learn whether I can trust them, whether they want to talk to me, and what we agree (and what we disagree) on. My friends tend to be people who beyond caring deeply about, I am comfortable and relaxed around – people whose presence makes me happier, whose calls perk me up, whose emails delight me.

Woman I am interested in – do all the above and more.

I realize that, as a man, I will never really “understand” a woman (indeed really not anyone but that’s a discussion for another day) but the challenge of trying is one I would enjoy – the challenge of learning to know someone’s moods, to know how to relax them, to know what pleases them, when to talk, when not to.


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