Searching for the Moon

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

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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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