uestions about love, dating, and relationships frequently get tossed my way. Never mind my own less-then-perfect relationship record, or that I struggle as a mother, sometimes lack patience, and I hold no degree in counseling. Here are a few answers to questions I’ve collected.
• Q: I’ve had romantic feelings for a woman friend of mine for a number a years. Early on in our friendship I expressed my desire to date her but she recoiled, saying she was healing from a recent breakup and didn’t think it was a good idea to date for a while. Since then (about three years) we’ve continued to be friends and have often spent significant amounts of time together on weekends and such. I’ve listened and consoled each break-up she’s endured (and there have been plenty), hoping that some day she might consider me instead of the emotionally unavailable men she seems to prefer.
Most days it’s easy to stay in the friend-zone, but others it’s excruciating to do so. She’s really a good person and we’ve loads in common, neither of us being spring chickens anymore. There have been times I’ve backed off, but she will inevitably reach out, knocking at my door needing me and I simply can’t say no to her. I value her friendship and don’t want to risk it by bringing up my romantic feelings again but at the same time I really want more. My question is, should I try again? Friend-Zoned and Frustrated.
• A: No, my friend, you should not. I am all for couples building a significant friendship at the beginning of a relationship in which the romantic feelings are reciprocal, even if they’re not acted on at time. The two people can even spend quality time together as friends. There is a level of emotional intelligence associated with adults who let feelings grow (while not ignoring the importance of the initial lustful feelings that spark a healthy sexual relationship and big dreams.)
But the idea that one should wait years for the other to be “ready” is downright nonsense. Although unrequited love makes for lovely poems, songs, and cinema, it really isn’t all that healthy for those on the receiving end of the stiff arm of love. In fact, it can feel soul crushing.
Now, if you had said “I am in love with a woman who’s newly divorced [or out of a long term relationship] who is interested in me, but wants to stay friends until she is ready to date again,” I’d have said, “What a smart chick. Go live your life, remain friends with the understanding that it will be you whom she dates when she feels ready. Enjoy getting to know her without the confusion of sex muddying the waters when she’s clearly not ready.”
But that isn’t what you wrote.
Listen, women aren’t stupid, and believe you me, she knows full well that you are in love with her. The hard truth is that she isn’t in love with you. She’s in love with the attention you give her. The way you’re always at the ready, willing to give up your evenings for her “needing” of you. The way you feed her insatiable desire to feed off the affections of others. And likely it’s the reason she comes on strong when you back off. Why would she risk losing her food source, you.
The woman you’re in love with, as you’ve described her to me, is selfish, seemingly narcissistic, and mean. What kind of woman tortures another man with details of other men in her life when she knows he’s pining for her? You mentioned the men she liked — the emotionally unavailable ones. Well, perhaps she is the emotionally unavailable one.
Likewise, how available are you if you let yourself be trampled on for years by unrequited love, while not letting yourself be open to someone else who may just love and respect you back tenfold? I implore you to re-examine your own emotional availability, and not only take the steps needed to lead a full and loving life with a the right partner, but dump the bottom-feeders you’ve been spoon — feeding for far too long.