Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Self-Respect Wars: A Call for Women to Boycott the Commitment-Phobic "Friend"

Recently I have encountered a scenario, both through personal experience and through the experiences of friends, that weighs heavily on my heart. It’s a classic scenario in the same league as the guy-who-isn’t-over-his-ex and the guy-who-verbally-abuses-you-because-he-cares.

It’s the guy-who-is-dating-you-but-isn‘t-ACTUALLY-dating-you.

He tells everyone you are “just friends.” He never wants you to meet his friends, let alone hang out with them. He texts you more than he calls you. Any time you meet it is just the two of you and kept secret, because why have people talk? Heaven forbid your friends and his friends actually talk about the untraditional nature of your quasi-relationship.

It is hard to adequately express my frustration with these boys. What I’m desperate to know is this: exactly WHERE did they learn that this sort of thing is acceptable?

Who, for pete's sake, is rounding all the men up and telling them they are entitled to have all the benefits of a romantic relationship, emotional and/or physical, without having to actually commit to a relationship? Whoever this person is, they need to be stopped. And shipped to Sweden immediately. Preferably in pieces.

At least they used to date you for a few weeks before they dumped you for not putting out. Now they don’t even respect you enough to let you claim ownership of a simple label for an unknown period of time, usually to be determined by them. No, they would rather do whatever they need to do to keep the “friendship“ intact, feeding us any number of excuses to keep us just interested enough to not cut them off completely.

And why not? They get to have their cake and eat it too. They get all the emotional fulfillment, the female companionship, and in some cases physical benefits without any of the accountability. They can date other girls (or you know, be “just friends” with another girl like they are “just friends” with you). It’s a sweet deal, and not one they are willing to relinquish without a fight.

In all fairness some men are not even aware they are doing this. Most women have at some point had that male friend that is flirtatious, spends lots of time with you alone, treats you like a princess…but still only sees you as a friend. Meanwhile you’re becoming completely smitten with the guy, getting emotionally attached, and he is none the wiser. If it isn’t intentional, if he is unaware of how his treatment of us is read, then is he really at fault? I keep convincing myself that surely they SHOULD know better…but sometimes they honest to goodness don’t. Sometimes they ARE that oblivious, so we can’t justifiably be angry when they show up with another girl on their arm.

My point then is this. It doesn’t matter if there isn’t a concrete definition or label attached to your relationship. Who cares if he isn’t willing to publicly commit to you; if your relationship with the guy entails anything more than what a strictly platonic friendship includes (ie. extended periods of time spent together, constant communication, and/or physical benefits) then you need to claim that definition for YOURSELF. Don’t let what your friends define as a “relationship” alter your perspective on what a relationship REALLY is. Labels be damned.

If it looks like a relationship, acts like a relationship, and smells like bullshit….

Maybe you decide you are alright with the status-quo, for whatever reason. I am pretty sure every woman has done this. I know I have. The reasons vary of course. Maybe you DON’T need the label. Maybe you just care about him too much to lose him and are willing to settle for whatever you can get. Maybe you hold out hope that if you continue on the path you are currently on, he’ll come to his senses and finally commit to you.

Rationally we understand that in some cases we might be kidding ourselves, but our rational minds and our emotional hearts don’t often see eye to eye. Inevitably our emotional heart usually wins out and we do what we want to do, regardless of what our friends, our brains, or our past experience tells us.

That being said, it is up to every individual woman to figure out what her threshold is. How long are you willing to put up with a quasi-relationship status before putting your foot down? Before establishing boundaries? If he wants to be more than friends, and if he actually does respect you, he should be willing to commit to a dating relationship with you. End. Of. Story.

I implore my gender to stop putting up with the guy-who-wants-all-the-benefits-but-none-of-the-responsibility. We keep letting them get away with it. Until women universally choose to acknowledge that they deserve better, the sorry-excuse-for-a-man in question will simply find another woman with low self-esteem and daddy issues to string along for a while.

I don’t want to be that next woman. They don’t want to relinquish this sweet deal without a fight?

Let’s give them that fight.

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