Should I date my male friends?
I'm a 35-year-old single woman who is active in my community, is interested in lots of things, loves people, and is ambitious about my life. I have never been married, and surround myself with the types of people I enjoy being with as much as possible. My life is filled with wonderful men who never take that step away from "close friends" to move to dating, even though the relationships 'look' like we are dating based on the amount of time we spend together. I continue to enjoy these relationships, but find myself frustrated and wonder about ""what if?" What do I do with this? Why does this happen? -- TJ
Dr Neil Clark Warren answers:
You've asked several important and related questions. At the heart of your letter seems to be a nagging feeling of confusion about the male relationships in your life. I want to applaud your efforts to reach out and understand these friends and what they mean to your life.
You mention several close male friends who spend a great deal of time with you, and I believe relationships like this are extremely important, especially when you are single. A friendship network should contain several members of the opposite gender who are capable of providing honest and heartfelt support. But these relationships can often get confusing. After all, you spend a great deal of time together. You get along well and share common interests. You usually begin to share friends and even meet each other's families. Isn't that what happens with a loving romantic couple? Isn't that the sort of relationship every one dreams of enjoying?
So, many times, friends who are enjoying the situation I've just described look at each other and say, "Why aren't we having a romance? Shouldn't we try?" It has been my experience that almost every friendly couple who explores a romance comes to the conclusion that it won't work. The spark that is necessary to drive a life-long romance just doesn't appear to exist between them.
Because of the strong public stand I've taken against relationships that are based solely on physical attraction, many people think that I completely discount physical chemistry as a key component in a successful relationship. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I believe that a relationship MUST have a certain degree of passion. The attraction you feel for your partner is part of the energy that makes you willing to work through much of your relationship's early friction.
The important questions to ask yourself, TJ, are these:
Why didn't these relationships begin romantically?
Why haven't you put the issue on the table and discussed the matter with these male friends?
I suspect that the answer to both questions is that you really have never felt a spark with these men. If your letter had mentioned that you had romantic feelings for a close male friend and were torn about how to handle it, I might feel differently. You may wonder, "What would it be like to date Bob?" but within your heart of hearts I think you may sense that it could never be the romance you deserve and desire.
This, of course, leads us back to the core issue and the reason you have these thoughts about your male friends. You truly want to have a passionate, compatible, loving relationship. You want to find a special person who can be a friend and a lover and share your life in a way these male friends never can. It won't surprise you to hear me suggest eHarmony as the best route towards the relationship you want.