Monday, June 10, 2013

Relationship Blog #427. Friends With and Without Benefits

This is long and lacking in sarcastic humor or cute photos. Sorry.

My friend is wooing - somewhat unsuccessfully - a girl who is really attracted to guys who treat her like dirt.  She says all these pathetic things like "why would anyone like me? Why do I deserve to be treated better?" Which my friend thinks are sincere and I think are just her fishing for compliments and/or an inability or unwillingness to look at the situation honestly.  But, let's take her at her word, and assume she really has no good feelings about herself.  If I knew her in real life, this is what I'd tell her:

All people deserve not to be toyed with. I don't care if you are fat, stupid old, ugly, smart, beautiful, funny, or boring, you deserve respect.

Would you tell your cousin/sister/best friend who is being treat poorly that it is ok, because she is too fat/ugly/stupid and it is better to be with someone who treats her like a subhuman than it is to be alone? No. Just like you wouldn't kill a puppy because it was too ugly and stupid. So this is all crap.  What you mean is that if you were prettier/more exciting/smarter/funnier a certain douche bag would choose you and stop acting like a douche bag.  Instead of internalizing it, you should realize the following:

1.  There is a thing called chemistry.  It's either there or it is not. If they don't feel it for you, move on.

2.  If they treat you like dirt, why do you want to keep them?  Think about it, really.  let's say you get a makeover and become more beautiful/skinny/smart/funny and he magically treats you better.  What happens when you get old/pregnant/depressed? Is this person really worth it?  

Guys seem to be attracted to girls who treat themselves with respect, and vice versa. This is what respect looks like: 

1.  If you are not their first choice, you are not a choice. You should not be a fall back for anyone, and they should not treat you as a fall back.  Girls- we are really guilty of this. We tend to keep nice guys hanging in the background just in case we can't find someone better. We pretend we just want to be friends, but really, we just want a dating parachute.  I call what girls do "Friends Without Benefits," or "False Hope without Benefits."

Guys do this just as often, but they call it Friends With Benefits.  They actually mean "Sex without Friendship." They don't really want to hear your problems, go out for coffee, or help you move.  They want to have sex with you until they find someone they want to have a relationship with.  You know, the kind of girl they will post pictures of on Facebook and take home to meet their mother.  Not the girl they only call after dark. 

2.  Everyone deserves honesty.  Protecting someone's feelings with deception is condescending.  If they don't have all the information, they can not make a good decision.  You do not have the right to usurp that, based on what you think is in their best interest or what you think they really want.  Period.

3. I had a friend tell me once, "The problem with you is that you date only two kinds of men: nice boys who bore you and bad boys that are exciting and hurt you.  I'm here to tell you there's a third option - nice boys that are exciting."  This is really the crux of it.  People give up.  It's not that they really think they don't deserve respect. It's not that they really don't want a relationship.  It's that they think there's only two kinds of people: nice and boring or exciting and mean.  They think there's no reason to trade in the asshole they know for the asshole they don't.


Here's the awkward truth. I have been that girl.  I have treated guys as fall backs and allowed other people to do the same with me. I have not demanded that I be treated well, and instead I have hoped and prayed that if only I was good enough…
and to that nice guy who kept hanging around, hoping I'd choose him, I was the dirtbag.  It wasn't because I was mean, it was because I was insensitive, and conflicted between the two types of people I divided the world into.

What is it really, that keeps us hanging around someone who is only half-interested in us? Perhaps it is as simple as hope that if they see us for who we are, they won't be able to help but love us.  Add that to a fear that being alone is worse than anything with a good helping of belief  that it is better to have a small piece of someone you love than nothing at all.  A fear that without that tiny piece of them, you might blow away like a dried out husk of a real person that matters.

If you are struggling with the hope roller coaster I can't tell you that you will find someone better out there.  I learned that lesson over a decade ago when I tried my hardest to get a friend to leave a bad relationship, and when she finally did she just went to a worse one.  If you are willing to be a doormat, you will always find someone willing to wipe their feet on you.

I can tell you that someone who is hurting you over and over is not likely to change.  Someone who doesn't adore you and doesn't think that you are the cat's meow is not going to suddenly wake up and decide you are their soulmate. 

I can also tell you that you will never find your soul mate by being someone else's fall back and hoping for magic, or clinging to a piece of what you really want saying it is enough.  If you want true love, you have to be available to find it.  It's unlikely to walk up to your front door and ring the bell.

(Although, it could happen.  An evangelist, a person who lost a dog, a sales person or a petition circulator could knock on your door at the right moment in time and be exactly what you are looking for.  See? I am the queen of unrealistic hope.)

In the meantime, while you are trying not to lead yourself on, also try not to lead on the opposite sex. Remember what friendship means.  

Girls, when someone asks you out, don't let them pay for your drinks if you are not interested in more than friendship.  Testicles do not automatically come with enough money to foot the bill.  Free dinner is not a fair exchange for being in proximity to your cleavage.   If you wonder why a guy doesn't "get it" that you just want to be friends, it might be because you are treating him as a date when the bill comes and a pal when the kissing comes. 

Guys, if you want to have benefits, try and treat the girl like a friend as well.  Everyone, let's be a little more upfront about allowing people to hope unrealistically. And on the other side, when someone says they don't want more than friendship/sex from you, believe them. 

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