Question! What Next?

Hello, readers—if you’re still coming back on non-NAS days. 🙂

Yesterday I teased that I had a date after work, which is why no pics of my family. Um, yeah, the guy canceled via text, saying he was sick. I texted back that I understood (really I do, I recently got randomly sick on a Tuesday as well!) and we could reschedule for when I returned from San Francisco.

But it’s bugging me that a few of my friends were wondering if he set a new date instantaneously. Um, no. So, here’s my question:

What do I do next? Should I text “hope you’re feeling better?” Wait for him to text me? Call him up? Wait for him to call up? Send a message through the dating site where we met?

Hhhmph.

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7QTF: Hard Truths About Guys

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Ladies, I went through something earlier this week that many young women have before, even though I was pridefully adamant that that was not MY situation. Pro-tip: The ugh-y ones almost always are. If you live life expecting to be disappointed, all the times you are not will be delightfully surprised. I may sound cynical, but the snarky slightly misanthropic attitude is much more mentally bearable than one of brilliant hopes that are continually dashed.

What happened, in a nutshell: Having no real discouragement, I put all my girlish hope and dream eggs in this one basket. Then the boy whom I wanted to find it (and he knew it too), picked it up, ran away, and gave it to another girl.

My editor, who is becoming more and more a Motherish mentor (solid Catholic counsel is not my own mommy’s forte), gave me some tough love (and soft love, too—she’s quite huggable). She shared with me the following hard truths about men.

*Now, you may say that Amazing Guy at Bible Study, your fiancée, your husband, whatever, is not a “guy,” thinking these things. He is more a man, and  is actually quite rare. I have met enough “guys” in and out of Church to know this applies to most males ages 26-33. Especially the ones in big cities, with lots of secular friends, and poor familial formation.

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Guys have marriage radar. And it is NOT a good thing. Rather, they can lock in immediately on a woman who hopes/desires/believes marriage to be a joyous good and will want it. Soon. And to guys, “soon” is more like 5 years, not 5 months. As soon as their radar has picked up the ring blip, they will do one of two things: 1) Go buy the diamond because they have matured and want to spend the rest of their lives with you. 2) Run.

Nearly all young men opt for action 2. Why? As my editor explained: you have answered a question they haven’t even asked or, more likely, are unsure they even want to ask in the first place.

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Guys do not know when they become men. Women can mark it on a calendar—not just physically, but figuratively. We’re oriented to be self-intuitive and reflective, so we discern the change that brought us from being just a girl to a grown woman. It’s much harder for men to have this moment of certainty. Worse, some feel as if they’re never there.  Or to go to there, they need to have A-Z accomplished, and if they fail at just one teeny tiny thing, that’s it, throw in the towel. And yelling at them to grow up and be a man just plumb will not work. Find and date men who already know they are men (this is why we’re all still single at 28.)

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Guys will run if they learn you are starting to like them more than they know they like you. It’s probably why this weekend happened, likely why I was dumped by my one and only boyfriend right before Christmas in 2011, and credibly why some dates over the years never called back. My editor’s advice was to  find a man who likes me just a little bit more than I like him (of course, you should actually like the guy a whole lot. he just needs that one more ounce). Why? Again, it’s that whole answering a question they’re not sure they want to ask. Plus, they like to win. Or, it could be that they are discombobulated by your adoration, feel unworthy of it, and honestly believe they’re doing the right thing by freeing you from their horrid selves. *rolls eyes*

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Guys do not see marriage the same way we do. (Go re-read the paragraph above #1). Women typically are the gender to see marriage as a joyous good, get really into the ToB-spirituality-beauty of it all. We especially see at as a beginning. Men see it as a duty or an end—the end of his phase of life of accomplishing career goals, the duty to the woman they love, or in some cases, the only acceptable end to a sexless-relationship. Women want the dreamboat spouse-soulmate. Men want sex and a companion to live out their days.

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Guys want to lead. Always. In everything. They will want to drive, maybe even if you’re in your car (I won’t fight this. Have you been on 93?!? And rotaries. Rotaries everywhere.). They will begrudgingly be dragged onto the dance floor by girlfriends, but if that’s not you, they want to be the one to take your hand (if they like you).  And they will want to lead in the relationship. Don’t change your Facebook status from single prematurely (I will buy you your plane ticket to come over here and slap me silly if I ever do this). Don’t bring up “us,” “wedding,” or, God help you, “children”  first or put them in the same sentence. But But But, you protest, your boyfriend won’t bring these things up and you know you want them. Here’s what you do: tell him you’d like to have a conversation in the future (not immediately) about big picture things (don’t be specific.) When you are with him in this week/month/semester’s time (they like to plan and prepare), ask “What do you see in the next three months for yourself? Year? Three years?” DO NOT say anything about what you see or try to lead him into talking about the relationship. Let him lead the discussion of his own future and mind excavation. It will be the most honest and authentic response you can get from him.

If he wants a future with you and the same future (marriage, kids), he will say so (and yay, you!). If he does not, well, I’m sorry sweetie. You might need to break up with him. When he is dumbstruck as to why (and they almost always are), then you can say it’s because you want what you want and he wants what he wants, and those versions of the future are incompatible.

Of course, this conversation is best reserved for like, 6 months in, in most cases. Definitely by a year.

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Guys don’t know what they want until they want it so bad they’ll do anything and everything to get it. It’s why women get proposed to by good Catholic men. They want you, have to have you, and will lock that s**t down because they know if they don’t, someone else will take you away from them. Remember…they have to win. And lead. And are in some weird unspoken competition with the rest of the Y-chromosomed.

But if they don’t know what they want, you can’t make them know. And don’t you dare wait around while he figures it out. Go live your life. Yes, it will be crushing when you learn that he discovered what he really wants is Not You. I am there right now, and struggling to take my own advice. Someday, we will be healed, and we have to have hope and lightness of heart that one day you will be wanted. Because the last thing any sane guy wants is a woman who is entirely cynical, bitter, or sad.

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Guys will say what they think they want you to hear and encourage physical affection, and do not think it is abominable behavior once they decide they no longer want your company. Oh, this is so unpleasant. Guys typically talk a big game, get you all excited, because hey, he’s interested! And ohmygoodness he’s holding your hand an stroking the elbow during the movie.  And he shares things with you. And then three weeks later, he no longer feels it, wants to be friends, and two weeks after THAT, is with a new girl and touching her, but not sharing things, because hey, she’s not a deep, close friend.

Be very very careful when a guy seems to be intentional and touchy feely rather quickly. If he ends things, do not be his close personal confidant friend. What he is doing is segmenting his life: the deep stuff with one girl and the fun stuff with the other. A true man will see the value of having both in the same woman: you.

Now if you can stomach mommy and wive thoughts, go to Jen and the gang. 😛

NAS: Friendship

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You’re not alone! Go see Jen and Morgan! But after you read this post! 🙂

What is Love of Friendship?
(What is love? But specifically within a friendship.
You can talk about it in any way you would like)

Sooo…last week I was mentally preparing a post continuing my rah-rah men-and-women-should-be-friends cheer. And then Sunday night happened. There is a friend. A boy. And he just told me something that makes my alluded-to challenge moot. This is one of those things that I really don’t think I should post publicly. Plus, I’ve still got this on repeat (lyrics NSFW). But the past 36 hours have really shown me the love within female-female friendships. God, my girls are great.

You see, God designed women to have emotional intuition, tender hearts, and all the fierceness of a mama bear. When women are together, we are not encumbered by the same social rules and cues as we are when we’re with men. There are no pretenses when it comes to hugs; no motivations behind light touches on the shoulder or arm; no wild and racing thoughts and heartbeats when you’re snuggled up together in cozy winter lounge things watching a movie. So it is easier for us to develop storge, the affective love C.S. Lewis writes about. Wikipedia calls storge the desire to care compassionately for one another. Storge leads to your work friend, practically your mom’s age, giving you a soft, warm hug at lunch because you are 1500 miles from your own mommy. Or your best girlfriends–one an ocean away, one a continent away–staying up with you till the wee smas allowing you to process. And like all mama bears, get all irate about the person who dared to threaten her dear ones.

In friendship you also have the philos (of course). But it is so much more than standing side by side, seeing the same. Philos is the love you choose. So when you have not talked to some friends in a while, or the relationship has shifted a little as you grow apart as you grow up, there’s still love when they consciously choose to maintain ties. And then when you say you really need to talk to them and ask a favor, you’re the first thing on their post-work to-do list. And no questions asked, no equivocations, favor is done.

Finally, in the best of friendships, you have dying to self for the sake of the other. This type of love is really hard to come across, and can take a long time to develop. And it’s actually the one you hope your friend doesn’t have for you, but the kind you hope you have for your friend. Because for a friend to do that for you means they are in pain themselves, and you’re trying to will their good, which we think means no pain. This love is not ever selfish, but selfless. Sometimes it can take God’s grace to not only be capable of this type of love, but to humbly accept the gift when it is offered. I don’t really have an example of when I’ve gotten agape love from a friend. It is to staggering, and my little heart cannot bear any more weight in this particular season.

But it takes receiving love to make the heart stronger. And I am so blessed to be getting some now.

 

NAS: The Proverbial Question

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This week on Not Alone, Morgan, Jen, and we ladies get at that question “Can men and women ever really be just friends?”

I think this movie tried to settle the matter, rather crudely, but also kind of hilariously:

Ever since seeing this movie and it immediately becoming one of my favorites, I have always considered myself a “Sally.” Men and women can be friends. I even go one step further sometimes: men and women should be friends.

My beliefs on this subject were further validated by that awesome writer C.S. Lewis. You may have heard of him. He wrote this awesome book The Four Loves and devoted an entire chapter to friendship. You can read it here (page 53). But here are some gems:

– “[Friendship] is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”

– “Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”

“Those who cannot conceive Friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elaboration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a Friend. The rest of us know that though we can have erotic love and friendship for the same person yet in some ways nothing is less like a Friendship than a love-affair. Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest.”

Guy-Girl Friendships Throughout History and Entertainment

  • Henry James and Edith Wharton: The corresponded in the late 1890s and early 1900s. No one would dare accuse them of impropriety then.
  • Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway: They were in Paris, the most romantic city in the world, and I don’t believe ever hooked up. 😛
  • Hermione Granger and Harry Potter: Yes I know they’re fiction and I was a total shipper back in the day, but it was beautiful to see agape between the two without eros getting in the way ever.
  • The Doctor and Donna: again, fictional. But their journey together is one of the most entertaining examples of support for another in need.

Jesus said there was no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. He called us all friends. Friend love is a wonderful sort, because rather than hormones or family ties that bind us to another person, it is our own choice that binds us to someone. And C.S. Lewis even acknowledges that sometimes this friend love can mature into eros, but not every time. And its mere possibility should not mean we make a hard and fast rule to not offer friendship to someone simply because of their gender.

Now, I have come across some advice-givers who caution young women that men and women truly can’t be real friends, unless as the first stage of courtship. Purely platonic relationships with the opposite sex are to be waried and never celebrated (this is the tone I get). I suppose this is because the average age of the readership is like 19 and there is a motherly urge to protect from the complications and potential heartache down the road. But I actually believe men and women can and should be friends. But, I concede that I can be a little Harry about it, too: sometimes the love stuff can get in the way. What I’d like to tell young women is this:

  • Know the 5Ws and H about the offer of friendship. Are you both single and it arises out of a common interest (like both of you loving nothing more than on Fall Saturdays than heading down to the alumni bar to have an Oktoberfest and watch your alma mater’s football team)? Does one person have a significant other? How do people react to the two of you? How does he react to people reacting to you (Telling the new bowling team member: “Oh, we’re just friends. Britt was giving me the girl opinion on the ring for Sarah.”) Did the offer come after some failed dates/relationship? If if comes from you, be prepared for him to bolt, but also ready yourself if he says yes. If it comes from him, you may bolt if it’s too hard. But keep an open mind. I once was massively disappointed to hear from a four-date guy that he thought we were better suited as friends. Turns out he was right, and he was how God answered my prayer: I didn’t need a boyfriend; at that time, I really needed a friend like A.
  • Communicate: I don’t know why, but so many woes I hear from friends and grown adults would be resolvable if people nearly communicated (“But he should have gotten the hint when I didn’t text back!”). With men in particular, it is always best to be clear, even if it doesn’t sound pretty or flirty or smooth. With guy-girl friendships, you need to be open about what’s going on and if/when anything starts changing. As painful as it may be, communicating issues (I feel your girlfriend doesn’t like me–are we seeing each other too much? I am developing feelings for you and need to run away now) is key to working out a friendship.
  • Boundaries: These are especially important if one of you is in a relationship. Romantic relationships will start to change friendships in some respects, but I don’t think they have to be mutually exclusive, nor as an unmarried woman, should you have to give up entirely your platonic male friends and never be alone with them ever. Now that A. is engaged, I see much less of him and our emails have a different character. But he is still my friend, and no one is threatened or worried if we were to see a philosophy lecture together that his fiancee would sleep through. But we have to be clear that there is a line and when someone is crossing it.

To answer the question, yes, men and women can be friends, and many times, they should!