“You seem like an amazing person. Is there sometime when we can get together outside of here, maybe for coffee?”
“I’m sorry, I’m not really looking for a relationship right now.”
Have you ever been caught in that situation? I have, more than once. Regardless of whether or not that’s the truth (which it probably isn’t but you were being nice), I wasn’t asking you to start a relationship. We aren’t going to look at rings after this. I’m not at all worried about what your dad is going to think of me and I have no intentions of sharing my puppy with you. I am asking you to coffee. I understand your point of view, I truly do. However, I think you may have jumped to conclusions a little early. The best relationships often develop out of a foundation of friendship, and how can anyone ever establish a genuine friendship with you if you shut that door from the beginning because your three-minute analysis of this person determined that they weren’t capable of stewarding the caverns of your heart? Or maybe they just weren’t attractive enough?
The problem isn’t that you said “No.” There are legitimate situations where I don’t want to have interaction with certain people much less be trapped enduring a 45-minute conversation in a hotbox surrounded by hipsters. The problem was that you made an inaccurate assessment of the situation and what my intentions were. Do I blame you? No. You are just doing what you’ve always done. You aren’t sure what my intentions are, you’re not interested in me romantically, so you put up the boundary right away to shut down the situation likely due to a bad experience in the past with an overzealous, thirsty frat-daddy. It’s my fault. I should have been more clear with what my intentions were to show you that I don’t have the same motives as the last ten guys who came knocking on the door.
A couple months ago I was having coffee with someone who I’ve known for a couple years. She’s a beautiful woman in her mid-20s, a great career path, super sweet and funny, a ton of fun, and I wouldn’t be mad if she wore her bikini to river-day. She sounds perfect right? Well…she’s pretty great and I love being friends with her, and I wanted to make sure that we stayed friends. I told her (over coffee) “I just want you to know that I think you’re an awesome person and I love our friendship. I want you to feel safe in our friendship so if I ever feel my heart towards you change in a way that I want to pursue you romantically, I will speak up and let you know immediately.” She appreciated the openness and vowed to reciprocate the process on her end. Since then, she has become one of my dearest friends. The reason: We don’t have to be constantly questioning each other as to what the other’s motives are because we have an established relational boundary that we’ve both agreed to maintain.
Men: Can we just be honest from the start with what our intentions are instead of trying to play it like its the NBA All-star game? We all know you’re flashy, but women are going to appreciate your openness and honest communication about what you are looking for much more than they will your sarcastic innuendos or mad pickup game. Just be vulnerable and tell them what you want. If you want to pursue them romantically then lay it out on the table, and if they say “no” you take it like a man*, brush it off, stay confident in yourself, and look for someone else. If you just want friendship then say that, and more importantly, honor that. If you’re somewhere in the middle, then let ’em know.
Women: Can you agree to not jump to conclusions? Give us a little grace as we learn to do relationships in a new way and most importantly, be honest. If a romantic relationship isn’t going to happen and we made it known that was our intention just let us know early on. Nobody wants to be strung on because you’re a princess and you like the attention. Also, remember that in the same way that you are not sure about us we are probably not so sure about you.
*Yes, I said “like a man” because I still believe there is honor to be claimed in that. If you think I’m stereotyping what I think a man should look like, I am. All men should act like men. Get over it.