I Am More Than A Relationship

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About Melissa Wait

Melissa Wait is a native Texan, transplanted to Boulder, CO—as she says: "I kept the y’all but picked up biking. 20-something getting my feet wet in work and life, I’m a little bit Millenial, a lotta bit Gen Xer. I am fascinated by the intersection between hormones and human reason."

Comments

  1. OirishM says:

    Re. 1 – I personally find myself more likely to be interested in a woman romantically the longer I’ve known her as a friend. I don’t have this thing that everyone else seems to where my interest just apparently shuts off for people having known them a given length of time. It’s not a problem for me to deal with – I don’t hold candles for anyone. But I’ve always seen it as – yes, there will be invariably be some romantic feelings tangled up in there with the friendship at some point. But that’s ok. It can be managed. It may even turn into something romantic.

    Re. 4 – yeah, I sympathise. Guys do this too. I’ve always done it, and can’t really approach girls as friends so easily without part of my mind analysing for relationship potential. I can still manage to form friendships with girls, but it’s tough. And my self-esteem is kinda effed as a result of making my happiness contingent on being romantically accepted by women :/

    • Melissa Wait says:

      These responses are all normal and natural–people become more attractive if you like their personality and less attractive if you don’t like their personality. The thought process in friendships often goes something like this: I enjoy being with this person, I find this person attractive, I feel good with this person, why shouldn’t we try to be romantic?

      If the other person doesn’t want to, we assume that it means there is something wrong with us. However, enjoying someone and even finding them attractive does not necessarily equate to being a good romantic match with them. This is why it is important to not find your value in how other people view you. If your value is not being determine by someone liking you or not, it’s easier to step back and assess if someone would actually be romantically compatible for you because your assessment isn’t entangled with your need to be validated.

      That being said, I think the fact that you can be friends with women is amazing and I’m sure they truly value you in those relationships. Hope that’s helpful!

      • OirishM says:

        I guess I wouldn’t mind a bit more openness on when there are these feelings of attraction in friendships. Still seems kinda taboo to talk about. It doesn’t have to ruin anything if it’s managed properly, I find.

        • Melissa Wait says:

          Definitely! More openness would be a good thing. I think, as a society, we’re terrible at communicating the things that need to be communicated. I think in this situation, we don’t communicate because we’re afraid of rejection but if you’re not, then talking about it is a good idea to make sure you’re on the same page. We all know unrequited love is awful.

          There’s another part of this where the other person might feel bad if they don’t like you back and they might not really believe that you can be okay with that. This is something that has to be worked past too, but I believe can happen with enough talking.

          I’m curious to know why you think we dance around the issue and these conversations hardly ever happen?

  2. Life changing.
    I’m writing some of these things down and hanging them above my desk.
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. 1) Men believe this too (from what I can tell). They see women as people to have sex with, and if they have ANY feelings for them that seem sexual, they assume that this means they are not friends.

    2) Some men believe that the only relationship that matters to them, is their romantic one. But then I think that all men (almost) ubiquitously believe that the most important relationship for a woman, is her romantic one. (even many of the men that say, or try, to believe otherwise)

    3)This goes without saying, but I will say it. Love at first sight, and other notions that romance perpetuates are the main thing that undermine us and keep us from understanding that good relationships are based on how well you work things out, not how well things started out.

    4) I think part of the problem is this thing of the “perfect man/woman” as if everyone in the world would want this “perfect” person if they had the chance to be with them. And whenever we get evidence that we are not that “perfect” person, we sort of feel bad (maybe because magazines and movies tell us to) the truth is, there is never such a thing as a “perfect” person, the best that anyone can get is “perfect for” perfect for working with, perfect for someone like me to marry, etc. I think this is why the friendzone hurts guys so much…though I am not a guy, so I don’t know more than that, but my spider senses tell me that the answer is closely related to this article.

    • Melissa Wait says:

      I agree with you! I wanted to share how I’d changed my perspective (and how much that has helped me) but I think it would be great to hear the male perspective on all these things.

      • OirishM says:

        Men’s perspective, eh?

        1. Yep. This meme does the rounds with us too. One of best friends is a girl, who is also pretty attractive, and quite a few people (usually guys) have assumed when they see how we hang out and how we are together that we’re banging. Wouldn’t complain, but it’s affirmatively not that kind of relationship.

        2. Again, I think it’s safe to safe that both genders under discussion do this to some degree. Romantic relationships are generally built up in society to be this overarching priority that you simply *must* have sorted out. It wouldn’t surprise me that we assume this about members of the opposite sex, because it’s more often than not true – the romantic relationship is rated higher than friendships. That said, I think it’s still fair to say that sex/romantic needs are quantifiably harder to satisfy than friendship needs, so I think there would still be some distinction of this kind made between the two. Friends I can get pretty straightforwardly. Relationships are trickier.

        3. I think there’s a lot of things about romance and even dating that need tossing out. But I tend to favour the direct approach myself.

        4. The friendzone for guys is not about not being perfect, I find. It’s about being wanted in the first place. By anyone. I suppose sometimes people might build up one individual as The One that they’ve been looking for, which isn’t a good strategy. But I think the friendzone is more fundamental than that. It’s often about feeling totally undesirable to anyone. You’re not “perfect for” anyone. You’re not even “good enough” or “barely passable” for anyone.

        And while I’m sure this has its roots in basing your identity on romantic validation, there’s a fair bit of….seemingly deserved cynicism amongst the guys on this site towards the “love yourself/be yourself” style of advice handed out (often from women). I can believe it helps for some, but it doesn’t seem to go as far as some people make out.

        • Melissa Wait says:

          Re #4: This makes me sad for men and I understand what you’re saying here. I know that, prior to becoming actual friends with men, I didn’t realize that they needed validation the same way I did. I always experienced men as sure-footed and confident about their lives and their looks. I was always wanting to be affirmed and validated, and I could see the insecurity on other women, but I couldn’t see it on men. It wasn’t that I didn’t think they were great men, I just didn’t think they needed to hear it–so I withheld my affirmations from them.

          Now, I understand that guys need to feel wanted and desirable too, even if they know that you’re just friends. However, I don’t think my experience in thinking men don’t need validation the same way women do is a unique experience. I wonder how we could change this mindset and if that would help with the friendzone at all.

  4. PursuitAce says:

    Brilliant! I didn’t even bother to read it all as I could have written it. The comments are right on (that’s sixties right on) as well. We’re getting there people. That’s exciting.

  5. FlyingKal says:

    1) I think it’s entirely possible to have close friends of the opposite sex, and at the same time pine over a certain person of the opposite sex that you wish you were more than friends with.
    I.e. I don’t think these scenarios are mutually exclusive.

    1 & 2) Reading about your friendship with Taylor poses the following question:
    Do you think that our view on friends of the opposite sex, is in any way influenced if one or both people involved already have a romantic partner?

    2) My opinion is not that our romantic relationship is the only relationship that really matters.
    However, I do think that romantic relationship usually matters more than other relationships. And I think that is how it should be. At least if you have taken on the responsibilty to share your life, recidence, economy with that person, or even raise a family together.

    • Melissa Wait says:

      1) I agree!

      1&2) I do think that it is easier when one or both friends are in a romantic relationship because it set a natural boundary that the relationship will only be friendship. That being said, Taylor and I were both single for over a year and still remained just friends. So, it’s not necessary for one or both individuals to be romantically involved in order to have an opposite sex friendship with healthy boundaries.

      2) I agree! They should take priority but they also shouldn’t be so all consuming that everyone else in your life gets put on a shelf. In fact, keeping your friends close and including them in your romantic relationship is beneficial to that romantic relationship. If your friends get to see and understand how your relationship functions, they can help you to see and stop negative cycles that might be occurring there.

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