Monday, 9 December 2013

Auntie Seraphic & the Confused Friend

(Letter edited to protect identity of writer.)

Dear Auntie Seraphic,

In the vein of several of the comments on a recent post, could you please give us some advice on being friends with guys? I have personally been giving this topic a lot of thought lately because of a rather frustrating "friendship" I am in with a young man.

I grew up with only sisters, and I had minimal interactions with young men until I went to college, and then I was shy and avoided contact with them as much as possible. Thank goodness I grew out if my shyness, but even now as a (relatively) confident mid 20 something, I still find it difficult to talk to/relate to guys. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I met a young man at work who was easy to talk to and seemed to enjoy my company.

When we both left the job, he asked for my number and wanted to stay in touch. I really liked him (i.e. had a crush on him), so I was hoping he was planning to ask me out. He texted me a few times and then asked me to a movie, which did not turn out to be a date (I am assuming this since I paid for my own ticket and it felt very friendish). After that I heard nothing from him for several weeks.

I assumed he wasn't interested in being friends after all, so I tried to forget about it. Randomly one day he texted me again to ask how I was doing and asked me to go hiking. The same pattern followed. A few weeks of silence. Then "How've you been? Let's meet for coffee". I backed out of plans for a jam session with him a few weeks ago, but I have a feeling he'a going to text me soon to reschedule.

He is a very nice (culturally) Catholic boy, so I'm trying not to think ill of him, but I'm getting a bit tired of the "feast and famine" approach the friendship seems to be taking. I have reality checked myself out of my crush (for the most part) but I really do enjoy his company. We always have a good time and good conversations. I would genuinely like to be his friend. But I don't know how to decipher the (up to 6 week) long silences.

For me, being friends means talking to each other more than only every 6 weeks, at least in the early stages. Or is that needy of me? My non-confrontational self would almost just like to stop accepting his invitations to do things and just let it die out. However, my mom made the wise observation that as I have few friends, I should try to cultivate the friendships I do have.

In this case, (as a friend) should I initiate texting and invite him to do things? Or do the silences mean he's really not that interested in being my friend? It really sounds like I'm overthinking this, but I would just like to understand guys' behavior a little better so I can be more comfortable around them. Thank you, Auntie, and a blessed Advent!

Confused Friend

Dear Confused Friend,

I'm on side with your mother. The silences do not mean that he's not interested in being your friend. The silences mean that he's not interested in being your boyfriend. AND THAT'S OKAY. When you have grown up without boys your own age in your life, it is a great blessing to have male friends. It can be annoying when all you have are male friends--everyone's pal, nobody's sweetheart--but in your situation, I would be grateful for this opportunity to associate with a nice, friendly man my age without the pressure or worries of romance.

Men do friendship differently from the way women do friendship. Women usually need to be in touch a lot, and the basis of our friendships is conversation. Lots of conversation! And news! But men are not like that. They get together from time to time, smile and insult each other. They joke around, they DO something (like play soccer) or they drink beer. (I am not at all surprised that your friend invited you for a hike and wants to jam--that sounds very man-like.) My husband meets his best friend only once every three months! And if we didn't see them at church, we might not see our other male friends for weeks! But these men don't mind. They are the same way.

If you enjoy time with your friend, and you can accept that he is just going to be a friend (perhaps a more exciting friend than a new female friend, but still a friend), then think of something you would like to do together (since he likes hiking, going to the zoo?) and text an invitation. This does not count as chasing him, since that is not what you are doing. You are just signalling that you are doing your part to keep the friendship going.

Congratulations on having a male friend! I think spending time with good men makes it easier to attract other good men. I am not sure why this is, but this is my experience.

Grace and peace,

Book update: A splendid review from this blogger. If you haven't read "Ceremony" yet, you might want to wait, since he discusses it frankly, although he's not QUITE in the plot-spoiler territory. But if you have read "Ceremony" already, he's got some wonderful insights I think you'll enjoy. Pop on over and tell him what you think. He's very funny on the "Catholic ghetto" and gave me some grist for my IP Novels mill.


Amused Observer said...

He does seem like a good guy to make a friend of--but initiating doing stuff alone? It just occurs to me what a tricky thing the heart can be--in my experience you can think you're all over a crush, but (especially if nothing else is going on in your life romantically) it comes rushing back with a vengeance. What about setting up more groupish type things, asking if he wants to bring some friends along for whatever the activity is, asking along some girls you know? That way, you could cultivate his friendship while guarding your heart from doing any funny business, and also hopefully expand your circle of acquaintance, since you'd get to know his friends.

Seraphic said...

Well, you certainly have a point. Hanging out alone with a guy when a girl doesn't have a more important guy in her life takes DEEP roots in reality. However, if it's just once every six weeks or so, and she really understands why this guy is not for her (e.g. he's a merely "cultural" Catholic guy whose just not that into her)then I think she could be okay.

However, that's up the the individual girl to decide.

Jessica said...

A couple of months ago, my fiancé and his dad were sitting around reminiscing about the time when one of my fiancé's (guy) friends had brought a bottle of whiskey as a gift for the hosts when he came to stay with them for a few days. His dad said, "Hey, tell Nick to bring another bottle of whiskey to the wedding, that was so good!" Fiancé immediately calls Nick and they have a 30-second conversation:
"Hey man, I'm just sitting here with my dad, he was remembering how good that whiskey was...he said you should bring him a bottle at the wedding. [listens] haha. Yup. Yup. Take care. Bye."

This was the first time my fiancé had talked to Nick in probably about a month.

Any call I made like that would take at LEAST ten minutes, and that's *if* it was a close enough friend that I thought I could make a request of like that.

Yeah, guy friendships are different from girl friendships.

PolishTraveler said...

It wasn't clear to me from the letter writer whether the guy was texting her and making plans and then following up with them?

Because it sounds like he would text and propose a hike and then go silent for a few weeks. If that's the case, I don't think he would be worth keeping around as a 'friend'. very flaky.

OntarioGal said...

This is off topic, but I stumbled across this picture of a girl reacting to three of her friends getting engaged and thought your readers might enjoy it:

Seraphic said...

Ah ha ha! Love it.

Katerina said...

I found this really helpful! I have been hurt before when guy friends of mine have failed to get in contact for long periods of time and mistakenly taken it to mean that they aren't that bothered with our friendship. Always good to have a reminder that men and women have very different ways of thinking about things :)

Sarah said...

I'm a little late to the combox, but I was reminded of this post last night, when I skyped with a friend who lives far away.

Me: I feel like it's been a long time since we last talked, but I'm not sure.
Him: Hm, I don't think so. Didn't we talk last week or something?
Me: No, not last week, and the week before that was Thanksgiving week, so it was probably the week before that.
Him: Huh.

Men just don't keep track of time between contact like we do, and they have a different idea of what "a long time" is, and that's okay. I definitely don't expect them to be in constant contact with me the way girlfriends might be.