The Plight of the Lonely

by Jane Moneypenny

What I’m saying is – and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form – is that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.

-Harry Burns, When Harry Met Sally

When Harry Met Sally is one of my all-time favorite movies, but I’m not sure I ever agreed with the idea that men and women can’t be just friends. Like Sally, I’m adamant that I have numerous straight single male friends that have never been interested in me or I in them. The only attraction and chemistry is the kind that friendships are built on. But of course, like Harry, many think that “they all WANT to have sex with you.” Does sexual lust override everything?

Although I strongly hold onto my beliefs, there are still the inevitable few guys that want more and I’m 100% not interested (FYI, this rarely happens in my life. I could probably boil it down to 2 people). One such friend that I’ll call Nick has continuously nagged me to date him since we were 19, about 6 out of the 8 years we’ve known each other. Back in the days of high school when he was dating a close friend and I had my own boyfriend, there was always an underlining friendly attraction and flirtation between us. College happened; significant others came and went and during the big break-up of a lifetime, we became close as he also was dealing with a broken heart. To make a long story short, he’s one of those guys that is in need of a relationship, a girlfriend, someone to validate that he’s worthy and I’ll never be that girl. The process is as follows*:

  1. Nick is unhappy, single and lonely. Nags me everyday about this fact and asks me to date him.
  2. New prospect lingers on the horizon. He gets excited.
  3. New prospect + Nick start dating. He sends daily messages with smiley faces and boast to the world of his love and happiness.
  4. Girlfriend can’t handle Nick’s dreams of the far future and intensity and weirdness.
  5. Fights ensue, break-up happens.
  6. Return to #1

*This is based on eight years of research and observation.

He’s currently in step #1, so thus the heavy flirtations begin. Lately, he’s even mentioned marriage (apparently he finds us that compatible and his parents would approve). The thing is, I’m just not interested. At all. One major reason is I’m not sure he actually has feelings for me (even if he did declare his love for me); I think they’re based on convenience and the fact I’m always around and single and there for him as a good friend. Step #6 is proof of that. I can’t even tell you how many fights and arguments we’ve gotten into about this situation.

And yeah, I’ll admit, it’s been a little lonely lately even with all these grand changes and new things throwing me around. When the weather finally warms up and the air is charged with spring, it’s hard not to think of lying in a hammock with someone. There used to be moments where I wondered if life would be easier if we just dated, but I refuse to ever date out of loneliness or a need to just have someone there. He’s an attractive guy and undoubtedly would treat me well (my mom always said, “Marry someone that loves you more than you love him.”), but I can’t half-ass a relationship. This isn’t like the movies where I’ll suddenly realize what I have and fall deeply in love with him and life will be happily ever after. I just don’t feel it and that’s that.

He knows my every thought and emotion about him and I can’t be anymore point-blank, but the guy still pushes on. The truth is, despite my misgivings about his feelings, he appreciates me more than any guy I’ve ever dated. He may be dense, but he actually likes all these strange quirks of mine, like my intense love of sports or my constant clumsiness or my never-ending hunger. His “feelings” for me are the kind that any girl wishes a guy she dates to have for her. So why don’t I feel it? I guess there’s no point in questioning what I don’t feel, but it’s frustrating, isn’t it? To come across these guys that probably will give you the moon and love you with everything and all you can think about is the guy that ripped your heart out.

So can guys and girls be true friends if one wants the other?