I frequently hear the sentiment that men and women can’t “just be friends.” Though I don’t know if this is true, it got me thinking about what men and women can be… Women have a variety of men in their lives and these are just a few of the categories that come to mind.
1. Platonic Friend – This is the guy to whom you are not attracted. And never will be. Ever. There may be no rhyme nor reason to why you don’t feel an attraction to him, but you just know that he will always be like a brother to you. To verify that you feel platonically toward him, you should note if you feel a twinge of envy when he has a girlfriend or an interest in someone. If you’re genuinely happy for him, then feel safe with this relationship. This is rare. Hang onto it.
2. Sexual Tension Friend – This is a common relationship for a man and a woman to fall into. One of my male friends told me that a man won’t be friends “with a chick unless he thinks that he might be able to [sleep with] her” (he shall remain nameless but, as we were friends, I felt a bit uncomfortable… and felt the need to inform him that he should give up all hope of that ever happening). This can be an incredibly fun, flirtatious, and interesting relationship. BUT make sure to maintain the “tension” aspect of this friendship. If the sexual tension becomes a reality fulfilled and no longer a “tension”, you may lose the lighthearted nature of this situation quickly. Luckily, it’s easy to find a man to take over this spot. I think it’s in their nature. ..
3. Bad Boy – The bane of our female existence and the thrill of it. This guy could not care less about you. Or at least pretends he could not. He’s only concerned about himself. He has a ridiculously sordid past. Maybe he’s an alcoholic. Maybe he’s a pothead. Maybe he rides a motorcycle and is covered in tattoos. Maybe he has a criminal record. Maybe he is a cheater. Maybe he puts you down/bails on you/disappears to ….Tijuana…. for the weekend. But the relationship is addicting. Or maybe you’re just addicted to the tumultuous nature of your relationship. So you tolerate him. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be the one he’ll change for. Get real. Move on. He’s a selfish jerk and this whole bad boy thing is working for him right now. He’ll have another girl on the back of his bike tomorrow. Get the bad boy thing out of your system and grow up. ..
4. Emotional Comfort Provider – This is the guy that all of your friends/your mother refer to as “husband material.” Everyone pressures you to date him. You can’t admit it, but you just don’t want to be with this guy because he’s too “nice” or “safe” or “emotionally available”… but you go to him every time you’re hurt or angry or crying because you’ve been mistreated or underappreciated by a “bad boy,” “asshole,” or “emotionally dysfunctional man” and you want your faith in men restored… You need to appreciate this guy. He’s the one who holds you together. And, don’t rule him out. Someday, when you’ve gotten your fill of being dragged through the dirt by smooth talkers and heartbreakers or you’ve gotten over being a smooth talking heartbreaker yourself, you just might want him. Actually want him. ..
5. Undefined Guy – This is an incredibly common situation in the casual age in which we live. This is the guy who you see around and either ignore or flirt with. Maybe you get dinner. Maybe you go to a movie. Maybe you don’t. Maybe he calls you. Maybe you call him. This guy is nothing but a bunch of “maybe’s”… He’s likely a bit lazy and views you as convenient. You likely are unwilling to put your foot down and demand the respect and consistency that you deserve. Sometimes he holds your hand, holds your face, and almost holds your heart. Sometimes he is more like a buddy and you just share a few laughs. Sometimes you’re at the same party and barely acknowledge one another. You never talk about what you “are” and never use the word “relationship.” He’s like a quasi-boyfriend. Kind of. And not at all. He’s more of a “filler,” but his inconsistency and the lack of comfort with him always leaves you feeling unfulfilled. And, whoever you date after him or whoever he dates after you is bound to turn into a real relationship. A defined one. It’s a phenomenon that always happens, but there is no explanation for it.
6. Sounding Board – Do not abuse this “advice guy.” He listens to you whine about men/bitch about random occurrences that don’t really matter and deals with all of your pointless analysis. Be warned: if a guy listens to you this much, he probably has feelings for you so be kind to him and tread carefully. Also, don’t talk his ear off about other men. This will just hurt him. And do not use him. Treat him kindly if you want him to be there when you need to be treated kindly.
7. Fall Back – You have nothing planned for Friday night? He’ll be there. Your date cancelled on you at the last minute? He’ll go to dinner with you. You’ve had a bad day? You text him and he immediately responds. When you’re in between boyfriends he’ll be your companion to parties, movies, double dates, and a myriad of other “couple-y” things. It’s never uncomfortable and you never second guess your decision to contact him. You know he’ll be there. And you know it’ll be fun. This guy is absolutely, positively priceless. He’s an instant cure for any bout with loneliness and is reliable. He’s like a safety net – You aren’t aware of its presence until you need it. Think carefully about this guy. If he’s so great and fun and reliable, why aren’t you dating him? If you decide to move forward, be careful… because who will be there to catch you if you fall?
8. Ego Booster – Every time he calls and you pick up the phone he says, “Hey there gorgeous/sweetheart/babe.” His text messages say things like, “Thought of you today… Can’t stop smiling” or “Miss that face of yours”… He pulls out your chair, opens your door, and never fails to tell you that you look especially nice that day or you are especially charming or funny and how-in-the-world-do-you-keep-your-wits-about-you-with-that-line-of-men-who-must-be-lined-up-along-the-block-waiting-to-get-a-glimpse-of-you? He likely has a phenomenal relationship with his mother/sisters and really enjoys charming women. BUT, keep in mind that he is likely this way with many women. So do not fall for him quickly and do not pursue him. Let him pursue you. Otherwise, you will just become terribly confused and you will lose this man who gives generous compliments… and, any woman who is being honest with herself knows that there is no such thing as too many compliments.
9. Narcissistic Companion – You look good on your own. But you make more of an impact with him by your side. He is well-dressed (without you having to pick out his clothes), good looking, easily liked, and a wonderful storyteller/life of the party. You arrive places together and make a hell of an entrance, separate without a word and get to know other people, and strategically come together throughout the evening to maintain your impact. A situation like this is like an unspoken contract. He fits in any place you need him. If you need a last minute companion to a social obligation/company party/wedding reception/family gathering then this is your guy. He won’t let you down and everyone will like him. If your public image is vital to you and you are out and about frequently, this can be a mutually beneficial relationship.
10. Ex Boyfriend Where the Door is Still Open – It’s easy to go back to someone you know. You know what he likes. You know how to push his buttons. If you ended things because the timing was wrong and now the timing is right then go for it. But, if the timing still isn’t right, or you aren’t being honest with yourself about your emotional attachment to him or you won’t acknowledge why the relationship you had ended, then you’re going to get burned. Sometimes things can work well with an ex if external situations have changed. Sometimes you just get hurt. Move slowly with this.
11. Ex Boyfriend Where the Door is CLOSED – You see him and your skin crawls. You feel disgusted. Or angry. Or devastated. Or you feel nothing. You can’t pinpoint what you ever felt about him or you know you never should have felt anything for him in the first place. Your natural reaction is to get as far away from him as possible or to yell at him. However, NEVER be rude to someone that you have seen romantically in the past. Never be rude to anyone. It might feel good at the time, but you’ll just end up looking spiteful and bitter. You are a lady and that behavior is unattractive. Plus, you’ve been naked with this person. Come on. That should at least make you smile (or laugh).
12. Boyfriend – You spend the night at his place. Hold hands publicly. Go on dates. Or, at least, it should go something like that. He should be available and stable. You should offer him those same luxuries. Sometimes, men that you develop an emotional and sexual attachment to (and are a “boyfriend”) end up being the equivalent of black holes. They suck you in. They don’t treat you well. A man that you allow in your life should make you happier than you were before you knew him. Listen to your girlfriends. Listen to your family. Listen to people who love you. They know if you’re miserable. If you’re miserable, get out. If he supports you and celebrates your happiness and is there for you when you’re upset and you feel safe with him, stick it out. If not, move on. Seriously, there are millions of men out there.
13. The “One” – This is a concept I would love to believe in. I’m an occasional cynic and I tend to be a believer in the “many” as opposed to the “one”, but part of me still hopes that the idea of the “one” could be real (maybe I’m a mildly cynical hopeless romantic). I’m looking for a partner-in-crime who looks just as good in a tux as he does on the beach… easier said than found. If you’ve found a man who just blows your mind, I’m happy for you. And I would love to hear about it. If you have someone who falls into one of the categories above, then I relate to you and would also love to hear about it.
*Disclaimer: A man doesn’t have to fall into a singular category. Many men move from category to category or are part of numerous categories at the same time.
**Double Disclaimer: This is my opinion only. No purported truth is included in the aforementioned commentary.
***Triple Disclaimer: I’m aware that I don’t take my own advice.