I’ve been a lot less active online for the last couple of years, and in December 2011 I deleted my Facebook account. I had grown sick of the privacy problems, and Facebook changing their policies and how the application worked without notice or documentation, and I strongly had this perception that they were selling people’s data to third parties.
I was talking with April last night about how I build relationships with people, a conversation that began at my bi-weekly prayer meeting with Jonny and Matt. I’ve met some people lately and thought, “We should be friends,” but I don’t really know how to make that happen. I am not what you might call a naturally charismatic fellow. An easy rapport with others is an enigma to me. But I know some people who seem like they ought to be friends because we have lots of mutual friends as well as mutual interests.
It may be a stereotype, but it seems that most single girls call a fellow girl friend at the end of a bad day to rant. Conversely, they might invite boy friends to social events, see them in class, and sometimes rate them on a scale of one to ten, one being “I know his last name” and ten being “I’ve dreamed of dating him since sixth grade.”
Then there are girls who are “best friends” with boys and think most girls are flighty airheads.
I was somewhere in between. I had boundaries with my guy friends all throughout middle school and high school, but I also knew lots of airheads, or thought I did. My excuse was that I grew up with two older brothers and could “relate” better to males. Actually, I felt more comfortable with boys because they didn’t pry into my thoughts and feelings. We didn’t have a relationship at all and I avoided real relationships with girls because I felt vulnerable to their uncanny insight and sensitivity.
While I tended to keep my friendships on the surface with both sexes, a lot of girls aren’t afraid to jump right in with either. Neither situation is ideal. Stereotypes are born from a thread of truth.
There’s a quote from the movie When Harry Met Sally that I’ve always appreciated: “…men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.”
In most cases, I would interpret this as, “Men and women can’t be best friends because coed relationships require a balance between physical and emotional intimacy.” It’s different with girl friends. When I went to college, I had to relearn the concept of friendship with my fellow sisters in Christ because I had a “friendship void.” Humans need relationships. We were created for them. But just like I had to learn to appreciate other women, it is also necessary to appreciate the God-made boundaries between single men and women. In another entry, I will describe the boundaries I felt when Matthew and I were friends.
You don’t want me for
I don’t mind.
You needn’t justify your personal
desires; your dislike for facial hair
or the way I actually look
into your eyes.
Don’t think I worry that
you do not find me unattractive.
I don’t care.
I do not call you beautiful
because I want you.
I think you pretty
because you are.
The first question we were asked when I introduced Matthew to someone new was, “How did you two meet?” When I answered, they would “aww” and smile and sigh. For a lot of people, the most romantic part of a relationship is the beginning. They feed on stories of indifference turned to affection and then commitment. They wonder how the “magic” happened to their friends and where can they find some?
This theme is played on in countless novels, movies, and magazines. In fact, most media stop the story right after the first kiss. Girl meets strange boy. Girl and boy become friends. Girl and boy discover they have fallen in love. Sometimes, girl and boy get married. The story isn’t how the girl and boy work through difficulties and grow together as people, it’s how the girl and boy discover love at all.
I felt like everytime I was asked how I met Matthew, I was marking myself on some spreadsheet titled: “Ways to find your significant other.” For most of my peers, the options were the same: school, church, work, friends . . . All of the couples I know met this way. But I know even more single people who go to the same places and haven’t met anyone. Or, they meet someone, but it doesn’t work out.
But what about the “magic?” There must have been something different about Matthew on that day, something to show me that this was “the one.”
To be honest, there wasn’t any magic when I met Matthew. I thought he was nice. I didn’t think anything else about him for about five months because I was dating someone. I had no way of knowing that the dark haired boy I talked philosophy with on Tuesday nights was my future husband, just like I had no idea that the boy I went ice skating with and took choir with would not be. The magic came later, after we were a couple. When we looked back onto how we met, that day seemed to stand out more than it had before. We remembered it differently. We made it special.
I think what is truly magical about meeting Matthew, is that out of all the people I met at church and in school, he is the one that became a story. At the risk of taking all the joy out of love-stories and sounding completely un-romantic: Matthew was just one of many until I chose to date him. I had several “crushes.” There were things about him that I just didn’t like. But we dated, and we kept dating. We dated purposefully and searchingly. We asked ourselves, “Will this work?” We fought. Eventually, it became apparent that we had something “special” and we were committed to making it last.
I could say to be patient, there is someone out there, wait for “the one”, but that would be a lie and would not help. I don’t know if there is someone for everyone. I do know that there are a lot of people in the world, and probably quite a few of them would get along very well with quite a few others. The possibilities for love are endless. It really is all about what you want.