NEXT LETTER >
Last week, Breakup Girl had the pleasure of attending the awards luncheon
for this year's winners of Glamour magazine's annual Top
Ten College Women competition (it's a scholarship competition, not a beauty
pageant!). Before presenting the honorees with their plaques, editor Bonnie
Fuller noted that years ago, when the winners had met John F. Kennedy, his
advice to them was: "Marry a politician."
Boy, have times changed.
Today, women are advised not to marry politicians.
And at this juncture, even friendship is not recommended. Not according to
the going definition, anyway. To wit:"What began as a friendship came to
include [intimate contact]" (see section I, C. 2, paragraph 5, of
Starr69). In Presidential parlance, "friendship" is: eye contact at
public events, minor banter in Panetta's office. That is, everything that
happens P.T. (Pre-Thong).
Say, with friends like that, who needs strangers?
But since you guys are, I'm sure, as obsessed with / sick of this matter as
Breakup Girl is, I'll turn the discussion over to stuff that actually
affects your lives, or at least Chandler and Monica's. To wit: How
do you make the leap ...
From Friends ... to Lovers?
So you've got this great friend. You do everything together: shop, hang,
talk, work out, talk about your lame love lives and NATO expansion. You know
each other's families; you take care of each other's plants. You fend off
friends' suggestions that you should be a couple, saying, "No way, that
would be too weird!"
But then, somehow, you realize, that what you really want to do ...
is the one thing you haven't done together.
So you (a) freak out, and (b) make a list. (1)
|- friendship as sturdy foundation for Relationship || - friendship crumbles under weight of
undeniable attraction, intense bond ||- can't
kiss friend, cooties!|
close-knit group of friends think we should be together ||- if something goes wrong, who gets the friends?|
|- It's fate. ||- I'm horny.|
Valid points, all. And here are a few more, from Denver psychotherapist Carolyn
Bushong: "Romances built on friendships can be deeper, stronger, and
in some cases more 'equal' than others, especially when they start off
mutually, with no one taking the role of pursuer or pursued. But, she says,
love that didn't start as lust also comes with a unique set of pitfalls and
second thoughts. Couples may be troubled not only by the high stakes of
gambling on a valuable friendship, but also by the feeling of having
"settled," she points out. "Especially when things aren't going
well, one person might wonder 'What if I never was all that attracted to him?
What if I was just comfortable...?'"
Ugh. So what are you going to do? Especially 'cause you can't ask your, uh,
friend for advice. That, of course, is where BG comes in:
"What flavor of friends are
Are you longtime pals from, like, before
you were old enough to date? (Pro: The "Mr./Ms. Right There All
Along" thing. Con: You've already bathed together.) Or are you more recent
friends who, for whatever reason (say, other boy./ girlfriends) have never had
the opportunity to upgrade? There's no one right way to proceed in either case;
I'm just trying to give you ways to calibrate your feelings. In the latter
scenario, for example, it's possible that you've become friends because
you're attracted to one another -- but you've been treading water for so long
that no one dares take the plunge.
"Is the crush enhancing the friendship -- or interfering with
I can say with complete certainty that YES, men and women can be just friends. But that doesn't mean you haven't
wondered "what if?" about practically everyone you know, and it
doesn't mean you don't develop crushes from time to time (hey, just about
anyone can start to look like The One when s/he is The One ... Who Calls). So:
does this crush add a flirty frisson to the friendship -- or, at this
point, does it actually take something away -- from both your rapport together
and the rest of your life? ... Like, you really DON'T want to hear about
his/her date last night. You can't enjoy the party when you're tracking your
"friend's" whereabouts. And, as a result, you're lukewarm about the
other hotties milling around.
Again, these situations do not present an absolute either/or, but: in the
first case, I'd say take your time. No rash moves. Enjoy the crush it while it
lusts. I mean lasts. It could even be permanent ... but sometimes that is
exactly what you have: Friendship Plus. 10% more fruit juice. You know?
So in the former case, you're getting your friend AND all that tingly
goodness. Fine. But in the latter, you're getting -- frankly -- neither. That's
why, in case #2, you really might want to take a chance take a chance take a
chickachancechance (reference both to ABBA and to the teeth-chattering,
stuttering fear that this prospect no doubt invokes. Don't worry, I'm still
- What to say to your "friend."
How you feel: "We would be perfect together. This is
incontrovertible fact. I will die if we can't be together, and also if I mess
this up. But hey, sport, no pressure."
What you say: "Um. Hi. Um. Hi. Hi. Oh, I said that. Um. Okay.
Hey, you know, I have to say,
I'vealwayswonderedwhatitwouldbelikeifyouandIwereyouknow <sotto voce>
morethanfriends." BG's point: no matter how strongly you feel, I recommend
that you bring this up as A conversation about A possibility.
Keep decisions, demands, and death out of it. Way less scary, for both of
What you say (alternate): "MMMMMWWWWWWHHHHHPPPFFFTTTTTTT."
That is: Sound of a big fat brave kiss (sorry, no RealAudio). The smooch
surprise is a completely viable approach. But no matter how strongly you feel,
I recommend that you bring this up: without tongue.
Also: If given the opportunity, find a way to squeeze in the point
that -- while you couldn't not ask -- it is also okay with you to remain
friends. (Unless it's not. See "Embarrassed as Heck," below).
1. Flat out rejection.
OWOWOWOW. Let's just get this one out of the way, shall we? IT COULD
HAPPEN. Important: state explicitly that since you would like to maintain the
friendship (if indeed you would), you duly accept the rejection and assert that
you will not pursue them or try to change their mind. You may not feel this
way, but this is your task. And they have your word. They are, after (before)
all, your friend. Things may feel weird at first, and I can't guarantee that
they'll ever be quite the same. But if you are/act kind and respectful and
dignified, hey, really, what else can you do?
2. "I need to think about it." Hell's bells! Worse,
perhaps, than Option 1. All you can do is: take his/her word for it. Let them
think. Don't try to earn or win or perform. Ask what they need; give it to
them. (Note: see-how-it-feels nooky does not count.) Then proceed to Option 1
3. Cue love theme. Yesssss! (Also, MMMMMWWWWWWHHHHHPPPFFFTTTTTTT.)
For all the "pros" described above, many happy Harrys and Sallys do
manage to keep their footing after making the leap from friends to lovers. In
fact, they say that while the presence of friendship is what makes the
transition rocky, it's also, ultimately, what pulls them through. Yay.
But I can't let you go without two big fat caveats:
> You can't just add romance and stir. It will not just be all the same
stuff as before, plus kissing. I can't predict exactly what new issues and
insights will come up between you; point is, don't be freaked when they do. No
matter how comfortable you feel with each other, this IS new territory for you
> You are still taking a chance. But when are you not? Look, just
like any other relationship that begins any other way, this may or may not work
out. And if it does not, you may not be able to distill your old friendship
back out, intact, from the fizzy new mixture. THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU MADE A
MISTAKE. Inspirational speech: Perhaps the friends -to-lovers evolution was
natural, powerful, irresistible, even inevitable -- just not, for whatever
reason, permanent. Call it an encounter with the worth-it chaos of life and
love, where feelings burst out of the words and labels with which we try to
contain them. Painful though the fallout may be, hey, whatever: better
passionate messiness than tepid, prudent restraint and lingering what-ifs.
Right? Look at it this way: you did not kill what otherwise would have been an
eternal friendship; perhaps you two always were, ultimately, more than
(1) Note: You are allowed to make lists. You are not allowed to make a
spreadsheet in Lewinsky 2.0 (USA Today, 9/22/98, page 7A).
NEXT LETTER >