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March 11

The Platonic Shoulder Guy Friend

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:25 am

The Predicament of the Week from June 1, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

Females confuse me. Sure, I know it’s a two-way street — we confuse females, and you in turn confuse us. It just seems that lately, you’re all out to win some “let’s confuse Brad” contest. Here’s the deal: I liked this girl named Tina, and I was planning to ask her out. A friend of mine opened his big stupid mouth the day I was planning to do it, and she got a mutual friend to approach me and tell me that dating me would be “awkward,” and that she feels like she’s known me too long to date me.

Well, fine. I’ve been fed that tired old line before, and I suppose I’m getting used to it.

Then Lynore came along.

It was right after Tina began avoiding me. Lynore likes this guy named Stu, and Stu had just broken a big date with her to go out with a girl one tenth as wonderful as Lynore. Lynore was, needless to say, angry and bitter. She needed someone to lean on, and that person was me. (I am always a shoulder in these kinds of situations…but what can I do?) It started out, you know, hug hug hug. Then, for no discernable reason, she started holding my hand. And she wouldn’t let it go. She started slipping her arm around me and snuggling up to me. This went on every night for a few nights. Then, the other night, she invited me to dinner at her house, and she BAKED ME A CAKE.

All of this, and she just wants to be my friend. I know I am falling for her, because she’s one of a select few people that make me feel wonderful. Her family loves me, including her little brother, who hates every single person alive, except me. Her dad loves me. Her mom, an extremely overprotective, paranoid woman, loves me, and has no problem with Lynore being alone with me. The thing is … she just wants to be my friend … and as the days go by, I’m falling more deeply for her. In the meantime, Tina is still avoiding me, and I really want to salvage that friendship. Now I’ve seemingly lost Tina completely, and every time Lynore reaches for me, I’m finding it more painful to hold her, knowing that I can’t have her as more than a friend. Why do girls do things like bake a cake for a guy they just want to be friends with ? And why do they bake him a cake and hold his hand everywhere they go? Any answers? Gosh, what do I do? I’m fast losing hope and patience …

— Brad, the Platonic Shoulder Guy Friend

Dear Shoulder Guy,

The one thing I like about Lynore is that she makes my explanatory metaphors so easy: she wants to bake her cake and eat it too. You guys are not “Friends.” You are her Snackwell Boyfriend. You satisfy a craving — with 30% fewer issues and risks! She gets to go through the motions, run through the girlfriend recipe with someone else — someone safe, someone sturdy, someone who is not going to dis her like that bad Stu … because he is not her boyfriend! See? But you know the problem with Snackwells (am I going to get in trouble now like Oprah did with the beef industry? Cool.): “30% less fat,” say, so you eat 60% more … at which point you might as well just have had a couple of really good Mint Milanos and called it a night. So yeah, you thought you kind of liked this handy shouldery huggy cakey thing, so you kept getting your reduced-commitment fix. And this kind of thing is not inherently against Breakup Girl rules — but you both have to know you want the same thing. You, however, say that it’s starting to feel pretty icky. Which is not okay with Breakup Girl. And as far as I’m concerned, you don’t want this weirdness to spoil any future potential … for whatever.

So. Time for a gentle ultimatum. As in: “I’m glad I could be there for you when bad Stu made a bad move, but now you’re really asking me for more than I can give as a Friend. If you want to be friends, then let’s do stuff friends do, like not hold hands — though I’m not ruling out the occasional Bundt cake. If you want to turn up the heat, just keep doing what you’re doing, and I’ll be right there with you.” Or, if you wish to communicate through metaphor, ask her to bake you something with a file in it, ’cause you need out.

Breakup Girl

P.S. Oh, and about Tina: give her time. Campaigning to be Just Friends again will just send the opposite message.

P.P.S. And just so you know, Shoulder Boy, there will be someone out there — if not one of these cookies — with whom you strike the right balance. Just listen to what Julie wrote in response to The Shadow Knows’ dilemma last week: “I happen to LIKE “friend-boys” and my problem is that I don’t know enough of them. I won’t even DATE a guy who can’t approach me as a friend first, then as a woman. Boyfriends are a dime a dozen, but friend-boys are priceless. I wish The Shadow Knows lived in Orlando.”


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