Am I naive about platonic friendships between men and women?
I was dating a guy for the last three months that I'll refer to as D. We were exclusive and saw each other every weekend. I liked him but I wasn't in love with him. I'll admit that part of the reason for staying in the relationship was that I was new to the area and enjoyed having a reason to get out of the house and having someone to do things with. I knew we didn't see eye to eye on things and he had certain habits that annoyed me but overall I was having fun and living in the moment.
A couple days ago we were talking on the phone and I mentioned that this weekend I'm helping a co-worker who coaches a kid's cross country team by volunteering at a meet his school is hosting. A few weeks ago, I also helped the same co-worker by volunteering at a 5k, because if he brought in enough volunteers it would raise money for the school.
Instead of saying it's great that you're helping out or anything like that, the first thing D asks is whether my co-workers wife was there, or if anyone else from work was invited. Basically he said he was concerned about me spending time with a male co-worker outside of work and that I should be careful because he could be hitting on me. I tried to explain that we're just work friends and that my co-worker's son was there at the 5k and these are public events. D says you never know and it always starts innocently but my co-worker could be thinking that it'll lead to something more. Oh, and this could damage my reputation at work because I'm spending time with a man outside of work. I asked if D would have a different opinion if it was a female co-worker and he said yes. He basically said that men always have an ulterior motive and I shouldn't ever spend time alone with another male and it's not possible to have a platonic male/female friendship.
In my opinion that was completely unreasonable and I was upset about the conversation. It's one thing if I was having a privtae dinner or something, but it just feels like D was twisting something that was supposed to be positive into something ugly. When I'd try to explain myself, D would say that the more I protested, then it seemed like maybe there actually was something to this story and I was attracted to my co-worker. It was annoying because it couldn't be farther from the truth.
When we ended the conversation a couple days ago I was upset the rest of the night and it really bothered me how we could have such different viewpoints. And then we were talking on the phone tonight and I had decided to just let it go but he brought up that he was sorry about the conversation about the night before and he decided that it was all right for me to go volunteer this weekend but that I should be careful and if my co-worker invites me to lunch or anything afterward that I should decline. That annoyed me because I felt like his apology wasn't sincere and he didn't understand what about the conversation made upset. We exchanged a few more words and then I impulsively said that I don't think we should see each other anymore.
I sort of regret it because once I said it I couldn't take it back. And I am going to miss spending time with D, even though I didn't think the relationship held long term potential. It still sucks breaking up with someone even when I initiated it.
Anyway, the point is, I'm curious whether you think D was right or I'm right, or a combination of both. To me, I see nothing wrong with agreeing to volunteer with a male co-worker. I don't think there was any malicious intent that my co-workers wife didn't happen to be there and that my co-worker didn't invite anyone else from work except me. I have an interest in running, which D knows. Am I being naive in not seeing that thinking there's something to be concerned about?
He's totally out of line. That's incredibly disgusting behavior in my opinion. It's natural to wonder the nature of a relationship, but that's handled by a simple "Hey, is there anything more happening between you two, past or present?" And when you get your answer, you accept it. The fact that he knows the guy is married, and would STILL go there, not only speaks toward how he thinks in general, (which is gross) but that he thinks that of YOU. In fact, a one-on-one dinner with a close male friend or even an ex (eek!!) is completely and entirely appropriate. Assuming communication is healthy and honest.
Agree, it's a bummer to not have someone to hang out with, but honestly, maybe getting rid of him will free you up to meet more reasonable people. But have to call you out on the fact that you agreed to be exclusive with someone you're clearly not emotionally invested in. You kinda used him didn't you? No Bueno, mi amiga.
Sorry for your loss, but also happy you got rid of some dead-weight, and weren't that emotionally invested. Apparently he seems to have been though - be on the lookout for a tantrum soon. Sounds like the type, and you totally set him up for it.
I agree with Tom. Guys and girls can be just friends and I think youre smart enough to see when something innocent starts to seem wrong and you can easily stop it from going anywhere. You're better out of a controlling relationship, but I think he sensed that you weren't all in on your relationship with him and hence his insecurity.
Violette, Very good point that his insecurity was likely fed by his sensing her detachment from the relationship.
Susie, I read this - "I was dating a guy for the last three months that I'll refer to as D. We were exclusive and saw each other every weekend. I liked him but I wasn't in love with him." As they *were* in a relationship and was responding from that place. I wholeheartedly agree that she (and he) are better off apart, but since she wasn't emotionally invested I doubt she'll be the one to do any weaning. Merely inconvenienced by not having a wingman (in boyfriend's clothing) to hang out with. RC - if I misread your relationship status, please illuminate.
Either way, I stand by my original opinion that this guy's behavior was gross, but I'd also add that I think RC's was, too. She was using someone who likely had feelings for her (and then got upset about his insecurities) and that's just no way to go about things! Since her post was a question directed toward women and men being friends, I tried to keep my answer focused there. Although, I definitely think RC could use a big slice of humble-pie with a side of soul-searching.
I’ve been meditating on this post most of today when I stumbled upon it early this morning. For me I “know” it’s possible for women and men to have a platonic friendship. It simply takes discipline, control and respect for the other.
I have noticed in my studies of human behavior, that culture plays a large role in discerning a platonic relationship. People themselves turn a platonic relationship into something more. It’s exactly like a kayak (don’t know if anyone is a kayaker here) It will float but it can flip over ridiculously easy if you don't control it, so you gotta practice.
In terms of platonic male to female relationships. We have to understand that each of us come from a very different gender culture. For males, it’s usually going to be from the aspect of a man’s world where we have a different language entirely amongst ourselves. For women vice versa. It’s when we forget that and cross boundaries that have not yet been outlined.
I recently found myself in such a position at my own work. I lack certain social skills such as flirting, but I love making folks laugh and I don’t discriminate between male or female. As a result of peoples “assumptions” and “cultural” familiarities to how I educated myself to behave in public. My simple joking around and making a female coworker laugh out loud made some folks think I was hitting on her. She didn't think that and nor I but people can’t see the full picture so are unable to know that I separate my work life, from my home life as well as school life and other aspects of it keeping distinctly different areas of my life separated so I can better maintain them.
That’s another thing you ought to be aware of. Individuals who haven’t taught themselves to have zero expectations of others will of course draw false conclusions as well as false expectations. Because unless your able to see the other aspects of that individuals life, your only making a judgment based off of the cover of a book so to say.
My main point is what D did to you is all the above. He started by automatically assuming with uninformed expectations that your co-worker had an ulterior motive. Probably never even had a 5-10min conversation with him did he? Even so 5-10min will only give you so much if you’re not trained to read people. Furthermore he crossed the boundaries that had not been set, which is understandable because that’s like getting angry at someone for stepping on a “hidden” mine…
As for what you said for staying in the relationship you sounded like that was a bad thing? Why? Isn’t any relationship where both parties benefit from the relationship? So you “benefited” by it because you were new to the area, you had someone to chill with and you got to get out of the house. He benefited too. If he became attached and misread the situation that’s unfortunate, because unless either of you openly declared a relationship beyond that of a platonic one then really you’re not fault because he chose to “assume” a false role. He assumed the false role the moment he told you what you should do as well as give his viewpoint of again only a quarter of a scene in your life.
Now on behalf of poor “D’s” defense… You did say you were dating him specifically. Now the funny thing about “dating” is it means exactly what it says. Dictionary.com has it as, (under verb #16) “to ascertain or fix the period or point in time of; assign a period or point in time to…” only plural amounts of time. Of course today we take it as searching for intimate relationships. But in reality I could say I’m going on a date with a few of my guys. My sound gay, and I won’t be able to say it with a straight face. But you get my point.
The very last thing I thought about today was sharing how I view relationships to maybe give you a different way in which to measure relationships. In my book there are only four relationship types. Family, Best-Friend, Friend and Acquaintances. Family is self-explanatory. Best-Friend is someone you would define as Wife or Girlfriend/Boyfriend. There’s only one. I don’t use gf because it’s a word that sounds like it can fluctuate with time and it sounds fake and unsure. I don’t look at my past intimate relationships with regret. I desire to learn from them and cherish the good within so I can ultimately give the knowledge of my experiences to possibly a future wife. If that is something that must occur lol. It’s healthier anyway to never hold grudges lol. Friends are those who I allow in my inner circle to the degree where I can learn from them and they from me. Acquaintances are everyone else I have to work beside or be around, non-personal relationships. You and D I would classify as Acquaintances… Might save you future difficulties in how to distinguish who is who.
Susie: Thanks for the response! I interpreted "exclusive" as that *having had* to come from a conversation that ended with metal agreement to be exclusive. I definitely could have misunderstood RC.
"It's time like this when we find out the value system of other people and decide if we want to spend more time with them." Absolutely agree, and will add that we also have tho opportunity to address our *own* behaviors, motives, actions, etc.
Keekay: Interesting and thoughtful post. It's incredibly unfortunate when so many of us live in cultures where people mistake kindness for flirtation. "It simply takes discipline, control and respect for the other." - Yep.
RC: Get back to us with your thoughts and where you're at with this!