Can't I have my cake...?
October 23, 2009 10:17 PM   Subscribe

Would it even be possible to pursue a friendship, or a good idea, for that matter?

So my dog had to go to a specialist, so I took her to the hospital at the university where I am a student (grad). The resident that took care of my dog was amazing, and he really intrigues me as a person. He is 37, and I am 35. Here's my dilemma. I am in a relationship, and very happy with my partner. But I can't deny that I am attracted to this guy. I would very much like to be friends, but I don't know 1) if he is interested in that and 2) if guys at that age are interesting in even having female friends (who knows if it would be something else down the road a piece...).

I am completely clueless as to when guys are hitting on me, and there were a couple of instances that make me think that he was, but they are also fairly ambiguous. The first was when I was leaving after the consultation. I shook his hand, and he said that where he is from, it is rude to shake hands goodbye, and better to hug and give a kiss on each cheek. Culturally true, but I wasn't sure if he did that with all of his clients. So...maybe, maybe not.

The second was when I was visiting my dog. He was taking her back to her kennel, and he apologized for not being able to hug or shake my hand. In general, he is really touchy and flirty with me, which may just be his personality.

The other thing (and again, I realize that I may be totally overthinking, so please be kind), was that when he called me to update me on my dog, he called from his personal cell phone. Usually these calls are made on a hospital phone, and the number is scrambled.

So is there a way I can suggest friendship? Is it a bad idea? Guys, are you ok with your SO having male friends? Is it better to let sleeping dogs lie? Should I friend him on Facebook or something? Or am I just overthinking the whole thing? Again, I realize that this may be totally one sided. Any thoughts? Throwaway if needed is Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do you want to be this guy's friend, or do you want to sleep with him? Not that the two are mutually exclusive, but if you're in a relationship, you should probably avoid friendships with guys you want to sleep with.
posted by lunasol at 10:20 PM on October 23, 2009 [6 favorites]

Guys, are you ok with your SO having male friends?

I think it's great when she has male friends. But -- not when they are "friends" who are really thinking that "who knows if it would be something else down the road a piece."

Meaning, once you have a "I wanna get in his/her pants" idea in your head, it's not so much a friendship as it is a flirtation.
posted by Forktine at 10:23 PM on October 23, 2009 [4 favorites]

Seconding lunasol. It's reasonable for adults to have opposite sex friends, but this is asking for trouble. Also, even though you claim you're happy, you may want to examine your relationship anyway.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:23 PM on October 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

If he is flirting with you, like actually flirting, and you respond in a flirty way only to be like "oh hey I have a boyfriend but I'd really like to be friends" that's going to seem sort of uncool. I think men and women can have great lasting serious friendships, but from what you say you're unclear on your own motives and that would, in my opinion, mean that it's a muddled thing to sort of start slopping on to someone else. So I'd leave it for now, personally.
posted by jessamyn at 10:28 PM on October 23, 2009 [3 favorites]

Argh. I don't mean to be harsh. But if the reason you're so interested in being friends with this guy is the attraction you have to him (in other words you wouldn't be nearly as interested in being friends with him if you found him unattractive), then you give a bad name to people in relationships who want to be friends with the opposite sex. I mean, it sounds like you want to do a little emotional cheating. In cases where I've been jealous of SOs having friends of the opposite sex, it's the idea that it could be this sort of scenario that made me feel that way.
posted by Ashley801 at 10:28 PM on October 23, 2009

I would very much like to be friends... (who knows if it would be something else down the road a piece...).

You're attracted to this guy, you've said that plainly here and I think you need to pretty much own that if you continue to be in touch with him, because otherwise you're going to send obnoxiously mixed signals and probably won't end up getting a genuine friend or an exciting affair out of the whole mess.
posted by hermitosis at 11:03 PM on October 23, 2009

Are you really happy with your partner? Because it sounds like you are lining up Plan B. You sound like a high schooler: He called me from his personal phone! Does he like me?!

How would you feel if your partner was interacting with someone like this? Maybe it's fine with you guys, but have you told your partner about this guy?

There are red flags all over this. If you want to pursue a relationship, end things with your partner first.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:19 PM on October 23, 2009 [3 favorites]

"In my culture" blah blah blah dude was totally hitting on you. I don't think his intentions are all that ambiguous from your account.

Do you think he would have kissed you had your SO been present? Would you have participated if you weren't attracted to him?

It's okay to be conflicted about how you feel toward him, but that's a good sign that it's best not to pursue this if you wish to maintain a monogamous relationship with your current SO.

Guys, are you ok with your SO having male friends?

Generally, I'm fine with my SO being friends with my "competition" when it's a relationship that was established before I was in the picture. New friends? Rightly or wrongly, they get a little more scrutiny.
posted by scatter gather at 11:21 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

As a guy who admits to being a little insecure about this sort of thing, I would say I'd be comfortable with the situation if (and ONLY if) I was confident there was zero attraction there.

Guys generally err on the side of being overly cautious when it comes to trying to figure out if their gf is attracted to another guy and thus, if I had even a whiff of attraction there (maybe based on the way you spoke about him), I'd probably say something along the lines of he is hitting on you and to not be friends with him.

Now if I found out he hugged/kissed you that's a completely different story. I would be pissed/suspicious of you and demand to go with you next time you encountered him and if he was stupid enough to try that shit in front of me he'd be lucky that he's conveniently at the hospital and someone would be able to tend to the grievous injuries I would inflict.

But that's me...I'm not from a culture where they greet/say goodbye like that. And frankly I don't give a shit if he is.

Also, I'd just like to second the fact that you are emotionally cheating here if you pursue a friendship for the purpose of what sounds like keeping him in your back pocket in case you tire of your current relationship. If I knew what was going through your head and I was your bf we'd be having a long talk right now about where you saw this relationship going and trust between us.

Just some things to consider...

Remember, if you have to ask whether its a bad idea, it probably is.
posted by Elminster24 at 11:27 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you're happy with your partner don't invite trouble into your relationship. Why start a "friendship" on the off chance you might bone later? If you want to ditch your current partner or have an open relationship, then fine. Otherwise, you shouldn't be lining up the next guy.

It doesn't matter if he's interested. What matters is whether you plan to be faithful to your partner.
posted by 26.2 at 12:12 AM on October 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

From your description, it doesn't sound like you are being honest with yourself.

You don't want a buddy, you want to spend time with an attractive man who flirts with and flatters you. That is not a platonic friendship and it doesn't sound in any way like you are looking for one.

That said, if you want to bone this guy, go for it. But, you should probably break things off with your current boyfriend first.
posted by paperzach at 1:06 AM on October 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Your "down the road a piece" parenthetical makes it sound like you're planning to dump your SO anyhow. You should probably do that first, sort out your affairs, and figure out what you really want in a male friend vs. a relationship with a new guy.

FWIW, age makes no difference in what sorts of friends men and women want, but maturity does.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:50 AM on October 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Comes across like maybe you want the thrill of flirtation with this guy. Nothing wrong with that when you're in a relationship, but only you know if it's benign and whether you're secure enough to do it without damaging what you have with your partner.
posted by Not Supplied at 2:00 AM on October 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Possible? Yes. Its honest and workable only in an 'ethical slut' sort of mindset, I think. Can you enjoy sexual energy for what it is without doing anything about it?

For example, take me and my friend Chris. Mmmm, Chris. :) We have an amazing connection and would probably blow the roof off if we had sex. But we're both in committed relationships and have been VERY careful to set and keep some ground rules. We've become excellent friends, enjoy the random tingle of connection, and when we hang out in a group of our mutual friends I feel a bit privileged to be the person that he's complaining about his cold to!
posted by By The Grace of God at 2:37 AM on October 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

You want to cheat. You have practically cheated mentally. Now you are looking for people to justify what you are about to do for you.
posted by ChabonJabon at 4:13 AM on October 24, 2009 [4 favorites]

Guys, are you ok with your SO having male friends?

Why not? We belong with each other, not to each other.

She can have as many friends as she wants. They only come in two versions. Who the hell am I to pre-rule out 1/2 of them based on my insecurities?

(And you know what else? If she did find someone 'better', she'd have found someone better! It's hard for me to believe that there's anyone out there better than me, but damn, if there were, I'd probably run off with him and I'm a guy! )

Love's a funny thing. I don't believe in 'the one' and I don't believe in using love to limit the lives of other people. My fondest desire for my mate is that she be happy, and if she's happier with someone else, that's the way it goes.
posted by FauxScot at 4:24 AM on October 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

I can't deny that I am attracted to this guy.

You don't have to deny it. You also don't have to act on it--which is what persuing a friendship with him would be at this point. While you're in a relationship and while the reason you want to be friends is that you are attracted to the person, you should not be seeking out this type of friendship. If either of those factors change, go for it.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:15 AM on October 24, 2009

Depends, are you the kind of person who can keep it in your pants despite the attraction and some alone time?

Some people are. Some people can flirt and get drunk and smoke and have fun and it's like they have a chastity belt made of iron.

Some people really can't handle a platonic AND flirtatious relationship, and if they get the chance they'll end up in bed.

If you're the first type--really and truly--then go ahead and be friends with this guy. Make sure you mention your partner. See if he's still interested in being friends after that.

Probably a good idea to hang out with him in a group in the future.
posted by kathrineg at 6:45 AM on October 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

And make sure you don't do anything to risk your relationship for a guy who sleeps with everything that moves. I've seen long-term things break up over a New Love!! who wanders off a week later. It's really very sad. Keep that in mind in the future if things progress.
posted by kathrineg at 6:50 AM on October 24, 2009

One part of you is trying to kid another part of you about your intentions.

I am ok with an SO having male friends, but not male friends they are attracted to and obviously have issues with.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:18 AM on October 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

follow-up frm the OP
Thanks for all the responses. I guess I didn't articulate myself well. I do not want to cheat, and I do not feel that I am emotionally cheating. "Down the road a piece" reflects the way I view the world. One never knows if they'll even wake up the next morning, so it was kind of just a passing thought. Never say never sort of thing. I just probably should have left it out. (I probably didn't say that well, either.) So I am not "lining someone up". Even though I am taken, it never hurts to appreciate the pretty things around us. Everyone does (people look at pretty things).

I find this guy fascinating as a person, really. He is in a field that I am going in to. He has a ridiculous resume of accomplishments. So the fact that he is cute just adds to it, but really, it is that he seems to have so many qualities that I look for in people that I want as friends. And he would have time to pick up a game of racquetball now and then (my SO doesn't like to play, and my girl friends don't play either-I already asked).

I am 100% committed to my partner, and he knows that. I guess what I was getting at is, on the guy's side, would it be fair or reasonable want to be just friends? Or is that like having a sports car in your driveway that you can't drive? (that analogy provided by one of my guy friends-not in a relationship-but full o wisdom). I have one guy friend (who is absolutely HOT), married, and he can only come and hang out with his friends (male and female) when his wife is out of town, because of the raging jealousy she has.

I would want to present the friends-only option to this guy, if possible. If it was not fair of me to do so because it might lead him on, then I wouldn't. So for that reason I was trying to figure out if he was indeed hitting on me.

Does this help clarify at all?
posted by jessamyn at 9:16 AM on October 24, 2009

I am 100% committed to my partner, and he knows that. I guess what I was getting at is, on the guy's side, would it be fair or reasonable want to be just friends?

If he loves you so much that he can't handle a platonic relationship with you, that's his business and he will start to decline your invites. Don't overthink this. Just ask him for a game of racquetball, tell him your partner doesn't play, and keep it platonic. No worries.
posted by kathrineg at 9:44 AM on October 24, 2009

Take it from someone who has been there, you are seriously trying to justify your non-platonic desire for this dude, and you are kidding yourself. Ask yourself, if you were in a room alone with this guy. Would you think about kissing him? What if he kissed you? What would you do?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 10:03 AM on October 24, 2009 [3 favorites]

These two things seem inconsistent:

1. The resident that took care of my dog was amazing, and he really intrigues me as a person. He is 37, and I am 35. Here's my dilemma. I am in a relationship, and very happy with my partner. But I can't deny that I am attracted to this guy.

2. I am 100% committed to my partner, and he knows that.

Have you/are you willing to tell your partner everything you told us in your posting? If not -- then you're sneaking around on your partner and you're not 100% committed to him.

By my lights, trying to figure out a way to get a guy you are attracted to and very intrigued by, into your life when you have a partner, signals a less than 100% commitment to your partner. Sorry.
posted by jayder at 10:08 AM on October 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

I have one guy friend (who is absolutely HOT), married, and he can only come and hang out with his friends (male and female) when his wife is out of town, because of the raging jealousy she has.

Given your description of him as "absolutely HOT," I suspect the more accurate way to put it is "... because of the crystalline realism she has."
posted by jayder at 10:10 AM on October 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

Jayder hits the nail on the head.

You can claim you are 100% committed and would never do anything all you like but your actions speak louder than words. The real litmus test is if you are willing to have your boyfriend read this thread and get his opinion on it. If he's cool with the idea then sure, go for it. If you aren't willing to share this with him, then your intentions clearly aren't 100% innocent and you need to accept that despite how much you want to justify your thoughts/actions.

Its OK to be attracted/intrigued to someone--nobody here is saying it isn't. What we all take issue with is the fact that your motivation to get closer to this person is in no small part due to your attraction--not just because he's a cool person to be friends with.

I get what you're saying about "who knows what twists life will take" and that's fair. But there's a difference between wondering "what if", and taking action to get closer to him in case life gives you an opportunity to hook up with him.
posted by Elminster24 at 3:08 PM on October 24, 2009 [2 favorites]

The same thing that makes you really really really want to be friends with him also makes you want to have sex with him. You find him attractive in all possible ways. This would be fine if he were a gender to which you are not attracted, but this isn't the case. So don't "play ball."
posted by Maias at 7:47 PM on October 24, 2009

I'd also like to point out that the title of this question, "Can't I have my cake...?" is very illuminating as to your true desires. So I'll reiterate--stop trying to justify, avoid the bad situation and just move on.
posted by Elminster24 at 8:51 PM on October 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Would it even be possible to pursue a friendship, or a good idea, for that matter?

Possible? Yes. Good idea? No, not at all, not even a little bit. There are many good responses above that explain why. I understand why you would want to befriend this fellow, but since you belong to the never say never school of thinking, if this guy is meant to be in your life, it will happen organically. So, be flattered by his flirting, and let it go for now, because no one has ever successfully been able to have their cake and eat it, too. Trust.
posted by katemcd at 9:01 PM on October 24, 2009

Ask your dog to scope things out with the guy next time he visits. I've always been partial to that kind of strategy. Okay, maybe it wouldn't quite work with a dog.

I like the advice given earlier about thinking how you'd act and feel around him if you were with your SO. Another way to approach it is, how would you feel if you found the doc was in his own relationship, and how would you feel if you met her? Would you feel like, "Oh, he's with someone he's happy with, good for him!" or would there be a strong tinge of disappointment even if you never had any overt desire to go out with him?

If it's the latter, that aspect might constantly be in any platonic friendship you'd have, and it would probably only mess with your head down the road. Which isn't to say that feeling won't go away over time, but I guess it's hard to know up front.

And really, his being "cute" shouldn't matter at all. If I were with someone and found a potential female friend, I can't imagine myself going, "We have a lot in common... and she's easy on the eyes to boot," unless I were eager to partake in a wacky made-for-TV love triangle.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:58 AM on October 25, 2009

I don't think you can be friends with someone you have a crush on. And you CLEARLY do on this guy. If you want to keep your relationship, I'd advise to avoid the guy entirely unless you break up. I can smell the hormones going on with you through the freaking Internet here, so I don't think there's any way this is going to stay totally platonic right now if you tried.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:00 PM on October 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

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