Friendship is meaningless. There I said it. Now before you shoot one of your nasty emails, actually read this column to understand the context where this is true.
A young man in his 20s came up to me after a workshop I conducted. He had really made an effort to participate to learn about how attraction works, and he seemed troubled by something I had said. It was in the context of calling friendship meaningless when one person has affection for the other, but the other person does not return that affection. He was in a situation where he was spending every Saturday night with a female friend that he was in love with.
They would watch movies at home, and even hold hands, but when he tried to kiss her or talk about getting into a dating relationship, she would reject all his advances. She was a single mom and had no interest in dating anyone. All she wanted was to raise her kid, and spend time with friends, but not get involved with anyone. So, he continued to hang out with her every Saturday night, sometimes holding hands but nothing else waiting for the day she would change her mind. At the same time, there was a second girl in this story that was interested in dating him, however he could not see past his "movie buddy" to give the second girl a chance.
The guy is this story is wasting his time on a meaningless friendship. He wants a romantic relationship with a female friend that is sexually rejecting him. The second girl in this story is also wasting her time in a meaningless friendship waiting for a guy that does not value her enough to give her a chance at a deeper connection.
If either rejecter in this story had taken the chance with the person who loved them, they could be enjoying the benefits and happiness that can result from being in a loving relationship with someone that can know you like a friend, and feel you like a lover. However, many rejecters are reluctant to take the chance, often citing not wanting to lose the friendship. Herein lies the irony. You cannot lose something that does not exist. There is no friendship to lose, because once someone has feelings for the other, the friendship becomes a facade. It is not real, because the one in love with the friend is holding out, waiting for the other to change. Waiting for someone to change to like you enough to make the leap is not an acceptance of a friend, which is a requirement for friendship. If there was a friendship there originally, before the feelings of one person surfaced, then that friendship is now over. Romantic feelings negate the friendship.
Through my personal experience, as well as my practice as a relationship coach, I am very much convinced that constant exposure to a friend that you are in love with, that does not return that love, can be very emotionally damaging to the person who is on the receiving end of that sexual rejection. Constantly exposing yourself to regular sexual rejection from them same person helps establish a repeating behavior pattern where you will eventually end up associating having feelings for someone with the feelings of being rejected. This means that over time, you will have your attraction for someone triggered if they reject you and mistreat you, yet if someone that treats you well, or shows you positive romantic attentions, you will eventually train your emotional intelligence to get turned off by the very person that values you enough to take a relational risk with you.
This is why when someone sexually rejects you, it is important NOT to continue to spend time with that person under the guise of a friendship, in the hopes they will be open to it later. That constant exposure to being rejected sexually again and again, instead of seeking the attentions of someone new, runs the risk of become too familiar to you. If constant sexual rejection becomes too familiar to you, you could develop an unhealthy attachment that would forever forge you into pursuing people that don't actually like you, or would just use you. (A-ha moment anyone?) That same attachment would also turn you off from those individuals that are actually interested in having a legitimate loving relationship with you.
Staying in a friendship where you are constantly being sexually rejected is bad. It could make getting into a loving relationship in the future more challenging because you have trained yourself to respond to people that reject you, instead of responding to people that like you. The kind of friendship where this is going on is a bad friendship. If you have to choose between maintaining a bad friendship or having no friendship of any kind with the person you asked out and rejected you, then it is better to have no friendship at all. A bad friendship is a meaningless friendship.
Frank Kermit, ND NaturoTherapist