Oh, the existential dread of those six little words: “I love you… as a friend.” It’s never what you want to hear from the man who’s engaged every romantic thought in your brain, but true love is a blessing in any form — even friendship. If he sincerely cares for you, the friend zone can be a great place to wind up — here’s why:
You ultimately realize that he doesn’t want to hurt you. He’s never made a flirtatious overture in the time you’ve known him, and when you bring it up, he gently dissuades you. He’s wise enough to recognize a mismatch between what he’s able to offer a partner romantically and what you need from a boyfriend. He’s not giving you the runaround. If he were, he’d probably sleep with you, then deliver the “let’s be buds” speech. Instead, he’s choosing not to manipulate your strong emotions for personal gain. Good man.
He doesn’t just want to get in your pants. When the two of you spend time together, you can discuss everything from the mundane to the fantastical without constantly alluding to sex. Because you’re initially crushing on him, his chivalrous disinclination to bed you may drive you nuts, but you’ll realize eventually that being valued as a friend is much better than being used as a sex object.
You see a side of him you never would if he was trying to impress you romantically. Even the most sincere guy will turn on the charm if he views a woman as a prospective girlfriend. You see right through that debonair act. (And tease him without mercy when he shows it while you’re around.) Since he’s not trying to impress you, he can be his most authentic self — and give you insight into the male brain in the process.
He heightens your expectations for how a man should treat you. Unrequited desire is rough, but you love how this dude conducts himself with you. You love that you can relax with him, tell him anything, count on him for support and empathy. You’ll subtly begin to seek those qualities in the men you date and you won’t accept less.
You can turn to him for an honest male perspective. We know men’s worldview isn’t inherently opposite to women’s. It’s true that mental processes defy gender alignment, but let’s face it: by cultural inheritance, guys and gals often think differently from one another. You want someone in your life to give you an insider’s take on those baffling contrasts.
You learn that you can survive the disappointment of not getting what you want. Your ego took a bruising when he declined anything beyond the platonic, but you decided to stick it out and remain close. Not only have you learned that having a solid male friend has great benefits, you’ve learned that you have the emotional strength to withstand disappointment. This realization will give new dimension to all your future romances and will be one of the most useful tools in your quest for love.
You never have to lose him to a breakup. After a relationship ends, the possibility for friendship often ranges between unlikely and impossible. A person with whom you shared deep intimacy ceases to be in your life, and it hurts like hell. But over the years, you and Mr. Just Good Friends have developed a connection that will probably outlast most of your romantic couplings.
You have empathy for guys you want to be “just friends” with because you’ve experienced their side of things. You have compassion for that sweet guy you have no desire to date. He’ll never be a loser or a sucker to you. Your own struggle with accepting un-reciprocated romantic interest inspires kindness for anyone dealing with those circumstances.
It’s that much sweeter when you do find your romantic connection. Maybe you thought no one else would ever make you feel as good as the man who set you gently but firmly in the friend zone. But life has a way of delivering amazing surprises, and one of these days, you’ll meet your match. When your soul finds its mate, your boy best pal will be your number one cheerleader. Finally, you’ll realize how lucky you were that he stayed by your side rather than sweeping you off your feet.
You know he has your back. True friendship is a sacred trust. With no ulterior motive, he chooses to be in your life. He supports you, and although you wanted something quite different in the beginning, it’s now hard to imagine where you’d be without him. Friendship is not a dirty word.
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