I recently moved to a new city -- a victim of the crappy economy -- and convinced myself that I had always wanted to go to grad school. Despite my opposition to uprooting and taking on massive amounts of debt I find myself enjoying life here and making new friends. But I'm having a hard time meeting anyone I want to date.
When I first moved here, I connected with a good friend of the family who lives nearby. We started hanging out and talking regularly, telling each other a great deal about our lives. I was recently out of a short but intense relationship, dealing with living in a new city, and feeling generally sort of lost. He's everything I think I'm looking for -- smart, funny, educated, interesting, employed, charming. Even his family is great. He's several years older than me, and it is clear that we want many of the same things in life and in a partner. We're at the age when everyone seems to be married, and it seems ever harder (especially in this town) to find someone who isn't a total self-absorbed loser.
The problem is that he is completely the opposite of my "type." I've dated many men who aren't in my tall-dark-handsome range, but never one who is the exact definition of what I'm not attracted to.
I know he's crazy about me, and that this attraction problem is my issue and not his. There's a part of me that thinks I should just kiss him to see if there's any spark, if maybe with my eyes closed I can get over the attraction thing. (By the way, he's not a total troll, but I just don't want to rip his clothes off. Or even necessarily see him less than fully dressed.) I'm afraid that if I try anything, it will backfire: I won't feel anything and I'll ruin our friendship, which I very much enjoy, not to mention hurt him. I'm also afraid that because he is a family friend it could make future socializing very awkward for us and our families (or, alternatively, if we're meant to be, our families would be thrilled, which is important to both of us). At the same time, I feel as though I should be above petty attraction and pursue it because I really want to find The One, and understand that I may have to make some major compromises to have the relationship I'm looking for (somehow I thought compromising involved having cats instead of dogs, or even one kid instead of two).
Is physical attraction something a person can compromise on? Is it worth risking a great friendship to see if he can "grow on" me? Should I be honest with him about why I didn't return the advance he made? (I told him I wasn't over my old boyfriend, new in town, confused, making a huge mistake, etc.)
Dear Frog Kisser,
Being in a new city, feeling let down by the economy, not really having planned to go back to school, wanting to get on with adult life, longing for romance, you might be tempted to skew the facts in the direction of wish fulfillment. But while you can't expect to get everything you want out of a partner, you have to start with some basic attraction and spark. You're clear that it's not there. Don't kid yourself. This guy can be a wonderful friend. Keep it that way.
You don't have to tell him outright that you're not attracted to him in that way. Just impress on him that you value his friendship and push away his hands. He'll get the picture, I think. Even if he doesn't -- if he presses you for further explanation or seems to expect this friendship to develop into more -- you don't have to get into the details. Just tell him that you need him as a friend, not as a boyfriend. Ask him for his assurance that he will be your devoted friend, and keep it that way.
I'm not exactly tall, dark and handsome either. So I've been in his position. Without spelling it out that I don't have a snowball's chance in hell, some women I've been attracted to over the years have eventually become lifelong friends. It helps to use some delicacy and tact in these things. It will pay off in the long run. He'll be happy to come to your wedding.
Treasure the friendship. And keep looking.
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