Answering a “Shuck Me Some Wisdom” Request!
Dear Telling Dad,
I am a twenty-something year old woman living in the south. I think I have feelings for one of my best guy friends, but I can’t tell if it is because I ACTUALLY have feelings for him or if it is because I have dated a whole bunch of jerks and he is a genuinely nice, stand-up, good hearted, honest, handsome guy. Let’s face it, those are hard to come by and all southern girls are looking for it (and probably all girls in general). SO, do I really like him, or is he just the embodiment of what we are all looking for and since I have been single for far too long I am just a bit confused??
Mixed Up In Memphis
A: Dear Mixed Up In Memphis,
First, let me make sure I have all of your friend’s benefits straight:
– He’s nice
– He’s able to stand up
– He’s good-hearted
– He’s honest
– He’s handsome
– He’s the embodiment of what every girl in the south is looking for.
Second, allow me to assess your own situation:
– You think you have feelings for him
– You’re single
– You have a history of dating jerks.
Hmmm. I can totally see why you’re confused.
(By the way, it’s difficult to convey facial expressions in text but I totally just rolled my eyes in big giant saucer-like circles while accentuating the word ‘totally’)
The reason for such biting sarcasm is because this guy has probably been told his entire life that he’s a great guy, a great friend, and a great catch only to remain single as women such as yourself run around with jerks void of both appreciation and respect.
Taking myself back to my high school and collegiate days, I was just like this guy. You didn’t list his name so let’s just call him Scooter.
It sounds to me as though Scooter and I could be twins, aside from the whole handsome part. I was a total dork back then. Think…a zitty Napoleon Dynamite, but without the tater tots and bowstaff skills. If I can find some photos, I’ll show you just how accurate this description is.
I suppose my Ugly Duckling phase (which I hope to exit soon) is why your question strikes such a nerve with me. Up until my marriage, I was always the guy with a great personality and no dates. It started at summer camp at the age of nine and went straight up through college. Girls would say how much of a “catch” I was because I was so nice and so funny and so much fun, yet there I’d be, standing in bewilderment as they continued to date the jerks they swore they hated. Jerks they’d eventually complain to me about the next time they needed a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on.
I know it’s not universal, but I think the majority of teens and 20-somethings put far too much emphasis on looks. Granted, there has to be some level of attraction, but I’m not so sure the inner core of a person really matters to those with a sweet tooth for eye candy.
Fortunately for me, my wife Heather, who was a shade outside 21 when we first met at an airport, thought I was handsome. At least, that’s what she says. I think handsome is too strong a word. I’ll say, tolerable. My looks were tolerable. And it was my tolerant looks that bought me enough time to win her over with what really matters…the inside. And this is what you need to focus on.
It’s great that he’s handsome but I’d be more concerned with all the other benefits…the kindness, the honesty, the good heart. Looks fade over time, but a soul is forever.
Thank goodness my wife is one of those precious gems who realized this. For she still says she loves me, even as my hair migrates from my head to other parts of my body that have no business possessing sustainable follicles.
She still says she loves me, even though my six-pack has been replaced by the perception that my non-alcoholic self drank one too many of them.
And she still says she loves me, even as my bones, joints, and muscle fibers creak, groan, and complain whenever they sense movement.
She still says she loves me. Just as I am and just as I ever will be. THAT is what you need to pursue. And you won’t find it with a jerk.
So let’s break it down, shall we?
You say this Scooter guy is a handsome fellow. You say he’s wonderful inside and out. And you say he embodies what you and every other southern woman wants (screw the north, right? We just need someone to help us keep warm).
Even with all this, you still don’t know if you like him.
Trust me, Memphis. You do.
Maybe you aren’t swooning every time he walks by, or feeling nervous, warm, or flustered when he’s near, but you like him. To what extent remains to be seen.
Do you look forward to seeing him every day or is it just a pleasant occasion when it happens? Kind of like me and our mailman. I mean, I look forward to seeing him every day but I have no intention of ever asking him out.
Do you find yourself wanting to call him or hang out with him outside your shared circle of friends? Do you want to just grab him, throw him down, and smooch the bajeezus out of his adorably handsome southern charmed lips and face?
If you answered yes, then you don’t just like him. You really like him. You just might want to temper the aggressive smoochy part until you’re confident he won’t file charges. But if you answered no, then perhaps you’re still walking that fence that separates Friendville from Relationshipville. Sadly for some, once they abandon Friendville for a stint in Relationshipville, they’re never welcomed back.
This in mind, you need to ask yourself if it’s wise to even pursue a relationship at the risk of losing what you already have and enjoy. Bridging that chasm from boy friend to boyfriend is a monstrous leap often wrought with danger and mystery. On the plus side, it can also reward you with a lifetime of emotional and personal fulfillment.
If you’re worried about dating your “friend,” understand that most wonderful relationships are rooted first and foremost in friendship. I feel blessed by the fact that Heather isn’t just my wife, she’s also my best friend. And I don’t mean this in some corny Hallmark Card kind of way. I mean it more in a “there is no one, and I mean no one I’d rather watch football with, go to a basketball game with, take a walk with, hit the town with, laugh with, clown around with, or share life with than her” kind of way.
Take it from me. If your soulmate isn’t also your best friend, you’re missing out.
I can’t tell you whether or not Scooter is “The One,” and thankfully you didn’t ask me that. All you wanted to know is if you really did like him or if he just embodied everything you’re looking for. Quite honestly, it’s pure semantics. It’s one in the same. In fact, if you were to really sit down to think about it, you’d see that you answered your very own question. You didn’t even need me!
If Scooter is even half the catch you say he is, you’ll want to cast out that line, hook him, and reel him in before someone else does. If he indeed embodies everything a southern gal could wish for, he won’t stay in that pond for long. So get out there. Catch him, filet him, gut him, and put him on ice.
(Not the most romantic metaphor, but hey, I’m working with fish here).
Oh, Memphis, even you opt against pursuing a relationship, tell Scooter I said “Hello.”
I feel like I already know the guy.
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