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September 9, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Fixing Your Life (Because Ours Are Written Off)

Hi guys,

I have a very close female friend (i’m a straight male). a lot of people seem to think that we are romantically linked, but we really aren’t. i know it’s kind of an ultimate first world problem but is there anything i can do about this? what if other girls that i want to date steer clear of me because they think i’m taken?

help!

Finn

Hi Finn,

Look, you’re not wrong about it being a “first world problem”. There are other things that you’re being weird about too. But we’ll get to that later, when this column takes its inevitable weekly turn into paternalism.

In terms of your actual issue: hey, it’s not uncommon at all. I mean, most straight guys who are decent enough people to be friends with straight girls (or the galaxy of other pairings, but hey I’m on a word count here) will inevitably come up against acquaintances who get the wrong idea. Short answer: there’s not a lot you can do about it. I mean, you could go around and loudly exclaim in public that you’re not dating to anyone within earshot, but if anything that’s only going to arouse suspicion. Hey, use all the other, more subtle, social cues, like not holding hands or having sexual intercourse with that person, or setting your Facebook relationship status to ‘single’. This is the age of social research, after all.

But really, haven’t we kind of reached a point where it’s not a big deal? I’d say that 80 per cent of the people who ask you about it are just curious, and they really don’t care one way or the other. It’s a classic part of the human condition that we think other people are thinking about us all the time, when really they’re thinking about themselves. This is the age of self-absorption, after all.

As for the “other girls” that might be put off—hey, they might be. But is that really a concern? I mean, if this third party is really interested, it shouldn’t be all that difficult for them to work out that it’s purely platonic. And if it’s just a passing fancy, or a late-night romance, why would they ever have enough data points to get the wrong idea?

If it’s really inconveniencing you, there’s always the option of never talking to her again. Or you could make some other female friends—that way, if people get confused, they’ll just assume they’re your harem and leave it at that.

I guess what I’m saying is, I get that this is a mild bother. Hey, we’ve all been there! But I don’t see why it’s such a big deal. So, people get the wrong idea. That’ll happen. But on the other hand—congratulations, you have a female friend! Fuck yeah!

Let me know if you end up banging,

Hector

——

Hi Finn,

It’s a bit narrow to categorise friendships as being with people who theoretically you should be attracted to, or whatever. I see what you mean, though—I just had to set out that I was liberal.

I think you need to break all contact with this female friend of yours. How are you ever going to enter into a series of uncomfortable one-night stands and emotionally unsatisfying short-term liaisons if you’re too busy having a genuinely good time being close with someone that you aren’t sleeping with?

Exactly.

As Hector says, people are pretty self-involved. If you say people “reckon you’re romantically linked”, chances are what’s actually happened is that your flatmates have ribbed you about her once or twice and she’s shouted you food occasionally, such that the people at Burger Fuel think you’re together. Consider the possibility that you’re overreacting.

Sometimes, everyone thinks you’re interested in someone that you’re not. It’d be worse if she also thought you were keen on her. As long as the story is the same coming from both of you, you’re fine.

I don’t believe you that others will ‘steer clear’—everyone loves a challenge. If you’re interested in people who can’t be bothered undertaking any detective work to find out exactly whether you’re single or not, it sounds like you don’t need to bother, because they’re not interested. But look, if you’re that worried, get a T-shirt made.

Just remember, everybody here wants you.

Good luck, Finn.

Janet.

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