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Happy Tuesday, peeps!
Some time ago, during the Intellectual Badass Dating campaign, we got into a discussion about rejection. Rejection is a part of dating that EVERYONE dreads. Obviously, being rejected isn’t an especially joyous experience. But rejecting others isn’t so fun either, and people often forget this fact. But if rejecting others was so easy, there would be far fewer disappearing acts, fade-aways, dumb excuses, proclamations of “it’s not you, it’s me,” and other absurd ways people try to let others down easy. Unfortunately, in many cases, letting someone down easy makes the rejection far worse.
And then there’s the LBF or “Let’s Be Friends.” When two people get along but don’t feel that physical attraction, friendship is an option. And in dating, sometimes you will meet people with whom you could actually envision being friends. I’ve had many male friends where things started out with potential interest on one or both of our parts, but never developed beyond that. However, using the LBF ruse during rejection is usually a bad idea. Why is this?
In most cases, people who LBF don’t really want to be friends. They want to let the other person down easy by showing them that they really do like them. Since more often than not it’s women who employ the LBF, I will stick with that in my examples. Often, when a woman pulls the LBF, it’s because she feels some sort of chemistry with the guy, but not physical/sexual chemistry. She likes him, but doesn’t feel the mojo. She wants to feel the mojo because he’s a great guy. But she doesn’t. She may be hoping to let the guy down easy; but more often she, at that moment, really believes that she could be friends with him. And, in theory, she’s right. But in reality, it probably will never happen. Why?
Friendship needs a reason. People become friends for the same reason they get into relationships – that person fulfills a need. Even though you could imagine being friends with this person you just went out with, you probably don’t need that person as a friend. And you can’t base a friendship on guilt or trying to make someone feel less rejected.
Friendship only works when both people agree. If one person wants more than friendship, it’s not friendship, even if there’s nothing physical happening.
Friendship works better when it’s convenient. While it’s damned tricky to downshift into friendship after dating someone, it’s far less tricky to do so with someone you’ve only had a date or two with. After all, significant feelings haven’t really developed yet. But to make this transition, it works better when it’s convenient to be friends, such as when you’re already acquainted through your social circles.
Most of the time, being friends doesn’t work because the above criteria aren’t met. As someone who has made the LBF work many times, it worked because both he and I found value in having each other in our lives, we were both able to transition into friendship mode, and we went to school together or had some other basis to our relationship other than having gone on a date.
One time I can recall when it did NOT work was when this particular guy could not accept just friendship with me. He’d hung out with me hoping I would develop feelings for him. I didn’t. He made his exit. Another example was a guy I met online – we agreed on and attempted a friendship, but the lack of knowing him outside a dating context made it hard to sustain.
Also, I did have a man I REALLY liked pull the LBF on me after dating a few weeks. He’d lost interest. We didn’t hang out for a while, but eventually we did become friends. This worked because I let go of my feelings for him, and we went to school together and shared mutual friends.
SO – unless you have a very strong reason to think that a real friendship will work, DON’T use the LBF. It only confuses people. Instead, use the guidelines I discuss in Changing Your Game and It’s Not Him, It’s YOU to offer a straightforward but kind rejection.