It wasn’t an idle question. It was a question where the answer could significantly change the course of a friendship. And a man’s life.
Ah, the pitfalls of dating in a small town. It was inevitable I suppose. A mention of a man. A gasp from a girlfriend. A shared look, and the question.
He has no idea how fortunate he is the answers did not overlap.
I often wonder if men comprehend just how much women talk about them to each other. There may not be names exchanged. More often monikers given that relate to profession or personality. The engineer. The rockstar. The PhD. But talk we do. Stories shared over a drink or dinner. And occasionally, a sudden flash of recognition. And while Fort Collins isn’t a tiny town, the dating pool after a certain age is not overly large. And the players will eventually be outed as such.
There comes a moment when you look at your friends differently; as competition. It’s an ugly reality. One that doesn’t leave you feeling full of warm, fuzzy thoughts about yourself. The easy thing to do is simply box it away like the horrible figurines that your maiden aunt keeps giving you for Christmas. And then you come to the ineluctable conclusion that real women don’t hide from the less than lovely parts of themselves.
Where does that conversation start? How do you balance your friendships and your dating needs? It’s a delicate tightrope to walk. And it requires custom crafting for each of the relationships you want to value. I, true to form, tend to be straightforward about it. I have a girl friend with whom I check in on Tinder conversations. I have a guy friend who asks me if I have my sights on a particular girl. Because the kinds of people who interest me also seem to interest them. And I value their friendships. So we’ve agreed to chat every now and again. To make sure it’s only the occasional awkward conversation instead of the extremely awkward one at an inopportune time.
The true challenge will come when there’s conflict. Both people seeking the right of way with an individual. When the needs of the self are pitted against the bonds of friendship. I’ll admit it’s not something I’ve faced since primers. I’ve no idea how one handles it as a mature, responsible adult.