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  • Patrick - the man who left me the card at the bar where we met, not the bartender -- contacted me a week after we went out to say he had fun & wanted to see me again.

    But not as a date.

    It's taken a decent amount of therapy to realize that I can't be friends with men I'm attracted to. But despite his charming opening move, I wasn't that invested. And so, on someone's advice, I consented, for educational purposes. If I did something to rub him the wrong way, I could learn. And if it was beyond my control, not my problem.

    Our friendly beer turned into two beers, then three, then dinner plans. Conversation was easy and warm. We became increasingly flirtatious and, as we talked of health insurance policy and evolving themes in young adult fiction, I found myself fighting to suppress a growing attraction.

    And then, en route to the restaurant, he asked abruptly, “So, we’re on a date now, right?”

    "You said you didn't want to date."

    "I said that then, but now it's different. I just want to make sure we're on the same page that this has become a date." He looked at me with hope, fueled by those three beers.

    "Why did you say you didn't want to date? Did I do something to offend you? Did you just not feel it?"

    "I wasn't sure if I would feel it, but I feel it NOW," he said. "The problem is . . . you're not mean. And I normally date mean girls."

    I AM NOT MEAN.

    I’m not mean!

    Maybe not, but that was enough to overcome my typical conflict-avoidance and call him out. "That's dumb. That's a terrible reason to not date someone. If that's really your deal, you should discuss it in therapy."

    He still wanted to go to dinner, still wanted to transpose our friendly hanging out into "date," but I demurred. "I don't want to hear from you in a week saying, hey that was fun but I just want to be buddies. If you're not sure of what you want, I'm perfectly happy going home now and having a lovely evening drinking wine and watching Downton Abbey alone."

    He eventually stopped trying to convince me to prolong the evening and instead began walking me home. Then, while waiting for at a red light, he tried to kiss me.

    "No!" I protested, bending backward to escape. "You don't get to kiss me if we're just friends! That's not how it works!"

    When we arrived at my door, he just stood there, staring at me with a mopey, beer-fueled pout. "I really want to kiss you, but you said I can't. Why are you making this so hard?"

    "I'm not making it hard! You're the one who doesn't know what you want. It's your problem, not mine."

    Snap in z-formation!

    People, I definitely wanted to kiss him. But there was something more importantthan the short term pleasure. Friendship with men I'm attracted to always seem to devolve into a shadow relationship, just enough to keep me stuck but not enough to satisfy. I'd vowed the next time, I'd walk away, if only for the possibility of something better.

    "I'll see you at your party this week," he said, as I turned to my front door. I'd tentatively invited to a dinner, to balance out the gender ratio -- hours earlier, when we were really just friends.

    I turned back around. "No, I don't think that's a good idea," I said.

    "But won't you need more guys?" he asked.

    "No," I replied, "I can always find other guys."

    "Now you're just trying to be mean," he said.

    "No," I answered, "I'm just being honest. I may not be mean, but I am honest." And with that I went inside alone.
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