Throughout this discussion, I really wished we could see the age of every poster. There's a huge difference between being "that guy" at 16 and being "that guy" at 30. And the same goes for being "that girl" taking advantage of a guy who obviously has feelings for her(not sayin that this is what happens in this comic, I'm absolutely on her side! I have been the girl who has tried to be friend with a guy who had feelings for her. In some cases, the feelings were acknowledged, in some cases, not. In some cases, I tried to go out with them to see if something could grow out of a few compatibilities, in some cases not. (In some cases, this should be singular, not plural, I'm not *that* popular!) I have also succeded in staying friends with an ex-boyfriend with whom I was really in love. So was he but complicated circumstances and a few incompatibilities conspired in splitting us up, we eventually got back together and split up again. Having that relationship turn in a true friendship has taken a lot of work, time and quite a few tears, but it was completely worthwile. Through all these experiences, I have learned a few things:
- Love is not a plant. You can't just provide water, soil and sunshine and expect love to grow with time. Any expectation (and sometimes the distinction is blurry between expectation and hope is blurry, I'll get back to that later) of love as a result of given attention and affection is manipulation. You can't command love, no matter how much you deserve it. This is sad and unfair, but true as far as I can tell. Why is it a manipulation? Because if you are good friends with someone, they should be able to read you to some extent. If they can read your expectation, that creates guilt and that is the basis of manipulation. (I should of course mention that an expectation of a few months is acceptable to see how the friendship will naturally develop, but above three months, I would have serious doubts.)
Now, I do draw a line between what I will call "pure hope" and expectation. I think that it is possible to tone down your feelings to an acceptable level of friendship and keep a door just barely open in case some romantic feelings would show up, which I would call "pure hope", but I do think it's hard to do and, most often than not, very painful. But any kind of waiting and holding out for someone (dating people fully knowing that you won't be interested in them still counts as holding out) I consider to be an expectation. I find the difference similar to someone playing the lottery for fun, "Who knows, it might happen!" and a gambling addict "But this time will be the right one, I know it!"
- An unbalanced relationship will lead to manipulation from either party... or both! Just like it is possible to use guilt to manipulate someone in an unbalanced relationship, it's possible to be on the other side and use the other person in various ways confident/self esteem boost/"it's better than being alone" relationship, etc. There are always two sides to a medal and it's quite possible that both sides will be just a little wrong and that's what will result in a very unhealthy relationship.
I can understand "expectation" and "using" from someone in their first few relationships whether conciously or unconciously. It's probably a natural learning phase for most people. But I think one has to be able to recognize that situation and avoid it in the future out of respect for both the other person and themselves. There's no point in calling someone a jerk or a bitch if they're just mislead, just try to learn from your own life experiences and hope that others will do the same.
- Just because she's right for him doesn't mean he's right for her. (Use with any pronoun combination that you want.) Again, unfair and sad, but true.
All in all, my advice is: be honest, with the other person as well as with yourself, take responsibility for your own feelings and accept that you can't will someone else's into changing.
This doesn't seem as enlightened as it seemed when I registered to post it... Possibly because I've chosen not to bash at the last guy whom I've tried to turn down and remain friends with 8 times over the last 6 months. That was an uneven relationship, which he wanted to change into a friendship, but as far as I'm concerned, he was still "expecting". Turning down a guy 8 times is not pleasant... I guess I still have to learn how to be fair to a guy who says he can handle remaining friends but apparently can't.