Platonic Pothole or Road to Romance You Decide

Tony has scads of women friends who adore him, but when it comes time to get romantic, they invariably let him know that they "just don't think of him that way." Lynnette has a circle of attractive and adoring men friends who feel they can confide in her about anything, but they never seem to feel that she's date material. Renee complains, "Everyone says you're supposed to be friends before you become lovers. But what happens to me is that I always make friends with a guy, and by the time I want to become lovers, he has me ensconced in a position of being 'just a friend'—and he can't think of me in any other way."

Call it the buddy syndrome, call it pal purgatory, call it the chronic platonic problem—but whatever you call it, it's making many men and women unhappy. It's not a problem for everyone, so if this situation doesn't apply to you, feel free to skip down to the next section. However, judging from the number of questions I'm asked on call-in radio sht>w7, the buddy syndrome is one of today's most common dating problems.

There are many variations of this syndrome, but the good news is that you can overcome it. Again, it's all about taking a proactive approach to your relationships. First you need to understand why you keep getting into these platonic ruts.

There Are Friends...and Then There Are Platonic Friends

One of the biggest reasons for the buddy syndrome is that people get confused about the dynamics of friendship with someone of the opposite sex. You see, there are friends, and then there are platonic friends. What's the difference? Well, let's look at some definitions. The Webster's dictionary definition of a friend is "a person who is attached to another person by a feeling of affection or personal regard." According to the same dictionary, platonic means "free from sensual desire."

Think about your opposite-sex friends. If they are truly platonic friends, you think of each other as surrogate brothers or sisters, or, as some people express it, as part of each other's family of choice (as opposed to family of origin). But let's face it: Not every friendship with the opposite sex is, in fact, free of sensual desire. Sometimes you meet someone and there's an instantaneous feeling of attraction. Or perhaps the attraction comes later on.

A platonic friendship is an affection that does not involve sexual love Or sensual desire, The word is derived from the Greek philosopher Plato (c. 427-347 B.t.Ej, who was knowft for his disdain of sensory experience.


A platonic friendship is an affection that does not involve sexual love Or sensual desire, The word is derived from the Greek philosopher Plato (c. 427-347 B.t.Ej, who was knowft for his disdain of sensory experience.

In any case, the buddy syndrome rears its ugly head when one or the other person focuses so intently on being a friend that he or she doesn't give off any romance signals. While that person may have intended this friendship to be a prelude to "lovership," there is a certain point at which it becomes, instead, just another platonic friendship. And it's all because the person has chosen to act in certain ways that would seem to preclude passion in the relationship.

Obviously, it's best to address the buddy problem at the very beginning of a relationship. Yes, you want to be friends before lovers, but you also want to make sure you actually reach the lovers stage if that's where you want to go.

Heading Off the Buddy Syndrome at the Outset.

When you meet someone whom you think may have possibilities as a lover, start setting boundaries from the very beginning. Don't act toward this person as you would act toward a platonic friend. Here's what not to do:

• Avoid lending a sympathetic ear to sad stories about his or her last lover, and don't relate your "lost love" tales either. Later, when you know each other better and have established a romantic link, you can tell each other about your past relationships. For now, though, try to stay away from these subjects. Of course, 178

this doesn't imply that you have to come across as being heartless. If the person mentions a recent heartbreak, you can murmur sympathetically, but then change the subject as quickly and smoothly as possible. Ask the person a question about something else that's going on in his or her life now—for example, a question about work—or ask the individual's opinion on a current issue. This shows you are interested, but doesn't take away the idea that there may be some sensual desire between you.

For HER Byes Only

A rtisn is more likely to see you as a pnoipfîctiwe romantic partner if you establish certain boundaries and give off signals that distinguish you from one of his beer buds. Elise, for example, says, "If he says, 'Hey, look at the legs on that one/ I'll just raise one eyebnCw, smile at him, and reply— good-naturedly, of course—'Key, save it for the locker room.' if I'm attracted to a guy, of course, I want to be a friend to him—but f ne^tr let him forget I'm a woman first"

For HIS Eyes Only

A woman is more likely to see you as a prospective ¡over tha n as a male best fn'end 01 surrogate brother if you set boundaries from the beginning. As One friend of mine puts it, The problem with some guy^ is that when they're beginning a friendship with a woman, they act the part tifthe big brother, and then they're disappointed when that's how she sees them." Let her know that you see her as a woman as well as a friend, Don't look at or comment on, other women in her presence. Fotu-; On her, and don't forget to give her lincere compliments.

• Try not to discuss the people you're both dating now. At this early stage, it's perfectly all right for both of you to be dating more than one person. Hiw9ver, if you listen to the friendly object of your desire tell you about his or her other dates, or if you talk about yours, the person is going to automatically place you in the category of platonic buddy. Don't do it.

• Don't ogle other people or flirt with someone else in his or her presence. If you're a woman and you're trying to dazzle the attractive gentleman sitting across the table from you, it's obviously not cool to drool over the hunk at the bar. If you're a guy and you're trying to impress that gorgeous woman you've just met, she's not going to be too wowed by you if you whistle at the babe who just walked in the front door. Save that kind of behavior for your buddies. If you're openly flirting or ogling someone else, the person you're with will assume you're not interested. You'll immediately be put in the platonic slot.

• Don't put up with open ogling or flirting. If the other person is the one doing the drooling and whistling, or making the lascivious comments about others, deflect them as politely and charmingly as you can. If the person doesn't get the hint, and/or is being obnoxious or crude, take it as a warning, and find someone who's more responsive to your charm.

• Don't take a prospective seducee out with "the gang." It's great to have platonic friends of the opposite sex. Being a buddy and shoulder to cry on is a warm and satisfying role, to be sure, but it's not a sensual one. So don't bring your would-be lover along when you go out with the pack. Otherwise, this person is likely to start looking at you in the same light your platonic buds do. It's best to keep these friendships separate until you've established a romantic link with your intended.

Remember that once you're in the platonic slot, it's difficult to escape. A client of mine has likened it to being in a deep freeze and trying to thaw yourself out. If you find yourself in this deep freeze with someone, know that more than likely it isn't because you haven't acted as a friend toward this person, but rather because you've acted as a platonic friend. (And if I don't do anything thing else in this book but clarify the difference for you, it's worth the purchase price!)

Pay attention to the tips I've given you, and you shouldn't have any trouble avoiding the buddy syndrome. The cardinal rule is this: Until you're certain that this person is not romantic material, refuse to act in a platonic way. It really is a simple principle, and yet people mess up on this over and over. Remember, how you act around the person to whom you're attracted is your choice. Start paying attention to your actions, and you'll be much more pleased with the results.

Continue reading here: Popping the Question No Not That One Silly Asking Someone for a Date

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