I was recently on the receiving end of that suggestion from a lady I was interested in dating. I was disappointed, of course, but had to accept her decision not to engage on that basis.
Now, I think it’s more-or-less understood this “be friends” suggestion is just a polite brush-off, but this woman was (is) kind, emotionally mature and thoughtful (she’s actually a counselor with some serious credentials), so I got to thinking, does she actually think this is even possible?
I reflected as best I could on all the women who’ve said something similar to me previously and couldn’t recall a single one with whom I’d become, even temporarily, friends. I asked my friend Steve the same question. He just laughed: “She’s just blowing you off, buddy.” I said I knew that, but did he think it could be done? He was beyond skeptical and regaled me with several (seriously funny) anecdotes.
A test sample of two is hardly the stuff of proof, but some further relationship logic occurred to me: What someone expects from a friendship is arguably more demanding and potentially arduous than what one can reasonably expect a dating relationship to survive.
For example, your friends can (within limits): borrow money from you, be late for something, have a bad day, call a spade a spade and, generally, allow things to unfold in a relatively unscripted manner, knowing there’s a fundamental underpinning of commitment that’s going to act as a buffer from a relationship catastrophe. Dating ain’t like that; at least not here in North America. Everything is about process, best behaviour and not accumulating ‘demerit’ points – you’re dealing with a music score, not a jazz improvisation.
So, next time someone who doesn’t want to date me makes the offer of friendship instead, I’m going to be tempted to reply: “I’m not sure I’m quite ready to take our relationship to that level this quickly; let’s just take things as they come.”