Dear Melvin, Is it wrong to have a male best friend?

Dear Melvin,

Seven years ago, I went on a blind date with Matt.  We had amazing chemistry and attraction (rare, I know) and stayed out until 1am.  I have never laughed so hard. Matt called me the following day, saying I wasn't his "type."  

The strange part is that he kept calling me. He kept inviting me to dinner...and the movies...and on road trips. He's the best non-boyfriend that a girl could ever ask for.

Weeks, months and now years have passed.  He's the first person I call with good news.  I am the shoulder he leans on during rough times.  We are best friends.  And, there is still amazing chemistry between us.  Despite the attraction, we are committed to maintaining our amazing friendship.  We have never crossed the line.

We do not discuss our friendship or the possibility of a romantic relationship.  I think we're both comfortable with things as they are.  While we both date other people, neither on of us has had a long-standing relationship since meeting each other. Frankly, everyone falls flat when compared to him.  And, he tells me that I am head and shoulders above the rest.

My best friend, Cathy, told me that she cannot listen anymore and asked me to seek your advice. She said that I'm wasting my time. (I'm 39 and would like to get married.)  Is it so wrong for a woman to have a male best friend?  Why can't everyone just get off my back?

Content in Carroll Gardens


Dear Content:

There is nothing wrong with having a male best friend.  The problem is...this man is not your friend.

If you really looked at Matt as a friend then you would describe him like a brother.  There would be no talk of "amazing chemistry" or "attraction."  This man is not your friend.  You are in love with him. And you have allowed yourself to settle for the friendship in the subconscious hope that it will blossom into more.  

"That's not true!" you may exclaim.  But the fact you have not gotten into a romantic relationship in 7 years since meeting him because "everyone falls flat compared to him" tells me otherwise.

I've been in your situation, Ms. Content.  And I'm sorry to tell you, it most likely will never blossom into a romantic relationship.  Nobody sets up a platonic blind date.  Whoever set you up intended for you two to hit it off romantically.  If he's anything like the "I-Like-You-But- Refuse-To-Act-On-It-While-I-Look-For-Something-Better-But-Continue-To-Rely-On-You- Emotionally-And-Financially" A@$hole that I knew, then he thinks you are perfect but for one reason or another will not go forward. That's why you feel all this attraction (and I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt that it's mutual) and he tells you you are "head and shoulders above the rest" but still lets you know you are not his type. Which means you are wasting valuable time and emotional energy because after 7 years this man has still not taken things to the next level.  This man is not your friend.

All of this emotional bonding you two have done would be fantastic if you viewed Matt as simply a friend.  But this man is not your friend.  He is the one you secretly pine for.  Which means, this "amazing friendship" is nothing but a sweet way to torture yourself.  You deserve more, Ms. Content.  You deserve a man who PROVIDES the emotional bonding, ACKNOWLEDGES the attraction between you two, and ACTS on the attraction.  Now that man would be more than your friend--he would be the boyfriend and lover that you deserve.

So I need you to do three things for me:

(1) Have an honest discussion with yourself (or your therapist, if you have one) about the nature of your relationship with Matt.  I call this the "Woman in the Mirror" step (like the Michael Jackson song, it's time to make that change, sha-more).  

(2) Next, you need to have an honest discussion with Matt about the nature of your relationship.  Have the discussion you two have been avoiding for years. I call this the "What the Hell Are We Doing?" step. 

(3) Finally, you need to act on your attraction to one another.  Yes, Ms. Content, it's time to cross that line you've been avoiding for years.  I call this the "Sh@t or Get off the Toilet" step.

If, after pouring your heart out to him, Matt still insists he only views you as a friend (which sadly, I suspect he will because he probably has intimacy issues), then you need to put some distance between Matt and yourself.  Because as I have already emphatically stated, THIS MAN IS NOT YOUR FRIEND!  You will continue to bond with him emotionally while secretly pining for him.  You will not invest the proper emotional energy into any romantic relationships with real potential because you will continue to compare men to Matt and subconsciously hope that he comes around.  And one day he will devastate you by entering a romantic relationship with someone else.  And you will try to save face and remain a good friend to him but never quite understand why you hate his girlfriend.  Do you want to know why?  Because this man is not your friend.

Your Friend, 

Melvin Browning