Derek has had a crush on Katie for nine months now. That’s a full-grown fetus of laying groundwork for a date, or a kiss, or maybe just some impassioned eye contact. They do homework together. They grab lunch after class. They keep tabs on each other on Friday and Saturday nights. He makes sure not to watch the latest episode of House of Cards until she’s free to watch it with him, and she always drops him a line when one of the dining halls is serving chicken parmesan (because they share a penchant for cafeteria chicken parm, and she wouldn’t want him to miss it).
But as much as Derek enjoys Katie’s company—as much as he thinks she makes a great friend—he’s not interested in being her friend anymore. He hasn’t been for the past thirty-six weeks. Forget the chicken parm; he wants to take her out for steak or sushi or a nice sandwich or something, you know?
So he told her. He told her that he *liked* her—that he wanted to take her out for that sandwich. And she likes him—she really does—but she thinks that that sandwich might complicate things beyond repair. She doesn’t want to jeopardize their friendship, you see. Because they’re good friends. And if something were to go wrong—if, while they were chatting over their sandwiches, he or she were to realize that she or he wasn’t *right* for him or her — their friendship would be compromised. He’s willing to take that risk. She’s not.
Derek and I happen to share a zip code. We also happen to share similar high school dating experiences. That’s to say, in high school, neither of us really “dated.” One or two of our friends had significant others in their lives somewhere down the line, and we had “things” with people, but for the most part, we all reveled in our singledom. Because frankly, we were too immature to realize that some of the friendships we’d had with boys and girls we’d known since our moms took us to those ultra chic and entirely necessary music classes (et cetera) for Upper East Side Toddlers might’ve actually worked as romantic relationships. The concept of a high school sweetheart—you know, someone you court or who courts you who starts out as a friend but, through long-winded and artfully understated courtship, becomes *something more*—was rather peculiar to us. “Dating,” as seventeen-year-olds, at least, was really only something of movies set at big suburban high schools; it wasn’t (common) for us single-sex-private-school City kids. Derek and I now understand, however, that dating might not be all that absurd of a concept. And it might be best executed with someone with whom you first connect on a *like* level (rather than a much more anxiety-provoking and material *like like* level).
So, what do you do when the individual you want to date is unwilling to indulge your desire to turn amity into intimacy?
I suggest that you shut that sh*t down. The notion that you can swallow that desire—that you can suddenly and perpetually temper that romantic impulse and “just be friends” with someone with whom you also happen to want to engage in coitus—is fatuous and categorically naïve.
Because guess what?
You don’t want to be her friend. You don’t want her to set you up with one of her girls, and you certainly don’t want to, as her “friend,” watch her take another dude home.
You don’t want to be her friend, because you already have plenty. And another day of affecting a longing to be such would be even more miserable than her rejection of that sandwich.