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Parallax - Advice

November 26, 2001

He wants more

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question!Recently I was confronted with death and loss on multiple levels. I broke up with my boyfriend of four years when I found out he was cheating on me, but that event was dwarfed by the loss of one of my best friends in a plane accident. My only comfort is my other friends (who are equally affected by this tragedy). One of them, C, was the victim's best buddy. Since the accident, we've spent a lot of time together and have become closer. Not surprisingly, C has made it clear that he'd like to be more than friends. I think he's a great guy, and I love him as a friend, but I know I'm not attracted to him. Part of me feels this is valid, but the part of me that wants a family and future with a man who really cares about me, fears I am going to continue to date selfish, angsty musicians, and overlook good men, because I am superficial. I am confused as to how to respond to C. I don't want to hurt him or lose his extremely valuable friendship. Email to a Friend

Her view:

Dear Ms Angst,

Go down that road and you will lose that friendship. Because - truth be told - you are superficial, and drawn to superficial types who cheat on you.

As to your superficial nature, I think we all know how that game goes and where it ends up. I suggest you change your ways girlie. Become a little more open to what are far more important factors in life - as you suggest - family devotion, stability, comfort, and romance. These things far outweigh your hottie's latest outfit or song.

You are, however, not yet ready for this epiphany. Spend some time with some fellows up your superficial alley and I think you will see the light. Do not try to dabble in unfamiliar waters with your friend, as that will not play out well. You'll sleep with him for two weeks and start entertaining new boys as soon as you notice he's really not your type. He'll be mortally wounded, cry for weeks, and hate you forever.

Such a relationship requires the complete metamorphosis - give it two or three years to come around first.

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His view:

Dear Ms Angst,

My first instinct is to tell you that calling yourself 'superficial' is a self-deprecating way of describing a complex mix of desires and priorities. Going with some great guy who you also think is boring and not attractive can be taxing and ultimately destructive to a relationship. Who hasn't faced the trade-off between exciting and fun vs. stable and reliable? It appears you've chosen the former over the latter every time - at least until now.

You should date C because you need to find out two things. One is whether you can overcome the obstacle that currently exists. Sometimes lack of attraction can be overcome. Is he physically repulsive? Or does he just seem dull compared to others? I'd argue the latter might be a superficial judgment; many nice guys have very thorny (and exciting) secret personalities.

The second reason is that you need to give a nice guy a try. Otherwise you'll never be able to compare the angst-ridden types with the down-to-earth blokes. And you'll always wonder what might have been.

The big caveat is that you should only date him if you are sure that you are dating him for your own selfish reasons - you think he could be a good bet on the future.

Don't date him out of sympathy. And don't rush a decision in light of your friend's death. You'll be much more likely to hurt him if you date him for those reasons.

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