Tuesday, August 14, 2012

i like the friend zone...

I've been in frequent correspondence with Sister Raddatz. Because I'm busy working and she's busy being a mom, it's easier for all parties involved to schedule adventures and to communicate through email. The other day she was asking me about my dating life, and I told her that I don't date. I have a couple of close guy friends (both of them being her sons) and one very close guy friend, but other than that I don't go out of my way to associate with any other men. Sure, I have a lot of male coworkers at the writing center who are great people, but they're coworkers -- not to mention I'm not interested in them anyway. Great kids -- weird though.

I mentioned to Sister Raddatz that one of my friends and I had joked about going to Las Vegas for my 21st birthday. Somehow (it was probably my fault) we started laughing about getting married there -- just one of those stupid things that happens in a conversation about a guy and a girl going to Vegas together, you know? Eventually I told him that I didn't want to get married anyway, one reason being that neither of us would have temple recommends and that, frankly, I believe that we might kill each other. He said that he could see the temple recommend thing being an issue, but no -- we wouldn't kill each other. 

Sister Raddatz said that she's heard that there is a little bit of truth in every conversation. I laughed and told her that it was all just fun. "Besides that," I said, "there is no way that I am getting married at 21."

A couple of days later, she said she'd been thinking about that, and she had a question. "Why don't you want to get married at 21?"

This question has come up a lot for me lately, not in relation to age, but just "What don't you want to get married?" Adding the 21 onto the end has made me think a lot about the reasons why I don't want to get married. I guess it's because 21 is an age that isn't very far distant for me anymore. Somehow in my imagination I went from being 18 to 23 -- I forgot that 19, 20, 21, and 22 are in the middle there. That's 1,460 days that I just jumped over in imagining the way my life was going to be. So much for a five year plan...I forgot about four years in there!

Anyway. So, in general, why do I not want to get married at 21?

First of all, in order to get married in the next year, I'd have to either meet someone really soon or see a current friendship move from "friend zone" to "together zone" to "fiance zone" to (eek) "together for eternity zone." That would be super, super fast. If I know him already, sure, it might not be so bad -- date for a few months, see if it works out, and bam! Game over, life begins! But if I don't know him -- that would be an even faster relationship progression because I don't already know him.

Second, 21 is so very young. SO very young. It looks super old when you're 14, but once you're watching it approach you, you realize how very not-grown-up you really are.

Those are the main reasons that I've come up with to answer the question "Why do you not want to get married at 21?" Now for the other question: "Why don't you want to get married?" Or, to make some readers happy, why don't I want to get married yet.

In my opinion, I don't know enough about life and love to get married (yet). I don't know enough about people. There are so many things I don't know, and so many things that I haven't experienced that would be very difficult to do if I were married (like an internship in D.C. or a mission as a single sister). I also have realized that I am terrified of commitment. I can commit my heart no problem! I'm loyal to a fault, and if I love someone (be it a family member, friend, potential more-than-friend), there is very little that will keep me from staying absolutely, 100% committed to our relationship. 

It's committing everything else -- time, space, mind, body, all of me -- to someone that scares me. It's having someone know everything about me -- my fears, my desires, my weaknesses, my selfishness, my insecurities -- and if it turns out that he can't handle me, then what? When do you reach the point that you know enough about each other that you want to spend eternity together, through the good and the bad? Perhaps I lack faith, or I don't understand people well enough, but I don't see anyone wanting to stay with me.

It's the eternal aspect of that commitment -- it's the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the everything of a relationship -- that terrifies me. I know that I can stick things out with someone. I've done it time and again, once to the point that I allowed myself to be manipulated and hurt emotionally and physically because I loved that person with all of my heart. I went through hell for that boy, and for a couple of others, too. Not that I want to put anyone through hell, but will someone stick it out with me when it gets hard?

It's the fear that things will fall apart, leaving nothing but pain and broken trust. To get married, you have to date someone and get engaged first. There's always the chance that things will get ruined. I know there's always a risk, and that it's better to risk than to never have a chance at loving someone. I don't know if I can handle that right now. I don't want to ruin perfectly good friendships and be left missing someone I could have had as a friend forever if I had been willing to keep things friendly.

For example. I would love to have someone to talk to and spend time with and take care of and love, but I don't want to. Though I know that I am willing to make most of the sacrifices necessary to be in a relationship, the idea of dating anyone scares me to death. Sure, there are a couple of guys who I absolutely love spending time with. I enjoy their company, and enjoy them as people. But because we're not "together," there can be that friendly space between talks and visits and no one feels like their needs aren't being met. I don't feel stuck. Stuck is a horrible word to use in describing any kind of relationship, I know, but it's the only word that really works for how I feel when considering a relationship. I don't feel stuck when I'm best friends with a guy (even if the feelings of friendship start becoming more). But thinking about dating brings on this almost panicked, trapped feeling (not to mention nausea and butterflies).

I don't know why that is. I know that there's a lot (and I mean a lot) of fear involved. Fear of rejection, fear of pain, fear of broken trust, fear of having something absolutely fantastic and then watching it fall apart, etc. And I think I'm just not emotionally mature enough to handle it. There are so many things I still don't know about people. Right now I'm perfectly happy being best friends with guys who I can be close to without fear of being hurt or annoying them -- if we're "just friends" then we have nothing to lose! 

I wonder if it's more that I'm afraid no one will love me enough, or if I'm afraid that I won't be able to love him fully because I'll always be waiting for things to fall apart. I wonder if I'm afraid that things will actually work out, and then out of nowhere it'll come crashing down. 

It's silly and childish, but it's where I am right now. Today, I believe that 21 is definitely not a great age for me to get married. Who knows, I could be wrong. I could meet someone or a friend could convince me that the friend zone is boring, and somehow I end up with a ring and a temple date. From where I'm sitting now, it doesn't seem like a possibility. Mostly because I'm afraid. I feel comfortable being single. I like being single. I also like being close to someone. I haven't let myself think about which I like more -- for one, I don't have anyone in my life who would consider dating me and for another, why dwell on something that you can't have right now?

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