Now that I am single (separated), I think about the women I meet differently.
At one time, they could be either friends or less than that. Now there is the possibility of something more than friends; that takes some adjustment.
Over the course of this year, I have met a lot of people on WordPress. It was a big surprise to discover that most bloggers I meet are women. I also meet women at work, or around my community, etc.
In my mind I classify all the women that I meet into one of three specific categories:
#1. Someone I will talk to for a while
#2. Someone who might become a long-term friend
#3. Someone for whom my relationship is unbounded
Why do I do this? It’s probably because I’m a complete dork. Or a nerd. Possibly both. I’m definitely a geek. I know that because I only have to mention “IT” (Information Technology) somewhere in a conversation and I find myself fixing PCs, phones, TV settings, etc.
Let me explain my categories in more detail, particularly the last one.
#1. Sometimes I meet women with whom I don’t share any special connection. We may chat about a specific topic for a while and then move on to other things. There might be something about her that tells me that we won’t become friends. There might be a big age difference or she might be too different to me for me to cope with. Sadly, sometimes I just don’t share a solid connection with someone and I know our discussions will end.
#2. For my second category, there are women that are clearly nice enough or a good enough match that we could become friends, perhaps long-term friends. Being a good “match” for me doesn’t necessarily imply similarities. My runaway wife was very different to me, but we were compatible and complementary. Sometimes someone might attract me at one level, but be someone with whom I’m not compatible at another. In this category, I would never expect a woman to be more than a friend.
#3. My last and most interesting category is the kind where the relationship is unbounded. There is something about the person that makes me wonder how far it could go. I don’t mean that I’m chasing a woman in this category or trying to chat her up; simply that there is the possibility that this woman could one day somehow become something more than a friend. If I realize (or she makes it clear to me) that, no, that’s nothing is going to happen, then she automatically moves back to category #2…or even #1.
I like the way I’ve approached it because I don’t go out of my way to chat anyone up, at least not directly. (If anyone wants to correct me, please let me know! Maybe I have been doing that and didn’t realize it!)
I don’t even make naughty jokes that often unless I know someone well. Then, maybe I can be a little risqué without any harm to the friendship.
I rarely immediately see someone as a potential girlfriend or lover or partner. I just like the idea that we might be budding friends, and that no-one knows where else it might go. The idea of “unbounded” includes a broken and clumsy failure, as it also includes a beautiful and special romance.
I’m not the guy to leap into a physical relationship without knowing someone very well; I’d prefer to discover over time that a friend has more potential and more mutual compatibility than I expected.
One thing that I’m not very clear on, because I don’t know many guys who are dating, is whether or not other guys do the same kind of basic differentiation. Maybe I’m explaining something so obvious everyone thinks the same way. Maybe women do it too?