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How lift a relationship on a different level

Men just want to be my friend, not my boyfriend. What should I do?

How lift a relationship on a different level

Dear Paula,

My secret worry is that I'm doomed to always be the girl that's a "friend" not a "girlfriend". My confidence in this arena is pretty low because although I'm bubbly, outgoing and have both close friends and a wide social circle, I have never had a serious relationship, or one that lasted longer than 3 months. Most of my good friends are now married with kids, or living with their boyfriends and I feel like the child compared to the real grown-ups. Part of that anxiety I know stems from having a fairly strict religious upbringing - I was never allowed to date when living at home.

I have been on and off the site since January 2006 and in that time have met 13 or 14 people, and exchanged messages with loads more. Out of these, there were 2 that I really wanted a relationship with, and although we got on fantastically well and saw each other for a few months, both of them then said they weren't really over their exes, and just wanted to be friends. It was difficult, especially with the first one, who was quite happy to sleep with me, but insisted that we were only friends and it didn't mean anything, but we've got past that stage now and I can now call either of them up and chat about life and people we're dating without it being painful or awkward. They call me more than I call them, though, they both say I'm great fun and easy to talk to, which is nice, but sometimes makes me really angry. What am I doing wrong that makes me good to talk to, but not worth going out with? I could do with losing quite a bit of weight but I'm not horribly unattractive I don't think...? I wonder if I should be more elusive, and hard-to-get, but it's not natural to me to play games, I just want to be myself.

Any advice you can give would be very welcome!


Dear Rachel,

For most of us the ideal partner is someone who is a really good friend and who we really fancy. Of course some people, especially people who are quite young, inexperienced or a little immature have a much more idealised version of what an ideal partner is, so they might think it's someone who's mysterious, and out of reach. However, as anyone who's been in a relationship will tell you, being mysterious and hard-to-get are not qualities that can survive a week in a proper relationship, because a good relationship is defined by exactly the opposite -intimacy.

So don't waste time worrying about why these two blokes seem to like you a lot and fancy you enough to sleep with you but ultimately didn't want to have a relationship with you. Not everyone wants a relationship and not everyone wants a relationship which is intimate and loving. I think it is truly a case of it is their problem not yours. And maybe you ought to rethink your friendship with them. What do they really offer you as friends? Is your relationship equal or is it all about you listening and supporting them and not getting much back? To me, it doesn't sound like they treated you terribly well so remember, you don't have to 'get over' being angry, and you don't need to show them that you are fine with just being friends unless you genuinely believe that they are good friends and that your life is better with them in it.

However, going back to the original problem, do you think there is a chance that you too are a little quick to dismiss people? You say you only liked two out of 13-14 people you met, and that's a little low, although of course you may have just been unlucky. But it is possible, that precisely because of your upbringing and the fact you're not terribly comfortable with dating, you are a little reluctant to take a risk on someone who you're not that sure about. Maybe it's worth thinking about whether you are really giving everyone the chance they deserve. Don't let yourself develop a narrow idea of a 'type' who you think is right for you.

Being a good friend, good fun and easy to talk to are very important qualities that are crucial to being attractive to men and being a fantastic girlfriend. You just need to find men who are a bit more mature and able to appreciate that.

Best Wishes, Paula

PS I've also looked at your picture and you have nothing to worry about regarding your appearance.

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