This week, R. Eric Thomas and Paola de Varona discuss a Prudie letter: “Worried Friendly Friend”
R. Eric Thomas: Hi Paola! This week’s letter writer seems to have a clear sense of where her potential pitfalls may be but perhaps less sense of what she should do to avoid them. What did you think of the issue?
Paola de Varona: Hey Eric! First of all, dating your roommate … yikes! But I think this situation seems, as you said, like a classic deflection from the actual problem at hand. This new, seemingly perfect guy is serving as the antithesis of everything that’s bothering her about her current beau.
Eric: Yeah, while smoking is a deal-breaker for some, the potential conflict with the families not getting along seems perhaps to be putting the cart before the horse. I admire the LW’s desire to do the right thing with respect to the current guy, but I think she should also make sure she’s doing the right thing for herself.
Paola: Exactly! I think she’s considering everyone else in this situation a lot more than she is herself. I’m also worried, though, that if she breaks off her current relationship in hopes this new guy can give her what she wants, she’ll be disappointed. I feel like a lot of us have been there, and this shiny new person isn’t usually all you made them out to be in your mind. But if it serves as a jumping off point for her to move on from a current relationship that isn’t serving her, I guess it isn’t all bad!
Eric: Right. Sometimes we just need an external push to ask the internal question. What are your thoughts about navigating a friendship with someone whom the LW thinks she could possibly be attracted to?
Paola: It’s tricky—I think if she goes into the friendship thinking it can (and she would like it to) develop into something more, then that seems a little unfair to her current relationship. But attraction can exist in the background if she’s just accepted that’s all it is!
Eric: I think that’s wise. She’s got to examine her intentions. It’s fine, I think, to acknowledge that you could be into someone without actively working internally or externally to cultivate a romantic relationship. Ultimately, I think it would be easier to think through this if she wasn’t in the same space as her current guy. But, who knows, they may decide to be just friends, or FWB, or some new creations that frees her to explore other options.
Paola: Yeah agreed. The living situation makes it much more difficult. I can see her suggesting they open up the relationship and move away from exclusivity! It could keep what they have fun, and free her up to explore what else could be out there.
Eric: It’s sort of interesting that they didn’t explore that option first. It probably felt more fraught, given that they have to see each other every day, but something casual and convenient could have less strings if everyone is clear about what they need.
Paola: Right, I’ve heard stories about friends hooking up with roommates, but they usually agree to keep it a casual thing!
Eric: I think for homework the LW should watch the two comedies that came out in the same year about this very thing. One was called Just Friends and the other was called Friends with Benefits. One starred Ashton Kutcher and the other starred Mila Kunis and those two people are now married, so that’s got to mean something.