On Off-Limits

Girl Thing #12 That I Don’t Understand: I don’t believe in calling dibs on men. I just don’t. It doesn’t make sense and I cannot respect it. You can’t do that.

At a NYE party last week, a girlfriend of mine introduced a handful of her guy friends to me. However, she prefaced the introduction with “Just so you know, so-and-so is off limits. He’s my backup.” To clarify, she isn’t dating him or trying to. And I didn’t express any interest. It was like she licked a cookie in front of me so I wouldn’t consider eating it. And I wasn’t even hungry in the first place and certainly not in the mood for a cookie.

I was completely baffled.

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Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t some legitimate situations where pursuing a specific man is a bad friendship (and life) move. There are some rules, or general guidelines, at least.

Three things make a guy romantically off-limits in my book:

1. He isn’t single. Duh.

2. He is a friend’s ex. (Not someone you went on one date with three years ago or kissed at a party once.) Actual serious ex’s where feelings were involved on both sides are off limits.

3. A friend is ACTIVELY pursuing him romantically. And you better believe I mean actively. If you are trying to make the relationship romantic, so called cock-blocking by a friend is really bad form and bad romantic karma. But you cannot claim a guy is in your bullpen if you have no intentions of putting him in the game. That’s just mean.

Again… you must be actively trying to make something happen, or let them go.

That is just common courtesy.

– – – – –

This arbitrary off-limits designation rubs me the wrong way. It feels immature and petty, epitomizing that catty girl crap that I don’t go for. It seems childish:

“This piece of cake is mine! I don’t really like or want cake and have no plans on eating it ever, but it is still mine. Don’t look at it, or touch it, and definitely do NOT lick it.”

You can’t claim something then not actually use it, or even try to use it. That just isn’t allowed. It is wasteful and it isn’t fair… Not to you and not to that cake.

I just don’t respect it.

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Situations are going to occur where you and a friend are both romantically interested in the same guy. I find it happens rarely, but experience proves that even the occasional overlap can be delicate. (I suggest you deal with it like a mature, confident adult, but that’s just me.)

I recall an occurrence where my college best friend C and I had a surface-level crush on the same guy. Instead of making it a big thing, calling dibs, or having it affect our relationship, we both agreed to go for it. If he was into one of us, then it was a win across the board. Each of us were hoping that one of us would have success… surely that is better than no one succeeding? Neither of us ended up having any luck with him, so it was simply a non-event.

When almost ten years later I ran into him and we dated briefly, she was the first person I wanted to tell. And no, not in any sort of belated “I win” kind of way. I couldn’t wait to tell her about it because it felt like a victory for BOTH of us… a decade later high-five that one of us had snagged that. I would have felt the same if our positions had been reversed.

I’m not kidding. I truly mean that.

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– – – – –

I don’t believe I am ever competing directly with any of my friends. Why? Because we are all very different people… in our looks, interests, personalities and desires. It’s not an apple to apple comparison. We are all unique fruits and if a cute guy prefers grapes over oranges, that isn’t an insult or rejection of the so-called orange. It’s a preferance for grapes. Different tastes.

Therefore no competition.

And if the situation involves a friend of yours, or even better two good friends, wouldn’t you be hoping for a love connection for them? Rooting for it? Don’t you want your friends to be happy? Don’t you want your friends to find deep and lasting love, or at least get a good make-out on from time to time?

I don’t believe in off limits for the sake of filling your back burner or because of some random insecurity.

Grow up.

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It’s tough love Wednesday.

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