For a woman, having male buddy is splendid, but getting romantic may end it


May 16, 1993|By SINGLE DEITZ

Q: I have recently become attracted to a co-worker; he is someone I would like very much to date, six years younger than I am (he's 26). He is more mature than his age, but I know he has had very little dating experience and is not dating anyone at the present time. (He's not gay.)

I am 90 percent sure he has interest in me (touches me often in non-threatening ways, comes to my office during the day to talk, really listens to me and even remembers things I tell him). We've gone out several times after work with a group of co-workers, and we always wind up sitting next to each other or hanging out together apart from the group.

My initial game plan was to build a friendship with him and see what develops. Well, it's been five months since I wanted more than friendship, and the relationship has progressed somewhat -- we've become sort of buddies at work and he confides work problems to me and discusses co-workers with me, and so on.

But I want to get past this work-only connection and get us both out of the work environment to talk about something else, without interruptions! I can't even "do lunch" with him since he's a cook who works through lunch and gets few breaks during the day.

I'm afraid that since he is somewhat inexperienced with women he is unsure of how to ask me out. I've thought about just asking him out, but I'm inexperienced in work/dating relationships, and it feels really strange as well. I've never had a male friend before and do not want to lose whatever friendship we have established so far.

His birthday is coming soon and I thought about doing something for him. But it has to be something that isn't too big of a deal.

Susan, he has every attribute I could want in a man and I don't want to let him just slip through my fingers. Help!

A: Strange feeling or not, having a friend of the other sex is a delight most women have never experienced, sad to say. So you are a lucky lady, whatever happens here; never again will you see men as a whole different species. But there is no way you can escalate the relationship beyond the workplace without risking ending it all. It could be that the man in question is simply too shy for romance, or that you are seeing more in his friendship than actually exists. (Romance may simply be a missing factor in his dealings with you, a possibility you must confront squarely.)

But since this is an office-oriented relationship, diplomacy and tact must be part of your game plan. You may risk a relationship, but you don't want to risk your job.

To get a better bead on where you stand in his affections, invite him to a birthday dinner. Make it casual, relaxed, in a restaurant to keep the fuss and pomp minimal for both of you; ask him where he'd like you to take him. If he's at all interested, he'll take it from there. But even if this turns out to be a disappointment, you'll have learned a new way of relating to men. No small feat.

Q: What can a woman do if she loves a man and he doesn't feel the same way about her, although he did want a romantic relationship with her in the past, when she wasn't available? Can his feelings be changed? What can I do?

A: Since you are the same person now as when you were unavailable, the only thing -- and the best thing -- you can do is to file this man under "LL" for "Life Lesson."

He is best left to his own devices, since he clearly does not want any real love -- or else he would have jumped at the chance to resurrect a past attraction. This is not a gender issue: Women as well as men are in the category of wanting only the elusive, unattainable lover. (When faced with the reality of a possible relationship, they are nowhere to be found.) Don't bother to try to change his feelings or force your attentions down his throat. Learn from this incident and get on with your life.

Dear Readers: An announcement has just crossed my desk about a correspondence club for singles, one focused on the Bible. Interest in the Good Book is the common denominator for membership, since members get to write a self-descriptive statement about themselves and to have it circulated for others to respond to. (Sort of a personal ad for Bible readers, a new and interesting twist.)

Privacy is protected by the use of code numbers; your name, address and phone number are never revealed. A common interest is strong glue for a relationship, and Bible-reading is as worthy a commonality as there is. For more information about membership fees and procedures, write: Single Bible Readers, Box 11652, Houston, Texas 77293, attention Chuck Thompson, Director.

Before you sign up or send any money, write me and let me know your reaction to the material you are sent. My best to you.

Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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