Based on a few conversations I have had with former female “fringes”, as my mom likes to call them, and why I no longer communicate with them, it made me realize that there was more than one Consolation Prize that you should factor in. Of course, the first one talked about being hooked up with the sub-par friend. Now this time, I want to talk about something that is a lot more common, something a lot of people are willing to accept and grit up about, even though in most cases you shouldn’t because you’re lying to yourself and the other person. This might go a few places, but it should all make sense at the end.
Let me give you a professional example that I dealt with sometime back: There was this consulting company that I wanted to work for since I was in business school. As many times as I applied for the firm, I could never get an interview. So a few years later, I happened to run into the diversity recruiter for that firm, and she took my resume and sent it out to various recruiters in the US for that firm after we discussed what my long term career goals are. Unfortunately, the only callbacks I got from that firm were from areas within that were not aligned with my career goals, including some that would have set me back even more from obtaining my goal. Instead of pursuing those opportunities just to “get in the door” and being able to brag that I work for that firm, I respectfully declined going any further with the recruiters that contacted me. Although they perceived me to be not good enough for that specific practice within the firm due to my lack of direct work experience or lack of Top 10 MBA, I was not going to settle for just getting in the door at this point in my career. It would have been a waste of time for me and a waste of money for them. Maybe in a few years, the conversation could be revisited, but for right now it wasn’t going to happen.
From a romantic perspective, for those of us that are single, things like this happen to us in our dating lives pretty often. How often do you meet someone, they appear to embody everything you want in someone you date or court, then they come back and tell you (through word or deed) that they’re just not that into you, then they hit you with “but we can be friends”? If you’re reading this, you can probably think of several times this has happened to you. And I bet you most times you’re ok, all while concurrently hoping in the back of your subconscious that you can Urkel them. But in some cases, your failed pursuit ends up going on to date someone else, and if you haven’t reconciled yourself to having a legitimate friendship with that person absent of romantic feelings (and the friendship is solid), you have to sit there and watch someone else take what you feel (somewhere in your mind) should have been rightfully yours. And sometimes for us, we ignore this in ourselves, given that we have accepted our sentence in that person’s life to platonic prison without the possibility of parole.
One thing I know about American sports is that there is only one winner, and everyone else loses. In the words of Kobe Bryant, “2nd place just means you’re the first loser“. Only in competitions outside of the US (i.e. FIBA, FIFA, Olympics) do you see it where 2nd and 3rd place get a certain level of shine. Nope, not in America. If you lose, you give your nod, shake hands, pull up your skirt, and walk off the court or field while your opponent basks in the glory of winning the game. If the losing team stuck around to watch the other team celebrate (oops, I mean the OTHER TEAM CELEBRATE, that’s a little better), you as a fan of American sports would question their heart and their competitive spirit, right?
With those pictures in your mind now, here’s a scenario if you’re (legitimately) single: Think about the opposite sex friends that you have in your life that are also single, you are at least physically attracted to, that you consistently communicate with, and that you would date, all things equal (basically someone you have or could rekindle feelings for). If you found out right now at this very moment (regardless of how) that they were now in a committed relationship, would your first initial reaction be “Good stuff, I’m really happy for them, and I really hope that things work out” or “Awwwww HELL NAW” followed by a few expletives and that unspoken feeling you have in your mind comparable to this?
To conclude this, if you want to be someone’s boo or potential spouse, and you know you honestly can’t settle for the consolation prize of being their friend, then don’t, especially if there are still feelings there and the other party knows that as well. Don’t be afraid to walk away when you don’t get what you desire out of the situation. And if you read that last paragraph and you fell into that latter category, this same advice applies to you as well. Believe me when I tell you that ALL of us will be on both sides of this equation. You will either be the one that fails at the pursuit (or enticement in the case of good women out there), or someone will be feeling you and the light won’t go off in your head to accept their advances. It’s an awkward place to be in, but it comes with the territory of living life.
Ultimately, you have to be real with yourself, know your true worth, and not be afraid or abashed about what it is that you desire. Don’t be afraid to reduce that sexy former classmate of yours to just a LinkedIn contact and delete their Twitter/Facebook/BBM/iChat/gchat/zchat/Cell. Said person could get upset and wonder why you don’t call them anymore, why you don’t follow them on twitter, or deleted them off facebook. But if that person respects your feelings and/or truly respects their relationship, then their ego should be good with it. If not, then you will get insight into that person’s character and values.
For those reading, how often have you been in this situation, regardless of what side of the fence you sat on? Have you found yourself settling for a friendship when you wanted a courtship (or just wanted some, LOL)? Let me know your thoughts.