"No, really, Beth. Is it worth it?"
Oh yeah. I didn't answer that question. I also didn't answer the question, "Why is it so dang complicated?" which is the one that actually gets into Women and our Ways.
So allow me to tackle those two now.
Is it worth it?
At this point in my life, I would say a resounding, yes! From grade 1 until university, I didn't know how to be friends with boys (In kindergarten I had a boy-best-friend. When we reconnected as adults, dating came up. It didn't happen. He's married now. All is well. But that's a little bit hilarious, isn't it!?). Seriously though, the only two ways I interacted with guys were a) minimally or b) massive crush. Often both simultaneously.
In the last five years or so, I've begun navigating how to interact with men in a healthy way. It is hard and I screw up often, but it has been good for my development as a human being, as a person who loves Jesus, and as someone who would like to be married someday. I now know that I know nothing about men. They think so differently from me that I couldn't even explain how a man processes life. I honestly do not know. But isn't realizing you don't know half the battle (admitting defeat is the first step to victory, or something like that)?
That said, I do think that we ought not go trampsing around, squashing peoples' hearts or letting our hearts get stepped on and say, ALL IN THE NAME OF GROWTH! There are limits to these things. And sometimes, certain friendships get to the point where they aren't worth it. And that is sad. SAD.
What makes it all so complicated?
I blame it on woman's inability to compartmentalize, and the ways in which we are emotionally wired. Namely, emotional bonding and romantic interest go hand in hand. At least, that seems to be the general consensus of my gender. Again, I'm open to correction.
But really. My brain struggles to compute that a guy would want to put effort into building a friendship with me but NOT want to date me. (I will freely admit that I have thought, "I don't understand. If he thinks I'm so great, why doesn't he want to date me? I must be ugly.")
I don't actually think that women have a monopoly on the murkiness of friendships and crushes. I am quite sure we do not, in fact. But I do think that in 99.9% of guy-girl friendships (assuming both participants are straight, because otherwise this whole entry and the last one are irrelevant), one or the other person will have a crush on the other at some point and time. How intense that crush is, how determined they are to make something of that crush, and how long that crush lasts are variables that no one knows.
I would say also, that in those one-way-crush-friendships, 98.5% of the time, the other person suspects something like this but says nothing for fear of losing the friendship/making things awkward/etc etc. Well. I don't blame you. Because I have been there and done that. That being all of the above. I have also lied about my crush, denied it completely for the sake of the friendship and/or the elusive hope that one day he will wake up and realize that the only thing missing in his life are MY LIPS (to paraphrase a friend of mine).
What am I saying here? Pull yourself together, Beth!
I am not saying that I have crushes on all of my guy friends (you can all heave a sigh of relief).
What I am saying is that crushes happen and that when we pretend that they don't or hold on to unreasonable hopes (and this applies to both sides of a one-way-crush, because you can choose to ignore signs you're being crushed on, or hold on to the unreasonable hope that this will fade without any inconvenience to you), we are not actually in healthy friendships. We are fake-dating or using each other and not loving each other and wanting the best for the other person. We are not guarding each others' hearts and treating our friends the way we want to be treated.
I want to be honoured and respected. And I want to be a woman who honours and respects the men around me, not someone who uses or abuses them.
"So, Beth, what do I do when I have a crush on a friend? Or what do I do if I suspect a friend is actually crushing on me?"
"Ask me in another five years. Maybe I'll have found the formula by then. Otherwise, I recommend being honest with yourself, praying, and doing what you need to do. Which should probably not involve kissing the other person, at least not until after you have established that you mutually want to be in a romantic relationship."