I was talking with my friend John about our mutual friend Leila and her boyfriend. Leila started to date Chris a couple of months back. They've been seeing one another quite a bit. He lives in New York so she's been flying there and he's been flying back here. They talk on the phone every day and I get the sense he is truly into her. But when I meet Chris for the first time this weekend, I am not too impressed.
"What is it," I ask John. "Is it me or is he really just not all that great?"
John laughs. "What did you expect?" He asks. "What does it take for your friends' dates to be really great in your book?"
That's a good question that he brings up. Is it that no one is every going to be good enough for my friends?
It's not that, I realize. It's that some people, when you meet them, you immediately see a match. And with Leila and Chris--I simply don't. It's not there. Not one bit. Not at all.
John says no way. He knows plenty of couples that I would never put together but are doing just fine. "All my women friends don't like their best friends' dates." He says. "Maybe that's the same in your case."
I want to rebuff but I stop to think about it. Is that true? I guess I never really thought of which of my friends' boyfriends I like. But there were definitely a few. So it's not just that. Maybe with years and experience we become more suspecting--especially since when things are done, we're the ones picking up the pieces that those boyfriends leave behind.
What I realize is that in a way, from being my friends' cheer leader when it comes to dating, I've become a cautious escort, walking one step behind them when it comes to the start of relationships. With every step they take and with every hesitation they express, I ask, "are you sure? " It must be a strange shift for them. When they date we connect and bond over the excitement of potential. As soon as a relationship starts to form, that bond is changed--to some degree it may even be broken--and I take on a chaperon's voice.
My friends don't need me as their chaperon, that's clear. And no matter what, when they finally declare that this is the one, I'll be there with my metaphorical pompoms again. I guess after so many disappointments, repeating patterns, and their own doubt at the start of the relationship, I may just be slower to warm up.
In the end, both Leila and I want the same thing: a certainty he's the right guy for her. As for my previous notion that when people are a good fit it just shows--well, I'll just have to keep it as a metric for my own match. Who's to say we all need to have the same "he's ideal" signs in mind?