I don't really have to expound too much on the value of friendship, but we should talk more about what it is because it's a way we instinctively organize ourselves - that is, without having to think about it. So it can entirely escape us as to what is friendship and what is not - I don't mean that you wouldn't know a friend from a stranger, but more that it's not often thought of explicitly and objectively.
I'm willing to accept that "friendship" means different things to different people, so for our purposes let's limit the scope of friendship to sustained, reciprocated one-to-one interactions.
These interactions happen for a reason - you want to be friendly, want be known as a friendly person, want what the other person may have to offer, whatever. They are reciprocated if you have something to offer that person and a lovely friendship is built.
This doesn't just happen at the flick of the switch. You can be "fast friends" but something has to happen, fast or slow, and it's not something that just exists by default.
I talked about that to lead us to something that's bugging me right now. We have this societal idea that "friendship" is the thing to default to when the desire to make out and perhaps make love isn't reciprocated. "Let's just be friends" and all that.
Yes, friendship is a good thing in and of itself - in fact, the LJBF phrase actually denigrates friendship for obvious reasons - but I'm of the opinion that when there's one-sided desire, it doesn't work very well - actually, it probably won't work at all, at least by my definition of friendship as a series of sustained, reciprocated one-to-one interactions. You can be civil acquaintances, sure - but friends? Really?
Usually a friend has something you want, and they're willing to give / share, and the converse. When you want to jump somebody's bones, and they're not feeling that, what do you have left to go on? What will make you forget a desire that can even overpower the needs to drink, eat and sleep and focus on the reciprocable one-to-one interactions?
It's become clear to me recently that the best thing to do is just get out of Dodge - at least in my present opinion. The situation is a basis for exploitation (of both the desired* and the desirer) as much as it is for friendship. Be civil, sure. Wave, chit-chat, whatever. Hell, maaaaybe they'll change their mind - it happens 99.99% of the time in Hollywood, but only about 0.01% of the time in real life, and good math and money says we ain't that one part in ten thousand, so don't get your hopes up.
Anyway, you shouldn't try very hard to "be friends." Forget about meeting them under the guise of doing stuff, for instance. Don't send cards and letters or (perish forbid!) flowers. There's just nothing healthy in it, because you never get what you want.
* - Some
Here are some lines I've received recently and my belated Monday Morning Quarterback™ rebuttals. If the deliverers of these lines happen to read this, please know that my point isn't to growl (though I'll growl a little here), I just want to educate myself on, and share with others, the patent ridiculousness of the lines.
- "I'm not really interested in dating right now." Please. Just stop at "not interested" (with an implicit "in you"). The "not right now" is down there with "sorry, I'm washing my hair tonight". It's code, and it's understood, but if you can, you really ought to be direct. There's already enough lying going on, and the recipient doesn't need the smack of being lied to on top of the unavoidable pain of rejection.
I stress that it's OK to lie if and when you feel the need to. I only ask, think about it first before you lie - you might not have to. Imagine what the recipient of this line will think of you if they know (and they'll probably know!) you're lying. Your desire not to look like a "bad guy" backfires completely.
Also, what if the recipient is inclined to 1) think you're telling the truth or 2) wish that you're telling the truth? In either case they may live on in false hope. ("She doesn't want to date now, but maybe in a month, or a year, or...") Just be direct.
Important: Sometimes this is actually the truth. Unfortunately, the speaker has the burden similar to the burden of convincing your junior high teacher that the dog really did eat your homework. This isn't fair, and the speaker might have to go the extra mile to convince the recipient - if in fact the speaker feels that the recipient is worth convincing. Some recipients aren't worth the trouble.
- "You're a great guy / friend." (But not good enough!) How can this create anything but resentment? Of course you're "great"! Mutual "greatness" has already been established, else you wouldn't be giving each other the time of day. And as "great" as you are, you're not going to get what you want. Ha-ha! Too bad for you, eh? If only you were someone completely different, then you might get what you want!
- "I really need to know - are we still friends?" Let's see: I want something you can't give me. So, by definition, no. ;-) But at the time I pulled some crap out of my ass about each inviting the other to parties (she'd meet my friends and I'd meet hers under this system) and maintaining some kind of active friendship. She was less than non-committal, which is just as well, because from my perspective putting energy into that "friendship" would be an unhealthy waste of time. I think now she was acting on her inclination to not be seen as a "bad guy" and my acceptance of her offer of "friendship" would absolve her.
But there is no "bad guy". Or at least there doesn't have to be. There's nothing wrong with not being interested, and there's nothing wrong with saying so. If the person you tell reacts poorly, that's their own damn problem. Cut them out and move on.