We’ve looked at the KISA and the BBTGB. There’s one more category that is exhibited in romance novels and movies, and that’s the GBWP. The Good Boy Waiting Patiently is best shown in movies like When Harry Met Sally, and Made of Honor. It’s even shown in reverse in Some Kind of Wonderful, where the girl is the GBWP.The Good Boy Waiting Patiently is the male best friend. He’s the guy that brings her ice cream and lets her cry on his shoulder when a Bad Boy dumps her or a Knight’s armor loses its shine. Often, he exhibits a lot of the same characteristics of a KISA: solving her problems, coming to her rescue, and trying hard to be the ideal guy she’s looking for. He makes her laugh, and goes shopping or watches chick flicks with her. Once she comes around to realizing he loves her, and she loves him, he seems like the ideal guy.In a romance novel, or a movie, he is the ideal guy, and they do live happily ever after. In real life, it’s not nearly that simple. Most people swear there are only two reasons that a man would be such good friends with a woman: he’s gay or he only wants to sleep with her. While these may be true sometimes, there are other reasons this kind of relationship doesn’t work out:
- By the time the woman comes around to realizing that her male best friend is into her, he’s gotten tired of waiting for her. He’s moved on to find a woman who wants to be with him, leaving her hurt and frequently confused.
- They get together, and he realizes that she is not the great catch he was convinced she was. While they were just friends, he often was convinced (by her claims) that she was not responsible for the failure of her relationships, but once they get together, he discovers that she is, in fact, somewhat responsible. She wants to be treated like a princess and not take on an equal role in the relationship, or has demands that he can’t/won’t meet. He ends the relationship.
- He changes to become like all the other men she dates, hoping that that will make her notice him as more than just a friend. This sometimes works, and sometimes it just happens that around the time that she decides to give him a shot, he makes that change. Unfortunately, this change is not what she was looking for in a man, and since now he is like all the other men she’s dated, this relationship will fail just as all the others did.
- Once they get together, the woman realizes that he’s really not her type. He’s wonderful as a friend, great to talk to, hang out with, and share a few hobbies with, but when it comes to sharing her life with him on a romantic, intimate level, he’s just not what she wants.
- They get together, but he’s spent so many months or years waiting patiently for his turn, biting his tongue, and trying to do and/or be what she wants that he ends up being very passive. He leaves all the decision making to her, letting her dictate everything from what they’ll eat for dinner on a given night to the fact that they’ll get married. Of course, no one wants a partner that is this passive and most people lose respect for this kind of partner. So she ends the relationship in order to find a man who is more decisive and has boundaries.
The one thing that is common to all of these is that the friendships generally don’t withstand the attempt and failure of the relationship.
Any solid relationship is based on friendship. Often, people start dating someone they don’t know and don’t bother to try to build that friendship. They try to make the leap from strangers to couple, which can make for a rocky relationship. Sometimes people take the notion that a relationship should be based on friendship and assume that it means that they should date a friend. That’s how the GBWP gets the girl; she has that realization and decides to date the GBWP.
A few ideas about avoiding the GBWP failed relationship:
- Don’t assume that just because you are great friends that you will also be a great couple. Evaluate what it is that makes you great friends. Is it really enough to build a relationship on? There need to be enough common interests to keep you talking and enjoying each other’s company indefinitely; physical attraction to keep you interested in each other; similar enough personalities that you could potentially spend the rest of your lives together without shortening those lives by killing each other because you can’t get along.
- Don’t assume that just because he knows all your secrets and has seen you at your worst (red eyes from crying over another jerk, sweats, ratty hair, pissed off at the world) that you can be that way all the time. If you’re going to get into a relationship with a friend, you have to remember that now he is your boyfriend first, friend second. A boyfriend who loves you will be fine with seeing you in old sweats with messy hair sometimes, but he’s also going to want to see you dressed up, hair done, ready to go out and make him proud as his girlfriend.
- Don’t take control of the relationship. Leave some decisions up to him to make. If you disagree about something, say so. Contrary to what some believe, differences of opinion and arguing are healthy for a relationship, if handled properly.
- Be sure that you are willing to risk your friendship for this relationship. If the relationship fails, it is very unlikely that you will continue to be friends, or at least with the same closeness you once had. You need to be very sure that you are prepared to lose this friend. If you’re not prepared to give up your friend, then think very hard before dating him.
- Keep in mind that if you categorized him as a friend from the start and only now saw the possibility of something more, that it’s very likely the relationship won’t work simply because you really aren’t that interested in him. Think about all the men you meet and generally know right away or very quickly that you want to date him. If you never felt that way about the GBWP, that’s a strong sign that dating him would be a bad idea.
Romance novels and movies are great for entertainment. But it’s important to remember that that is all they are: entertainment. What happens in a book or movie is fiction – it’s a fantasy. It never happens that way in real life; if it did, who would bother to read a book or watch a movie?
Real relationships, ones with solid foundations that really last, are built on friendship, mutual respect and trust, and equality. The three categories I went over in this series all resulted in a very one-sided relationship.
If you truly want a lasting, stable relationship, it’s important to be friends with your partner. Get to know your partner well, and make sure your partner gets to know you. Keep getting to know each other; there’s always something else to learn about a person.
Be equals with your partner. There will be times when one partner gives more and the other takes more, but that situation also reverses itself. The point is to be sure that you are not always the one taking more or giving more. If you are, figure out why.
Respect and trust your partner. You can’t expect things you aren’t willing to give. If you expect him to solve all your problems, be prepared to solve all of his. Remember that you won’t always agree, and that there will be rough times in your relationship. You have to work through those times; unlike a romance novel, no one’s going to suddenly give in or have a sudden realization that they can’t live without you. You have to talk, and work at the relationship. If you don’t put in the effort, the relationship won’t last.
Lastly, don’t categorize a man. Get to know him for who he is, good or bad. Use your realistic list of what you need and want from a relationship and a man to determine if he’s someone who might be right for you. If he’s not, gracefully let him go and don’t think you can change him or convince him to be who or what you want. People do not fit in boxes, and if you try to force him into one, you’ll stifle his personality and that will end things just as quickly as anything else.
Love is not a fairy tale. I should know – I write them. 🙂
© 2011 by Wendy Miller
Originally published on Yahoo! Voices, August 2011
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