What Expectations Do We Have for Friends vs. Lovers?

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On a recent Saturday night, I agreed to accompany a male friend (I'll refer to him as B-) to a work function. B-'s company was throwing a dinner party at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and since I'd never been to a fancy party at a museum before, I figured it would be an interesting experience.

It was, indeed, an interesting and fun night. Before the party, we went to the rooftop bar at the W Hotel in D.C. to meet up with B-'s co-worker and his date. Once we got to the museum, we milled around with all the other people wearing black suits and black dresses (seriously, there were very few women wearing dresses with color -- for the record, mine was black as well), and then we ate really good food, had some drinks and danced.

The party started winding down around midnight, and by that point I was tired and ready to go home. However, B- wanted to go out with a few of his co-workers to a club or bar or something. I didn't ask him for specifics, because I didn't feel like going. (B- and I met through an online dating site last fall and went on four or five dates. We've stayed in touch through Facebook since we stopped seeing each other, but we were definitely hanging out that night on a "just friends" basis.)

With absolutely no animosity, I thanked B- for inviting me, told him he was free to continue his evening, and that I would take Metro home (there have been quite a few instances where I've taken Metro by myself late at night, so I wasn't worried about getting home.) B- was fine with this plan. He walked with me to the sidewalk outside the museum, waited while I asked someone for directions to the closest Metro, and then I went on my way.

The only thing that bothered me was that I didn't quite know where I was going. (Usually when I walk to the Metro by myself at night, I'm familiar with the area and know exactly where I'm going.) I knew where I was, and I had a general idea of where I should walk to find the Metro ... but the truth is, I had been drinking, and when I got to the area where I thought the Metro should be and I couldn't find it, I felt pretty frustrated. I ended up asking for directions from a stranger on the street who was able to point out where I needed to go.

(And then, being the nice soul that I am, when B- sent me a text at 3 a.m. asking if he could sleep at my place because he was too drunk to drive home, I walked downstairs to let him into my apartment building and let him sleep on my couch. (Although that was mostly due to the fact that he lives 20 miles outside of town, and I didn't want his life -- or the lives of other drivers -- on my conscience if something happened.)

It wasn't until a few days later -- when I relayed the events of that evening to two of my female co-workers -- that I thought about the situation again. It turns out these ladies were much more appalled at my story than I thought they would be, and they were certainly more appalled than I had been. The first point of contention was that they thought he should have left the party when I did, since I'd agreed to be his date and it was his responsibility to get me safely home. While I understood where they were coming from, I told them I wasn't upset about that. If he'd rather go out with other people, that was his choice.

Their second point of contention was that if he did let me leave without him, he should have at least made sure I got to the Metro safely. When I thought about that, I agreed with them. It certainly would have been the nice thing to do. Especially since I'm quite sure I have a number of male friends who would have insisted they help me locate the Metro before they let me go off by myself.

If B- and I were dating instead of just friends, it would have been a bigger deal that he didn't see me safely to the Metro. But I wasn't in a dangerous area, and I knew he wasn't trying to impress me, so that's why I didn't put too much thought into it.

I guess it's all about expectations. I tend not to have expectations of people until they've been a bigger part of my life than just a few dates. I'm not going to let someone walk all over me, but I try to be realistic.

Also, if we were on a date that night and he expected to see me again, this situation would have been different -- I strongly doubt I would have agreed to go out with him again. If you truly like someone, you want to impress them and you want to make sure they know you care about their well-being.

What do situations like this show me? That I know the kind of person I want to date, and that person is considerate and kind. I wasn't appalled at B-'s behavior, but neither was I impressed by it.

I want to be impressed.

Related Reading:

Totally Her: She’s Just Not That Impressed by You

Dating Over 40: I Let a Good One Get Away

50JDates is trying to figure out how to handle the guy she's currently dating.

(Contributing editor Zandria blogs at Zandria.us.)

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