Pretty much every failed relationship ends with the obligatory statement of 'Let's Be Friends'. Once the initial post-breakup pain has subsided, there are some people who think this is the most natural thing in the world--of course they want to stay friends with a person with whom they've shared so many past experiences, created memories and who know them more intimately on a physical and personal level than most others in the world. For them, maintaining this relationship is well worth the effort.
Then, there are those who think this is the most unnatural thing. Rejected and rebuffed, there's not enough space that can be put between them and this person who has either wronged them so deeply or whom they can no longer bear the sight of.
Although I fall into the former category, and still maintain friendships with a handful of people I've dated, I recently had a similar experience that gave me cause for pause. Except instead of deciding to maintain a friendship post breakup, we never dated to begin with.
To clarify, I went on a few dates with a person with whom I felt a connection but who said he experienced friendly rather than romantic vibes during our interactions. Part of what drew me to him was that he was a fellow writer and we commiserated over the shared difficulties of writing; we related on an intellectual level and I genuinely enjoyed talking with him.
So, after sulking for a brief moment, I did something I've never done before--I asked if he wanted to be friends. When girl friends asked what was the motivation to befriend someone who'd rejected me, I responded that, for better or worse, the rejection didn't even really cross my mind--the prospect of having this guy in my life in some capacity was far more appealing than not at all. Once I made the request--and he acquiesced, saying he shared my sentiments and had had a great time chatting as well, I felt no remorse whatsoever. It can be hard making friends as an adult, especially with someone who shares such similar interests. I didn't want to give that up. We've hung out since, had great conversations, and I feel completely content about the situation.
This interaction did however make me think about friendships in general. I was always the type of girl who had more male friends than female growing up and only recently has my group of girlfriends flourished past my core four or five. I'm thrilled to have them for all of the obvious reasons and feel like no one gets me quite as much as they do. That said, friendships with men bring key elements to the table that women just sometimes can't. And in fact, the diversity in my friend group makes me appreciate my respective shared and alone time with them each all the more.
So my parting words are, next time you go on a date, maybe just think about it as meeting a new friend rather than putting on the pressure of a date. Who knows, even if you're not a romantic match, maybe you'll make a new friend in the process.