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My dear Jil, it’s always better to have certainty in a relationship. You cannot assume someone is going to marry you. You’ve got to know. It’s got to be definitive, or you may have disappointment. I once asked a pilot why some pilots smack the plane on the tarmac as they landed. (Like many I thought this was bad landing). But my pilot friend told me it was the contrary. That the impact gives certainty the plane touched the ground. He said the shock absorbers of planes are configured to handle multiple hard landings so no problem. Without that impact the plane may just be coasting on a thin cushion of air till it runs out of runway, and then disaster. Bottom line, the impact against the tarmac gives the pilot certainty. In the same vein you need certainty about the future.

You’re making a gross assumption this guy’s close friendship will translate into marriage. You’re reading everything he does in that light, interpreting everything to fit the narrative of assumption. And so when he invites you to movies you assume it is a practice run for marriage. Ditto when he confides in you the intimate details of his life. You assume you’re working towards marriage. You discuss plans for the future together and you assume he’s talking about his future and yours. And when he buys you gifts you assume the quality of the gifts signify marital intendment. You’ve seen his non commitment to female friends. This you assume means he’s holding out for you. That’s a lot of assumptions you’re carrying. Yes, you’re closest to him but you may be on different pages. From what you’ve said he seems a really nice guy, someone with a good heart. He’s obviously generous. His actions may be emanating from that good heart and not necessarily carry any special meaning.

My worry is that all those things he’s doing are also consistent with the actions of a guy towards his “sister.” And he seems to regard you as his sister. He said so. And so he treats you like family, like you’re his cousin. But you’re reading special meanings into these things and going about the relationship obliquely. I’ve seen this many times which is why I worry about your assumptions. That you have a design on him doesn’t mean he has a design on you. He may value you as a friend but not see you as wife. He may value you as “sister” but have no marital intentions. And so when he chooses someone else you’re going to be thoroughly disappointed. It’s going to hurt badly. But that’s because you’re making incredible assumptions. Unconfirmed assumptions. You think you’re in control of his world and his heart, and you may not be. You just may be in the part of his life you know. Definition matters in a relationship. Better to ascertain what exactly you are to this guy. It’s better to have that difficult discussion than to keep assuming he’s prepping you for marriage. It will be tough on you if things don’t go as imagined. You’ve been “together” for years.

In your mind’s eye you’ve eliminated all opposition thinking you’re the most qualified to marry him. But that’s your own assessment not his own assessment. He may not consider you wife material though he likes you. Men stratify “friendship material” from “wife material.” And there’s an incredible difference. As a friend there are things he may not like yet tolerate. He can afford to tolerate those things. He’s not marrying you. If you’re temperamental for example he may not see you as “wife material” yet abide you as a friend. The reason is because friendship only gives him minimal contact. He can endure. That temperament doesn’t affect going to movies together for example. It’s just two hours. Marriage is another thing entirely. He’s exposed to you 24 hours in perpetuity. That’s a different consideration. Ditto if you’re stubborn, or controlling, or selfish. He may not even consider you fine enough yet be friends with you. But you’re assuming access, interaction, confidentiality and socials automatically translate into marriage. That’s a gross and dangerous assumption and it often leads to disappointment. Why don’t you just have that discussion? It may be awkward but it’s better to be sure. Ask him what you are to him. Are you just friends? How does he see you? If he hesitates or edges, you have your answer. If he’s excited you brought up the talk and gives a definitive answer, you have certainty. Then you can begin formal relationship. To be sure ask him if you’re officially boyfriend and girlfriend then. Then you can go to town or change your Facebook status. But if you assume he’s thinking what you’re thinking, it may not be. In English that’s called cross purposes. If he’s not interested, you know you shouldn’t invest too much emotionally or financially. You don’t invest hope. You’ll still value him as a friend but now you know you should be on the lookout. You know you have to date another person. And you also know he can’t make inordinate demands on your time and emotions like before. You’re not his girlfriend.

Some of the disappointment about marriage can actually be quite innocent. Two people may just be working at cross purposes. That someone loves you as a friend doesn’t mean he likes everything about you or wants to marry you. It may just be that those things he doesn’t like are the very disqualifications about marriage. If you’re loud he may hate the loudness but yet admire the fact you can be yourself. I hope you understand. It may sound contradictory but matters of the heart can’t always be logicalized. The heart is a strange instrument. We’re the product of nature, nurture, experiences, indoctrination, circumstances, knowledge, cultures and philosophies. And if the relationship seems to be dangling in the air better bring it to ground by asking a direct question. Ask! If you don’t ask and he marries someone else believing you’re just “sister”, he won’t understand your disappointment. He’s then going to be asking questions about all those nice things you did, what the motivation was. There’s nothing like certainty in a relationship. And there’s nothing like definition. Ask about your status. If he’s thinking what you’re thinking, fantastic! If not you better thank God you asked. Some heartaches are avoidable.

Your mentor, LA

© Leke Alder |

For related letters, search for The Maku Matter, Parameters Of Choice and Are We There Yet? at

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Tags : Friendship, How men think, How men assess women, Attraction, Dating, Sincerity

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