GLENDALE, CA—Expressing a desire to "slow things down and keep it casual," Troy Lanier, 28, said Monday that his friendship with Scott Perotta, 27, is moving way too fast.
"[Scott]'s a nice enough guy, but I've only known him for, like, five weeks, and he already acts like we're best friends," said Lanier, a Glendale-area insurance adjuster. "I wish I had stronger feelings for him, but I don't. I just don't know where I want this friendship to go, and I need the space to figure it all out."
Seen as a potentially good match based on their shared love of martial-arts films, Lanier and Perotta were introduced by a mutual friend in early January.
"The first night we hung out, we went to see Five Fingers Of Death at the revival theater," Lanier said. "It was nice, but things started accelerating much too quickly from there. He's always inviting me out to do stuff, and he calls me every time there's a Jackie Chan movie on TV. Within a few weeks of meeting Scott, I was talking to him more than Rob [Poehler], who's been my best friend since high school."
Lanier said he has been reluctant to give Perotta his e-mail address, fearing it will only accelerate the friendship.
"I just know he'd be e-mailing me every day," Lanier said. "He's always talking about these funny things he sees on the Internet. I've been thinking about setting up a special Yahoo! account and giving him that address with the caveat that I only check it once in a while, but that seems like an awful lot of effort to deal with someone I barely know."
According to Lanier, Perotta has also attempted to strengthen their bond through the disclosure of highly personal information.
"I know more about Scott than I do about people I've known for years," Lanier said. "He told me about how his mother was an alcoholic and how his uncle committed suicide in his garage. I try to steer the conversation back to neutral subjects, but try bringing up Sammo Hung movies after someone tells you his ex-girlfriend was sexually molested when she was 12."
Lanier has also taken exception to Perotta's habit of referring to him by nicknames.
"He's always calling me things like 'Laney' or 'Troy-Boy,'" Lanier said. "My old high-school friends and I have nicknames for each other, but that's different. Until we've known each other a while, I'd prefer to be called Troy—or, at worst, Lanier."
The final straw, Lanier said, came this past Sunday, when he received an unexpected gift from Perotta.
"He stopped by my house to borrow a CD, and my heart just dropped when he handed me a present," Lanier said. "It was a poster for They Call Me Bruce. I like the movie okay, but there's no way I'm putting it on my wall. That's the last thing I need, for Scott to come over and see some token of our everlasting friendship hanging over my bed."
Lanier said the situation might have been different had he met Perotta when he was in college.
"I was more open to meeting new people back then," Lanier said. "You live in the dorms, you meet people in classes, you go to parties, and so on. But I have so much more going on in my life now. Before I get too deep into a new friendship, I've got to make sure it's going to be worth the trouble to maintain."
Dr. Karen Franks, a Cornell University sociologist, said Lanier's predicament is not unusual.
"People make friends at different speeds," Franks said. "The key is to be honest and firm with people who try to take things too fast. Troy and Scott may end up being best friends someday, but until then, they should proceed at a rate comfortable for them both. If they don't, things will burn out, leaving one of them spending months awkwardly trying to get back his Jet Li DVDs."