why she puts you in the friend zone

so yesterday one of my dumb twitter twaddle lines struck a nerve.  apparently an exposed nerve that was stabbed and set on fire.

#WhyDoFemales Always fall for the bad guys and friend zone the good guys?

i’ve written about how to get out of the friend zone here and here, but realized i haven’t much considered the “why” of the whole thing.

turns out, it’s really pretty simple.

first, let’s deal with why the jackholes never end up friend zoned and seem to get the girl.

are you ready for this?  it’s a mind blower…

they never want to be friends.

yeah, let that sink in a second.

those guys go straight for the kill and move on if the shot doesn’t land.  can’t be friend zoned if you don’t want to be friends.  and why do girls fall for them?  easy.  the aggressive approach is flattering and kinda hot.  not gonna lie.  girls will fall for it over and over again because it’s exciting, a serious boost to the ego and addicting as crack.  i know it was for me.

but a girl with sense and value will eventually get over it and desire something else.  something more real.  do. not. mistake. this. for. settling.  did i use enough periods to make my point?  it is not settling, it’s maturing.  it is finally realizing that the real prize is in the kindness.  it’s in the friend.

so here’s where it gets 50 shades of grey, but not 50 Shades of Grey, iykwim…well, maybe it kinda does eventually.  hopefully.

there are reason why you guys end up in the friend zone.  some might surprise you.

  • self-inflicted – if i were going to pick just one reason to rule them all, it would be this one.  she might put you there initially, but it is ENTIRELY up to you how long you stay there.  from a nanosecond to years…your choice.
  • she doesn’t know any better – oh man, this was me.  i had exactly 2 boyfriends in high school and it was because they both showed immediate interest in me as datable.  there was no question about their intent.  every other guy i knew was friend zoned because i didn’t think there was any other option.  i assumed if they didn’t come right out and jump me (so to speak), then friends we would be.  turns out, i frustrated a lot of guys.  they all thought my friend zone was Fort Knox, when it was really made of cellophane.
  • appreciates you, but not attracted to you – ouch.  yeah, i know.  but it happens.  she knows you’re a great guy and values your company and friendship, but biology just isn’t cooperating.  nothing to be done about that.  this happened with one of my best friends.  the only one to ever try and tear through my cellophane, except Craig, of course.  he made it clear from the 7th grade all the way through graduation that all i had to do was say “yes”.  i never did.  i adored him.  still do.  the chemistry was just never there for me.  and he’s not unattractive.  quite the opposite.  he’s a very handsome ginger.  if you ask me why it never happened, i won’t have an answer, because i really don’t know.  what i do know is that even though i rarely ever see him anymore, he is still my friend.
  • she’s a Lucy – she’s using you.  happens more than you might think.  you’re her security blanket.  keeping you and your admiration around makes her feel better about herself.  oh yes.  it’s the height of selfishness.  being the nice guy you are, you will stick around way longer than you should because “she needs you.”  bullshizzle.  what she needs is to grow up and stop sucking other people you dry to suit her own end.  that end being where she runs back to you to refill her tank when the guy she really wants has bolted.

not sure whether i’ve made things better or worse for you today.  guess you’ll have to tell me.

any other reason girls will put guys in the friend zone?

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using your friends as a security blanket

since we’ve been talking about cross-gender friendships, i figured i’d just stay with it.  i’m boring like that.

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sorry, had to mute a documentary on the polyurethane skate wheel.  it was distracting me.

anyhoo, having friends of the opposite sex is great and all.  sometimes.  but if you are using them as your own personal Cloak of Invisibility, we’ve got a problem.  and by we, i mean you.  Harry Potter reference is free of charge.

going out with your friends is a hoot.  but it’s also an opportunity to meet other people.  specifically, datable people.

ladies, guys are going to be less likely to approach you if you have boy “friends” attached to the hip of your low-rise jeans.  dudes don’t know if one of those other dudes you’re with is into you or you’re into him, so they keep their distance.  it’s part of the guy code.

guys, when you’re out with your girl “friends” and giving them all of your attention, you are sending “not accessible” vibes.  and “not accessible” is whole lot different than “not interested”.  “not interested” can work in your favor.  “not accessible” is just a boundary most women won’t bother with.

the solution,  stop it.

easy.  done.

but sharideth, that means i have to give up my comfort zone and put myself out there and talk to people i don’t know!!

yep.  that’s what that means.  the longer you stay hidden behind your friends, male or female, the longer you’ll be alone and frustrated.

sharideth, you’re not very nice.

no.  i’m not.  welcome to my blog.

but sharideth, why do you keep pretending like we’re talking to you?  you’re not Jim Gaffigan.

because i’ll steal ideas from whoever i please and again, welcome to my blog.

short blog short, the next time you go out, leave your friends of the opposite sex behind and mingle.  i know it sounds 6 shades of terrifying to some of you, but you’re a grown up.  you can do this.

do you use your friends as shields?

is it scary for you to talk to strangers?

“why men and women can’t be friends” part 2

so the video i posted on friday kinda hit a nerve with a lot of yous guys and dolls.

i got a tweet asking about me weighing in on the comments and honestly, i chose not to on friday.  sometimes i feel like if i start commenting, other people will stop and the conversation got really good without me.

however, even my considerable relational skills will not be able to end the debate of whether or not men and women can be just friends. 

but today i’m posting my thoughts for everyone to see.  i did this once before, too, but i’m coming from a different angle today.

i’m a married woman.  most of my closest friends are men.  all of those men are also friends of my husband’s.  a couple of them i spend time alone with on occasion and this is not a big deal for us.  my husband has female friends, who are also my friends, he has spent time alone with.

this works for us.  we don’t have any trust issues about it.  what we do have is boundaries.  those boundaries are few but finite.

1.  do not discuss your personal problems with someone of the opposite sex.  you should be talking to your spouse about whatever it is you’re going through, not someone else of the opposite sex.

2.  do not complain about your spouse to someone of the opposite sex.  confiding in someone of the opposite sex about problems in your marriage is just not appropriate.  it makes the other person want to intervene and/or protect and it’s just not his or her place to be involved that way.

3.  no placing a friend of any gender before your spouse.  i’ve seen friendships with people of the same sex be just as damaging as those with someone of the opposite sex.  no one, no one, no one should have priority in your time or emotions over your spouse.

4.  no spending time alone with opposite sex friends who make your spouse uncomfortable.  this is a matter of respect.  if your spouse is not comfortable with you spending time with a friend of the opposite sex, don’t do it.

i’ve seen exceptions to #1 be made and it worked out fine.  generally because it was kept to a single conversation that prompted the married person to talk to their spouse or because the person of the opposite sex was also married and was assisting with counseling as an extension of the couple.  however, that is dangerous territory unless you are absolutely certain your friend is capable of objectivity.

if you’re single, the rule is simple.  if a you have a friend who is into you and you know you will never feel the same, cut him or her loose.  do not be so selfish that you continue to let that person hope for a change in status just to stroke your ego or have a security blanket.  the rest is really up to you and your friends.

truth?  the answer to this big ‘ol monstrous question is whatever you want it to be.  what works for you, isn’t what works for everyone.  there’s not even a whole lot of morality attached to it.  either you are capable of it or you’re not.  either your friends are or they’re not.  everyone is different.

craig and i realize our boundaries are wider than others.  we get judged for it pretty regularly.  but it works for us, though it probably wouldn’t work for everyone.  and for good reason.  but those reasons change from one person to the next.

all you can do is decide what works for you and make sure you don’t hurt anyone else in the process.

what are you boundaries with friends of the opposite sex?

presents that say, “let’s be friends and not date”

consider this post like chili that’s better the next day.  it’s an updated version of a post from last Christmas, but i thought it might bear repeating.

also, we still need $400 $300 more to reach our $600 goal for a single mom and her 5 children.  my friend Jiffy who works with them told the family about our endeavor here at the blog and the mom cried.  her family was facing having absolutely nothing for Christmas and now they have hope of something to unwrap.  please give.  no amount is too small…or too large.  MAKE A DONATION

due to timing issues, i have had to shorten the due date of donations to Monday the 12th. 

presents that say, “let’s be friends and not date”

why don’t you just ask me to explain string theory?  it might be easier.

first of all, giving a girl a gift, any gift, will be interpreted as you wanting to date her if she wants to interpret it that way.  you could give her socks and Starbucks mints (aka: napalm for your mouth) and, if she’s into you, she’ll think, “he wants me to be warm while he kisses me on my minty fresh mouth.”  while you, on the other hand, simply couldn’t think of anything better than socks and you saw her buy Starbucks mints once and figured she was out.

i’m of the opinion that you should err on the side of she’s-going-to-read-too-much-into-this.  if both of you are DEFINITELY on the same page about your friendship, fine.  get her whatever you want.  she’ll appreciate something that took thought and not try to sit on your lap.  however, if there’s ANY question about how she feels about you, you need to be very careful.  anything that could at all be seen as a personal gesture by you, will be blissfully received by her as some sort of declaration.  she may even convince herself that the gift is your subconscious telling her that you feel more for her than you realize.

nope.  i’m not joking.

happens all the time.  girls are weird like that.

even if she doesn’t come to that conclusion, her friends might.  then you’ve got a gaggle of misunderstanding on your hands.

either way, when she finally figures out you don’t intend to date her, you’ll be the bad guy.  you’ll be the one who mislead her with your socks and Starbucks mints.  lame?  unfair?  bat $#!+ crazy?  yes.  but that’s the reality.

since anything you give her can be interpreted as you wanting to date her, i’m going to give some “don’ts” instead.  hopefully these will help you avoid the awkwards.

1.  don’t single her out – make a list of friends (how long is totally up to you) and buy them all gifts.  it could even be the same gift, doesn’t really matter.  but if she thinks she’s the only one you bought for, you’re in trouble.

2.  don’t buy her anything drinkable or edible – wine and chocolate, or the like, are considered very romantic.  don’t do that.  if you’re buying the same thing for everyone and it happens to be consumable, that’s fine.

3.  don’t buy her perfume – in her mind, this will only solidify your desire to smell her neck.  and it’s always best to never trust your own judgment when it comes to what smells good.  unless, we have since learned, it smells like food.

4.  don’t buy her “let’s hang out” gifts – movie tickets, dinner for two certificates, tickets to (insert favorite sporting event here).  this will make it way too easy for her to assume that you intend to share in this gift with her.  the exception is if you designate it to be used with someone other than you.

5.  don’t make it too initimate – proving you know her so well that you can pick the exact right thing only she would love, is like defcon 5 of danger-love zone.  you’ve just given her the green light to adore you and expect hearts and flowers next.

i know this isn’t the “buy her rock candy” post you were looking for, but hopefully having some parameters to your gift giving will help you out.  keeping a clear intent behind the gift is much more important than the gift itself.

good luck with that.

all right girls, help the boys out.  what gift would say, “awesome! we’re friends!” if you received it from a guy?

and again i say DONATE!

ask sharideth: letter #8

okay so it’s not really a letter.  it’s a single question.  but it got asked, so i’m going to answer it.

How the heck do you ask a close friend of 11 years out on a date? Serious question…~Brian of Comment Fame

here’s my serious answer, Famous Brian.

you just ask.

if you have known someone that long, you should have a close enough relationship to simply say hey, “what do you say about letting me buy you dinner on friday?”

stop freaking out.  breathe.  i know what you’re thinking…

“what if she says no and hates me forever for ‘ruining’ our friendship?”

so what if she does?  at least you’ll know and you can stop beating your head against that particular wall and move on to another that might actually have a door.

the truth is, if she says no, it will be awkward for a while, but if you are truly friends, she will eventually get over it and you can joyfully skip back down the path to Platonicville.

but if she says yes…

you just might have the makings of something that other people will envy for decades.

there is a door number 3 though…

it’s a bit more subtle.  you can just start taking her out without calling it a date (just make sure you pay).  eventually you’re going to have let her know your ulterior motives and then you’re back to option #1.  however, there are 2 things you need to weigh against each other before trying this approach.

1. this could solidify your permanent residency in the friend box.  it’s a big risk.  if she thinks it’s “safe” to be with you alone and doesn’t consider it dating, you’re pretty much screwed.

2.  if she is into you, the subtle approach can provide an organic way to make your move.

a friend of mine was telling me that a girl he wanted for years had just gotten married.  he was all mopey and “why did she marry him?” blah blah whine blah.  my answer to him, “if she’s married and you did nothing to let her know how you felt ahead of time, you blew it.”

harsh?  yes.  but true none-the-less.  turns out, she’d wanted him, too.  something he found out a year after she got married.

moral of the story?  when it comes to love, especially with someone you know so well, leave nothing on the table.  the risk is worth the reward.  oh yeah, i’m geting all cliche’ up in here.

for some added wisdom on getting her to think of you as a man instead of her girlfriend, read this.

okay readers.  you guys are always good at this stuff.  what would you tell our friend, Brian?

 

 

an open letter to nice guys

is that a v-neck i see?

 

dear nice guys,

saying that nice guys finish last is like saying you found your left Beatle boot in the last place you looked.  well, duh.  of course you did.  when you find what you’re looking for, you stop looking.  it may take her a while to get to you, but a good girl will find you.  eventually.

you are the catch.  you are the prize in the Cracker Jack box.  if Ed McMahon were still alive, he’d deliver you to someone’s door with balloons and a giant check.

but you have one glaring problem that sets things back and probably frustrates the crap out of you.

being put in the “friend” box. and unless you’re Criss Angel, you’re not getting out.

you heard me.  you know it happens.  i know it happens.  if it were a crime to do that to a guy, i’d have spent my prime high school years in jail.  guilty as charged.  throw the book at me.  make it War and Peace, hardcover.

am i going to tell you to be less nice to break the cycle?  yes….  no…. sort of.  but not really.  it will just kind of feel that way.

1.  you’re a good listener, not a receptacle for all misery – when you allow a girl to constantly dump her every woe on your head, she’s never going to see you as a “guy”.  you won’t want to hurt her feelings by cutting her off, but believe me, you are not doing her any favors by letting her wallow.

2.  making her uncomfortable can be sexy – the next time a girl starts to tell you how much she hates her retail job, or how her BFF always takes advantage of her by stealing her clothes, instead of empathizing and making soothing noises, say something like, “how’s that working out for you?”  when she gets mad at you and asks what you mean, and she will, just remind her both those situations are fixable, she just has to decide to change them.  put it back on her.  you’re not letting her be a victim and she’s looking at you totally differently.  you’ve just shocked your way out of the friend box.

3.  you’re not always available – stop dropping what your doing to be her girlfriend.  you know exactly what i mean by that.  don’t lie.  she snaps, you hop.  she pouts, you pet.  quit it.  it diminishes your value to her when you appear needy.  and let me tell you, being constantly ready to jump when she calls, seems needy.  knock it off.

4.  no more pedestals! – you think you’re making her feel special by putting her on a pedestal.  she’s feeling like she’s got farther to fall.  she’s not perfect.  you know it and she sure as shootin’ knows it.  quit idealizing her.  treat her like a person, flaws and all.  when she says something dumb, feel free to laugh at her.  when she does something really right, tell her “well done” but don’t fawn all over her.  pedestals = sucking up.  give her a reason to feel like she’s earned something from you instead of throwing all your adoration at her.

you’re a nice guy, not a pushover.  don’t fear the conflict.  you can’t strike a spark without hitting a rock. being 100% non-threatening, is BO-RING.  keep it between 90 and 95% and you’re golden.

you are the win.  start freaking acting like it.

sincerely yours,

me

what did i miss?  what are some other nice guy issues?  ever found yourself stuck in the “friend” box?

just friends…yep, i’m gonna go there.

my husband was a bride’s maid once.

i’ll let you absorb that for a second.

his best friend all through high school was a girl.  they never dated each other.  never wanted to date each other.  they were really, say it with me, just friends.  when she got married, she wanted him in the wedding party.  he was a bride’s maid.  fortunately he got to stand with the guys and wear Chuck Taylors with his tux.  we’ve been in 4 weddings where Chuck Taylors were required.  not exactly sure what that says about our friends.  but i digress.

craig managed to have a close friend who was a girl and it worked out just fine.  her parents even trusted him enough to leave him alone in the house with her younger sister (my best friend in high school) who was recovering from minor surgery while the rest of the family was out of town.  said younger sister just celebrated her 17th wedding anniversary with craig’s college roommate.  friends and lovers.  it can work out.

but…

and this is kardashian sized but…

it can get complicated.

doing the research on whether or not men and women can really just be friends was exhausting.  honestly, the statistics and findings were all over the map.  Psychology Today says yes, but with about a gazillion qualifiers.  survey groups swung from of course! to absolutely not!  while others divided straight down the middle.  however, the common thread in all of it, that everyone focused on as the determining factor in the success or failure of male-female friendships, is how to deal with, drum roll, sexual tension.

you guys know this can get in the way, but don’t actually care much since you tend to start friendships with girls because of sexual attraction anyway.  gross generalization, i know.  but it has plenty of truth to it.

for girls it’s different.  those 80’s movie clichés about the guy getting stuck in “friend mode” are real.  what’s not real, is the girl suddenly waking up and realizing that she really does love him romantically and they live happily ever after.  okay, to be fair, it can be real.  that’s exactly how it happened for craig and i, but it’s not that common.  girls’ ability to disconnect friendship from sex makes it easier for them to believe they are in a totally platonic friendship.  most of my guy friends in high school got cemented in that brotherly role for me.  some were okay with it.  some, i found out later, wanted to bash me over the head with the magic wand of lust.  i was totally clueless.  my advice?  if you want to date the girl you’re friends with, tell her.  if she completely rejects you and the friendship ends, that’s actually all right.  you can move on.  and you should move on.  craig did that.  told me he wanted to date me.  i didn’t speak to him for 3 months.  then we became friends again and about a year and half later, we were engaged.  sound confusing and contrary?  it is.  but it’s the best i can do with this particular relational nightmare.

the male-female friendship does have a dark side for girls though.

when it’s the guy who doesn’t see the girl as anything other than a friend but she’s into him, it can get messy.  a girl will be anything, do anything, give up anything if she holds out even the most remote hope that he will come around.  of course this is not always the case.  there are girls out there who can stay cool and maintain the friendship while working through the process of letting other feelings go.  but, frankly, they’re rare.  a guy friend of mine was seriously pining after his ex-girlfriend.  his close friend, a girl, was in love with him.  desperately.  it was actually hard to watch.  she’d drop what ever she was doing, night or day, to be there if he called.  she ignored other potential relationships and loathed his ex.  he knew all of this.  his ex started dating someone else and he did something incredibly stupid.

he started dating his friend.  she was in heaven!  and he was using her to get at his ex.

i took him aside and told him he was cruel and totally mental.  cruel for using his friend’s feeling for his own ends and mental for thinking it was going to work.

he went to his friend and told her that i said he should break up with her and did it.  so now she hated me, too.  fortunately he also told her my reasons because although it took her 5 YEARS to get over him and forgive me.  she did both.  but it cost her heavily.

moral of the stories?

there are rules.  in all the research i did, there are common threads of advice that make all kinds of sense.  they aren’t miracle cures to solve all the ills of the guy-chick jumble but they sure can’t hurt.

1. be honest with her and yourself. in order for a real male-female friendships to work, there has to be understanding on both sides.  this is easier when one or the other is already in a committed relationship because the boundaries are automatically set.  however, if both people are unattached, then you have to make sure you are both on the same page.  if you see the signs that she’s becoming like the girl who was in love with my friend, and they’re pretty obvious, you need to make sure she understands that it’s never going to happen.  you may even have to end the friendship for her sake.  if you’re the one that’s hung up on her, tell her.  then you can decide together how best to handle it.

that’s it.  just 1.  i know i’m a list maker but in this case, the best and only thing you can do to have successful girl-boy friendships is to talk.  communicate.  make sure you’re both walking down the same emotional path.  there may come a point when one or the other has to veer off.  that’s all right.  it happens.  and being attracted at some point isn’t the end of the world.  that happens, too.  either the shine will wear off and you can go back to being “just friends” or you have to choose a different path.  it could be with her, it could be without.  but at least you’ll know the person well enough to make the decision that’s best for both of you.  because after all, you’re friends.

there are more rules when you are in a committed relationship with someone else and trying to maintain friendships with girls.  but that’s a blog for another day.