Veronica Grace would like to tell you her own experiences with the dreaded “friend-zone”.
I saw an awesome poetry slam today by Dylan Garity. He talked about The Friend Zone and made me think that he was the guy version of me in high school. You see, there was a guy I wanted. Badly. For years. Badly. Did I mention badly? He wasn’t one of those totally out of reach guys, like the captain of the football team of teen movies. I didn’t want him from afar, I wanted him from up close. He would have claimed that his closest guy friend was his best friend, but I was the one he called when he was sad. I was the one he talked to for hours. He talked to me about his hard family stuff and depression and silly stuff and the girls he wanted. He talked to me about how things went when he dated those girls, or got turned down. We didn’t call it The Friend Zone back then, we called it being “just friends.”
After I graduated there was a dude. We had a mutual friend who would come by my work serendipitously whenever I needed to move and ask “How are you doing?” When I’d explain I had to move and had no idea how I was going to get my bed down my apartment stairs much less across town in my tiny car. He would say “Don’t worry about it! We’ll be there at 9 am.” Then on that day he would show up with the dude who would have borrowed a truck and they would help me move.
Even the second or third time that helpful dude came to my rescue he didn’t really know me because he didn’t talk to me. He just worked his ass off and then disappeared from my life until the next time. I thought he was cute, but he didn’t seem to notice me. I knew he was super smart and I figured I just wasn’t smart enough to be that interesting to him.
It wasn’t just moving either, he helped me fix my computer a few times. I wanted to pay him but he would only accept Doritos and Mountain Dew. He seemed uncomfortable with my thank yous. After I got married and moved out of state I emailed him a few times but he didn’t really keep in touch.
When I see people talk about The Friend Zone it always seems to be in the context of a guy who made a “mistake” by being “too nice” and therefore allowing a woman to put him in the “no sex zone.” My MO is to fall for my guy friends. I spent many years living in The Friend Zone of different male friends before and after my divorce. I never thought that I had made a mistake by being a good friend. It was painful, but I figured that I just wasn’t a match for them. That didn’t keep me from daydreaming that the current friend guy would, in stereotypical movie fashion, suddenly realize that they’d been in love with me all along. As often happens to me, not getting what I wanted turns out far better than I could have dreamed.
Nine years after moving out of state, I moved back to California. I had gone through a difficult divorce and some difficult healing time. That old mutual friend looked me up. He mentioned the helpful dude and said “He’s single.” I said “Yeah, but he was never interested in me that way.” To which the friend responded, “You couldn’t be more wrong.”
I was surprised, it occurred to me that maybe I had unnecessarily put myself in The Friend Zone this time. So I emailed him. I still felt grateful to him for all of the help he had given me without ever expecting anything in return, but mostly I wanted to do something nice for him. Now that I’d been out in the world I knew how rare that kind of generous help was. So I invited him over to watch Serenity and I baked him Oatmeal cookies, his favorite. Later I went to his house and helped him do some serious cleaning for upcoming visitors. He didn’t seem to know what to do with me, but I wasn’t going to give up on having such an amazing friend so easily. We were able, finally after all of those years, to really get to know each other and became good friends.
Being good friends did not stop us from falling in love. I married my helpful dude and you guessed it, he helped me move again, this time, in with him. He is still my generous hearted best friend. There is no doubt in my mind that every time he helped me, he did so expecting nothing in return. That is one of the very special things about him. These days when I ask him for help on something he likes to smile and say “The Dude abides.”
Looking back I see that the only place I ever looked for love or sex was in The Friend Zone, that’s just how I’m wired. To the guys who have spent time in my Friend Zone, I valued you as friends and I promise I would have loved you that way if I could.
Image: cali4beach / flickr
Dylan Garity – “Friend Zone” (Button Poetry First Readings)