In the not too distant past, I read a Tumblr post entitled, “Why Do Men Keep Putting Me in the Girlfriend-Zone?” To summarize the author’s supposedly satirical article, she complains about how her male friends, after a certain amount of time in their friendship, end up professing feelings for her. Oh God! How could this possibly be?! Why on Earth would a guy — after getting to know a woman really well through friendship — end up liking her? This is, of course, opposed to going through the more traditional and fraudulent industry of dating where people spend months omitting crucial personal details (I’m moving to another country in three months), hiding idiosyncrasies (I’m addicted to really weird porn) and outright lying (I’m single), all in the hopes of causing someone to feel so invested in the relationship that they’ll overlook all this and decide to carry on dating.
How in the hell does a guy become attracted to the real version of a woman who he’s seen without makeup on, and who he knows the real sex history and dating life of? How could he think the fact that they like the same things, have a ton in common, and really truly enjoy being around each other all the time means they might be a good couple? Where does he get off taking mental notes as she describes what she really wants from a relationship and in a partner and deciding he can give that to her or will, at least, break his back trying? Why does he think that just because they have been open with each other about almost every aspect of each other’s lives that some form of intimacy has developed between them? How dare he hear her goals and aspirations and think they are compatible with his own! What gives a guy the right to see her with her walls down in an unguarded state and decide he likes this part of her best of all? What makes him think he should say how he feels after seeing the woman he cares about date an endless stream of losers all the while bitching about how there are no good men out there? Why would he think that using actions instead of pickup lines and deeds instead of game to show her what kind of guy he is would make her like him? Seriously! Where does he get the balls to put what would otherwise be a lifelong friendship (because we all know how often our parents have people of the opposite sex over just hangout) at risk by developing feelings?!
The simple fact is people have about as much control over who they fall in love with as Kim Kardashian has over Kanye West.
Perhaps it’s because we’ve all been misled by the huge inaccuracies in Hollywood rom-coms that women supposedly love. The unrealistic plotline of every other one of which is (spoiler alert) the girl eventually falls for her best friend. Never mind the fact that getting to know a girl through friendship is about the most surefire way to ensure she’ll never give you a chance. On the other hand, the other half of rom-coms have the storyline of the asshole with the heart of gold who the girl starts out hating but eventually falls for. Never mind that in real life women actually start out loving the asshole only to find out he has no heart at all. I’m not sure why so many women seem to model their love lives on the latter and not the former, but they do. Regardless, the reality is that Hollywood has nothing to do with any of this. The simple fact is people have about as much control over who they fall in love with as Kim Kardashian has over Kanye West.
I have plenty of female friends who I have no romantic interest in. I have also, in the past, fallen in love with a few only to be rejected on the basis of “[my] friendship meaning too much to [them].” It played out much like the author of this ridiculous article said and confessing my feelings hurt the friendship, at least for a time. But here’s the thing, and this is where the author of the article has it completely wrong about most men, I didn’t start off putting them in the “girlfriend-zone.” Getting to know everything about them put them there.
I’ve literally experienced not being physically attracted to a friend while getting to know her only to end up thinking she’s the sexiest person on Earth because her personality changed my perception of her. Sorry if that sucks for you, ladies, but having strong, sincere feelings for someone who you get along with incredibly well while listening to her complain about wanting someone who will treat her right sucks a lot more. You ladies lose a friend because you won’t give him a chance, but guys lose a friend and get their hearts broken. Yeah, it’s true, most guys don’t stick around after the rejection. A guy’s feelings don’t go away just because the woman said no, and, quite frankly, immediately hanging out with someone who just rejected you likely isn’t the best way to get over it. The guy won’t be able to move on if he’s around her all the time (but she sure will), and the woman will, un-maliciously but unmercifully, enjoy all the benefits of having a “friend” who will do anything for her.
I still think getting to know someone through friendship is a better way to find love than going to a bar or a book club or dating online, except for the fact that women so often won’t let it be. The author of the original article said men are biologically wired to fuck up friendships in this way going back to our hunter-gather days. Well, I would suggest science start looking into what undiagnosed condition women have that allows them to be so completely compatible with a guy but not “see [them] in that way.”
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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