What Stace had to say on Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
The Friend Zone

(In which I interrupt the SACRIFICIAL MAGIC pre-release-week festivities and fun to bring you a huge rant. I warn you in advance that this topic has made me rather emotional, and I’m emotional anyway since it is pre-release week and we’re moving house this weekend, and maybe this is going to come off harsher than I intend it to; I hope it won’t, I don’t want it to and I will be careful, but just as I spent several days before my wedding being completely unable to read others’s tones or body language from stress, so am I having difficulty at the moment. I also warn you this is LONG.)

So yesterday I popped onto Facebook, which I’ve been trying to do more lately, because I have friends who hang out there and I want to be more active there. And while checking my timeline I found someone had posted an image. I won’t re-post the image, but it was one of those “I’m going to make my saying a picture so you’ll read it” things, and it said:

“Brotip #1415: ladies, guys are sick of hearing you ask where all of the ‘nice guys’ are. They’re in the friend zone, where you left them.”

Okay, fuck you.

Let me tell you a story about those “nice guys” shoved into that cold, cruel “friend zone” by all those heartless bitches who only want to date assholes, okay?

I was twenty-two. I’d just–within the prior six months or so, I don’t recall the exact timeline–ended a two-year relationship. Not my first serious relationship, but my first REAL SERIOUS relationship; like the we-lived-together, I’d-imagined-our-children kind of thing, all of that. The first time I was truly, seriously in love. And it had ended well, as friends, but not-well, in that I’d realized I wanted him back but too late, and the whole thing basically sucked. And in trying to move on I’d gotten myself involved with a few men who, to put it mildly, had not treated me particularly well. They hadn’t abused me or anything, but they weren’t exactly nice to me either. My ex and I were still living together as roommates–we had two bedrooms–and were occasionally still sharing one of those beds. And we had the same friends, hung out with the same crowd, but obviously my position in that crowd (since it was mostly men) had changed, at least it felt that way to me. There was a lot of other stuff in there as well, but basically, I was lost, and hurt, and lonely.

I’d known Jose–not his real name–for several years, in a casual “hey there” kind of way; he was also part of the local scene. I don’t remember exactly how it started. I guess we found ourselves hanging around drinking beer in the parking lot at some show, and started chatting, and it was fun. So he started calling me, usually late at night, because he knew I worked late and would be up (there was nothing creepy or weird about him calling late at night, is the point). He called a lot.

And I loved talking to him. He was funny and smart and charming. He laughed at my jokes and made great ones of his own. He teased me; I teased back. He really seemed to understand me, to approve of me. And at that point in my life I was desperate for that kind of approval, when I felt so rejected by someone I’d loved, when I felt like so many of my friends were turning their backs on me and moving away from me; they weren’t, necessarily, but it felt that way. He seemed to genuinely like me. I certainly genuinely liked him.

Jose was not the most handsome guy on the block. He wasn’t unattractive, but he’d had–at the risk of identifying him–some serious skin problems when he was younger, and they’d scarred him. He talked to me very frankly about that, and I appreciated that. It made me feel, again, like we had some kind of connection there, that he would open up to me. And in return I talked just as frankly about some of my own insecurities.

I was firmly convinced that Jose was a Nice Guy.

More than that, I was starting to suspect that I might actually have some genuine feelings for Jose. That when I’d met him and started talking to him/hanging out with him–he came up to my house to hang out and have a few drinks several times–I hadn’t seen him as being really handsome or anything, but we had such a connection; he was so appealing. (Yes, despite what happened later, you might notice a parallel here. Jose was the man who taught me, for real, how little looks can matter and how someone’s appearance can change when you get to know them.) I mean, he understood me so well, and even though he saw and understood the bad parts it was okay with him; he didn’t seem to judge me. He made me laugh like crazy. He had such interesting things to say. He made me happy.

Did I suspect Jose might be interested in more than friendship from me? I suspected it, sure. But I also assumed it wasn’t a huge deal, that he was calling me because like me he genuinely enjoyed our conversations as conversations. I assumed he called because just like how I thought he was fun and funny, just like how he made me feel good about myself, I did the same for him. And I just wasn’t sure how I felt; to be perfectly frank, thanks to the experience with the ex–who wasn’t at fault or anything, but who at one point had decided he wanted me back and then basically changed his mind in the morning–and with the other guys who hadn’t exactly been kind to me, I was pretty scared. I didn’t want to get myself hopeful and involved again. I didn’t want to think someone really cared about me and find out that wasn’t the case, again.

But I found myself thinking about Jose more and more, and hoping he’d call. I’d call him if he didn’t; for a month or so there we talked several nights a week. One night we had an argument over something, I don’t remember what, but I was so upset; I felt sick about it, and that more than anything else made me wonder what exactly my feelings were about him (and he called to apologize, more than once, and sounded so genuinely upset himself, so regretful that he’d hurt me). We’d make plans on the phone to meet up at this show or that.

So basically, I’d started thinking that maybe I really wanted to be with him. That maybe I was really falling for him, seriously. How could I not, when we had so much fun, when I could talk to him about anything and he would talk back? When we had such great chemistry? When he made me feel safe again? Not like something worthless drifting along alone, not like someone people rejected, some irritating unwanted extra, but like a real, good person, the kind of person a genuinely smart and funny guy wanted to spend time with because it was fun and not because he just wanted to get laid?

Then one night we were at a show, hanging out drinking beer in the parking lot with several other people. I was a bit tipsy; I was kind of drifting around, singing along to whatever music we were listening to, occasionally joining the discussion, just having fun. Doing what I usually did.

It got late. Everyone else drifted away, leaving just me and Jose sitting on the back of my car, chatting. Having a good time. And yeah, actually, I was kind of waiting for him to make a move. Not a big move, because I didn’t think either of us were ready for that. But a move, maybe. Mostly, though, I was just appreciating hanging out with my friend. Who I trusted.

When he suddenly turned to me and said, “You’re so fucking egotistical.”

I thought he was kidding; I actually laughed. This was a subject we’d joked about before, actually–or at least I thought they were jokes. I said something like, “Yes, well, when you’re as great as me why wouldn’t you be?” or whatever ridiculous silly response.

He said, “No, I mean it. I’m sick of this. I don’t want to be around you anymore. What’s the point? You’re just using me.”

I think I still thought he was kidding. But I know I was starting to get scared. Worried. What had I done, to make him feel that way? What had I done to hurt him? I didn’t want to hurt him; I cared about him. Liked him. A lot.

But then he told me. I don’t remember his exact words, but what it came down to was, I was using him because I wasn’t sleeping with him.

I didn’t mistake that, because I even asked him, two or three times, if that was what he was really saying. If I was hearing him right. And each time he affirmed that yes, I was.

I thought–somewhere in the confused mess my mind had suddenly become–that maybe he just meant it hurt to hang out with me because he really cared about me, and wanted to step back because he didn’t want to expose himself to more hurt. And I readied myself to say that if he wanted to take the relationship further I’d be willing to try–was interested in trying. Because I still thought he actually liked me, you see. I still thought my friend Jose was actually my friend, that he’d spent all those hours on the phone with me because he liked talking to me.

I was wrong.

Before I could say my little piece, Jose informed me that no, in fact, I was a selfish bitch. That my ego was crazy and out-of-control. That the slightly drunken singing I’d been doing that evening was annoying, and made him sick. That he didn’t want to be around me–that nobody wanted to be around me, that everyone was irritated with me because I didn’t care about anyone but myself. That if I wasn’t interested in sleeping with him I shouldn’t have wasted his time like that and used him like that (at this point I will mention that the man never ran errands for me or bought me so much as a beer, it’s not like I made him take me out to expensive restaurants every night or paint my living room. Not that it would be okay if I had, but still). That he was sick of me using him to feed my own ego and sick of me stepping all over him and sick of me leading him on.

I mentioned this–okay, ranted about it a bit–on Twitter last night. And a couple of people asked me if I told him to fuck off or whatever. No, I didn’t. I was too busy crying. I was too busy feeling sick. I’d apparently hurt someone I cared about, and worse than that, I’d been stupid enough to think he cared about me, too. This was a man who knew so much about me, that I’d opened up to so much, and now he was telling me not only how little that meant to him but that every bad thought I’d ever had about myself, every fear, every bit of self-loathing, was right. That I was right to feel like maybe something was wrong with me, because there was. That maybe I was right to think people didn’t like me, because they didn’t. That I was such a lousy judge of character that I’d believed he liked me, that he was right to tell me I was an ego-mad bitch because hey, my ego had led me to think this guy actually liked me and he hadn’t.

I even seem to recall asking him at one point why he was doing this to me, telling him that I was sorry for whatever it was that I’d done, that I didn’t mean to hurt him. That I thought we were friends, I thought he liked me. And he basically said no, he hadn’t liked me, why would he, when all I ever cared about was myself. He was there because he wanted to fuck me, and if I wasn’t going to let him do that he really had no further use for me.

I don’t remember how it ended; I don’t remember how I got home. I just remember crying, and feeling sick and ashamed and horrified. At myself. Yeah, I knew he was being an asshole, but I also felt like it was my fault. Because when someone tells you that all your worst fears about yourself are true, you believe it. When someone confirms for you that very bad thing you’ve ever thought about yourself is true, you believe it. Especially when it’s someone you really like, someone you respect. When someone you think really knows you, understands you, tells you that yes, you really are that bad?

I honestly can’t think of many things in my life that hurt more than that. Of course there are things. But that night is definitely up there.

That’s what that Nice Guy I “left in the friend zone” did to me.

And you know what? It’s not the only time it ever happened. Yes, it’s the only time it was that dramatic, that painful. But it wasn’t the first time and it wouldn’t be the last that some guy who wanted to be more than friends got pissed off at me because I didn’t feel the same.

But that’s also not the point.

Here’s the thing, guys. That “friend zone” you think you shouldn’t be in? Women get put into it, too. All the fucking time. I spent most of my high school career being a friend, while the guy I was crazy about chased after one bitch-who-treated-him-like-shit after another. Oh, they always liked me and cared about me; why wouldn’t they? I was the one who held their heads while they puked up Everclear and cried about some other girl. I was the one who’d give them a ride to the latest bitch’s house because it meant I get to spend ten more minutes hanging out with them. Don’t act like you men have a monopoly on that shit, because you don’t.

But here’s the thing, too. Being treated that way? Was my own goddamn fault. They used me because I let them use me. I was the one who tried to be their friend, I was the one who was convinced that if I was open and caring and let them know–in a non-creepy way–how much I thought they deserved happiness and wonderful things, that they’d realize I was the one who could provide it. That was me, not them. They took my offer of friendship at face value; I told them I was their friend, and they believed me, and the only person I can blame for that is me for not having a little more self-respect, for not removing myself from a painful situation, for not being clear in the beginning that I wasn’t Polly Pally.

And for not accepting, very early on when it became clear that their feelings for me were not what mine were for them, that nothing I did would change that. I didn’t turn around and decide all those men were using bastards just because they didn’t want to kiss me, just because they let me drive them home. I didn’t decide that they owed me sex because I drove them home, either. I didn’t bitch about how dare they shove me into the “friend zone” after all I’d done for them.

See, those women you’re crazy about but who don’t feel the same way about you? That imbalance there? That means you’re not right for each other. Period. If you were right for each other, something would have happened; something would be happening. If you were right for each other you would both feel sparks. Seriously.

Yes, we all know the whole Some-Kind-of-Wonderful story where the one person realizes that the other person is their True Love and has been all along. That doesn’t happen very often in real life. If at all. Let me tell you something: my husband and I worked together for a couple of years before we got together. We were Just Friends. But there were always sparks there. They were sparks we ignored, yes, for various reasons. But they were there. The chemistry was there. And we both knew it. As did everyone else who knew us, frankly.

“Oh-ho!” you say. “But Stacia, look at your Jose story above! You’re saying that if he’d just been a little more patient he probably would have gotten into your pants! YOU didn’t realize right away that he was right for you!” Yes. I am. But again, there were in fact sparks there. And yes, the fact that if he’d just been a little more patient he would have gotten somewhere illustrates my point, which is that if something is meant to happen it will, and if nothing happens you’re not right for each other. Keep in mind the whole Jose thing from start to finish was under two months; hardly a long time for two busy people who don’t live particularly close to each other–Kendall to Ft. Lauderdale is a good hour and a half drive. Hardly a long time for someone cautious and unsure of what she’s doing and what she feels. Keep in mind, too, that if Jose had actually made a damn move sooner, instead of waiting and letting his entitled rage build until he had to tell me I was a manipulative bitch, he probably would have gotten somewhere, too. Hey, I suspected he was interested in more, but suspecting doesn’t mean knowing it for sure, and he’d never even touched me when we hung out together alone at my place. So I’d pretty much assumed he was just as confused as me, and just as interested in not putting pressure on anything, in waiting, in just enjoying each others’ company.

Which is another problem with the “friend zone.” The “friend zone” implies that women have some kind of cold and calculating plan, that we are solely in control of how a relationship goes, and that we know, right off the bat, how we feel about a particular man. Guess what? We don’t. We just don’t. Not always. Sometimes we’re confused. Sometimes we’re afraid. Sometimes we’re not sure how we feel, if we can trust how we feel. Sometimes, quite frankly, we’re going through a pretty rough patch, and we’re kind of fucked up and don’t know what we want. And hey, you know what? Sometimes we don’t know how you feel about us.

It’s not like being a woman means all men fall at our feet just by virtue of us possessing vaginas. It’s not like being a woman means that every man we meet wants us or that it gives us some sort of supreme confidence that means we instantly know when a man is interested. We often have some idea, sure. Some idea. Not a certainty. And not all the time. Nowhere near all the time. I can’t count the number of times I’ve met a man who flirted with me and flattered me and then mentioned his girlfriend. I can’t count the number of times that’s happened to friends of mine. It’s just the way it goes. That’s life. It doesn’t make those men jerks–well, not all of them. It just means that sometimes in life our romantic feelings aren’t returned, and we need to grow a fucking pair and deal with that instead of whining and acting like paying attention to someone means we’re entitled to love or sex.

Now, let me back up a tad here to make something clear. I LOVE men. I do. I’ve always gotten along better with men than with women, always had more male friends than female. I’m not saying all men think this way. I’m certainly not saying all women are innocent and perfect, either. There absolutely are women out there who use and manipulate, who take advantage of a man’s interest and attraction to get him to do things for her. I’ve seen them in action. And that is wrong, absolutely. Using and manipulating people is wrong.

But in my experience–just my experience–those women tend to make it pretty clear early on exactly what type of woman they are. Which means you have no one to blame but yourself for not reading the signs. Here’s a hint: are you constantly spending money on her because you think it’ll get you somewhere? Are you constantly doing favors for her because you think it’ll get you somewhere? And she never reciprocates? But you keep doing it, because you think if you do eventually she’ll come around and sleep with you? Are you doing that, are you seeing your relationship with her like that?

A friendship is a give-and-take. I used to have lots of male friends; did I let them buy me dinner? You bet. Did I occasionally buy them dinner? Again, you bet. Because that’s a friendship. They bought me drinks; I bought them drinks. They drove me places; I drove them places. Sure, maybe they did more of it. That’s not the point. It doesn’t have to be a perfectly reciprocal arrangement. But in a friendship one person is not always the giver, and one always the taker. Maybe you usually pay for dinner, and she lets you and doesn’t pay herself. But maybe she occasionally cooks you dinner. Maybe she invites you to a movie and pays for everything. Maybe she sees a book she thinks you’d like and buys it for you. Like I said, friendship is reciprocal; if she always lets you pay, then yeah, you’re essentially taking her on dates, and if she’s not allowing anything physical to happen then she may very well be using you.

But here’s an idea: talk to her about it and ask if she’s interested in a relationship with you. Actually try to kiss her. On the mouth. With your hands on her hips or on her face, not a peck, a real kiss. Does she let you? Then she’s interested. Does she pull away? Then she sees you as just a friend, and what you do next is up to you: either stop seeing her and making yourself her emotional blanket, stop paying for everything, or quit whining about how Nice Guys Like You get stuck in the “Friend Zone.” because you know what? If you keep throwing money at her hoping/thinking it’ll change her mind about fucking you, you’re not a Nice Guy. You’re treating her like a whore. And Nice Guys don’t treat women like whores. Nice Guys don’t assume all women are after is money.

I’m not even going to get into the question of what kinds of women you’re going after, if you’re so bitter about being used for money and dumped into the Friend Zone while she dates guys who treat her like shit. Again, sorry, but I’ve known a few men who continuously found themselves in this situation, and guess what? They were all not exactly movie stars, and they were going after strippers or Hooters girls or other women who make their livings by being as close to physically perfect as possible. Think Shallow Hal. The idea of dating a woman with a few extra pounds on her, or with slightly frizzy hair, or who didn’t always have her make-up perfectly done? An average-looking girl? Nope, no interest. They wanted a trophy girlfriend, and they spent all their time pursuing such, and then complained bitterly about how much women used them and shunted them aside. Uh…dude. Again, maybe the problem is not Those Awful Bitches, maybe the problem is that you keep ignoring girls who might actually like you in order to chase after Awful Bitches (this is not to imply that all strippers or Hooters girls are awful bitches, just to clarify. They aren’t). Yes, some women use men. But if you want a real relationship you’ll learn to avoid them; you’ll actually pay attention and quit volunteering to be used. Hell, maybe you’ll stop for a minute and think about all those women in your life–and there had to be at least a few–who were attracted to you, who wanted you, and you weren’t interested. How did you handle it? Did you still talk to them, hang out with them, because even though you weren’t interested you still enjoyed their company? Did you feel that since they wanted you, that obligated you to sleep with them? Or did you put them in the “friend zone?”

And you’ll quit whining about how women don’t like nice guys. Yes, we do, actually. Every married woman I know is married to a nice guy. (And by the way, did it ever occur to you that when she asks where all the nice guys are, maybe she’s hinting that you’ll say “I’m right here,” and sweep her into your arms? Because she might actually be. It is a possibility. Why not try it? Say, “How about me?” and see what she says. Again, don’t expect her to know, and quit wimping around. Be an adult and talk to her.)

Do we also like bad boys? Sure. Don’t you also like strippers and models and whatever? Of course you do. Are there women out there who only like men who treat them like shit? Yep. Women who use men? Yep. But there are also men who only like women who treat them like shit, and there are plenty of men who use women. There are plenty of users, period. And again, when you’re complaining about how dare those bitches stick you in the friend zone and they should just shut up, that’s what you’re doing: you’re implying that the only reason for a man to hang around with a woman is because he’s hoping to get laid. You’re saying women are not worthwhile as people, that their company is not pleasurable or enjoyable simply as company, that you’re not interested in them as people but only as big walking vaginas. You’re saying you’re deceiving those women, and attempting to manipulate them into giving you what you want by pretending to like them, pretending to enjoy their company for its own sake. You’re saying any woman who takes your offer of friendship at face value is an entitled bitch. You’re saying how dare a woman not feel for you what it is you feel for her.

So guess what. If you feel this way? Next time a woman asks you where all the nice guys are, you can honestly say you don’t know. Because you’re not one.

27 comments to “The Friend Zone”

  1. Ali
    · March 21st, 2012 at 6:22 am · Link

    I can’t even tell you how much I love the entry. Obviously, I want to punch Jose on your behalf. But that’s because, guy or girl, his behavior was douchetastic.

    I’ve known guys like him. One, in particular, who I thought was my friend — until he had a major meltdown similar to that. I internalized it, too. I thought, “Shit, did I lead him on? Did I do something wrong?” Sure, he was a jerk about it, but I immediately felt horrible.

    Anyway, I wanted to say thank you for this post. Thank you for sharing what you did.

  2. Laini
    · March 21st, 2012 at 6:23 am · Link

    Amen, sister. Sorry you had to deal with this douchecanoe.

    I finally found a good one, but it took so many years of this nonsense to dig through all the shit and find a diamond.

    I’ll have to tell you my lawyer story someday. It’s a real doozie.

  3. Shiloh Walker
    · March 21st, 2012 at 6:34 am · Link

    :( I’m sorry about the way you friend treated you… that’s an awful way for anybody to act, and honestly, I’m glad he WASN’T more patient, cuz he didn’t deserve you.

    The rest of it? Dead straight. Guys, if you’re interested in a woman? Find a way to let her know. If it’s meant to be, something will happen. If not? Doesn’t matter what zone she’s stuck you in. It’s not going to happen. But whining about the friend zone?

    Good grief.

  4. RK Charron
    · March 21st, 2012 at 7:33 am · Link

    Hi Stacia,

    That was an excellent post. So much wisdom! I think it would help guys & girls to read this early in highschool.

    Thank you very much for sharing.
    RK Charron

  5. jim duncan
    · March 21st, 2012 at 8:05 am · Link

    I’ll be the first to admit guys can be total asshats. Having focused on domestic violence and women’s studies for my social work degree way back when, I saw a whole lot of fucked up relationship dynamics. I spoke to teens about date rape/violence and about how a lot of male interaction with females is about power and control. So, perhaps my worldview is slightly skewed to the negative, but I’d say that the vast majority of guys are pricks when it comes to relating to women. Not that it can’t work the other way, because it can and does, but let’s face it, most cultures are dominated by males, and they do a lot of things, both blatant and subtle to try and keep it that way.

    The sad thing is, many guys act that way without even realizing they’re being asshats. Or, they act that way because that’s how they’re suppose to act in order to keep the natural order of things, even if they have that niggling feeling that something is a little off with the whole system. Gender roles play into it and homophobia, and all sorts of shit that centuries of ingrained norms have heaped on us.

    All that said, one can’t lay blame to cultural norms for not having respect for another person. A lot of it is just basic decency toward another. If someone doesn’t want to have sex with you, you don’t have a right to be pissed or think poorly of the other. People are entitled to make choices. You don’t have to like them obviously, but you don’t get to be an asshole if you don’t.

    Personally, I HATE the relationship games. HATE. Did I mention I don’t like them? Heh, I think I did. I wish I could burn every book out there that tries to tell people how to properly play the game, decode the clues, manipulate the situations, and all that stupid bullshit. The whole “friend zone” thing is a particularly insidious aspect of this.

    People get to know one another for lots of reasons, but men and women get to know one another quite often with the hopes that intimacy will develop. Pretty normal thing. I’ve become friends with some women over the years that I had hopes for becoming more than just friends with. It’s the fact that guys expect this to lead to sex that becomes the problem. Kind of a narcissistic sense of entitlement. They take the lack of sexual interest as a personal affront, as though becoming friends “should” lead to sex, and if it doesn’t then somehow the unwritten rules of the game have been broken. Well, fuck that. Screw the game.

    The friend zone is damn fine place to be. It has a lot more to offer than that other zone in my opinion. You can go into it hoping for more, but if it’s not there, so what? Real friendship has so much more to offer. Most guys just can’t get it through their heads that one doesn’t necessarily lead to the other. It’s not a natural progression. Sex should be the last item on the menu, not the first. You shouldn’t be getting close to someone to get in their pants. You get close for all of the other things. Likely the reason so many guys have superficial relationships with each other. Stupid homophobia.

    Anyway, I’m getting way too rambly here. Stacia, it totally sucks what happened to you. Nobody deserves to be treated like that. I always want to apologize for men when I hear about these things. They can be such clueless fuckheads at times. Hell, I’m clueless much of the time (my wife will attest to this), lol. But I try very hard not to be a fuckhead. And honestly, it’s not that hard to not be a jerk. If you don’t want to be. I just think guys feel entitled to be one when things don’t go they way they want them too. Women can to of course, but not my place to speak on their account.

    In the end, I think it’s actually pretty simple. Have respect and don’t be selfish. Oh, and for Christ’s sake guys, learn how to actually talk about things. Interested in sex? Fucking ask. If the answer is no, suck it up and deal or politely move on. Friendship>sex. Always.

    Oh, and this was a great post, Stacia. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Sophia McDougall
    · March 21st, 2012 at 8:08 am · Link

    I always wonder what men who complain about this expect women to do. Apart from sleep with them, obviously. I’ve had male friends I suspected had romantic feelings for me, which I did not return. When the man has not made any kind of declaration, any kind of move, when I cannot be certain my suspicions are right, am I really supposed to say “clearly you adore me, but I don’t feel the same, so I assume you won’t want to see me any more.” Wouldn’t that be… incredibly arrogant? And horribly cruel? If I have an unrequited crush on a friend, I may dream of them suddenly falling for me, I may consider telling them how I feel, but I’d hate to have my feelings dragged into the open and shot down like that. Especially because I’d hate to, you know, LOSE THE FRIENDSHIP, which would be valuable to me besides whatever else was going on. And if I DO need distance from the “friend zone” to protect myself, it’s up to me to recognise that and act accordingly while not being a shit about it.

    Of course, there is no “apart from sleep with them” as far as these men are concerned. They want to sleep with you, you have a moral duty to sleep with them, the end.

    I had this happen to me when I was actually IN A RELATIONSHIP with the guy, when I WOULD have slept with him. We had a wonderfully close friendship for a year, saw each other every day, worked on fiction together, understood each other (I thought) totally. I felt the bad parts of me were seen and accepted for maybe the first time, and that I was doing the same for him. Towards the end of that time I started suspecting he wanted more from me, which worried me, but I never thought that meant he wasn’t honestly my friend and wasn’t enjoying our friendship as I was. Then he finally declared ROMANTIC LOVE (TM). I actually felt upset and sort of betrayed, but repressed that because we DID understand each other so perfectly and this OUGHT to be love. So we snogged cautiously for about six weeks, I guess. I assumed we’d sleep together eventually but as we were both very inexperienced, (him just a little more so than me), and he didn’t make any move to accelerate things, I thought he, like me, preferred to take things slow.

    Then he dumped me by emailing me a 5000 word essay detailing — oh, DETAILING — all the things that were wrong with my character and also, how I’d led him on, been “provocative” with him while we were still just friends and then not slept with him. Even though he’d never said anything, never even TRIED to get into my pants! I was supposed to just ravish him, apparently, although he knew I was just barely not a virgin and not any more sexually confident than he was.

    It was years before it stopped hurting, before I stopped mourning the friendship which had been so comprehensively trashed.

    Oof, that was more of an essay than I meant to write. Anyway, yes, what you said, and sorry that “Jose” was such a bastard to you.

  7. ML Companion
    · March 21st, 2012 at 8:16 am · Link

    Great post! Couldn’t agree more!!!

    I actually had a guy tell me once that just because I greet them with a great big smile it makes all guys think they can get into my pants. As you can imagine, that’s created more than one little awkward moment – “nice” guys included (usually they’re worse than the bad boys, leading to circumstances exactly as you described with Jose). Sad but true.

  8. Suz
    · March 21st, 2012 at 8:17 am · Link

    I don’t have much time for whiny bitches, whether they are bros or hos. Mr. Brotip sounds like a whiny bitch and really, who wouldn’t leave a whiny bitch in some “zone?”

  9. Richard
    · March 21st, 2012 at 8:58 am · Link

    Hi Stacie

    Brilliant blog, but, you say “Jose had actually made a damn move sooner, instead of waiting and letting his entitled rage build”, quite where his entitlement is, you were friends, he didn’t make a move in two months, how the fuck were you supposed to know. Hugely hurtful I can imagine but you wanted him take the next step, very difficult for you, but not your fault!! his loss.

    Good luck with the move, still in UK or back to USA? and the very best for massive sales figures with your new book.


  10. Anthony Laffan
    · March 21st, 2012 at 8:59 am · Link

    Definitely a long post, definitely well worth the read. I’m not going to apologize on behalf of my gender, but there are dicks all around. People can be jerks, and it generally ends up with the person who thought everything was awesome in tears. Which totally sucks.

    That said, between your twitter and here I finally learned that “Friend Zone” is generally viewed as an anti-girl thing only. Around where I am it’s always been used fairly liberally on both sides with ‘counter moves’ being things like “Surprise! I’m a boy/girl!” to break it. But that goes back to the relationship “game” which I also dislike.

    All of it together, it does suck that some people end up there. However, you also have it right that a lot of the people who think they are there are just doing things wrong. Or are pining over the pretty/handsome ones that have always gotten what they want, all the while ignoring the person who could be perfect – or at least better for them – right beside them.

  11. Emily
    · March 21st, 2012 at 9:17 am · Link

    I couldn’t have said it better. I had my own “Jose” in high school. Losing his friendship destroyed me for awhile. I loved him and had no idea he felt the way he did. We became friends in 8th grade and he “declared” his stupid feelings our senior year! Completely took me by surprise. Then when in the confusion I said I didn’t feel the same he got pissed off and left, refusing to answer phone calls. I left for college the next week. Sad times. He ended up facebooking me two years ago I think……….8 years after we last spoke and sent me a message asking if I was happy. When I said yes he told me he could have made me happier and then hasn’t spoken to me since :)

  12. Shawn McGee
    · March 21st, 2012 at 9:46 am · Link

    You’re wrong in thinking women don’t get upset if they wanted to be more than friends and you ‘friend-zoned’ them.
    “How could you keep dating those high-heeled skanks when you could have me – you shallow prick!” To quote one ‘friend’ I had for a number of years.

    Friends are friends, lovers are lovers — in the middle there is only pain and disappointment.

    • Stace
      · March 21st, 2012 at 10:25 am · Link

      No, Shawn, you’re right, and while my post was focused on men–because they’re who I keep seeing this “friend zone” crap from lately, all over the place, and you wouldn’t believe some of the comments made to that Facebook post; stuff like “A friend of mine finally started telling them that if they wanted to bitch about men to him they’d have to fuck him first,” and that got all kinds of “Likes” and approving smiles, and another said how he’d started just treating every woman like shit because they deserve it anyway–you’re absolutely right in saying it’s not just men who treat the objects of their affection badly when that affection isn’t returned.

      It’s scummy either way, and I’m sorry that happened to you. No woman should say those things to a man she’s offered friendship to, just like no man should say them in the same situation.

      My intent wasn’t to say all women are saints who handle such situations perfectly, at all. They’re emphatically not. Lots of women seriously are just bitches.

      But like I said, what I’ve seen so much of lately is this stuff coming from men, and it reeks of entitlement and it’s disturbing, and that’s what I was responding to.

      Thanks for sharing your experience, seriously.

  13. Katee Robert
    · March 21st, 2012 at 9:52 am · Link

    THIS. So much this!

    I’ve been on both side of this. Had a guy friend who I would have done damn near anything to make be more… But if it’s not there, it’s not there. And do you really want to be with someone who you have to convince, con, or manipulate into dating/sleeping with you?

    Because, personally, I don’t.

  14. DyslexicSquirel
    · March 21st, 2012 at 9:55 am · Link

    I have a friend I wish I could make read this. -_-; He’s always complaing about how he “wants a girlfriend” and he’s “tired of being single,” but seriously? He hangs out with my girlfriends and I ALL THE TIME and the only one he’s every shown an interest in? THE ONE THAT FLAT OUT TOLD HIM NO. He’s his own worst enemy. Argh.

    Thank you for this post. I loved reading. You said lots of things I’ve always thought and never said. <3

  15. midnightblooms
    · March 21st, 2012 at 10:06 am · Link

    I’m going to reiterate all Ali’s “douchetastic behavior” comment. (Also, I think I love that word. Douchetastic. Ha!)

    Not only do screwed up cultural or societal “norms” lead a person to believe he/she is entitled to sex from someone, but they also lead us to think we are responsible for someone else’s bad behavior. I do this, too. “Oh woe, he is mad. Is it my fault? I should have said something else, or said nothing at all. I should just give in to make him happy.” Ugh. How messed up is that?

  16. Karen
    · March 21st, 2012 at 10:08 am · Link

    Amen Stacia!!! Yeah, I had my own special Jose – a guy in college that I liked who made me feel special and acted like he wanted to know me. He was my friend, but I knew he wanted more. I’d just been dumped by a mutual friend. I was a shy, insecure, sexually inexperienced Catholic girl. I knew he wanted more, but I wasn’t ready. But he kept showing up. He called me to talk. He bought me flowers. He wrote me a song. He even invited me to spend a weekend with his friends and him over the summer. I went – even tho my parents were furious and it caused a rift between us that lasts to this day. (They’re devout Catholics.)

    I wasn’t sure I wanted to be more than friends. I wasn’t really physically attracted to him. But he convinced me it was worth a try. He said all the right things, he treated me like I was important, we talked about our fears and wants and all that crap. He was there for me when I needed someone.

    So I went and spent the weekend hanging with his friends. I met his family. And I finally had sex with him. At the end of the visit, he dropped me at the bus station, told me he loved me and I went home knowing he was “the one”.

    And then didn’t hear from him. For weeks. He didn’t call. He didn’t return my phone calls. School started up again. (He’d graduated.) Two weeks in, I got a letter in the mail. A seven page, double sided letter. A letter which told me what a loser I was – it went into all my faults in excrutiating, painful detail. Everything I’d shared with him, he twisted into a hateful, cruel joke. He told me that I was sexually stunted, that I wasn’t worth his time, that all he’d wanted was to fuck me – but that I wasn’t even worth that. He shredded every ounce of self esteem I had. I mean, he put effort into this thing. He wanted me to hurt. To this day, I don’t know why. (He could have just never contacted me – or broken up with me.) But he chose to spend what must have been hours analyzing me and laying out every hateful little thing he felt about me.

    I burned the letter, along with every picture I had of him and us together, the song he wrote me – everything – on the balcony of my dorm room while I cried & died inside. The RA showed up and sat with me (and I didn’t get in trouble for it – tho I did get a lecture on trusting guys). And then I went on a binge of self-destruction of epic proportions – sleeping with any guy that would have me.

    It took 11 years before I trusted another man for anything but a a short term meaningless sexual relationship. I was reckless with myself in those years in so many ways. And then I met my husband – who IS a nice guy. Him, I married. So that whole “friends” thing? There is a very good reason for it. And women should trust their instinct when it comes to guys. There’s a reason we put them in the “friend” space.

  17. Seeley deBorn
    · March 21st, 2012 at 10:14 am · Link

    Even when you start out with a clearly defined “friend zone” people get weird and stupid.

    I started hanging out with a guy from work, one of the few people I know who still likes punk and metal, and we were having a great time. He knew I had a long-distance relationship, knew that I was only in it for friendship; all this was absolutely explicitly stated at the beginning, we’d talked about it a bunch of times, defined parameters, set limits…

    And then he calls me one day, middle of the afternoon on a Sunday (so I assume it wasn’t some kind of drunk dial) and demands to know when we’re going to fuck. Um, wut. Apparently even though it was all out there on the table to start with: friends, gigs, drinks, no fucking; it was all there and known, and yet he still figured he’d made enough of an “investment” that I should just fuck him and not tell my partner because there’s no way anyone would find out anyway.

    I was kicked out of the “friend zone” because I wouldn’t put out. I had no idea it could work that way.

  18. Puss in Boots
    · March 21st, 2012 at 12:32 pm · Link

    Self-proclaimed ‘Zoners garner about half of my disgust with my gender.

    Bob is in love with Nancy. Maybe he told her and she politely turned him down, or maybe they’ve never talked about the elephant in the room, but they’re still friends. Bob sees Nancy’s boyfriends treat her like crap and secretly bitches about her poor choices to his other (probably male) friends. Why can’t she see that his emotions are pure and he really loves her? If she would just date him, all her problems would go away, RIGHT?

    No. The problems would be WORSE.

    Bob is typically a mansplainer, for one thing, as is evidenced by the fact that he thinks he knows what’s best for another human, despite not being her or working from her experiences, desires, and expectations. In their relationship, he would attempt to continue dictating “what’s best for her.” So fuck you #1, Bob.

    Bob also is forgetting to take into account that conflict needs at least two people (unless a single person is really, really off their rocker). It may not be Nancy’s fault that problems occur, but how she deals with them and whether or not she ceases engaging in them are parts of who she is. She’s not going to stop having (as an example) unreasonable expectations of a boyfriend just because that boyfriend is suddenly Bob. So fuck you #2, Bob, for imagining that your benevolent presence will ERASE HER PERSONALITY, and that this is preferable.

    And for the grand asshole prize, Bob will never listen to either of those things, because he’s convinced that he’s a Nice Guy. His reasoning for categorizing himself as Nice varies–maybe it’s because he holds open doors and pulls out chairs, maybe it’s because he “doesn’t hit women,” or maybe he’s actually much more feminist than those tired redneck tropes and he feels he’s nice because in most respects he is. But one thing I’ve never seen a Bob do is admit to the crushing weight of his male privilege. He sees a girl and wants her; she should want him JUST BECAUSE. So fuck you #3, Bob, you poor ignorant victim of the patriarchy, because maybe you are nice, but you’re not nice enough to admit that part of the reason you’re so upset Nancy spurns you is because YOU FEEL LIKE YOU DESERVE HER. Well, news flash, Nancy’s not a prize. She’s a HUMAN.

    The day I realized that I had male privilege and started paying attention to it was the day I became 30% less asshole. Okay, maybe only 8% less. There’s a lot of other kinds of asshole here to deal with. 😉

  19. diana
    · March 21st, 2012 at 2:44 pm · Link

    Thank you SO much for putting my thoughts into words. In this past year a lot of my thoughts on men and politics have changed, and I’ve increasingly been bothered by ‘friend zone’ thing. This is by far the most eloquent and comprehensive post I’ve seen on this subject.

  20. Tamlyn
    · March 22nd, 2012 at 5:46 am · Link


    I don’t really have anything to contribute, but I wanted to say something because I very much felt your post while reading it.

  21. Jo
    · March 22nd, 2012 at 7:58 pm · Link

    Wow. This post. I completely agree with you, though, I suppose fortunately, I’ve never been in any position where a friend has wanted more from me and moaned because he didn’t get it. I am constantly The Friend, though, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never been a bitch about it.

    There was the time where I was really into a friend of mine, and he decided he was entitled to sex – sex and nothing more – because I was into him. He didn’t get what he wanted. It’s amazing how really being into someone can so quickly turn into extreme dislike.

  22. Edwin Colon
    · April 1st, 2012 at 6:49 pm · Link

    It was good to hear a women’s point of view on this issue. I’ve read a lot of articles mostly from men.

    You pointed out a lot of important facts.

    I went out with this girl for 2 1/2 years and secretly I was falling for her. She always paid her way or sometimes we would take turns treating so she never used me. We enjoyed each others company very much going to wine tours, dinners, lunch, brunch, bars etc.

    However, our relationship was kind of one sided and here is a situation you did not touch. A lot of times when a guy is in the Friend Zone the girl has a boyfriend who she constantly bad mouths to her Friend Zone guy.

    You end up being the shoulder to lean on when things are not going well with her relationship. You end up being their shrink and/or male girlfriend. You end up hearing her say why can’t she find a guy who treats her right, pays her attention and meanwhile there you are all along. Actually, you said it in your story. This is the point where we should say, I’m right here!!!.

    I never made a move on her even though I wanted to. The fact that she was in a relationship and lived with the guy disqualified me from doing anything. She was off limits as I saw it. I wouldn’t want bad Karma on me.

    However, she did lead me on. After maybe 3 or 4 months of going out with her, I knew it wasn’t going anywhere and she had broken up with her BF around 3 times and always got back together.

    So I basically I said to her that I could not be going out with her all the time because I had feelings for her. I would be willing to still be her friend and get together once in a while but not go out all the time like we were dating.

    She rationalized that whos to know who she will end up with in 2 years yada yada. So I kept going out with her for 2 1/2 years and she finally dumped the guy who treated her so bad.

    However, my status in the friend zone remained the same so I felt like I wasted 2 1/2 years of my life.

    Honestly, I really enjoyed her company but the thing is when you devote yourself to one person who has no interest in you then you miss out on finding someone who shares your same feelings. I really should have stuck to my guns when I told her we should only go out once in a while.

    I did move on, started dating women. I haven’t seen her in 5 months or spoken to her 2 months. I miss her a lot and sometimes feel like calling her but I’m just afraid I will fall back into the old routine and end up right back in the dreaded Friend Zone…

  23. Ryan
    · July 26th, 2012 at 9:02 pm · Link

    I just stumbled upon your article through google and would like to offer my perspective. The “friend zone” is an oft debated subject amongst my male and female friends. It’s touchy for both sexes; men seem to revel in its existence as it gives them ammunition against the evil women of the world. Women on the other hand love to deny its place in the world, often becoming quite defensive at the mere mention of the term.

    If more men had the courage and confidence to discuss how they feel there’d definitely be fewer of them stuck in the friend zone. However, there is another related issue worth addressing. Guys can like a girl so much they choose to never make a move for fear of sacrificing what they already have (a plutonic friendship), even if it means never getting what they ultimately want (a romantic relationship). Over time they grow tired of the situation (which lets be honest, they’re responsible for) and eventually it breeds contempt. Women are at no fault there, but I have seen countless scenarios where a girl knows the guy wants more and chooses to ignore it because she’s satisfied just being friends.

    In cases like above I think the friendship is one sided. Regardless of gender, maintaining a friendship with a person whom you know has stronger feelings is something I could never do. I believe anybody who can, or does, is selfish.

    The only part of your article I don’t like is the end, I think it comes off shortsighted. Not all males hate the friend zone because they’re not nice guys. Some hate it for affirming their lack of self confidence, or their inability to go after what they want, or any number of deep seeded insecurities which are usually kept hidden from the world.

    Jerks hate the friend zone because they’re trying to get laid, nice guys hate it for reminding them that like always, they finish last.

  24. Simon
    · December 3rd, 2013 at 8:55 am · Link

    Honestly Stacia, be glad that Jose showed his true colors early.

    How often do you hear about women escaping from abusive relationships saying, “He seemed so nice when we first met”?

    • Brighe
      · December 8th, 2013 at 9:52 pm · Link

      ooooh i just did exactly that… he *was* so nice at first…

      • Simon
        · December 9th, 2013 at 7:10 am · Link

        The irony being that one of “Nice Guys” favorite things to do is paint all other guys as being abusive cheaters.


  1. The Friend Zone « Too Many Diversions

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