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Why Do Men Keep Putting Me in the Girlfriend-Zone?
September 6, 2013 7:46 AM   Subscribe

You know how it is, right, ladies? You know a guy for a while. You hang out with him. You do fun things with him—play video games, watch movies, go hiking, go to concerts. You invite him to your parties. You listen to his problems. You do all this because you think he wants to be your friend. But then, then comes the fateful moment where you find out that all this time, he’s only seen you as a potential girlfriend. And then if you turn him down, he may never speak to you again. This has happened to me time after time: I hit it off with a guy, and, for all that I’ve been burned in the past, I start to think that this one might actually care about me as a person. And then he asks me on a date.

literaryreference.tumblr.com is also, like, the second awesomest tumblr ever.
posted by Blasdelb (506 comments total) 79 users marked this as a favorite

 
People! amirite?
posted by entropicamericana at 7:47 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


People! amirite?
posted by phunniemee at 7:50 AM on September 6, 2013 [26 favorites]


> You know how it is, right, ladies? You know a guy for a while. You hang out with him. You do fun things with him—play video games, watch movies, go hiking, go to concerts. You invite him to your parties. You listen to his problems.

I dunno. Maybe things are different these days, but back in the '90s when my friends and I were dating, this (save, perhaps "You listen to his problems") is pretty much exactly how virtually everyone I knew hooked up with people. It was either that or getting wasted at a party or bar and rolling the dice.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:52 AM on September 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


1) This is brilliant.
2) The number of apparently straight-faced, guileless "well let me tell you as a man" comments are hilarious.
3) Which is counterbalanced by the large number of terribad "but my man-feels are different/ more legitimate than your she-thoughts".
posted by boo_radley at 7:52 AM on September 6, 2013 [36 favorites]


So what’s the answer? Should I take up mammoth-hunting in an attempt to appeal to the friendship centers of men’s primal lizardbrains? Should I keep making guy “friends” and then prevent them from making a move on me by subtly undermining their self-confidence?

No.. just don't wear makeup, gain a ton of weight, and hang out with girls that are prettier than you.


Am I doing this satire thing right?
posted by Debaser626 at 7:58 AM on September 6, 2013 [26 favorites]


This problem is closely linked to advanced stages of terminal fedora disease.

Get tested, friends.
posted by GoingToShopping at 7:59 AM on September 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


"I dunno. Maybe things are different these days, but back in the '90s when my friends and I were dating, this (save, perhaps "You listen to his problems") is pretty much exactly how virtually everyone I knew hooked up with people. It was either that or getting wasted at a party or bar and rolling the dice."

I think the thing this piece is satirizing (NOTE: "But males just don’t want to be friends with nice girls like me." - LOL!) isn't that people hook up with friends, but instead the really gendered and fucked up way in which when a dude has unreciprocated feelings it is seen as somehow the woman's fault while when women have the same feelings it is appropriately seen as their own problem and not the dude's.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:59 AM on September 6, 2013 [78 favorites]



literaryreference.tumblr.com is also, like, the second awesomest tumblr ever."

There's a lot of pussy on that site.

Also otters.
posted by chavenet at 7:59 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I dunno. Maybe things are different these days, but back in the '90s when my friends and I were dating, this (save, perhaps "You listen to his problems") is pretty much exactly how virtually everyone I knew hooked up with people. It was either that or getting wasted at a party or bar and rolling the dice.

Plenty of people meet people as friends and then later date them, I doubt anyone has a problem with that. What people have a problem with is the internet culture of raging at being "friendzoned."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:00 AM on September 6, 2013 [54 favorites]


boo_radley, you got me to read comments on the internet. Why?!?!
posted by Hactar at 8:00 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


> I think the thing this piece is satirizing...

Ah, that makes sense.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:02 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also otters.

In the war between reading about sexism and closing my office door to coo "who's a good otter, who's a good little otter" at a computer screen, it seems like the otters won.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:03 AM on September 6, 2013 [23 favorites]


The piece says more than it intends.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:03 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't get the point of this satire. Is it to take the piss out of guys who complain about the friend zone? Is it to take the piss out of the guys that make their move, fail and then move on? Is it just bitching about how guys have trouble having female friendships?
posted by Talez at 8:05 AM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't get the point of this satire. Is it to take the piss out of guys who complain about the friend zone? Is it to take the piss out of the guys that make their move, fail and then move on? Is it just bitching about how guys have trouble having female friendships?

I agree. I get what it's satirizing, but not what point it's trying to make.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:06 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


As I read it, paragraphs 1-3 are not really satire. They are genuinely complaining about the fact that guys form friendships with women and then abandon them when there's no romantic "payoff." Paragraphs 4 and 5 and a satire of men who, feeling that they keep getting "friendzoned" decide that the solution to their problem lies in evolutionary psychology, fedoras, and the paleo diet.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:07 AM on September 6, 2013 [42 favorites]


Blasdelb: "when a dude has unreciprocated feelings it is seen as somehow the woman's fault while when women have the same feelings it is appropriately seen as their own problem and not the dude's."

Can I suggest a partial solution is to stop viewing this as a problem and instead as just a thing that happens sometimes?
posted by Apropos of Something at 8:09 AM on September 6, 2013 [22 favorites]


"I don't get the point of this satire. Is it to take the piss out of guys who complain about the friend zone? Is it to take the piss out of the guys that make their move, fail and then move on? Is it just bitching about how guys have trouble having female friendships?"

I'm not sure there is a point in this sort of sense that it is trying to make beyond perhaps taking the piss out of the guys that make their move, fail and then DON'T move on; but things can just be elegant and interesting while turning a really fucked up concept on its head in a way that illuminates it without solving feminism forever.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:09 AM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


But males just don’t want to be friends with nice girls like me.

That made me laugh.
posted by rtha at 8:10 AM on September 6, 2013 [33 favorites]


As I read it, paragraphs 1-3 are not really satire. They are genuinely complaining about the fact that guys form friendships with women and then abandon them when there's no romantic "payoff."

So extrapolating she's a "nice girl" who complains she can't find a "nice guy"?

I'm not sure there is a point in this sort of sense that it is trying to make beyond perhaps taking the piss out of the guys that make their move, fail and then DON'T move on; but things can just be elegant and interesting while turning a really fucked up concept on its head in a way that illuminates it without solving feminism forever.

Yeah but turning something that's already stupid ("nice" guys) on its head is just making it even stupider.

I still don't get it.
posted by Talez at 8:11 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is why I fuck everyone.
posted by planetesimal at 8:14 AM on September 6, 2013 [62 favorites]


I don't get the point of this satire. Is it to take the piss out of guys who complain about the friend zone? Is it to take the piss out of the guys that make their move, fail and then move on? Is it just bitching about how guys have trouble having female friendships?

I think it's a trap - all of it. The article, the comments, the comments about the comments, the post here, the mocking of Fedoras, the satire/not satire thing, all of it. I'm just going to do my best to just be a spectator now.
posted by chambers at 8:14 AM on September 6, 2013 [25 favorites]


This is why I fuck everyone.

Everyone?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:16 AM on September 6, 2013 [20 favorites]


They are genuinely complaining about the fact that guys form friendships with women and then abandon them when there's no romantic "payoff."

I think the problem is that, at least for a lot of people, "early friendship" looks pretty identical to "courtship". I'm not sure what "abandoning" a friendship is though; is it someone's responsibility to maintain a friendship, here? Presumably we are talking about adults; how many times does MetaFilter say if something doesn't meet your needs/wants then "move on"?

I don't really know anyone out of college who is looking for more friends (save those in a new city or something). I'm sure there are tons of awesome people out there, but if you currently have friends, who is setting out to make more? It might happen organically; but that's not really where you're going to put your effort, whereas people (extremely commonly, at least) specifically seek out romantic partners when they are single.

I understand how annoying and even sexist the friend-zone complaining is, but the reaction to it sometimes overstates the case.
posted by spaltavian at 8:18 AM on September 6, 2013 [33 favorites]


This is because the moment we met, he put me in the girlfriend-zone, and now he can’t see me as friend material.

Well, no--it's because he can't tolerate having been rejected.
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:20 AM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


The great thing about this piece is that I've experienced it myself a number of times. The best satire is rooted in truth while skewering that truth.
posted by amanda at 8:21 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm going to read this article, but it's only because I want to get into the author's pants.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:21 AM on September 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


I think I might be a bit manly. Since my marriage, I've been friend zoned a bit, and truly my life is richer for these unexpected midlife friendships with the other gender. But in the words of an Australian artist: am I not pretty enough, is my heart too broken?

I have a personal preference to have a partner who is foremost a friend - how else can you stand hanging around with them when you're too worn out for more sex? But my male friends want me as their friend, not their lover, even if we started that way. I can't deny they feel how they feel, and it's a compliment (if sorts) that they value me as a person and want to stay in my life.

But really, can't I have both? If I'm a good friend, doesn't that mean we love each other a little already? And ta dah- I just did the despicable Internet practice thingy of asking for more than someone has to give.

So I'll just hold on to my dear guys, and be the friend I should be, as they are to me. Friends, good friends, true friends, people who ate okay with you ringing them at 2am, who worry if you drop out of site for a while, who listen to your woes and put you up at their place, who give you hugs and will lend you money, and tell your good points, as well as gently drawing your attention to your flaws -rare gems. And I'm glad there's only been one of them that I've had to have less contact with, and he knows it's not because I don't like him, but that I like him too much, and like a good friend would, he understands. I hope one day that I can feel just right about him, because I miss him as much as my friend as I miss him as my lover.
posted by b33j at 8:22 AM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


Hi everybody the article is putting the privilege of entitlement on the other party than we usually see and using that humor to satirize guys who think that women are machines who exchange "being nice" for sex.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:22 AM on September 6, 2013 [66 favorites]


I don't get the point of this satire. Is it to take the piss out of guys who complain about the friend zone?

Yes.

The lengthier answer - it is to take the piss out of guys who complain about "the friend zone," because the kind of guy who complains about "the friend zone" seems to think that friendship isn't a valid relationship for a men to have with a woman. Such "woe I got friendzoned" seem to think that "friendship" is a step on the way towards a romance, but not an end goal in and of itself. Which is where the whole "woe I got friendzoned" thing comes in - the woman sincerely wanted to just be friends and that's it, but the only reason the guy was "being friends" was because he thought that One Day She Will Magically See Me As Boyfriend Material, and when he realizes that's not gonna happen he gets angry at her for not following his inner romantic comedy rulebook.

This turns that script on its head - "I always seem to meet [foo] who say they want [baz], but it turns out they really want [schmeh]."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:24 AM on September 6, 2013 [58 favorites]


I don't really know anyone out of college who is looking for more friends (save those in a new city or something). I'm sure they are tons of awesome people out there, but if you currently have friends, who is setting out to make more?

This statement seems circular - it reads as "if you [think you] currently have [enough] friends, who is setting out to make more?" And that "or something" masks a whole world of possible places in life. Speaking as someone in a city who has lived there for a while, I'd almost always like more friends.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:25 AM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Blasdelb: "when a dude has unreciprocated feelings it is seen as somehow the woman's fault while when women have the same feelings it is appropriately seen as their own problem and not the dude's."

Apropos of Something: Can I suggest a partial solution is to stop viewing this as a problem and instead as just a thing that happens sometimes?
But it is a problem, a really big one, especially for younger and otherwise more vulnerable women who aren't necessarily in a place to see creepy men blaming them for their boners for the total bullshit that it is. The ideas at the root of the 'friend-zone,' that women are responsible for the attraction others feel for them and that anyone can 'owe' anyone sex are incredibly fucking toxic to both boys and girls and clearly contribute to abuse. Its more than just a thing that happens sometimes, its a fucked up thing that we allow to happen and a thing we should fucking stop in its tracks.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:26 AM on September 6, 2013 [75 favorites]


When people feel rejected they get angry, and anger leads to irrational thoughts and ideas.

Thankfully someone has written a smart-ass article on the internet that will fix all that.
posted by svenni at 8:29 AM on September 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'm sure there are tons of awesome people out there, but if you currently have friends, who is setting out to make more? It might happen organically; but that's not really where you're going to put your effort,

I think this might be a thing that is normal for you but is not necessarily universal, which is how I'm reading it. I'm not "looking" to make new friends alla time, but it's not like I'm all "No, no more friends, I'm good," and it sure does happen pretty organically as I meet friends of friends and new-to-me mefites and so on.
posted by rtha at 8:30 AM on September 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


This is a personal anecdote, and by no means quantifies every (or even most) plutonic male/female relationship, but honestly...

Every woman I have ever been in the "friendzone" with, and watched my friends be involved with, seemed to place a lot of value on those very qualities of the friendship which mainly stemmed from a pursuit of a more-than-friends status. Basically a boyfriend without benefits.

That said, it is important to state that I have seen and been involved with the above types of unrequited relationships where actual, honest to god, friendships have evolved, (though with a definite and healthier reduction in intensity), and I have seen and been involved in unrequited relationships where it was simply too painful for the person with the unrequited attraction to continue.

I just honestly do not get how a man thinking "Oh man... I'm in the friendzone!" is sexist. It's merely a statement of "wow, I really like this person, we've been hanging out a lot, and crap... it's not gonna happen the way I want." I mean, it's not like women don't have this happen to them as well.

I dunno... Perhaps that is because I have never assigned any sort of blame to the other person, regardless of whether I'm attracted to them, or they to me, but I just don't get the "OMGSEXIST!" slant on this.
posted by Debaser626 at 8:31 AM on September 6, 2013 [29 favorites]


Navelgazer, I think everyone understands the article. But many the disucssion here has begun to address some of the other assumptions. For example:

EmpressCallipygos I don't get the point of this satire. Is it to take the piss out of guys who complain about the friend zone?

Yes.


We all agree on this! We understand the entitlement here; and I too find it mockable!

The lengthier answer - it is to take the piss out of guys who complain about "the friend zone," because the kind of guy who complains about "the friend zone" seems to think that friendship isn't a valid relationship for a men to have with a woman.

But see, this Navelgazer, is a related but different point! This carries with it some further assumptions of the motivations what I will call "Men Who May Wear Fedoras". This part we can discuss and debate, and it doesn't mean we don't understand the satire or need you to helpfully talk to us like children.

To address your point EC, I think it's correct put overly sweeping. Some of those Men May Wear Fedoras, but some probably just liked a girl and wanted to get to know her and date her.

Such "woe I got friendzoned" seem to think that "friendship" is a step on the way towards a romance, but not an end goal in and of itself.

If you're not looking for a friend, it isn't an end goal in of itself. As long as you don't then don the fedora and complain about how women only want Alpha Men, what's the problem with this?
posted by spaltavian at 8:31 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Uhhh she clearly needs to get her day-game together. It's all about numbers--keep hanging around the Self-Help section at bookstores, keep asking guys in parks to show her magic tricks, keep returning the football after a dude "accidentally" throws it over his friend's head and it lands in the sand next to her at the beach--Just Keep At It! Eventually she'll find one that she can be friends with!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:32 AM on September 6, 2013 [33 favorites]


Is she hot? Did she smile? Because whoa; hot, and a smile; and well. Y'know. Hormones; they gotta go somewhere.
posted by buzzman at 8:33 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am lost in the Satire Funhouse at this point.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:34 AM on September 6, 2013 [35 favorites]


rtha: I think this might be a thing that is normal for you but is not necessarily universal, which is how I'm reading it. I'm not "looking" to make new friends alla time, but it's not like I'm all "No, no more friends, I'm good," and it sure does happen pretty organically as I meet friends of friends and new-to-me mefites and so on.

What I'm saying is that it seems strange to automatically assume a guy wears a fedora because he leaves once he finds a woman is not interested in him. The disappointment of "what, he was just specifically out to develop a romantic relationship all this time?" makes no sense to me. New friendships when you are an adult happen sporadically; but a lot of people who are single are setting out to find a relationship. If no relationship results, what are they supposed to do? Turn around and pretend they were interested in making a new friend all this time?
posted by spaltavian at 8:35 AM on September 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


but instead the really gendered and fucked up way in which when a dude has unreciprocated feelings it is seen as somehow the woman's fault while when women have the same feelings it is appropriately seen as their own problem and not the dude's.

I know that's the meme that's been going around lately, but most "friendzone" stuff I've seen focus squarely at guys trying to figure out what they themselves are doing wrong. These are not guys who think that every woman has to be attracted to them -- they're trying to figure out why no women are attracted to them. And usually, it's because they missed out on learning social cues that somehow .
posted by the jam at 8:35 AM on September 6, 2013 [18 favorites]


plutonic male/female relationship

All I wanted was to eat some pomegranate seeds! Why do guys keep Queen-of-the-Netherworld-zoning me?
posted by strangely stunted trees at 8:37 AM on September 6, 2013 [154 favorites]


I didn't realize this was that large of a problem. Before I descend into the lab/ferret farm are we wanting everyone as friends or no one as ambiguously-dating friends? I don't want to cook up the wrong solution strain. Or maybe a strain that just eats hats.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:37 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey, am I nuts or was this exact thing posted once before, deleted, and it spawned some sort of a MeTa, maybe?
posted by MoonOrb at 8:38 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cosmo had a good article last month "10 great moves to make your guy friend yawn after Call of Duty".
posted by surplus at 8:38 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just honestly do not get how a man thinking "Oh man... I'm in the friendzone!" is sexist. It's merely a statement of "wow, I really like this person, we've been hanging out a lot, and crap... it's not gonna happen the way I want." I mean, it's not like women don't have this happen to them as well.

Yeah, I think this satire is pointed only toward a very specific sort of discussion (associated with the kind of "how-to" dating stuff like pick-up artist) that talks about Sekrit Strategies to Avoid the Friendzone and has a bunch of weird misogynist stuff built into it. So it's not about the normal situation of one-friend-wants-romance, the-other-doesn't, it's about the larger narrative that a small group of guys have embroidered around that situation.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:39 AM on September 6, 2013 [19 favorites]


svenni: "Thankfully someone has written a smart-ass article on the internet that will fix all that."

Please.
1) Not everything on the internet is designed to "fix" something.
2) But honestly maybe by putting men in a position to argue the contra, it will get some shitty dude with a shitty opinion to rethink his shitty outlook on relationships with women. Maybe that would fix a thing!
posted by boo_radley at 8:40 AM on September 6, 2013 [17 favorites]


As long as you don't then don the fedora and complain about how women only want Alpha Men, what's the problem with this?

...nothing at all, but the kind of people who are mature enough to realize "oh, crap, they don't like me like that - oh well, we're good friends anyway" aren't the ones being satirized with this essay.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:41 AM on September 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


I just honestly do not get how a man thinking "Oh man... I'm in the friendzone!" is sexist.

It's not in of itself, but a lot of jerks can't handle the rejection and turn it into something "wrong" with women. ("They just want men who treat them badly" or "they should have been aware of what I wanted" type stuff. Basically calling a woman a tease for the "Nice Guy" crowd.)
posted by spaltavian at 8:42 AM on September 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos :...nothing at all, but the kind of people who are mature enough to realize "oh, crap, they don't like me like that - oh well, we're good friends anyway"

I haven't been talking about those people. I specifically addressing men who, realizing there is no relationship potential, move on from the "friendship". I don't think this automatically implies they think friendships with women are worthless, it's just not what they were seeking.

Obviously men who stay and switch gears and maintain a friendship are not what anyone is talking about.
posted by spaltavian at 8:45 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I just honestly do not get how a man thinking "Oh man... I'm in the friendzone!" is sexist.

Because the over-narrative goes: "Women: there is no such thing as a man who will be your friend. Men do not like you, they just want to fuck you. Putting a man in the "friend" zone, where he must spend time with you and never pull out his junk, is the WORST PUNISHMENT EVAR, because everything about women that is not a vagina or breasts is the WORST, amirite?"
posted by like_a_friend at 8:46 AM on September 6, 2013 [56 favorites]


Or you could be my best friend where this is happening to her husband and ...their mutual girl friend. He's shocked/angry that his wife told him/her that their behavior is inappropriate.
posted by stormpooper at 8:46 AM on September 6, 2013


Why do all these girls keep friend-with-benefits-zoning me? Ugh, the very last thing I need is another friend who I also have sex with. I'm a nice guy, and I deserve more than just being friends and then also getting laid. Guys, why does this keep happening to me, and how do I avoid it?
posted by naju at 8:46 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think there is a huge difference between A) Scheming to fuck someone by being friends with them and then getting all pouty and entitled about "the friendzone" when it doesn't end up happening and B) Actually falling for one of your close friends, not having your feelings reciprocated, and distancing yourself from them for your own sake because you aren't ready to just pretend nothing happened/hear about them seeing other people.

I think B gets confused for A a lot. I have also seen B posted dozens of times on askme and people seem generally supportive of the decision to back away and take some space from the friendship - no one says "wow asshole move asking your friend out like that, you should suck it up and force yourself to stay friends with them and watch them date other people with a smile on your face".

In conclusion I think there are a lot of nuances to this stuff but a lot of it gets simplified to "fedora assholes who complain about the friendzone".
posted by windbox at 8:47 AM on September 6, 2013 [77 favorites]


the kind of people who are mature enough to realize "oh, crap, they don't like me like that - oh well, we're good friends anyway"

Hello there, value judgement. If you don't make a (quite large) shift in your desires, you are not mature enough! There is a huge difference between friend and girlfriend. It's not like ordering a strawberry milkshake, getting a raspberry one instead and just shrugging your shoulders and deciding to enjoy it anyway.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:48 AM on September 6, 2013 [17 favorites]


Hey, am I nuts or was this exact thing posted once before, deleted, and it spawned some sort of a MeTa, maybe?

Look, we get it, alright. You wanted to score with the Blue and you got Greyzoned. Just shut up about it already.
posted by yoink at 8:49 AM on September 6, 2013 [25 favorites]


I haven't been talking about those people. I specifically addressing men who, realizing there is no relationship potential, move on from the "friendship". I don't think this automatically implies they think friendships with women are worthless, it's just not what they were seeking.

I think the problem is that the men were being disingenuous from the start by masking their romantic intentions as merely friendship in order to get their foot in the door?
posted by mullacc at 8:49 AM on September 6, 2013 [24 favorites]


When people feel rejected they get angry, and anger leads to irrational thoughts and ideas.

I don't think male entitlement is best characterized as an "irrational thought." It seems like a much broader issue to me.
posted by leopard at 8:49 AM on September 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is a pretty great tumblr, and this Flight of the Conchords gif from the same blog is even more precise (and funny) when it comes to the problem of blaming the other party for one's own faults, without the risk of being interpreted as a judgmental "all x do y" (not that this is).
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:52 AM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


Hello there, value judgement. If you don't make a (quite large) shift in your desires, you are not mature enough! There is a huge difference between friend and girlfriend. It's not like ordering a strawberry milkshake, getting a raspberry one instead and just shrugging your shoulders and deciding to enjoy it anyway.

Hrm...I think maybe it's more like the guy coyly asked for a "berry" milkshake when he really wanted a strawberry milkshake. Then when he gets the raspberry milkshake instead he dumps it on the ice cream parlor floor and walks out in a huff.
posted by mullacc at 8:52 AM on September 6, 2013 [28 favorites]


I think the disconnect here is that folks are talking about two different situations.

1. They start with a known "and I am looking for a relationship" goal and if things don't work out, there is no obligation to be friends after.
2. They start as friends and the guy is ONLY being friends for the purpose of "winning" her affections and thus having her decide he is just so great she wants to sleep with him. If it doesn't happen he gets pissed off because LOOK AT ALL OF THE NICE THINGS I DID WHY DOESN'T SHE WANT TO SLEEP WITH ME, and then she loses what she thought was a great friend because he had ulterior motives and got mad when she didn't do what he wanted (as mentioned above).

Most folks get that the linked post is referring to situation 2, some folks seem to think it's talking about some variation of situation 1.

To paraphrase one of my favorite thoughts on the subject: Women are not vending machines that you put "niceness" into until sex falls out.

On preview, similar to what windbox said.
posted by HermitDog at 8:52 AM on September 6, 2013 [33 favorites]


I think the problem is that the men were being disingenuous from the start by masking their romantic intentions as merely friendship in order to get their foot in the door?

Agreed. Also, it's not like the people we're talking about here hang with someone in a friendly way for a couple weeks, then make a move. That is called "dating." It's the people who hang around for months or even YEARS, never say a word (because they are not idiots, they know you have no sexual interest in them, they don't want to get shot down), and then suddenly you get a boyfriend and they go nuclear on you because HOW DARE YOU I BOUGHT YOU ICE CREAM ONCE.
posted by like_a_friend at 8:52 AM on September 6, 2013 [17 favorites]


The solution to both sides of the coin is to make it clear as soon as possible the nature and course of the relationship. Obviously, things can change. But both parties might as well be on the same page, right?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:54 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


From mullacc:
...being disingenuous from the start by masking their romantic intentions as merely friendship in order to get their foot in the door...

So it is their "foot" that they want to get in the other person's "door"? Huh, I missed that bit....
posted by Halo in reverse at 8:54 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Halo in reverse: Stop pussyfooting around.
posted by mullacc at 8:55 AM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also, it's not like the people we're talking about here hang with someone in a friendly way for a couple weeks, then make a move. That is called "dating."

Well, that's the thing. That's what the author of this piece is talking about. But sometimes what seems like dating to one person is just two friends hanging out, or vice-versa. And that disconnect can be screwy for both of them.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:57 AM on September 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


When I was a younger, much lonelier version of me, I remember complaining about being friend zoned. I don't know if it was entitlement or just honest confusion or just an inability to take a chance early in the process, but I always became friends with women I was interested in. Not in some sort of schemey "aha, if I'm her friend she'll naturally want to jump my dorky bones.", but in the sense of "I'm no good with rejection. I fear it. I hate the feelings it stirs and the confirmation of my own shortcomings, inadequacies and failings."

It felt safer to get closer to someone first, to discover what they were truly like and if there was genuine compatibility there. And yup, it lead me to being "the friend" and me whining in a way I'm not proud of.

It's strange how the courting dance works - for the most part. You either have to take a chance early to avoid the dreaded "categorization" (before you truly know about anything other than lust and limerance) or you have to accept the price of one of you becoming unrequited in a process that may take forever to sort itself out.

Have I mentioned, I'm much better with animals? :)
posted by drewbage1847 at 8:58 AM on September 6, 2013 [24 favorites]


The solution to both sides of the coin is to make it clear as soon as possible the nature and course of the relationship.

I assure you, the times a "friendzone" dude has actually believed me when I clearly and concisely state that I do not want to date him is zero. The whole point of the gambit is "sure she says she doesn't want to be my girlfriend, but let's see how long she can keep that up when I refuse to ever go away. Eventually she will HAVE to fuck me, that's how it goes."

Obligatory XKCD: http://xkcd.com/513/

Also, time is a major difference here, sys rq. A couple of weeks followed by a clear declaration is not what the piece describes. She describes a long-term, involved friendship. Which has apparently been a lie from day 1.
posted by like_a_friend at 8:59 AM on September 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


But it is a problem, a really big one, especially for younger and otherwise more vulnerable women who aren't necessarily in a place to see creepy men blaming them for their boners for the total bullshit that it is. The ideas at the root of the 'friend-zone,' that women are responsible for the attraction others feel for them and that anyone can 'owe' anyone sex are incredibly fucking toxic to both boys and girls and clearly contribute to abuse. Its more than just a thing that happens sometimes, its a fucked up thing that we allow to happen and a thing we should fucking stop in its tracks.

This makes a lot of glib assumptions about all of the men who find themselves in situations where they're interested in a woman—on a variety of levels—and trying to get a feel for whether that interest is reciprocated. Women are not obligated to fuck/marry/kill any guy who shows positive attention toward them, and any guy who expects that is a regressive dick. But sometimes rejection is painful, and guys are likewise not obligated to linger as friends with someone for whom they have formed a romantic/emotional attachment. In fact, that goes for both genders.
posted by echocollate at 9:01 AM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


there may or may not have been a Sex in the City episode with Carrie freaking out because if he didn't fuck her in X days, she was in the friend zone or some similarly inane shit. I am not admitting to watching the show, or, for that matter, understanding what is going on here.
posted by angrycat at 9:01 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


join me I'm hiding under the laundry basket.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:02 AM on September 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


Relevant.
in the 7th grade there was a boy named ryan who sat next to me on the bus and talked to me about manga. he’d ask me personal invasive questions but i didn’t mind because it was attention and i liked attention. i was dating another guitarist with curly brown hair, one who was much more kind-tempered than the other, and ryan mentioned how much of an asshole he was every day. i wondered, why, why does he think the love of my life is an asshole? but whenever i asked him, he just told me, “girls only date assholes. there’s no room for nice guys like me.”

i wondered, if he was so nice, why did he say such mean things?

he never stopped with me, taking me to movies, hanging out with me, you know. being friendly. i thought we were friends. but then, how many times had i thought that before?

how many times had i bonded with a boy, thought they got me, only for them to ask me if i wanted to make out?
posted by nicebookrack at 9:02 AM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


In a strictly plutonium fashion I mean.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:02 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's as if an entire generation has never seen When Harry Met Sally
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:05 AM on September 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


I was groomed as a teen to believe if a man had sexual feelings for me it was my fault and I needed to fix it and if I had lead him on in any way by smiling, or being a friend to him, I was morally required to supply him with something to make things better. Men literally said these things to me all the time up until I was 24 and got pregnant a second time and stopped interacting with men in friendship oriented or private settings.

"You owe me sex because you smiled and led me on." Or "If you want emotional support from me you need to supply me with my sexual needs as well and it's only fair in a heterosexual friendship."

You know I have had lady friends who I have leaned on for emotional support and they did NOT demand that. It's NOT balanced or fair or part of anything anyone would do to a real friend.

This really IS a harmful mentality and it does harm vulnerable people who are still learning and developing and don't deserve to be treated that way. It took me years of therapy to undo that sort of message/training that I got from really creepy men AND was reinforced by social statements in favor of women feeling bad for wanting friendship with me and owing sex in return for having emotional needs in the presence of men.

Trust me, I only get emotional needs met from women now, I learned my lessen about what happens if I share deep emotions with men who claim to be interested in friendship.

I think to some degree, we threw out old societal structures for dating and haven't established new, agreed on, behavioral practices that guide us in treating each other well. You really do need some education/guidance to do that well because we are clumsy creatures and don't always see how our expectations and behaviors might be harming someone else until it's pointed out to us and alternative way to behave is presented.

Sorry to be all serious, it was snarky and pretty light. I'm just a big serious serioushead.

Oh btw, I've seen plenty of people talk about the friendzone in a non-mysogenist way, so I think this is about that, specifically about a type of complaining about the friendzone that IS mysogenistic.


I feel like being friends to see if you're compatible for dating is a great thing, or even to boost each others egos and flirt while not intending to actually date- but the hopes and expectations can get confusing and I do think that for most hetero male/female friendships they will need to either become a serious relationship or fade a little when one or both get new partners. For me, dating probably does look just like friendship in the beginning, and I can see why this model gets really confusing for people. Of course, I think dating is generally terrible and confusing to begin with.

I think there's this really huge catch 22 for women where you're expected to trust a man when he says he being platonic and then even by the same guy you're suddenly bombarded with insults at not having been clever enough to know he clearly was interested in sex/dating etc. It's flustering and confusing and you can't win.

You will be insulted for assuming all male friendship advances could be sexual, and you will be insulted for taking men at their word they are being platonic.
posted by xarnop at 9:07 AM on September 6, 2013 [45 favorites]


But sometimes rejection is painful, and guys are likewise not obligated to linger as friends with someone for whom they have formed a romantic/emotional attachment.

Well, I agree that if we take out the complaints about the "friendzone" and the accompanying philosophizing about how the opposite sex is evolutionarily hardwired to like things that aren't good for them, this becomes a lot less funny.
posted by leopard at 9:08 AM on September 6, 2013


"But sometimes rejection is painful, and guys are likewise not obligated to linger as friends with someone for whom they have formed a romantic/emotional attachment. In fact, that goes for both genders."

Its funny how women and girls seem to almost categorically handle this so much better, particularly at a young age. Its almost as if women and girls don't have a a huge portion of a culture dedicated to modelling fantastically shitty ways to handle this to them, maybe the fact that men and boys is do something worth exposing and addressing?
posted by Blasdelb at 9:08 AM on September 6, 2013 [27 favorites]


But sometimes what seems like dating to one person is just two friends hanging out, or vice-versa. And that disconnect can be screwy for both of them.

And yet, 99.9999999% of the time the female half gets all the blame.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:09 AM on September 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


"Thankfully someone has written a smart-ass article on the internet that will fix all that."

Sometimes you just want to take the piss out of something without coming up with some Grand Solution. Ain't nothing wrong with that.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 9:12 AM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


aaaaaaaaaaaaagggggggghhhhh it hurts. it hurts so much.

I was That Guy. I am so ashamed.

It started when I wrote that one girl the horrible love letter that ended with "u r a q t π". I was 11, I didn't know any better. Anyway, one of her friends told me that she was "not that into me", probably because we'd never actually talked before, and I was so upset that I didn't even hear it from her that I angrily rejected her later attempt to say hi to me or something, and it got worse from there.

Sometimes I think it's not the worst thing in the world to not want to talk to a person a little while after they reject you? Like, there was this one time where somebody invited me over to watch Amelie and when I showed up she poured us each a glass of red wine and we curled up on her bed and that's when she started talking to me about this other boy that she thought was really cute. That sort of sucked. And when you think you've been doing the whole flirting and dating thing with somebody who realized that that's what you thought, and just decided to say nothing in the hopes that you'd get over it, then I feel like it's okay for the problem to not entirely be the guy's.

But other times it's absurd how victimized a guy will let himself feel just because somebody who likes him doesn't want to passionately snog with him. And it's fucked up how often he will then pass the blame over to the girl in question, like she's somehow a bad person for having opinions of her own.

The worst comes when guys use that tactic to guilt girls into situations they don't really want to be in. Essentially pressuring a friend into acting like more than a friend in order for them to not lose your friendship. I did that one too. Blug.

I really want to come in and defend guys who act like this, because I know from firsthand experience that there is a fair amount of pain and suffering and being-totally-confused-about-what-romance-is-because-of-what-other-guys-told-you-and-also-TV-shows that genuinely sucks on a lot of levels. But the problem isn't guys on an individual level, it's an entire culture of guys who are telling themselves over and over again that what they're doing is right, and that what the girls they know are doing is wrong. It very quickly gets to the point where guys say and do some horrible, horrible shit, far worse than a single rejection ever could be.

I was by no means the worst of the people I knew, and I still said/did some things that were pretty damn unjustifiable. So instead of standing up for the guys in this equation I'll just quietly hope that they all come to that same moment of horrible recognition that I did, and learn to regret that being a little hurt yourself is nowhere near as bad as realizing you've inflicted pain upon others.

As a former camp counselor I've had a lot of situations recently where ex-campers have told me about the horrible things guys they've dated have done to them, and it sucks to see such an awful ratio of shitty/abusive boyfriends to boyfriends that seem halfway decent. This is a huge cultural problem and it isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:15 AM on September 6, 2013 [49 favorites]


I'm sort of complicatedly jealous of all those people who've never had to interact with a guy who embraces the following pattern of reasoning:
  1. I will super nice and helpful to this woman who is not attracted to me, because
  2. if I do her a lot of favors and just generally fawn over her (while never saying anything about being attracted to her That Way), eventually she will owe me sex. This is followed by
  3. the plan not working, because no one is owed pussy ever and least of all a transparent manipulator. Which leads to the dude in question
  4. cursing all women (or, rather, "females") as friend zoning bitches who don't appreciate Nice Guys and only like jerks
  5. and also leads to said guy adopting PUA techniques and generally making the universe worse for anyone unfortunate enough to meet them
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:15 AM on September 6, 2013 [23 favorites]


When people feel rejected they get angry, and anger leads to irrational thoughts and ideas.

I really hope not everyone feels like that, because rage as the automatic reaction here is disturbing.

Quoting again from my own relevant link above:
when i was 10 years old i met a girl whose brown hair fell across her shoulders and whos eyes sparkled when the sunlight hit them, whose voice was like velvet and whose scent was like mountain smoke, who made me dizzier than a fly climbing a sugar hill. and i’m 17 years old, and i still love her, and she knows, and she doesn’t love me.

but my first thoughts upon hearing her rejection were not “what a bitch,” were not “she just wants a douchebag and not a nice girl like me!” were not “im going to keep pushing her until she dates me,”

they were

"she is the best friend i have ever had, and i am the best she’s ever had, and i would hate to take that away from her."
posted by nicebookrack at 9:15 AM on September 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


It's as if an entire generation has never seen When Harry Met Sally

Unless you're a guy that believes being friends with a woman means that ultimately, you're owed sex and/or romance, that's a good thing.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:17 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


"But sometimes rejection is painful, and guys are likewise not obligated to linger as friends with someone for whom they have formed a romantic/emotional attachment. In fact, that goes for both genders."

I think the chances that either I, or a man, involved in a friendship with me might get feelings are high. I think if you are friends with someone of the gender you're attracted to, that is something people should be prepared to navigate and should prepared might be a thing that could happen at the start of the friendship. And I hope that people would be kind to each other about that possibility or if one person gets feelings and it can't work out and there is a need for "friend break up" or what have you.

But the assumption that the friendship is accumulating debt on the woman's part because men only offer emotional support to women if they should be getting sex from it, is really sinister and is too often sprung on someone out of the blue when they thought they were really in a friendship.
posted by xarnop at 9:17 AM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I assure you, the times a "friendzone" dude has actually believed me when I clearly and concisely state that I do not want to date him is zero. The whole point of the gambit is "sure she says she doesn't want to be my girlfriend, but let's see how long she can keep that up when I refuse to ever go away. Eventually she will HAVE to fuck me, that's how it goes."

Yeah, I hear that.

I'll put what I was saying a slightly different way: If the "friendzone" is indeed a phenomenon that actually happens in the real world of gender relations, it is entirely preventable, especially by the man. For all the words spent on bloviating shitbaggery about it after the 'fact,' it's a little odd that at no point in the relationship did the guy use some of them to state his intentions up front.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:17 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Its funny how women and girls seem to almost categorically handle this so much better, particularly at a young age.

And yet, 99.9999999% of the time the female half gets all the blame.


Really? You never knew any girls when you were in high school or college who were just convinced that some guy they knew who consistently told them that they were "just friends" was really destined to be hers once he discovered that all the women he was dating were just vapid bitches, etc?

The basic pattern here ("I know I'm right for him/her, if only s/he could learn to see it!") seems to me pretty non-gendered--and both ways round is a standard romance trope. It's just that there's a layer of veiled threat and hostility in this whole juvenile "friendzone" thing that adds a particularly toxic flavor to certain male expressions of resentment and frustration about the situation.
posted by yoink at 9:17 AM on September 6, 2013 [26 favorites]


Its funny how women and girls seem to almost categorically handle this so much better, particularly at a young age. Its almost as if women and girls don't have a a huge portion of a culture dedicated to modelling fantastically shitty ways to handle this to them, maybe the fact that men and boys is do something worth exposing and addressing?

Listen, all I'm saying is that a couple of times in my own life, through the course of being friends with someone and coming to know them better, I've found myself deeply in love only to discover my feelings weren't reciprocated. In the wake of that, it was too difficult to see/interact with that person, despite the best efforts of everyone involved. I know we both regretted the loss/weakening of the friendship, but I don't see myself as a victim of cultural attitudes about how I should feel/think/act when a women doesn't return my affections. And frankly I find the very idea reductive, patronizing, and offensive.
posted by echocollate at 9:21 AM on September 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


If the "friendzone" is indeed a phenomenon that actually happens in the real world of gender relations, it is entirely preventable, especially by the man. For all the words spent on bloviating shitbaggery about it after the fact, it's a little odd that at no point in the relationship did the guy use some of them to state his intentions up front.

But that ruins all the fun of "everything is women's fault and/or responsibility always, and never mine."
posted by like_a_friend at 9:21 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yo I just want to say this thread was worth it for 'man-feels' and 'she-thoughts'. There, I said it.
posted by Mister_A at 9:21 AM on September 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


There's a related process, equally shitty, which involves somebody deluding themselves into thinking somebody they like is more interesting/compatible with them than they actually are, because whichever particular way in which they're attractive makes them "fascinating" or "exotic" or a portal to an exciting new world of adventure or whatever. And then they find that they're either miserably bored around that person or, worse, they try to "tame" them and make them more like themselves in every way, and in either case they ultimately blame the person they were attracted to for "leading them on" by existing as a separate human being with separate desires and interests and everything.

"But you let me be attracted to you, even after you knew that I didn't find you interesting! Well you can just go fuck yourself, Miss Exposes Ambiguities Of Psychology And Desire. Call me when you've decided to subjugate your will entirely to my churning whims of lust."
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:22 AM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


xarnop: But the assumption that the friendship is accumulating debt on the woman's part because men only offer emotional support to women if they should be getting sex from it, is really sinister and is too often sprung on someone out of the blue when they thought they were really in a friendship.

Absolutely, and I couldn't agree more. I covered that in the "regressive dick" part of my post.
posted by echocollate at 9:26 AM on September 6, 2013


I think the piece falls flat as satire because it doesn't reverse the Nice-Guy-Friendzone scenario at all-- it's still the same scenario, but told from the woman's point of view. A true satire would have her treating men as vending machines you insert sex coins into until friendship falls out, luring unsuspecting male acquaintances by spending weeks, months, or years eagerly and insatiably performing the nastiest conceivable acts on them all without exchanging so much as a word of conversation, before suddenly blindsiding them with a request to be friends, which was her sneaky plan all along. And then complaining bitterly when men refuse her again and again, saying they're only interested in being sex toys, but then they go and make friends with the very next woman they see, who isn't even putting out!
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 9:27 AM on September 6, 2013 [21 favorites]


This is all arguing against a very different friendzone conversation than the one I've seen. The one I've seen is very rarely "Why is this girl such a jerk? She friendzoned me and I deserve more". It's much more often "What is wrong with me? Why are no girls ever attracted to me? What does everyone else know that I don't?"

But by all means, feel free to kick some sand in the face of socially anxious and underdeveloped teenage boys.
posted by the jam at 9:27 AM on September 6, 2013 [22 favorites]


What I'm saying is that it seems strange to automatically assume a guy wears a fedora because he leaves once he finds a woman is not interested in him. The disappointment of "what, he was just specifically out to develop a romantic relationship all this time?" makes no sense to me. New friendships when you are an adult happen sporadically; but a lot of people who are single are setting out to find a relationship. If no relationship results, what are they supposed to do? Turn around and pretend they were interested in making a new friend all this time?

I think you're making an either/or (or I'm reading one you didn't intend) here. Let's say John is single and wants to date. John gets invited to his friend Tom's party, and at the party he meets Jane, who is not looking to date. They both have a good time talking about the slightly peculiar hobby they share. Afterwards, John is thinking "I met an awesome girl who shares my slightly peculiar hobby! I would love to date her!" and Jane is thinking "Yay, new friend who shares my slightly peculiar hobby!"

So they come at this incipient relationship with different expectations, but they don't know that their expectations are different. If John is an actual nice guy and Jane is an actual nice girl, they figure this out early on (ideally by using their words) and either become/stay actual friends with no dating, or John decides he's not sure he really can be "just" friends with Jane and they stay friendly acquaintances with no one-on-one hanging out.
posted by rtha at 9:27 AM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


And also, yoink, I agree that it goes both ways, absolutely. I do think there are gendered trends about how this tends to get handled though and how it gets talked about in the aftermath.

I'm personally a fan of forgiving people, even for pretty awful blunders, but it's still important to point out things that ARE blunders and why they are harmful and hopefully encourage people to not do those things if at all possible. Especially when they are socially reinforced as ok behaviors.

I think the unexamined mind and subsequent behaviors trends toward the awful and when one awakens you can find yourself aghast at what you and your social surrounding thought was ok behavior. I'm very sympathetic to this aspect of being human. Being a good person can be very difficult. To me pointing it out is about making positive change and not focused on ruining people who have made mistakes, especially once they see it and are moving on.
posted by xarnop at 9:28 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Spelling Police Citation:

Plutonic = pertaining to plutonium i.e. radioactive

Platonic = pertaining to Plato; a non-sexual love

First time you get a warning, second time you have to spend one night in the Think Tank.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:28 AM on September 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


The one I've seen is very rarely "Why is this girl such a jerk? She friendzoned me and I deserve more".

Well, you're lucky.

The Nice Guy phenomenon isn't exactly new. The friendzone is just the latest iteration.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 9:28 AM on September 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


From one of the comments: Bullshit. The "friendzone" problem isn't a lack of communication, it's men pretending they want to be friends in order to get sex. In other words, being lying, deceiving douchebags.

Well, at least the missing-the-point gene is equal opportunity.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:29 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


...second time you have to spend one night in the Think Tank.

No! NO! Not the CATO INSTITUTE!!!
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:30 AM on September 6, 2013 [25 favorites]


But by all means, feel free to kick some sand in the face of socially anxious and underdeveloped teenage boys.

And of the socially anxious and underdeveloped teenaged girls, we once again leave them in the *crickets* zone.

I don't mean to pick on you specifically, but I've noticed (and mentioned) here in discussions like this that it's always and only ever the socially anxious guy who gets put in the "requires sympathy and understanding" box. Women also suffer from social anxiety and autism spectrum disorders and so on (in addition to just basic stuff like being shy), but pretty much no one ever comes out and says "Hey, what about the socially awkward girl? Can we get some sympathy and patience for her, too?"
posted by rtha at 9:30 AM on September 6, 2013 [93 favorites]


The basic pattern here ("I know I'm right for him/her, if only s/he could learn to see it!") seems to me pretty non-gendered--and both ways round is a standard romance trope. It's just that there's a layer of veiled threat and hostility in this whole juvenile "friendzone" thing that adds a particularly toxic flavor to certain male expressions of resentment and frustration about the situation.

I agree that both genders fall into these patterns, but the difference is more than just guys have a friendzone cliche and girls don't. It's that boys/men are told from a young age to be assertive, aggressively so, often at the expense of people who may disagree with them/stand in their way. The result is that they will do crappy and unhealthy things even when other people are telling them how crappy and unhealthy their actions are, despite or even because of the warnings. And that aggression, mixed with a culture of "othering" women, leads to a lot of shitty or dangerous situations that involve a guy completely disregarding what a woman wants, even when she's made her feelings completely explicit.

As a young guy, I totally had moments where despite knowing fully that a girl didn't like me or show signs that she knew I existed, I would go ahead and do something completely stupid, because you never know unless you try and carpe diem! seize the day! It turns out that in fact I am very good at detecting chemistry between myself and others, and what whole "if you don't feel anything you still might be wrong" line that boys are fed from the time they're 7 or 8 through the rest of forever is complete shit.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:31 AM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


Really, though, the article is not merely satirizing the whole friendzone thing. That's one layer, sure, but I think it goes deeper than that. Friendzone is a popular meme right now, but on a lower (and likely more universal) level it's even worse than that. You can actually chalk up the friendzone thing to 'mixed signals' or 'misguided hope' or whatever and from that angle it seems pretty innocuous. What's not innocuous is the culturual mindset that informs these friendzone narratives.

If you are a man, ask yourself: how many female friends do you have, really? How many of them were never seriously considered as a potential mate? Of course I can only speak for myself but I can tell you that I have some deep-seated biases about female companionship. It has a lot to do with how I was raised, and with the kinds of media and cultural conversation I have experienced in my life. The sad fact is that more often than not a woman is ALWAYS portrayed as a potential mate for a man, so much so that now that I'm married I'm very reluctant about making friends with women, because always always always in the back of my mind is this creepy, wrong little thought that I might commit some indiscretion with said woman...EVEN THOUGH I have never done so and have never had any intention of doing so. It's just this shitty little idea that has been floating around in my mind ever since I can remember: women are for capital-r Relationships only.

I have to actively, consciously reject that thought. I have to remind myself that this is not how it works, that I am in complete control of myself and just because I am friends with a woman does not mean I will end up having sex with her. When you say that out loud you immediately see how ridiculous and wrong it is, and yet pretty much everything in our modern culture is designed to confirm this incorrect assumption. How many films or TV shows or plays or musicals have you seen where a straight man and a straight woman are strictly friends with no hint of sexy funtimes or unrequited love at any point? I can't think of a single one.

I had loads of female friends during high school and college years. Then I got married and they got married and I can't say we just fell out of touch, because I still keep in touch with my married male friends. No, I deliberately don't contact my former female friends. You know, just in case, better to not go down that road. That is very stupid, and so gobsmackingly sexist I'm ashamed to admit it. And yet here we are.

So I'm grateful this article was written. It may not be the best satire ever but like good satire it (and our subsequent discussion here) has helped me see my own flawed assumptions a little more clearly.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:31 AM on September 6, 2013 [22 favorites]


"Listen, all I'm saying is that a couple of times in my own life, through the course of being friends with someone and coming to know them better, I've found myself deeply in love only to discover my feelings weren't reciprocated. In the wake of that, it was too difficult to see/interact with that person, despite the best efforts of everyone involved . I know we both regretted the necessity and the loss/weakening of the friendship, but I don't see myself as a victim of cultural attitudes about how I should feel/think/act when a women doesn't return my affections. And frankly I find the very idea reductive, patronizing, and offensive."

Did you blame her for it? Try to weasel your friendship into something its wasn't? Linger around despite your feelings and torture yourself, feeling yourself entitled to her attentions? Get jealous and shitty around people she actually was interested in? Get creepy and weird in general instead of the healthy and mature thing you just told us you did?

I don't think this is about you.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:31 AM on September 6, 2013 [17 favorites]


This is all arguing against a very different friendzone conversation than the one I've seen. The one I've seen is very rarely "Why is this girl such a jerk? She friendzoned me and I deserve more". It's much more often "What is wrong with me? Why are no girls ever attracted to me? What does everyone else know that I don't?"

That doesn't mean what you hear is the majority viewpoint.

But by all means, feel free to kick some sand in the face of socially anxious and underdeveloped teenage boys.

Where did you get the idea this was about teenage boys? This is something that a large number of supposedly grown men do, too. There's entire "rights" organizations devoted to it.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:32 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Please stop making these posts that remind me of my painful high school behavior. Also, what Rory said.
posted by charred husk at 9:33 AM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


(Anyone remember this infamous craigslist letter?)
posted by imnotasquirrel at 9:34 AM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I know we both regretted the necessity and the loss/weakening of the friendship, but I don't see myself as a victim of cultural attitudes about how I should feel/think/act when a women doesn't return my affections. And frankly I find the very idea reductive, patronizing, and offensive.

It would be if this was talking about that behavior. The problem is not ghosting after rejection. The problem is a repeated trend of only becoming friends with a woman to date them, where all the investment in the friendship and behaviours were a smoke screen to the end goal. for example "I listened to your emotional woes!" is a classic Nice Guy complaint. Either that or "I did X, Y, Z!" favours as if there was some sort of romantic currency where she was being bought with these actions.

Hence "silly woman, you know how I acted you were intellectually interesting? It was only as girlfriend material. Toodles!" is the problem not "I can only see a hole where my heart was when you talk and am leaving so I don't make an ass of myself". We honestly rather that you ghost if you pull that, rather than becoming the guy who hangs around, hating on our boyfriends and only doing stuff in case we chage out minds.

But by all means, feel free to kick some sand in the face of socially anxious and underdeveloped teenage boys.

If it will stop them from developing the unhealthy world view that I am unable to select my sexual and romantic partners for myself in a way that does not automatically presuppose I pick the worst person ever (only date assholes, amirite?), that's a whole sand bag to the head missed out on when they become adults. I would like to think part of growing up, for both genders, is moving beyond the emotional maturity of a Taylor Swift song.
posted by Phalene at 9:35 AM on September 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


Relationships are complicated. People frequently don't adequately communicate their legitimate and conscientious romantic / friendship wishes. Romantic / friendship desires wax and wane in unexpected and often startling ways, on all sides.

Some people's motives are positive and they do not intend to transgress the other person's wishes. Other people have ulterior motives for their behavior and attempt to guilt the other party for not behaving up to those ulterior motivations.

And sometimes it's a bit of all the above. Film at 11.
posted by chimaera at 9:38 AM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


I was a socially anxious and underdeveloped teenage boy, this would have made for some very valuable reading back in the day. I developed as a person by dealing with girls and women as actual real people, and not as ego validation delivery centers.
posted by leopard at 9:39 AM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Hello there, value judgement. If you don't make a (quite large) shift in your desires, you are not mature enough!

Er, no, the "mature" part came when it comes to "how to handle that disappointment." To use your milkshake analogy, lemme give you a few scenarios:

[A]
"Hi, I'd like a raspberry milkshake, please."
"Okay, lemme make that up."
"Actually, uh...to be honest, I like strawberry milkshakes better, so if you have a strawberry milkshake I'd prefer that instead."
"ooh, sorry, we don't have strawberry."
"Oh, damn. Oh, well, okay, I'll have the raspberry still, then."


[B]
"Hi, I'd like a berry milkshake, please."
"Okay, lemme make that up."
"Okay, good."
"Waiiiit,what kind of berry?"
".....Strawberry?"
"ooh, sorry, we don't have strawberry."
"Oh, damn. Oh, well, okay, I'll take whatever you got."

[C]
"Hi, I'd like a strawberry milkshake, please."
"ooh, sorry, we don't have strawberry."
"Oh, damn. I really had my heart set on strawberry, too...any chance they'd be coming in soon?"
"no, the chef has a massive strawberry allergy."
"Shoot. Sorry, yeah, I'm allergic to all other berries. Sorry, I'm gonna go try somewhere else."

[d]
"Hi, I'd like a str- er, a raspberry milkshake, please."
"Okay, coming up."
"Actually, um....can you, like....put some strawberries in there?"
"Uh....no, we don't have any."
"...Okay, I'll stick to raspberry then."
"Uh...okay."
"But you're SURE there aren't any strawberries?"
"....Positive. The chef's allergic, so we don't stock them."
"Okay, I'll stick with raspberry."
"uh...okay, here."
"thanks. [sip] Wait, this is raspberry."
"Well....yes?"
"That's not fair, I wanted strawberry!"
"but...I....explained we didn't have any."
"It's not fair! EVERYONE is depriving me of my strawberry milkshake!"

....That is a variety of reactions to wanting strawberry and being told it isn't available. I, however, would only typify "d" as immature, and I suspect you would as well. Not because of the depth of the disappointment involved (look at option c) - but because of the way that disappointment is handled.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:40 AM on September 6, 2013 [38 favorites]


imnotasquirrel: "(Anyone remember this infamous craigslist letter?)"

Holy shit, I had not yet seen that, that is ridiculously and eloquently horrific
posted by Blasdelb at 9:41 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Did you blame her for it? Try to weasel your friendship into something its wasn't? Linger around despite your feelings and torture yourself, feeling yourself entitled to her attentions? Get jealous and shitty around people she actually was interested in? Get creepy and weird in general instead of the healthy and mature thing you just told us you did?

I don't think this is about you.


No, I didn't do any of that. So I guess this isn't about me. I do take exception with the gender-specific framing of this whole "friendzone" thing.

In college I declined an explicit sexual advance from a girl I knew and she convinced her best friend, who I actually thought was pretty great at the time, to string me along for several months and then disappear completely, after which the whole thing was revealed as a hoax.

The takeaway is some men and women are aggressively selfish, insecure, vindictive assholes. But it's not a guy thing. It's a human being thing.
posted by echocollate at 9:43 AM on September 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


Did you blame her for it? Try to weasel your friendship into something its wasn't? Linger around despite your feelings and torture yourself, feeling yourself entitled to her attentions? Get jealous and shitty around people she actually was interested in? Get creepy and weird in general instead of the healthy and mature thing you just told us you did?

Oh, to be seventeen again!

In college I declined an explicit sexual advance from a girl I knew and she convinced her best friend, who I actually thought was pretty great at the time, to string me along for several months and then disappear completely, after which the whole thing was revealed as a hoax.

Oh, to be eighteen again!
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:44 AM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Allow me to submit humbly the following possibility:

If you are a woman and every guy only wanted to be friends to get into your pants and made you feel guilty about it, you are either extremely unlucky, or you might be doing something that fosters that problem.

If you are a man and every girl you want to be more than friends with rejected or "friendzoned" you, you are either extremely unlucky, or you might be doing something that fosters that problem.

Everyone can do with a bit more self-reflection on their social and romantic behavior. If you feel that everything that goes wrong is the other person's fault..... well, consider the hidden truth that may lie in the old saying that the common denominator in all of your failings is you.
posted by chimaera at 9:44 AM on September 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


A true satire would have her treating men as vending machines you insert sex coins into until friendship falls out, luring unsuspecting male acquaintances by spending weeks, months, or years eagerly and insatiably performing the nastiest conceivable acts on them all without exchanging so much as a word of conversation, before suddenly blindsiding them with a request to be friends, which was her sneaky plan all along. And then complaining bitterly when men refuse her again and again, saying they're only interested in being sex toys, but then they go and make friends with the very next woman they see, who isn't even putting out!

That seems less like satire and more like a true story of how I've related to men at some points in my life. It's a screwed-up way to get kindness and affection — pretending to be satisfied with NSA sex because you don't think you deserve the friendship that you actually want — but, uh, yeah, this is totally a thing that people do. And for whatever it was worth, yeah, I was genuinely (though misguidedly) pissed off at those guys who kept putting me in the fucktoy-zone.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:45 AM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


The problem is not ghosting after rejection.

I'm glad you see it that way, but it's not at all clear that the linked piece or others in this thread see in that way. I read several comments in this thread as saying that if you "abandon" the friendship in this way, it proves you don't think women are acceptable friends or other misogynistic things.
posted by spaltavian at 9:47 AM on September 6, 2013


Umm, this article is not complaining about guys who "get creepy and weird", Blasdelb, et al.

We're discussing the scenario where guy finds girl attractive, guy tries forging connection with girl, guy tries turning said connection into a relationship, girl rejects relationship, guy stops trying, and girl concludes guy doesn't want to be friends. Who actually made the mistake there?

Yes, the guy probably read signals wrong, but males suck at that, so whatever. It's actually the girl who missread his early relationship efforts as only friendship though, again maybe he sucks at communicating intent, but okay.

I've zero sympathy for the lady in this scenario. If she actually wanted to be friends, she'd simply put in a bit more effort to compensate for him losing romantic interest, like say reminding him about existing plans. Instead, she dumped his friendship either because she didn't want to deal with creeper risk or because she didn't value his friendship sans his misguided romantic efforts.

It's perfectly fine said lady dumped the guy both romantically and as a friend, but she's zero room to complain about him not continuing to pursue her once she says no.

In this article's scenario, the guys has behaved as correctly as his social skills enable him : try, get rejected, move on.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:48 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you are a woman and every guy only wanted to be friends to get into your pants and made you feel guilty about it, you are either extremely unlucky, or you might be doing something that fosters that problem.

"Doing something that fosters that problem" meaning "being a woman in a culture where women are constantly objectified and men are constantly told that they're entitled to sex with anybody they feign an interest in for a couple of days or weeks or months."

I'll agree with you that this is an extremely unlucky situation for women to find themselves in.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:48 AM on September 6, 2013 [43 favorites]


"If you are a woman and every guy only wanted to be friends to get into your pants and made you feel guilty about it, you are either extremely unlucky, or you might be doing something that fosters that problem."

I think part of what a lot of people are trying to say in this thread is that you don't actually need to be that unlucky, particularly if you are young with a small sample size, hang out with a less well socially adjusted crowd, or happen to be conventionally attractive.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:49 AM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


jeffburdges:
Yes, the guy probably read signals wrong, but males suck at that, so whatever.
Actually, men are just as capable of reading body language as women are*. They only "fail" when it's in their best interests to do so.

Odd how often men fail at reading women's body language! Perhaps there should be a special class for men?

* GENERALISATIONS AHOY, CAP'N.
posted by XtinaS at 9:50 AM on September 6, 2013 [18 favorites]


The takeaway is some men and women are aggressively selfish, insecure, vindictive assholes. But it's not a guy thing. It's a human being thing.

This is one of those immensely unhelpful reductive arguments based on an idealistic interpretation of equality. It may be a human thing, but in most of the world for most of history, the problem is that men are the overwhelming majority of offenders. It may be because they're assholes, or it may be because everything in the society and/or culture they are a part of tells them that not getting their way is problematic.

I'm glad you see it that way, but it's not at all clear that others in this thread see in that way. I read several comments in this thread as saying that if you "abandon" the friendship in this way, it proves you don't think women are acceptable friends or other misogynistic things.

The very next line after the one you quoted states that the problem is the repeated trend. If you can point out people who disagree with that, please do so.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:50 AM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yes, the guy probably read signals wrong, but males suck at that

*Everybody* sucks at it at least sometimes. Trying to use non-existent psychic powers to determine what some other person really wants will generally end in fail. You even point out in the next sentence that the girl missread signals.
posted by rtha at 9:50 AM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


There is a technique called the freeze out. It's a hateful abusive technique and it's different than saying "It sounds like we have different needs so a friendship really won't work very well"

The freeze out is "It sounds like you want friendship. I refuse to give you friendship unless you give me sex right now. I know you say you don't want sex, but I think you should have sex with me anyway because you owe it to me if you accept my emotional support or acts of kindness."

The words involved can be different but it's basically a deliberate attempt to get sex from someone who has already said they don't want sex because they are in a moment of vulnerability and dealing with losing support they may have come to depend on.

It's a very cruel thing to do to someone and is very different than saying "I've gotten feelings from you and this friendship can't really work for me because of this" which is totaly respectful and honorable.
posted by xarnop at 9:51 AM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Phalene: It would be if this was talking about that behavior.

The reply you quoted was to a comment specifically about that behavior, though perhaps tangential to the kinds of people who were the target of the satire.
posted by echocollate at 9:51 AM on September 6, 2013


The concept of the "friendzone" bums me out. It has caused a whole generation of single people to believe that they had better rush into romantic relationships as a way of getting to know one another better, or else they will be stuck in the dreaded "friendzone" forevermore.

For those of us who are shy, awkward, spectrum-y, or religious (or all of those things at once) it makes it really hard. I am a lot more comfortable getting to know a guy as a friend before starting anything romantic...and since I like shy, awkward guys, and I want to know someone is sincere about an interest in a relationship and not just sex, this can take a while.

But because of pressure to stay out of the "friendzone," it adds anxiety to an already anxiety-ridden process. It's bad enough to worry about blushing and stammering without wondering why he hasn't made a move yet or is he afraid he's in the friendzone or are we both so shy that we'll be 50 before we kiss?

The friendzone is an invention of TV shows like Friends and movies like He's Just Not That Into You. In our grandparents' day, there was no such thing as the "friendzone." It was tacitly assumed that singles spending time together were probably interested in more than just platonic relationships. If it were still common practice to slow down the dating process by taking a long time to discuss feelings or get physical, everyone would understand that two singles of whatever gender they're attracted to, just hanging out and getting to know each other, probably has romantic overtones and potential. Because it probably does, on one or both sides. It's only because our culture has become so sexualized that people think otherwise.
posted by xenophile at 9:51 AM on September 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


It's as if an entire generation has never seen When Harry Met Sally

In which, when all the "men and women should be able to just be friends" wrangling is said and done, they get together romantically at the end, if I remember correctly.
posted by aught at 9:52 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think we'd all be better served if we stopped considering the actions and feelings of teenagers altogether. They will be fine and probably grow out of it. Or not. Either way they are too surly to fix and they tend to get in the way of important grass production.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:53 AM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yes, the guy probably read signals wrong, but males suck at that, so whatever. It's actually the girl who missread his early relationship efforts as only friendship though,

Nice way of letting the dude off the hook, there. And god forbid that the girl not be a mind-reader!
posted by imnotasquirrel at 9:54 AM on September 6, 2013 [17 favorites]


Yes, the guy probably read signals wrong, but males suck at that, so whatever.
Actually, men are just as capable of reading body language as women are*. They only "fail" when it's in their best interests to do so.

Odd how often men fail at reading women's body language! Perhaps there should be a special class for men?


Funny thing to post in a thread about sexism, dontcha think?
posted by Debaser626 at 9:55 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


First time you get a warning, second time you have to spend one night in the Think Tank.

You try to take me down, copper, I will literally burn down the whole city. That's right, literally! Nyahahaha!

*throws a handful of Oxford commas down and disappears in a puff of poorly-used semicolons*
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:56 AM on September 6, 2013 [26 favorites]


And an unnecessary hyphen!
posted by rtha at 9:59 AM on September 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


We're discussing the scenario where guy finds girl attractive, guy tries forging connection with girl, guy tries turning said connection into a relationship, girl rejects relationship, guy stops trying, and girl concludes guy doesn't want to be friends. Who actually made the mistake there?

Uh, with all due respect, I think you made the mistake - because that's not the scenario being discussed.

The scenario we're discussing is: "guy finds girl attractive, guy tries forging connection with girl, guy tries turning into a relationship, girl rejects relationship, guy accuses the girl and all other girls in the world of leading him on."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:01 AM on September 6, 2013 [20 favorites]


I think we'd all be better served if we stopped considering the actions and feelings of teenagers altogether. They will be fine and probably grow out of it. Or not.

Disagree.

If you respect teenagers enough to talk to them like they're mature enough to understand shit, and you take the time to explain to them all the ways in which their assorted worldviews are incomplete and wrong, you can trigger a self-motivated desire to become a better person for about a thousandth of the effort it'll take an adult who thinks they're settled in their worldview to change even the teeniest of their opinions.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:02 AM on September 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


Unless you are in a position of authority in which case SCREW YOU MAN. (maybe this was just me)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:03 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fact that some women can or have been emotionally manipulative or immature towards you does not preclude the existence and RAMPANT problems of gender inequality in Patriarchal society.

Even her going out with someone else hurt you really bad. No really.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:04 AM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is one of those immensely unhelpful reductive arguments based on an idealistic interpretation of equality. It may be a human thing, but in most of the world for most of history, the problem is that men are the overwhelming majority of offenders. It may be because they're assholes, or it may be because everything in the society and/or culture they are a part of tells them that not getting their way is problematic.

Are you suggesting that the historical power imbalance between men and women somehow mitigates or excuses poor behavior on the part of individual women? Because I've gone out of my way to categorically condemn that behavior on the part of men. My point was that women and men both are complicated emotional animals, and, as individuals, are prone to the same insecurities, missteps, and moral failures with regard to the objects of their affection. Is that so objectionable?
posted by echocollate at 10:07 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The freeze out is "It sounds like you want friendship. I refuse to give you friendship unless you give me sex right now. I know you say you don't want sex, but I think you should have sex with me anyway because you owe it to me if you accept my emotional support or acts of kindness."


Indeed. As a good general rule, if Valmont did it, it's probably not healthy social behavior.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:08 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


My point was that women and men both are complicated emotional animals, and, as individuals, are prone to the same insecurities, missteps, and moral failures with regard to the objects of their affection.

When one group has incredible amounts of social power over the other, that group's "missteps" and "moral failures" have a different impact, don't they?
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:09 AM on September 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


[A few comments deleted. Let's keep it cool and on-topic, please.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:09 AM on September 6, 2013


I know a man who is a surgeon. He has been a surgeon for a long time and as far as I can tell he's good at it. He's very smart and capable.

The weird thing is, every time he washes dishes, he breaks one of them. So he never washes dishes. His wife shrugs, and mutters something under her breath about how men never know how to do the housework, and then she does the dishes and he grins and walks out of the messy kitchen and watches the football game.

He's a surgeon. He absolutely has the fine motor control skills necessary to handle a soapy plate.

Now, it might be the case that his wife's comment, "men are terrible at housework" is in fact a sexist generalism about men and gender roles. But here's the thing: the effects of that sexist generalism redound to the benefit of the man, not his wife.
posted by gauche at 10:09 AM on September 6, 2013 [40 favorites]


Debaser626, maybe you should read this: Mythcommunication: It’s Not That They Don’t Understand, They Just Don’t Like The Answer.

The essay is actually about rape, which of course is a different thing altogether (I do not think that Nice Guys, as toolish as they might be, are the equivalent of rapists!), but I think it still makes a good general point that many guys DO understand rejection, they just ignore it if it doesn't suit their purposes.

Of course there are some genuinely socially awkward people out there who truly DON'T pick up on normal cues. But too often it's used as a cop-out.

Are you suggesting that the historical power imbalance between men and women somehow mitigates or excuses poor behavior on the part of individual women? 

People are saying that you shouldn't treat these things as though they're equivalent, because they're not. Society doesn't operate in a vacuum, so why should we act as though it does? Context matters.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 10:13 AM on September 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


It's probably a widely said aphorism at this point, but I remember reading another "nice guys" thread where a MeFite said plainly that "Women are not vending machines that you put kindness coins into until sex falls out."

I wish I'd heard that when I was maybe 16. I had it figured out by the time I was an adult dating, but I sure pissed away a lot of late adolescence "investing" in potential girlfriends when I could have just been enjoying some nice friendships. Mind you, I wasn't a full-on fedora-wearing nice guy, raging at the Friend Zone. (I was capable of just being friends, after all.) But I sure spent a lot of time playing the Ducky in Pretty in Pink angle and whining to myself when it didn't work out.

My only reservation with stuff like this article is, sometimes we get so up in our snark lamenting how ubiquitous the "investing" in a friendship trying to get a girlfriend model is, that we lump the "poorly socialized dudes who aren't malignant shitheels" camp in with the "can't have a platonic friendship with a woman, rages at 'bitches' who friendzone him" camp. The whole "Friend Zone" thing is the rancid edge of a larger problem of young men not knowing how to relate to women in general.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:14 AM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


the horrible love letter that ended with "u r a q t π"

...but...what does that even mean? Seriously you need to explain this so I don't have to keep wondering.

I will note that I have definitely been "friendzoned" and I have also "friendzoned" people and I don't think it's really as clear cut-and-dried, for either side, as either side makes it out to be. It's the internet; it's only the really extreme fringe examples on either side that get all the attention. Judging friendzoning by internet rants is sort of like judging well...anything...based on what the Timecube guy says about it.

Thoughts on friendzoning in no particular order:
-I've had people who I crushed on who I would spend time with, not because I wanted to be creepy Nice Guy and for them to owe me sex or eventually fall in love with me or whatever, but just because when you really like someone you want to be around them, simple as that. And sure, the correct thing to do is Just Ask Them Out Already, but when you're a young dumbass (and by "you're" I mean "I was") fear of rejection can nix that and then where are you? I think a lot of times what appears to be some kind of scheming plan is actually just the complete lack of any plan whatsoever.

-This gets further screwed up in high school and college by the fact that you will probably continue to be forced to spend time together in classes or dorms, with people you like and/or who have rejected you. I sometimes wonder how much it screws up kids that high school and college, where they learn their dating/mating rituals, are nothing like real life and stuff that works there is a terrible idea in real life and vice versa. I think the answer is "A lot."

-On the other end of the spectrum from friendzoning, asking out a woman who I know absolutely nothing about has always seemed disrespectful to me. "Hi I don't know anything about you except that physically, you're hot, so let's go out!" But as others have mentioned, finding out if you like someone enough to ask them out and finding out if you like someone enough to be friends look exactly the same. I've pondered being up-front and saying "Hi, I find you attractive, I'd like to get to know you better to see if we hit it off," but to date I have never actually done this.

-I've also spent time being friends with people who I was romantically interested with, who, after the romantic feelings died down, I discovered just really weren't all that good of a friend; I mean, who hasn't overlooked a person's flaws in the heat of a crush? Well, sometimes one of those flaws is You Are Not Actually A Very Good Friend.

-The reason it's nerdy shy guys that end up being Nice Guys and not directly asking women out is not purely (or even primarily) "social awkwardness", btw: it's that they don't feel their physical attractiveness or successfulness or [insert typical alpha-male qualities] are what they have to offer a woman. Instead they probably feel that what they have to offer in a relationship is emotional support, being a good listener, being a good friend/partner. So they try and demonstrate that to impress the lady, in basically just the same way that guys who are proud of their physical fitness will look for ways to demonstrate their strength to impress the lady. Yeah, both situations are pretty laughable but again, neither one is really malicious most of the time.

-And it's those guys who have trouble viewing a rejection not as just "we two people are not compatible" but as a rejection of the whole offering - all that emotional support/friendship/listening skills (which is all that they believe they have to offer to women) - it's those guys who end up writing angry internet screeds and becoming pick-up artists and crap like that. After a couple of rejections they decide not that the women they've asked out aren't interested in those things from them, but that women aren't interested in those things from a romantic partner at all.

-The one valid thing that those guys go on to learn from pick-up artistry is a few rejections by women is just a meaningless statistic, it is not a universal rejection of what the guy has to offer by all women, everywhere. And they actually do need to learn that. It's really unfortunate that PUA teaches them a lot of other heinous, awful, misogynistic crap to go with it. *sigh*
posted by mstokes650 at 10:15 AM on September 6, 2013 [31 favorites]


Thank you, imnotasquirrel! I couldn't find the right link for that.
posted by XtinaS at 10:16 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


mstokes650: "you are a cutie pi(e)".

I deserved to be alone forever for that one.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:16 AM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


The "pi" figure wasn't rendering as the proper symbol on all computers, I suspect, so it made Rory's note a bit hard to parse.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:17 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is a fine and definitive line which delineates "a number of men/some men/men who are jerks" from Men.

I know and have known a number of women who are catty and codependent, but if I were to ever type in seriousness the sentence "women are catty and codependent" I believe that would be construed as sexist.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:19 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


"You are a cutie FAIL TO RENDER" is what won my girlfriend's heart, though, so it was all for the best.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:19 AM on September 6, 2013 [36 favorites]


Yeah, it's a pi if I look closely at it but at a quick glance it looked like a lowercase "n", so I was sort of imagining "you are a [something that begins with q - queen?] to [something that begins with n - I couldn't even come up with a guess]."
posted by mstokes650 at 10:21 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


When one group has incredible amounts of social power over the other, that group's "missteps" and "moral failures" have a different impact, don't they?

Within the context of individual relationships, the impact is exactly the same.
posted by echocollate at 10:22 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah the whole implication that if you're getting unwanted sexual advances a lot maybe you're asking for it, is really not very cool. Just my personal opinion.

For me, the problem was smiling and being nice, and probably being noticeably vulnerable on a variety of statistical variables.

I can't exactly fix that about myself, but I avoid men since I discovered the state of my being a woman who smiles and cares about people and listens to them tends to cause men to believe I want their sexual advances.

I try to stop this terrible thing I do naturally, of caring about people or talking to them when they are male and clearly I should know better what I am asking for in doing such a thing. I am natrually engaging and interested in people, and I understand why for many people they feel this means we are going to have sex, but it does not actually mean that to me! So I have learned that other people can be hurt by acts of kindness or emotional engagement that won't lead to sex, and yes I do care about their feelings and try to protect them from the hurtful way that I am, when I exist in society as myself not having sex with people.

I kind of wish we had more clear cut societal boundaries on "places people can go to make and receive sexual advances" and the rest of society where it's assumed you don't "make advances" so much as ask about mutual interest or otherwise presume you're just making friends.

I'm really sypmathetic to the fact people get sexual/romantic feelings and don't always handle them well...and I'm also sympathetic to the fact that it's not nice to treat someone badly if you KNOW they have a crush on you and therefore you can manipulate the situation to your advantage in a way that's really hurting them- hence why education about what good behavior should look like is really important since it DOESN'T come naturally to a lot of people.
posted by xarnop at 10:23 AM on September 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


In our grandparents' day, there was no such thing as the "friendzone." It was tacitly assumed that singles spending time together were probably interested in more than just platonic relationships.

The term "friend zone" was certainly not around, but the concept is as old as the hills. Think of Barbara Bel Geddes character in Vertigo--she's a wisecracking, wound-nursing, drink-fixing, shoulder-for-crying-offering pal of Jimmy Stewart's character, but she desperately wishes he'd see her as a romantic partner. Or think of Kristin Scott Thomas's character's painful admission to Hugh Grant's character in Four Weddings and a Funeral that she has always carried a torch for him. The idea that there is something poignant, painful and difficult about the situation of being regarded as a friend by someone, male or female, for whom you have deeper romantic feelings is not novel. It's a staple, too, of the C19th novel.
posted by yoink at 10:23 AM on September 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


@echocollate:
Within the context of individual relationships, the impact is exactly the same.
This is about trends, not about viewing each individual relationship in its own special void of "no societal context here, move along".
posted by XtinaS at 10:24 AM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I hadn't seen this blog anymore and really enjoyed it, so I started scrolling through old posts. I found a followup post on the topic that I don't think anyone's linked yet (I might have missed it.)

From August 9th:

the-aggressor-studios asked:
Hey literary reference, I saw your post and I have to say, as a guy, I have seen girls exhibit the same behavior (Not towards me of course, I tend to stick to "Just friends" anyways) but the fact of the matter is, not all guys are like that, just like not all girls are like that, just like not all feminists are evil misandrist scumbags, just like not all christians are morons. The fact of the matter is, there are idiots in every movement, assholes at every corner, and we need to just hope.


literaryreference's response:

Assuming you’re talking about the Girlfriend Zone post (because, you know, I have made a few other ones): I know there are some Nice Girls. I also know not all guys are Nice Guys. However, I believe that there is a real societal imbalance which makes the power dynamics different with Nice Girls vs. Nice Guys. I also believe that that kind of behavior is more likely to surface in men because it is encouraged by society in a way that it is not for women. Also, I think pointing out assholeish behavior is more productive than “just hoping” that people are not assholes to you. I hope this further clarifies my position.
posted by bluecore at 10:26 AM on September 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


People are saying that you shouldn't treat these things as though they're equivalent, because they're not. Society doesn't operate in a vacuum, so why should we act as though it does? Context matters.

You seem to believe that by saying "Both men and women are capable of X" that I am saying "the net societal effects of X are the same for both men and women," which is a gross misreading of what I've actually said.
posted by echocollate at 10:26 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's pretty ridiculous for men to complain about being "friendzoned". Men, here's how to avoid the friendzone in 1 easy step :

She : I like you a lot, but I just don't feel like we're right for each other. Can we just be friends?
You : I've enjoyed our time together, but I already have a busy social life. Best of luck!

Bam. Friendzone avoided.

However, by the same token, it's ridiculous for women to complain about men not wanting to be friends after she's turned him down. First off, lots of men do have busy social lives, to the point where they have to manage their schedules to make time for all the friends they currently have. They may not have time for a new friendship, especially the kind of time-intensive friendship that closely resembles courting behavior. But let's assume for a second that the man in question does have room for a new friend in his social calendar. Why would he fill that position with some chick who just turned him down? Considering that the world is vast and full of interesting, worthy people, wouldn't it make just as much sense for him to befriend someone he doesn't have an awkward crush on?

It's two sides of the same coin. You can't "convince" someone to love you, much in the same way you can't "convince" someone to be friends with you. Yes, all the important elements are there. Yes, on paper, you are 99% compatible. But if the spark ain't there, it ain't there, and that's nobody's fault, really. I think it's mean, petty, and self-important to fault someone for not wanting to be your friend or girlfriend.
posted by evil otto at 10:26 AM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


Rory, if it makes you feel any better about it I'm absolutely going to steal "u r a q t π" for the future.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:27 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know and have known a number of women who are catty and codependent, but if I were to ever type in seriousness the sentence "women are catty and codependent" I believe that would be construed as sexist.

The two things are not equivalent in the same way that the idea of misandry is laughable while misogyny isn't.

You seem to believe that by saying "Both men and women are capable of X" that I am saying "the net societal effects of X are the same for both men and women," which is a gross misreading of what I've actually said.

Well, when you're bringing it up in a post about guys who do X, it's derailing and puts the two forth as deserving of equal consideration, even if you didn't explicitly type out those words.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 10:28 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


"u r a q t π" will probably be a huge step up from "c t h u l h u f h t a g n", which has only ever brought me limited success.
posted by Shepherd at 10:29 AM on September 6, 2013 [33 favorites]


I don't think things like this help guys who actually want girl friends.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 10:29 AM on September 6, 2013


If you are a man, ask yourself: how many female friends do you have, really? How many of them were never seriously considered as a potential mate? ...The sad fact is that more often than not a woman is ALWAYS portrayed as a potential mate for a man

In When Harry Met Sally, Harry claims that men can never be friends with a woman without there being some romantic/sexual desire.

For this claim to be true, men would have to either (1) have the capacity to be attracted to any woman, which does not seem to be the case, or (2) only be willing to make friends with women they find attractive, which is pretty screwed up.
posted by straight at 10:31 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


"u r a q t π"

Rory, that is seriously the most adorable thing ever, aside from, you know, the other parts.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:33 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Interestingly, I believe there was a study done that indicated that men generally did tend to be more attracted to their female friends than vice versa.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 10:33 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel like kind of the whole point of "When Harry Met Sally..." is that Harry is immature and wrongheaded when he makes that assertion, and by the end both of them have matured and have become actual friends who genuinely care about each other, and also are attracted to each other. So sex didn't get in the way of their friendship, friendship ended up being the foundation of their romance.

Which isn't really what we're talking about here. We're more in Cyrano fantasyland here.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:36 AM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well, when you're bringing it up in a post about guys who do X, it's derailing and puts the two forth as deserving of equal consideration, even if you didn't explicitly type out those words.

The two are deserving of equal consideration in the context of how individual men and women relate to one another. The original article was not an academic analysis of the net ills of these behaviors with respect to gender. You don't get to define the conversation according to what you think it's about and then tell me I'm derailing it because you don't like what I have to say.
posted by echocollate at 10:36 AM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Individual men and women are still, as always, influenced by society. So why are you focused more on individual relationships as though one can divorce them from society?
posted by XtinaS at 10:39 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


The two are deserving of equal consideration

No, they aren't. Because why should we divorce these individual situations from the larger context? We don't live in a vacuum.

As an aside, in a world where Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" exists, I think we're all aware that there can be Nice Girls too.

(Oh, how I loathe that song. But more for the "I'm not like other girls! Your girlfriend sucks! She's a cheerleader and wears skirts! I'm more down to earth in my sneakers!" part than the "Whyyyyy won't you be with me? We're perfect! xoxo" bit, although the latter is bad too.)
posted by imnotasquirrel at 10:40 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The two things are not equivalent in the same way that the idea of misandry is laughable while misogyny isn't.

Well, at least you proved my point.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:40 AM on September 6, 2013


through the course of being friends with someone and coming to know them better, I've found myself deeply in love

So, the thing is, falling in love and being in love should be a mutual process. Falling "deeply in love" with someone who doesn't know and isn't participating denies their agency, which isn't love. It's infatuation with the idea of someone. "Only to find out my feelings weren't reciprocated" suggests you never bothered to check in with her, that her feelings and wants and plans were unimportant, OR that you just assumed she's doing what you want and either way the reason nobody's talking about it is...because...the NSA? Because it's more mysterious that way? Because real emotional vulnerability is hard and scary.

Forcing that relationship on someone who doesn't know she's participating is not cool. If you have never spoken with someone about being in a dating/romantic/eventually sexual relationship, you don't get to have one with them without them knowing. Without consent. In the Girlfriend zone.

Yeah, people do this all the time, because the imaginary relationship you're in is preferable to the terror of actual intimacy, but it's not actually okay to do that to other people. And a great rule of thumb is: if you're not talking about your dating/romantic relationship, you're not in one. If your infatuation with someone is growing unmanageable, you need to pull back or recalibrate or - if you have thought about the implications of telling someone you want them when they have not actually indicated wanting you and are prepared for the completely reasonable fallout from doing so - tell them then, not go joyriding on the other person and hoping you don't get caught.

It does seem like a lot of people who are men fall down this hole and then get mad when the woman's noncompliance is discovered. When I see women do it, it seems to be much more conscious, in the hope of "someday" - I know we're not really dating and that he doesn't love me, but one day he will and until then I will be satisfied with the date-like behavior and his emotional reliance on me. It also often seems that the men in these cases know what's going on but won't stop it until it gets in the way of something/one they really want. That's not always the case, and I've seen it with the genders flipped or the same too.

Now, I have certainly formed friendships (mostly with other women, or couple-friends) where I got to like them more and more as I got to know them and absolutely came to love them and would take a bullet for them. That's it. It doesn't mean I need to have sex with them or that they need to be anything more than loyal and kind in the way friends are, plus the occasional bullet-stopping.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:40 AM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Rory Marinich: "I was 11, I didn't know any better."

Rory, this is a pretty important sentence in that story.
posted by Apropos of Something at 10:41 AM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


First off, lots of men do have busy social lives, to the point where they have to manage their schedules to make time for all the friends they currently have. They may not have time for a new friendship, especially the kind of time-intensive friendship that closely resembles courting behavior.

So he had enough time when he was planning a romantic relationship, but all of the sudden he's all out of time when it comes to a friendship?
posted by zombieflanders at 10:41 AM on September 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


...Debaser626, what is your point?
posted by XtinaS at 10:42 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rory, this is a pretty important sentence in that story.

Yes, it is. Never use this method to hit on 11-year-olds. That is the moral here.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:44 AM on September 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


[Debaser626, you've stated your objection and at this point the debate over one statement about 'men' is kind of a derail; might be best to take it with an implicit 'some men' just for the sake of discussion? Everybody, a more general debate over the existence of misandry is taking us pretty far afield.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:45 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, they aren't. Because why should we divorce these individual situations from the larger context? We don't live in a vacuum.

What the fuck does that even mean? If you feel that in the context of an interpersonal relationship that the poor behavior of a woman is not equivalent to the same behavior of a man, then it's on YOU to say why not. You don't get to just type 'BUT SOCIETY!!! NOTHING HAPPENS IN A VACUUM!!" as if that puts the matter to rest.
posted by echocollate at 10:45 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


So he had enough time when he was planning a romantic relationship, but all of the sudden he's all out of time when it comes to a friendship?

Of course. Presumably, he's still looking for a romantic relationship, and you're not going to do that for him. There's only so much time in a day/week/month.
posted by evil otto at 10:49 AM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Presumably, he's still looking for a romantic relationship, and you're not going to do that for him. There's only so much time in a day/week/month.

But can you understand why, if the woman in question didn't know that the time he was investing in her was because "maybe we can date" as opposed to being because "you are an empirically cool person to spend time with", can you understand why this would come across as an unpleasant thing to hear?

I don't mind a guy wanting to try to "Make a connection" with me because he thinks maybe we can date. I do mind not knowing that this is what he was trying to do until we've already been hanging out for several months. If you wanna try to date me, let me know as soon as you know that's what you want, because if you're gonna blow me off if I don't want that, maybe I can save you some time.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:54 AM on September 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


It is not incoherent (in fact, I'd argue more coherent) to argue that both men and women should be able to specify the parameters of the relationship they want and that, if there's irresolvable disagreement there, the best thing to do is amicably part.
posted by Apropos of Something at 10:54 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please stop making these posts that remind me of my painful high school behavior.

Seriously, this is reminding me that I haven't been that young or immature for >10 years and 5 hours, respectively.
posted by Panjandrum at 10:55 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you feel that in the context of an interpersonal relationship that the poor behavior of a woman is not equivalent to the same behavior of a man, then it's on YOU to say why not.

I've already said why it's not equivalent, as did XtinaS, it seems like you just don't like the answer, but I'll spell it out again: You shouldn't divorce the individual actions from the context of society at large. What sense does that make? WHY should we narrow the parameters down that much when life doesn't actually function that way?
posted by imnotasquirrel at 10:57 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rory Marinich: "Yes, it is. Never use this method to hit on 11-year-olds. That is the moral here."

Millenials are told we're not mature enough to pick a career until like 35, but have to have relationships figured out by 15. And we wonder why we're all fucked up.
posted by Apropos of Something at 10:57 AM on September 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


But can you understand why, if the woman in question didn't know that the time he was investing in her was because "maybe we can date" as opposed to being because "you are an empirically cool person to spend time with", can you understand why this would come across as an unpleasant thing to hear?

I don't deny that it sucks to be turned down -- whether that's for a friendship or a relationship. I'm merely suggesting that we remove the concept of "fault" from the situation. Sometimes things just weren't meant to be.

I don't mind a guy wanting to try to "Make a connection" with me because he thinks maybe we can date. I do mind not knowing that this is what he was trying to do until we've already been hanging out for several months.

Totally in agreement over here. When I was single, I always made my intentions known early on. You avoid a lot of trouble that way.
posted by evil otto at 10:58 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Back in college my roommates and I developed a set of examples to describe how men and women view relationships. As we were two men and two women I think we were being accurate to our combined heterosexual experiences.

Women have a garden with a six foot tall stone wall dividing it into two zones. When she meets someone new, she writes his name on a stone and throws it up in the air. Since women throw the stone from the love zone, the arc almost always puts the stone in the friend zone. Once in a zone it will more or less stay put. Now it is possible that through a freak earthquake or lightning strike the stone might be flung over to the other side. It's also possible that over time the stone might be moved via weather, animals and/or plants going about their business and manage to somehow get buried in the ground, shift to the other side, and get popped back up by a gopher or squirrel, but this process takes eons.

Men, on the other hand, have a slot machine. When he meets someone new, he buys chips with her name on them and proceeds to play. If he doesn't win, he will continue to insert chips. Sometimes he'll win a few chips back, sometimes he'll win even more. These will keep him playing. Will he hit the jackpot? Possibly, but sometimes the promise of a jackpot and having more chips is enough to keep him playing. And eventually he'll run out of chips, upon which there'll be a debate on whether to get some more with a trip to the emotional ATM or to move on.

And yes, men will often have more than one set of chips while playing.

These models have served me very well in my life since college. I accept when a woman puts me in the friend zone but she needs to accept that while I respect that, I may still have a handful of chips in my hand with her name on it... and I will continue to play.
posted by linux at 10:59 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


When one group has incredible amounts of social power over the other, that group's "missteps" and "moral failures" have a different impact, don't they?

When you start viewing individuals as incapable of having normal human foibles because of their membership in a group they were born into, you're denying their humanity and othering them in a way I find frightening.
posted by crayz at 11:01 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Different impact != "incapable of having normal human foibles".

That was a really weak attempt at shifting the argument.
posted by XtinaS at 11:02 AM on September 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


"...but she needs to accept that while I respect that, I may still have a handful of chips in my hand with her name on it... and I will continue to play."

...well that just put a chill down my spine
posted by Blasdelb at 11:04 AM on September 6, 2013 [83 favorites]


linux, I find your metaphors very different from my experience.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:06 AM on September 6, 2013 [20 favorites]


When you start viewing individuals as incapable of having normal human foibles because of their membership in a group they were born into, you're denying their humanity and othering them in a way I find frightening.

Where does what you quoted say that?
posted by rtha at 11:06 AM on September 6, 2013


Great metaphors meanwhile Lesbians are playing shuffleboard in a bar and the things are going back and forth over sand-covered lines and but gay guys are juggling different sized landmines filled with yogurt right? I get it.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:09 AM on September 6, 2013 [20 favorites]


If a dwarf and a giant are hanging out together and one of them stomps on the other one's foot, the end result will differ based on which one stepped on which.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:09 AM on September 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think if I had it all to do over again, younger me would have routinely, early on, said the following to women in which he was interested romantically:

"Would you wanna go out sometime, on a date?"
If yes, go on date. If not...
"That's cool. I won't ask again. Friends then?"

It really doesn't have to be rocket science.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:10 AM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Odd how often men fail at reading women's body language! Perhaps there should be a special class for men?

Young teen maxwelton would desperately like to take this class. Dude is lonely.
posted by maxwelton at 11:10 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Back in college my roommates and I developed a set of examples [...] I think we were being accurate to our combined heterosexual experiences

It's been proven that "accurately reflects college experience" is the same as saying "does not accurately reflect anything whatsoever." 1

1 source: I went to college
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:10 AM on September 6, 2013 [18 favorites]


I accept when a woman puts me in the friend zone but she needs to accept that while I respect that, I may still have a handful of chips in my hand with her name on it... and I will continue to play.

Sweet jesus, scary! (And not respecting her choice.)
posted by Phalene at 11:11 AM on September 6, 2013 [33 favorites]


"u r a q t π" will probably be a huge step up from "c t h u l h u f h t a g n", which has only ever brought me limited success.

I don't think things like this help guys who actually want girl friends.


I dunno, if "c t h u l h u f h t a g n" actually works you pretty much know you've got a keeper.
posted by mstokes650 at 11:11 AM on September 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


All this just reminds me of how bad I am at distinguishing the difference between romantic interest and friendly interest AND how bad many people are at distinguishing the difference between romantic interest and friendly interest. I once chatted up a guy for the express purpose of making my now husband a basketball friend ("oh cool! you played college basketball!") and everyone was like "dude! you can't hit on guys like that!"

The banner year in terms of this was when I helped run my friend's school board campaign and literally talked to everyone always because I always had the ulterior motive of buttonholing one new voter. My ulterior motives were not hidden. I talked about her campaign. I talked about the issues. I invited total strangers to campaign events. And about 1 in 10 guys I talked to would then ask me out on a date because I don't know, I was friendly and seemed into them? I had terrible boundaries then and felt that I had somehow led them on by being friendly, and went on a series of terrible dates.
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:12 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, wearing a fedora makes you alpha?
posted by spitbull at 11:13 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


These models have served me very well in my life since college. I accept when a woman puts me in the friend zone but she needs to accept that while I respect that, I may still have a handful of chips in my hand with her name on it... and I will continue to play.

Ew. You should have stayed in college longer.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:13 AM on September 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


I don't deny that it sucks to be turned down -- whether that's for a friendship or a relationship. I'm merely suggesting that we remove the concept of "fault" from the situation. Sometimes things just weren't meant to be.

I'm not sure what you mean by "fault".

All I am saying is that "pretending a friendship is all you want because you secretly want to date me but are too afraid of coming out and saying it" is manipulative. If you have befriended me as a means to manipulate me, I have every right to be angry about that. Wouldn't you, if you'd been manipulated?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:13 AM on September 6, 2013 [19 favorites]


These models have served me very well in my life since college.

Yeah, the thing about models developed in college is, you're supposed to outgrow them. If they're not broken by this point, it doesn't really mean it's a good model, it just means you're not trying hard enough.
posted by FJT at 11:14 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


If people indeed want to bring societal privilege to this discussion, where we are mostly talking about single men and single women and occasions where there is intentional or unintentional miscommunication between them, I advise against making quick assumptions about who, in that specific set of people is 'more privileged'.

In these studies at least, single men and single women have very similar median incomes -- one shows women slightly higher, the other shows men slightly higher.

The men with the big money driving the statistics to the direction of men in general (am I advantaged by association?), they tend to also not have all this trouble finding a partner and becoming quite married.
posted by Anything at 11:14 AM on September 6, 2013


Personally, I find that if a man can literally be a friend and refrain from making advances until we've built up trust that DOES make me more interested. I understand the model of acting like you're just friends to see if you like each other, if no one gets interested or there isn't mutual enthusiasm it can kind of fade and you don't have to go through the outright rejection... and you might even make a real friend in the process.

It's just I can see how the same process can be murky and confusing because it requires not disclosing you're scoping someone out in a dating sense in order to work at preventing the having to officially stop dating or state openly that you're NOT interested in each other and that whole topic of "why" which looms in the air even when it's not discussed. It's hard to keep a friendship after that though some do. But the starting of the relationship as dating kind of lends itself to making it too awkward to be friends once you decide to reject each other.

Human relationships... why so hard? Beh. I kind of hope people will talk more about ways to prevent these sorts of misunderstands so we all can become more enlightened daters-- or friends as it were.
posted by xarnop at 11:17 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I dunno, if "c t h u l h u f h t a g n" actually works you pretty much know you've got a keeper.

Great Old Ones are not machines you put prayer in until sex falls out.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:18 AM on September 6, 2013 [53 favorites]


I accept when a woman puts me in the friend zone but she needs to accept that while I respect that, I may still have a handful of chips in my hand with her name on it... and I will continue to play.

that shit is down right scary (and you are seriously misinformed about what respect means), even more so in a thread where a few men are trying really hard to convince us that this is just an anyone problem and that we're making up the gendered aspects in our silly little heads.

also: but i'm a nice guy!
posted by nadawi at 11:20 AM on September 6, 2013 [21 favorites]


All I am saying is that "pretending a friendship is all you want because you secretly want to date me but are too afraid of coming out and saying it" is manipulative.

Yes. That would be manipulative.

But this is sort of where the conversation between us breaks down, because I don't know you, I don't know the men in question, and I don't know anything about the specific situations you are referring to. If a man says that all he wants is a friendship when he actually wants something more, then yes, obviously that's dishonest. But a lot of times, it's a case of bad communication, not purposeful manipulation. Again, when I was single, I would let my intentions be known early on. But a lot of guys lack the social skills to do this or whatever, so they engage in courting behavior while the woman assumes they just want a friendship, and the two are just sort of talking past each other -- until the day comes when the dude finally makes his move, and the woman is all like, "WTF?!"

I actually do think it's important to make the distinction between manipulation and poor social/dating skills, because dating skills can be learned, while manipulation is evidence of a much deeper problem.
posted by evil otto at 11:20 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos:

"Great Old Ones are not machines you put prayer in until sex falls out."

...this is my new most favourite comment.
posted by XtinaS at 11:20 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


These models have served me very well in my life since college. I accept when a woman puts me in the friend zone but she needs to accept that while I respect that, I may still have a handful of chips in my hand with her name on it... and I will continue to play.

I really hope the women in your life have the patience of saints, because operating in such a reductive way is just...Jesus.

A reminder: Something might be completely normal to you (that is, it happens in your life with enough frequency that it doesn't seem unusual) and yet be not at all universal. Like, all women do not actually have gardens with walls, men in their lives do not *surprise!* find themselves launched over the wall into relationshipland, etc.
posted by rtha at 11:21 AM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Great Old Ones are not machines you put prayer in until sex falls out.

Rather, if "sex falls out" when you pray to a Great Old One, it's not falling out in the sense that you expected.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:21 AM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


I loved this! I've had this happen so many times. What pisses me off is the underlying sentiment of "you wasted my time." And it makes me feel stupid, because it didn't feel like a waste of my time. It felt like having a nice person in my life. I feel the same way about women I meet and then meet up with and then meet up with some more. You know - friends. It's the guys who cut you off because you won't sleep with them - and never said you would! - that bring gender into the equation.
posted by billiebee at 11:22 AM on September 6, 2013 [20 favorites]


But a lot of times, it's a case of bad communication, not purposeful manipulation.

and how do you know that? i mean, you've established that it's not how you operate, that you don't know the situations that women (and men who did this sort of shitty behavior before they learned better) are describing here, but still you feel hunky dory about telling they're wrong about their interpretations of events they were involved in because "a lot of times" it's bad communication?
posted by nadawi at 11:24 AM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


and how do you know that? i mean, you've established that it's not how you operate, that you don't know the situations that women (and men who did this sort of shitty behavior before they learned better) are describing here, but still you feel hunky dory about telling they're wrong about their interpretations of events they were involved in because "a lot of times" it's bad communication?

So you think it's healthy to always assume the worst of other people and never give them the benefit of the doubt? I said, right there in my comment, that I don't know enough about the EC's situation to comment any further on it. However, I do think it's fair of me to suggest that, when a man doesn't want to befriend a woman who turned him down, it might not always be a clear case of manipulation.
posted by evil otto at 11:28 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Actually, men are just as capable of reading body language as women are*. They only "fail" when it's in their best interests to do so.

I don't mean this to deny that friendzone complaints are gendered and icky, but:

I assure you that [some] dudes can be pretty darn oblivious to COME HITHER signals in 40-foot letters of fire, so long as they fall short of literally stating "Take me now, sub-creature."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:28 AM on September 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


If you don't know enough about the situation to comment on it, then why are you commenting on it?
posted by XtinaS at 11:29 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


You shouldn't divorce the individual actions from the context of society at large. What sense does that make? WHY should we narrow the parameters down that much when life doesn't actually function that way?

What bearing does "the context of society at large" have on the fact that both men and women have the capacity to behave poorly in the face of rejection? What are the factors that excuse or mitigate that behavior in your estimation and why? Does society and culture influence our individual expectations? Absolutely. Are relationships exempt from the influences individuals bring to those relationships? Of course not. But nowhere in anything I've said did I claim or even suggest otherwise. I was called out for making the simple observation that, in the context of a friendship where one person is romantically attached and the other is not, both men and women are equally capable of reacting negatively. That, as far as I can analyze it, is not itself an objectionable statement. The accusations of a derail seem to stem from a mischaracterization of what I actually said.
posted by echocollate at 11:30 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


So you think it's healthy to always assume the worst of other people and never give them the benefit of the doubt? I said, right there in my comment, that I don't know enough about the EC's situation to comment any further on it. However, I do think it's fair of me to suggest that, when a man doesn't want to befriend a woman who turned him down, it might not always be a clear case of manipulation.

but it's not just EC's situation - it's a situation that many many people have described and even men in this thread have admitted to doing this very thing, so your assertion that "a lot of times" it just whoops! people talked past each other doesn't hold up for me. it's not about benefit of the doubt -it's about once again hearing the message that the aggregate of women's lived experience isn't enough and those more men just need more empathy from us.

are there situations were two people irrespective of gender just don't match up? yes. is that what this piece and thread are about? no. this is about a very specific way that some men interact with some women and one woman making a funny post about it.
posted by nadawi at 11:32 AM on September 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


But a lot of times, it's a case of bad communication, not purposeful manipulation.

It's worth pointing out that a lot of manipulative behavior is learned, not calculated: that is, somebody develops or is taught a manipulative technique X which achieves desired result Y, and instead of thinking "I just manipulated somebody into doing Y!" they think "this is how it works, any time I want Y all I have to do is X and I'll get it." And because it works, it's obviously the way that things should happen.

Quite a few of my guy friends still behave in ways which are... problematic. It's hard to talk to them about it because their response to any criticism is "Oh, you just do things differently. Don't hate on how I do things, it's part of the culture!" And they're right, but the culture their behavior is a part of is a pretty awful culture.

Lots of people are unwilling or unable to acknowledge which behaviors of theirs are manipulative, because in their minds, "manipulative" means that the manipulator is self-aware to an extent that most manipulators are not. This also applies to politicians and businesspeople, fwiw.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:32 AM on September 6, 2013 [23 favorites]


I assure you that [some] dudes can be pretty darn oblivious to COME HITHER signals in 40-foot letters of fire, so long as they fall short of literally stating "Take me now, sub-creature."

Leave 18 year old me alone; it's not his fault.

In seriousness, though, there also must be women who are bad at reading body language/signals, etc., but we never hear about them. It's like the world is divided into women, master of the subtlest forms of communication imaginable, and men who basically stumble through life unable to understand anything that's going on around them. Obviously, that's nonsense, but it's the narrative.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:32 AM on September 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


I assure you that [some] dudes can be pretty darn oblivious to COME HITHER signals in 40-foot letters of fire, so long as they fall short of literally stating "Take me now, sub-creature."
Hey now, Venkman was respecting the situation she was in and that she couldn't consent!

*cough*
posted by XtinaS at 11:32 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you don't know enough about the situation to comment on it, then why are you commenting on it?

Look, if you're going to converse with me, could you please at least take the time to read my comment? I said comment any further on it.

And if you actually care about this conversation, you'll look back to EC's original response to my comment. I was speaking in generalities, EC started talking about her personal experience, I admitted my lack of knowledge of her specific situation, and then pointed out how her specific experience may not negate my original point in all possible situations.

But whatever. Any time a man tries to court a woman and doesn't plan on befriending her in the event she turns him down, he's a manipulator. A bad bad person. Or whatever weird point you're trying to make.

I'm done here.
posted by evil otto at 11:36 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sorry if my descriptions were misinterpreted for the slot machine. Much like the garden, they only describe what a guy thinks about a girl, it is not about persisting on being more than friends.

Like the garden, it evaluates what a man thinks of a woman, but unlike the garden, the emotional state of a guy is basically one that re-evaluates as fast as chips are cycled through a slot machine. Most of the time the guy thinks of the woman as a friend but every once in awhile he gets more chips back, so he thinks maybe it can be something more. Then he plays again and loses chips so it's back to not thinking it is something more than it is.

All continuing to play means is that a man tends to evaluate his feelings for a woman almost constantly, even if most of the time he feels nothing other than friendship there are moments when he thinks it's more, a lot more, and so on. When jackpot hits is when a man basically falls in love and at that point he no longer plays.
posted by linux at 11:36 AM on September 6, 2013


All continuing to play means is that a man tends to evaluate his feelings for a woman almost constantly

All men? And women, never? Still confused.
posted by rtha at 11:38 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am totally sympathetic to the fact some people are bad at reading signals or at knowing how their actions might be perceived by people who feel differently than they do. I know that I'm totally comfortable flirting and chatting about sex and not having sex and that many people feel lead on or hurt by that, they get feelings and for them the experience of chatting about sex or flirting and not having sex after is a bad experience.

I wouldn't have really understood that if people hadn't told me that. The fact that people often have such slow learning curves at human interaction or understanding how their behaviors affect others is why having these types of conversations and discourse regularly is pretty good for educating people about each other and hopefully inspiring people to try to treat each other better. When dominant behavior trends tend to disregard the experience of one type of person over the other it becomes problematic on the systemic level, hence talking about it in the context of gendered expectations, but most people have plenty to learn about dating and how to treat each other well.

People talk about sex on metafilter and I don't personally assume that it means I've been invited to have sex with someone, or feel offended or hurt by that... I do feel like what a signal means to one person can be totally different to other people-- and the sense of entitlement that can come with a man wanting sex from a woman or things the woman did to make him have those feelings making her BAD is a very gendered trend, just from what I've seen and accounts I've heard.
posted by xarnop at 11:38 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


linux, the problem with your descriptions is that there is no real difference between how the male and female minds work, and all of this "men work like this women work like THIS" stuff is basically ludicrous.

I can go into more detail about this but I would really rather not.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:38 AM on September 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


But this is sort of where the conversation between us breaks down, because I don't know you, I don't know the men in question, and I don't know anything about the specific situations you are referring to.

I and all the other women in this thread have told you all of the details about the specific situations we're referring to. You have all of the available data from which to draw your conclusion.

However, I also see that you agree that it is manipulative. So I'm not sure why you are continuing to come to the defense of people whom you yourself have agreed are acting manipulatively. Perhaps you may want to examine why that's so?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:38 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I assure you that [some] dudes can be pretty darn oblivious to COME HITHER signals in 40-foot letters of fire, so long as they fall short of literally stating "Take me now, sub-creature."

Man, what 33-year-old me knows that 23-year-old me didn't (on both the "come hither" and "not interested" sides) ... I cringe. I just cringe.
posted by gauche at 11:41 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


In seriousness, though, there also must be women who are bad at reading body language/signals, etc., but we never hear about them.

It all has to do with the prevailing cultural narratives about the "default" messages the different genders are likely to be sending. Men are assumed to be sex-obsessed, therefore it's a "no, duh!" for a woman to see that a man "wants to have sex with her." On the other hand there's a whole industry out there "decoding" male unavailability signals for "clueless" women: the whole "He's Just Not That Into You" phenomenon, for example. So there's plenty of scolding about failure to read the signs for both genders, it's just that the presumed failures are asymmetrical.
posted by yoink at 11:42 AM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


The best part is how 23-year-olds are convinced that they know everything, on account of they're not 20 anymore.

(I turned 23 last month and I am a goddamn SAGE I tell you)
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:42 AM on September 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


for the record - both the garden and the tokens are highly offensive and if you don't understand why you should read more and speak less in these conversations.
posted by nadawi at 11:43 AM on September 6, 2013 [27 favorites]


Without getting all expository and anecdotal, I've been on both sides of this one. And I've certainly been in friendship rships where I start to realize I want more from the rship, but it isn't reciprocated.

In those cases, I have always backed off with the explanation that I have changed, it is uncomfortable to continue to be "friends" as the friendship balance has changed (on my part).

In every case, the woman has expressed that she just doesn't get it...why can't we continue? I like you "as a friend," etc.

The OP here seems to be saying the same thing: The friendship disintegrated, albeit into some poor behavior, when one party was ready to move to the stage beyond friendship and one was not ready.

And that's my take-away: how do you behave when this happens? Hopefully, one isn't a jerk and blaming and angry and pissed off. It's just one of those things that happens (people and relationships change) and it's how one reacts that creates character, maturity, and ... well, life.
posted by CrowGoat at 11:45 AM on September 6, 2013


So you think it's healthy to always assume the worst of other people and never give them the benefit of the doubt?

When women have to deal with the worst dozens of times for every time that gets it right, even after giving them the benefit of the doubt, it seems fairly obvious that there assumptions and concerns are well-founded at both the individual and societal level.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:45 AM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


linux, I think you may be coming off as more glib and reductive than you really intend.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:45 AM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The whole culture about friendzoning and complaining about being friendzoned and complaining about people wanting relationships just makes me think: people are terribly bad about actual real communication.

It makes me wonder if the problem is cultural or just part of human nature.
posted by Archelaus at 11:46 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


In those cases, I have always backed off with the explanation that I have changed, it is uncomfortable to continue to be "friends" as the friendship balance has changed (on my part).

In every case, the woman has expressed that she just doesn't get it...why can't we continue? I like you "as a friend," etc.


such a scenario is different from the typical "friendzone" type of situation, for the record.

However, I agree with you that those women who say they "don't get it, why can't we stay friends" aren't being fair either. You, actually, were doing everything right - you were doing the kind of thing that most women in the "friendzoning" types of situations wish the guy would do.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:49 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


DirtyOldTown, I think you're right. I guess I misread the the thread's tone.
posted by linux at 11:50 AM on September 6, 2013


However, I also see that you agree that it is manipulative. So I'm not sure why you are continuing to come to the defense of people whom you yourself have agreed are acting manipulatively. Perhaps you may want to examine why that's so?

Look. I was not trying to negate your experiences. (and I disagree that "I know all I need to know about the situation" since I don't know any of the people involved) Basically, I started out talking in generalities, you mentioned your specific experience, I acknowledged your experience, agreed with you, and then switched back to talking in generalities. Maybe if I'd put in a paragraph break in there or something, that would have made my point more clear : that, perhaps, in your case, you were being manipulated. But that doesn't mean that all these situations for all people are a clear case of manipulation. That's all I'm saying.

Wow. I've been trying to stay out if contentious threads recently, and forgot that The Rules Are Really Different There. People really will stick with the least charitable possible reading of your contribution. I think half of you missed your true calling as lawyers.

Thanks to all for reminding me why I've been staying away from rabbit holes like this.
posted by evil otto at 11:51 AM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm uncomfortable with the implication that it's somehow wrong for a man to move on if he has romantic interest in a woman and the feelings are not reciprocated. In fact, that's the best situation for both involved.

Also, I have known a lot of "nice guys" for lack of a better term, and I know their behavior isn't intentionally manipulative. They're just too scared to make a move because for many of them, society has spent a lot of time telling them they're inadequate. So in their minds they are being brave and "working up to it", where the woman in question may be confused or feel manipulated or whatever. It's unfortunate but we shouldn't paint it in a sinister manner.

And really, the last thing the world needs is to tell guys that being friendly and playing the slow game is manipulative. That will just breed more misogynist PUAs who treat courtship like hunting with a punt gun.
posted by autobahn at 11:54 AM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is about trends, not about viewing each individual relationship in its own special void of "no societal context here, move along".

This was a short satirical blog entry about the male "friendzone." I don't resent your perspective. I welcome it. I do resent you trying to narrowly define the terms of the discussion based on what you think they should be and then hectoring me me for being off topic.
posted by echocollate at 11:54 AM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Here's a simple test, watch this comedy skit.

If you find it funny because of his exaggerated behavior and incongruously angry reactions to not even rejection, the article, and much of the negative criticism here *probably* doesn't pertain to you.

If you find it funny because "Yeah that's me all the time, what's a guy gotta do, huh?!" You might want to sit down for a minute...
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:55 AM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


[evil otto and XtinaS, metacommentary about who's participating and what you think of other people's participation doesn't belong in the blue, thanks. Let's keep the focus on the ideas.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:55 AM on September 6, 2013


I understand that in this context, this is a very heterosexual issue.

But from a gay POV, let me say, even when both genders are the same, it's very hard to be friends with someone, if you have romantic feelings for them. Once you are rejected as a potential partner, you can't just turn off those feelings. It might not even be fair to stick around and pretend you can be just friends, if you can't.

So, whether it's women expecting men to remain friends after rejection, or men expecting women to turn on feelings that just aren't there, it's not easy to act as if your true feelings don't exist.
posted by MoxieProxy at 11:57 AM on September 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


All men? And women, never? Still confused.

I think everyone's putting too much into what I described. Stones and tokens just explain how a person evaluates what they think of another person. And sure, there are men who have stones and women who have tokens, but when we came up with these descriptions they came from anecdotal evidence in college that showed stones being more a female position and tokens a male position.
posted by linux at 11:58 AM on September 6, 2013


And really, the last thing the world needs is to tell guys that being friendly and playing the slow game is manipulative.

Even the phrase "playing the slow game" suggests that this is, in fact, a game, which is the sort of mindset that is crappy.

If you're attracted to somebody, you show it. If they don't respond well to your show of attraction, don't escalate. If you like somebody, be their friend. If you like and are attracted to somebody, then yay for you!

Which brings me to your other comment:

I'm uncomfortable with the implication that it's somehow wrong for a man to move on if he has romantic interest in a woman and the feelings are not reciprocated. In fact, that's the best situation for both involved.

It is possible to be attracted to somebody but still be their friend. In fact, I tend to like being friends with people I can flirt with somewhat; I am a kind of flirty touch-positive person, and I like looking at pretty people! This is an okay thing. It turns out attractive people are capable of being human, despite what their weird Martian gravitational fields would suggest.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:58 AM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


The notion that once somebody's "rejected you" as a romantic interest they've also rejected you as a friend is weird, is what I'm saying, but understandable thanks to how messed up our social attitude about sexuality and romance is.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:59 AM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I started out talking in generalities

your generalities aren't germane to the specific type of interaction that the post is about. it's not thinking the worst of your arguments, it's saying that your arguments don't pertain to the topic at hand even if you think that extending more benefit of the doubt will help us see that it's miscommunication - because in the specific interaction we're talking about, that's the sort of story women get when we try to point this pattern of behavior out.

I'm uncomfortable with the implication that it's somehow wrong for a man to move on if he has romantic interest in a woman and the feelings are not reciprocated.

luckily that's not what's being said.
posted by nadawi at 12:00 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I accept when a woman puts me in the friend zone but she needs to accept that while I respect that, I may still have a handful of chips in my hand with her name on it... and I will continue to play.

Gross.

I had a friend that did this to me. Long story short, we're not friends anymore. I made it clear to him that I was only interested in him as a friend by flat-out telling him, "Friend, I enjoy your company and our conversations but I'm not interested in you romantically. That's not going to change and I hope we can remain friends." He said he was happy with being my friend, and then he kept "playing his chips", as you called it, by periodically asking me on dates or talking mad shit about guys I chose to date instead of dating him. I realized that he actually did not respect me or my feelings about him and our friendship because he kept trying to push me into changing my mind.

Claiming that you respect your friend's decision but insisting on continuing to "play your chips" is an asshole move. Don't be an asshole.
posted by palomar at 12:01 PM on September 6, 2013 [20 favorites]


I was not trying to negate your experiences. (and I disagree that "I know all I need to know about the situation" since I don't know any of the people involved) Basically, I started out talking in generalities, you mentioned your specific experience, I acknowledged your experience, agreed with you, and then switched back to talking in generalities.

The thing is, I was also speaking in generalities.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:03 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are plenty of cultures in which there *are* few (to no) contexts in which men and women (at least of childbearing age) can be "friends" in the modern, secular, western sense of good companions who care for each other, spend time together, do things for each other, etc., without any implication of sexual attraction, and in which social behaviors are bound by more normative and collective behavioral ideals and less of a sovereign sense of individual liberty.

The only context in which male/female "friendship" can happen in the more traditional inflections of at least a few indigenous cultures I know something about is through kinship; of course, it helps if half the opposite-sex people your age in your community *are* in fact your cousins, sisters/brothers, aunts/uncles, etc., and you know how to reckon these relationships on an everyday basis, especially when they are preloaded with codes of mutual obligation and behavior and a (putatively universal) constraint on consanguineal sexual relations.

"Friendship" has a social and discursive modern history and a genealogy, no less than "love" (in relation to social categories like "married" or "dating"). While I fully appreciate that this discussion deals with contemporary western culture, presumed as an aspirational ideal for all humankind (because humans always believe their own culture should be universal) it would nonetheless behoove us to be aware of not overgeneralizing the western/secular and decidedly modern category of "friendship" (of any sort) to a universal, any more than monogamous heterosexual "love" as a basis for sexual exclusivity is a universal form of human sexuality. Both are evolving constantly in the modern world, but the premises of this discussion (in the article linked in the OP and here on MeFi) are in many cases only a couple of hundred years old -- if that -- in western culture. Some of the older constraints (operating through reputation and family discourse) still operate in the most cosmopolitan of western settings.

You may (as I do, personally, being a cosmopolitan western sort) see it as a normative ideal that men and women can and should be able to have "friendships" that are completely detachable from their sexual attractions to each other (or for that matter, same sex friendships in gay/lesbian contexts), and more importantly from the judgments of others about their sexual behavior, and you may (like me) have experienced deep friendships with unrelated others who might otherwise qualify as desirable sexual partners but about whom you have no conscious sexual feelings or intentions, or feelings you suppress effectively so that they are not conscious intentions.

We have been socialized into the idioms of friendship and sexuality we inhabit. They are not given by nature. Culture arguably exists precisely to channel our natural instincts in adaptive ways, and the institutions surrounding sexual reproduction are at the heart of the work of channeling and controlling of nature that culture does. Cultures, of course, can be held accountable to any articulated ethical standard. But a priori, taking in the range of human cultural models and forms in the present, the recent past, and from a lot of what we can tell of the more distant past, that too, there is nothing more or less natural about men and women being able to be "friends" without sexual attraction or the imputation of sexual attraction by others than about a context in which no such relationship was possible. And almost inarguably, it's the current, secular western perspective (in which women are socially equal actors under the law and increasingly under cultural convention) that is emergent and unique in human history.

I think an ethnologically sound argument could be made that the normative human condition for most of evolutionary history and across a wide spectrum of contemporary human cultures did not provide for a robust development of male/female "friendship" (in the modern sense), devoid of sexual implications and outside the context of kinship relations. Entire institutionalized codes of behavior (including European codes of honor and chivalry) are rooted in such structures (in which women are generally considered a form of wealth or property, and marriage an institution of kin-based alliance that has nothing to do with either "love" or "friendship," and in which sexual behavior may be quite differently related to categories of relationship status or social power).

Humans are not constrained to obey only their most "natural" of instincts. Any arrangement of possible, allowed, permitted, tolerated, discouraged, and forbidden relationships with attendant obligations and privileges (including sexual ones) could be possible (depending on how universal and natural one thinks the incest taboo really is). We have minds and language and agency that we routinely use to override our instincts, else there would be no modern world with its cities and nations and industries. We can evolve our culture toward greater equality and individual liberty until and unless that becomes maladaptive. (Conservatives -- especially religious ones -- often argue it already has become maladaptive, that we are playing with fire, that older cultural models were more in tune with the limits of culture to override instincts. Of course, the counter-argument is they are defending their own privilege to define the "natural" order of things. Etc.)

I just think it's important not to naturalize the terms "friend" and "love interest" ("boyfriend," "girlfriend," "sex partner") here, or the gender ideologies at work. There are plenty of communities in the world where you would face censure, ostracism, or violence if you pursued a "friendship" with a non-kin person of the opposite sex and/or where the presumption would be (by all concerned) that your interest in such a friendship could only be sexual. These communities (many of which exist in the heart of modern western nations) are not always ignorant of the proposed alternative either; they just don't like it. They are generally patriarchal cultures, of course, whose leaders wish to preserve their privilege and keep their womenfolk in servitude, in many cases. But even the remnants of ambivalence in this discussion stem from the persistence of patriarchy in the cultural universe most MeFites inhabit.
posted by spitbull at 12:08 PM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


Rory Marinich: If you're attracted to somebody, you show it. If they don't respond well to your show of attraction, don't escalate. If you like somebody, be their friend. If you like and are attracted to somebody, then yay for you!

I don't think this reflects the reality of how a lot of people get together. A lot of people feel it's creepy to "cold-call"; i.e. just ask out girls you barely know. Like I said above, in a lot of social circles, the early part of friendships and courtship look identical, and it's possible for it not be exactly clear for either party, or for one party to want a relationship but feel they have to "play cool".

It's easy to just say "well, everyone should just state their intentions the millisecond they have them!" but that's not how things work.
posted by spaltavian at 12:11 PM on September 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


nadawi: your generalities aren't germane to the specific type of interaction that the post is about. it's not thinking the worst of your arguments, it's saying that your arguments don't pertain to the topic at hand even if you think that extending more benefit of the doubt will help us see that it's miscommunication - because in the specific interaction we're talking about, that's the sort of story women get when we try to point this pattern of behavior out.

Really? I think it's rather disingenuous to speak of the post as if it's clearly delineated to exclude evil otto's perspective on the issue, when the post very much leaves that question rather open, and various different viewpoints on it have been discussed perfectly civilly in this thread already. What prompted that comment again?
posted by Anything at 12:14 PM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: The thing is, I was also speaking in generalities.

Then why the did you accuse him of "continuing to come to the defense of people whom you yourself have agreed are acting manipulatively"? How was he commenting on situations he didn't know anything about if you also were speaking generally?

nadawi: I started out talking in generalities

your generalities aren't germane to the specific type of interaction that the post is about. it's not thinking the worst of your arguments, it's saying that your arguments don't pertain to the topic at hand even if you think that extending more benefit of the doubt will help us see that it's miscommunication - because in the specific interaction we're talking about, that's the sort of story women get when we try to point this pattern of behavior out.


Almost every single comment in this thread has been general comments. Seriously, what the hell are you taking about?

I'm uncomfortable with the implication that it's somehow wrong for a man to move on if he has romantic interest in a woman and the feelings are not reciprocated.

luckily that's not what's being said.


That's exactly what some people have appeared to say in this thread.
posted by spaltavian at 12:17 PM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't think most people are saying you have to decide if you want to date someone the instant you meet them. It's about honesty and intentions.

When I was a teenager, I was definitely a Nice Guy. I had horrible self-esteem, and could not face the rejection of just asking a girl out. So I would be friends, try to edge that line closer to girlfriend, etc. I knew I wanted more, but I did not tell her that, because then I would be inviting rejection. This is what people are talking about. Now as an adult, I don't do that. If I know I want to date a woman, I ask her on a date (this is why Ask Metafilter always recommends using the word "date"). This has not coincidentally resulted in far more dates and relationships than the Nice Guy approach.

Now, both men and women can have friends they become attracted to / want to date later. Thats fine, and 95% of people talking about this are not saying thats wrong. But if such an attraction develops, either you talk about it / ask them out [not like 1 millisecond later, but in a reasonable time frame] or you decide its a bad idea and try to stay friends. Sometimes that might be hard, if you're extremely attracted ot them but they are, say, married. And that might end the friendship, and that sucks, but thats human nature.

The difference is intention. From the outside, it's hard to tell the difference much of the time. But there are many men (and women) out there who _know_ what kind of relationship they want from near the beginning, and are not really interested in "just" a friendship. From their point of view, they will either "succeed" in having a relationship / having sex with their new "friend", or they will stop being friends. The other person doesn't know this, and it creates a bad dynamic in the relationship. It's not honest and it's not a good way to treat an actual friend.

So -- just because you are attracted to a friend, or can't stay friends because you're consumed with limerance or whatever, doesn't automatically make you a bad person. But if you know your only real interest with someone is romantic, you should be honest about that.
posted by wildcrdj at 12:20 PM on September 6, 2013 [26 favorites]


evil otto isn't giving his perspective on the issue under discussion, he's giving his perspective on a situation that looks similar but is different - when people try to explain that to him we're told that we're not giving guys the benefit of the doubt. which, considering the actual topic at hand, is hilarious and disheartening.

wildcrdj and rory have done a great job describing the problem (that they've luckily grown out of) from the male perspective.
posted by nadawi at 12:24 PM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't think this reflects the reality of how a lot of people get together. A lot of people feel it's creepy to "cold-call"; i.e. just ask out girls you barely know. Like I said above, in a lot of social circles, the early part of friendships and courtship look identical, and it's possible for it not be exactly clear for either party, or for one party to want a relationship but feel they have to "play cool".

It's easy to just say "well, everyone should just state their intentions the millisecond they have them!" but that's not how things work.


Hmm possibly. You have to remember, I am young and cannot remember an era before Facebook Chat.

Instant messaging makes it super easy to write somebody and go, "Hey, do you want to catch a movie?" And then either they go, "You mean as a date-y thing?" or else you follow up with "Want to get a bite to eat too? Like as a date-y thing?" Which makes it super easy for them to go "Okay, sure!" or "I dunno, I don't know if I feel that way about you," in which case you can say "Aww. Well how about as friends then?"

Being terrified about how somebody will feel about you asking them out is very natural, but in my experience the person you're asking will not be that bothered by the request. I've had a number of girls tell me they like me that way, and the totality of my internal response was "oh that's cool. hopefully that doesn't get annoying or anything though." I suspect it's the same way in reverse—is there more pressure/awkwardness for a girl when a guy asks them out? (Legitimate question: if there is, I would really like to know!)
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:26 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


nadawi, I really don't see how that follows from anything.
posted by Anything at 12:27 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Then why the did you accuse him of "continuing to come to the defense of people whom you yourself have agreed are acting manipulatively"? How was he commenting on situations he didn't know anything about if you also were speaking generally?

You'll have to ask him, he's the one who thinks we're all talking about discrete unique situations rather than a general category of people. This category of people does indeed do a specific act, but we am not speaking of single individual people who do this act, we are speaking of all people who do this act.

Evil Otto agrees that the act itself is manipulative. We agree on that point. I am questioning why he wants to then go on to say "but I don't want to call them manipulative because I don't know the individual people involved," and I'm asking "why do you have to delve into the individual motivations of the people themselves if you agree that the act they are all doing is in and of itself manipulative"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:28 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anything, i'm not sure how to explain it any differently from that feedback.
posted by nadawi at 12:29 PM on September 6, 2013


This kind of shit is why I am very, very careful as to what kinds of guys I am friends with. They have to be (a) happily married and not skeezy, (b) gay, or (c) drastically younger than I am because I do not attract guys looking for cougars at all. And I still don't get anything beyond casual with them because I have been burned too many times. I agree with xarnop: I only get close friendship from women, because even the gay/bi women don't pull this shit on me ever.

I'm not hot/good looking, nor do I have a lot of "guy" hobbies, so fuck if I know where it comes from. I honestly think it's just that I was as friendly with a random strange guy as I would be with a random strange girl, and THAT apparently made the guys think they could start putting their coins in me. As far as I can tell, I just led them on by being vaguely nice. As has been pointed out, they don't believe you (I can count on one hand the number of guys who have politely backed off) when you say you aren't interested either. Honestly, the pain, drama, guilt, and "but whhhhhhyyyyyyy won't you give me a chance," plus the months or years of uncomfortable feelings before it gets out in the open, is not worth giving close friendships with dudes a chance. Unless I was at least 90% sure he didn't want to nail me, forget it. And I've been surprised too many times to trust to that one anyway.

From what I've heard, (a) guys tend to befriend girls they would nail, and (b) they generally consider this possibility in their heads. The nicer fellows don't push it with you or upset their own relationships in order to chase your tail, but as Harry Burns once said, even if you're ugly, "you pretty much wanna nail them too." Any girl regularly in their proximity, I guess. I'm just tired of the Nice Guy game. I'm sorry I don't want to fuck you, okay?! I wasn't trying to make you think I wanted to! (And deep down, you know I didn't want to, but you won't admit it.) I am out of ideas as to how to not inadvertently lead a guy on, other than to ignore him obnoxiously in public without so much as a casual hi on the street.

In short: yeah, the later part of this link went into parody territory, but I felt the first part of it all too well for real.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:30 PM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


And really, the last thing the world needs is to tell guys that being friendly and playing the slow game is manipulative.

The first thing the world needs is to tell guys that women are not prizes you win for playing a game correctly. There is no game. Slow, or fast.

is there more pressure/awkwardness for a girl when a guy asks them out? (Legitimate question: if there is, I would really like to know!)

Unfortunately, yes, there really can be. The shittier, stalkier, rapier and murdery-er of your brethren have made rejecting a man into something that always has the glimmer of fear around it. For example, a very gentle rejection of someone I had not even met in person once led to several all-caps emails calling me, among other things, a "vile cunt who should die raped in hell."

Usually the glimmer is very tiny indeed, but it all depends on how many jerks/stalkers/harassers/rapists the girl in question has already had to put up with in her life.
posted by like_a_friend at 12:36 PM on September 6, 2013 [19 favorites]


I don't miss online dating one bit
posted by like_a_friend at 12:38 PM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


STONES, TOKENS, AND CHIPS. AND GARDENS.

Everything is different now.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 12:39 PM on September 6, 2013


Hmm. Then is there a way to relieve that pressure at all? Besides saying "hey want to go on a date and I promise I won't get weird or aggressive or annoying or anything if you say no?"
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:39 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


nadawi, I really don't see how that follows from anything.
posted by Anything 12 minutes ago [+]

Boy howdy that's confusing.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:41 PM on September 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


Can we all just agree that the patriarchy is ruining it for everyone?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:41 PM on September 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


All of this is making me think back with great admiration for my high school boyfriend (we are now friends on facebook!). We had been friends for three years, but in our friend group there was only one couple - everybody else just kind of hung around in a mixed-gender pack of kids, so "just" being friends with someone of the opposite sex did not seem unusual. Anyway, while he and I were actually friends, he also liked me as more-than, and he....asked me to go out with him. Used words and everything. I fucked it up by saying yes even though I didn't think of him as anything but a friend, but I was too scared to tell him that. We awkwardly were boyfriend-girlfriend for a few weeks before I finally ginned up the courage to tell him.

Fortunately, even though our friendship lurched along kind of hideously for the remainder of senior year, he was able to move past it and so was I, and now we're facebook friends and he still seems to be pretty awesome.
posted by rtha at 12:41 PM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Can we all just agree that the patriarchy is ruining it for everyone?

Yes! Down with the patriarchy!

(At Bryn Mawr College's May Day that's what you yell during the mayhole ceremony, which they introduced as a "less phallic response to the maypole".)
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:42 PM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


nadawi: evil otto isn't giving his perspective on the issue under discussion, he's giving his perspective on a situation that looks similar but is different

evil otto (among many other people here!) was describing a situation where a man seeks a relationship with a woman and acts, without intending to mislead, in a way which the woman ends up (possibly very understandably) interpreting as him just seeking, or being happy with, platonic friendship. This is one of the possible things that might be going on in any scenario described in the blog post -- the possible things which also include the possibility of the man intentionally misleading the woman.

You are claiming that evil otto has misunderstood the post and the thread and is talking about something unrelated. Which is false.
posted by Anything at 12:42 PM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Claiming that you respect your friend's decision but insisting on continuing to "play your chips" is an asshole move. Don't be an asshole.

Yeah, I wrote that last sentence completely wrong and I'm paying for it. Let me try and clarify, though at this point I'm probably digging a deeper hole.

All I meant to describe were two models that demonstrated how people review their feelings for someone at either a rapid or slow frequency of re-evaluation. It has nothing to do with what you would do with those feelings, just how you feel.

Both metaphors are not gender-specific. They came about that way from college as a "Men are and women are" conversation but they can be applied to anyone of any gender or orientation.

As to my last sentence, well I pretty much messed that up. I can respect my friend's rejection of me but that can't stop me from evaluating what I personally feel for her. What I failed to add is that because I tend to evaluate my feelings often I tend to stay friends with a woman who rejects me, but this does not stop me from occasionally thinking I'd like it to be more. And just as rapidly, I think what we have is fine and move on... but that's why I "continue to play", even if 99% of the time I see her as a friend, there's that 1% where I'd like it to be more until I play again and hit the 99% friend mark again.

In many ways, either "system" tends to yield the same result. The difference is in the frequency and therefore the potential for a re-evaluation to come up with a new result, and just as frequently return to the old result.

There. You can have my spade now.
posted by linux at 12:45 PM on September 6, 2013


Ha ha. I love being asexual.

(just had to come drop that in.)
posted by Sophie1 at 12:45 PM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Man, I am so glad that I am not, nor was I really ever a Nice Guy. I was socially awkward, and couldn't read social cues or body language, but for the most part, almost every one of my romantic relationships were very straight forward and usually ended up being awesome friendships after the hormones died down.

What I also never understand is how our society does really try to drive a wedge between the sexes. Books like "men are from mars, women are from venus" do nothing to help reconcile these issues. It just reinforces the idea that men and women are too different and "other" to be able to share common interests, enjoy the same types of activities, etc, etc. That is insidious and horrible. This is probably why I really love people questions gender roles and gender norms.

I am a guy. I love wearing broomstick skirts. You know why? They are comfortable as hell, and sometimes, I just don't feel like having my legs all bound up by pants. Plus, they feel really neat when blowing in the breeze around my legs (part of the same reason I love trench coats). Oh, and I'm Scottish and I hate kilts. My knees get cold.

I also have had, thankfully, throughout my life, many many many friends who were lesbians. Do you have any idea how freeing it is when both parties look at each other and say "I will never have any sexual desire or interest in you, and that is so cool". Some people try to tell me that the sexual tension is still there, but I swear, I have never had a less sexually tense relationship that the ones I've had with lesbians. To me, they are even better than friends with other guys, because to some degree, with other guys, there is always this strange underlying competition going on, or some degree of one-up-manship that I just don't enjoy doing (mostly because I don't do it nicely, and I've hurt a lot of people by being disproportionately aggressive when put into a competitive situation. Or worse, I just don't stop, even after I've "won" the contest. I'll insist that they keep playing whatever game it is and continue to slam on them. I am definitely not a Nice Guy).

And all of this because I had to reject social norms. I still have issues meeting straight girls and being just friends. Mostly because I still do not have a good handle on non-verbal cues. Unless someone is utterly blatant about physical contact, I will never touch someone without a direct invitation. The only person I do touch without invite is my girlfriend, and that is only after 2 days of very long and drawn out talks about my issues with consent (as in, it has to be explicitly given, otherwise she won't get anything out of me). Yes, I am EXTREMELY paranoid about touching people without their permission. To the point that I will shrink away from people inadvertently touching me. You ever play that flirting game where you rest your leg or arm on someone and slowly stroke or pet them? One time a girl did that with me, and I ended up falling off the couch because I did not realize she was flirting and wanted me to flirt back. I thought she didn't realize she was doing it and wanted to move out of the way so she wouldn't think I was trying to creep on her. I ended up naked in bed with her the next morning and I still don't know what happened.

But to bring this back to how men and women interact and the whole thing about "just being friends". Seriously, in western society (and many other patriarchal societies, for that matter), women are still, to a greater degree seen as creatures without agency and as potential possessions, not individuals. Hell, marriage laws are still written as if the woman in the relationship is more of an asset to the marriage than as an equal partner in a contract. To a greater degree, many traditional marriage traditions (the dowry, the father giving away the bride, etc) are throwbacks to when the women were used as trading commodities, rather than given full agency and allowed to chose their own spouses. I mean, that is quite frankly, abhorrent. And it doesn't stop there. The reason most men don't have lots of female friends is that they are told throughout their life that they should find one woman and marry her and forever only see her as the only woman he should ever interact with aside from his mother. He is not allowed to be friends with other women once he is married because of the underlying fear that this other woman will attempt to subvert his marriage vows and break up his marriage. And that fear is put into him not from his wife, but from his patriarchal social obligation to maintain his marriage because for the better part of several centuries, with women as the binding commodity in a marriage, political family alliances were secured through those contracts. Hence why everyone still, to this day gives a shit about who the royal family is fucking. Just look at Henry the 8th and the strange permutations of law and religion he had to go through just because he wanted a male heir. I mean, serioualy, that is some really really messed up shit.

But anyway.

I like my friends who are girls. I hope they like me too. Platonic or not. I really wish I had more of them.
posted by daq at 12:46 PM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is one of the possible things that might be going on in any scenario described in the blog post.

Right. I was confused by the reactions to some of my posts thinking maybe I'd missed something in the blog, and it had actually been about the kind of twisted, scheming, friends-to-get-in-her-pants kind of guy that others had mentioned. But it's not. It's actually very much not that at all as far as what's actually written.
posted by echocollate at 12:48 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


nadawi evil otto isn't giving his perspective on the issue under discussion, he's giving his perspective on a situation that looks similar but is different

This is coming from the position that neither the original piece or anyone in this thread have said or implied "ghosting" after a rejection is proof or strong indication of being a Fedora-Man. That very point is under disagreement. I pointed out a couple of comments that seem to say that in my comment here .

If, like evil otto, you seem to think people aren't making a distinction between people who "abandon" a friendship because they were being manipulative and men who just go, oh well, I don't really need more friends, bye, then his line of debate makes a lot of sense.

Disagree with his conclusion, disagree with the the idea that any comments here do imply just a thing, but don't say no one was speaking in generalities, because just about everyone was.

EmpressCallipygos: Evil Otto agrees that the act itself is manipulative. We agree on that point. I am questioning why he wants to then go on to say "but I don't want to call them manipulative because I don't know the individual people involved," and I'm asking "why do you have to delve into the individual motivations of the people themselves if you agree that the act they are all doing is in and of itself manipulative"?

I've attempted a response several times, but this was the best way I could phrase it, sorry if it's off-putting: Let's say you have action x. Action x is often done for bad reasons. We all agree that's bad. When x is done for bad reasons, it's because of misogynistic intentions and beliefs y and z.

However, it's possible to do x for neutral reasons. Evil otto, I presume, doesn't think you are allowing for this possibility. Maybe he's wrong! But operating under that belief, evil otto is pointing out that if x is done for neutral reasons, then it doesn't indicate y or z.

Evil Otto is saying that, in the specific circumstances, you already know if y and z exists, so we can all accept your experiences. You would know! But the knowledge you have about specific circumstances doesn't apply to the general landscape he talking about.

Maybe you feel First Principle-ly stuff is missing the point here, or that you are allowing for the possibility of x without y and z . If so, that's the flaw with evil otto's argument, not that he's defending guys who have tried to manipulate you.
posted by spaltavian at 12:49 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anything - yes, but underlying that is that any time women say, "this is a pattern of behavior that we experience from some men" we get told that we've just misunderstood it and need to give more benefit of the doubt. it's happening again here. i find that pretty frustrating.

i'm not really interested in continuing the conversation i was having with evil otto with you acting as his unelected proxy, though.
posted by nadawi at 12:51 PM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


linux: I like that you are trying to re-frame what you said, because what it sounded like was: "She may have decided that we're only and ever friends, but I don't completely accept that and will keep trying to escalate things if it looks like it might work." MeFi is hard, especially in a sticky thread like this one, and while I *think* I see where you were going with your metaphor, that's a hard one to get across in text only. Good on you for plugging away when you were getting some pretty serious side-eye.
posted by jennaratrix at 12:59 PM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I (male) have female friends who are mos def in the perma friend zone. As they say, the plural of anecdote is not data.

Still... (here at the bottom of a 1000 response thread where it won't be read)... put compatible people of symmetrical sexual preference together and biology, that wonderfully successful system of inherited behaviors and propensities which has been evolving since goo turned into sexually reproducing goo, manifests.

She's surprised? Dating behavior emerges after faux-dating (like hanging out) for a while and someone is surprised? Stop the presses!

Then, an organism with limited time and resources, which is programmed by eons, nay ages of genetic selection to reproduce focuses its attentions elsewhere? This is not the unexplained conundrum of the ages.

No man (or woman) has anything to apologize for here. Not enough time for all the potentials. Boys and girls like to couple. (apologies to GLBT... I mean everyone, of course.)

Plus... SHE may be all gender-blank where these poor boys are concerned, but perhaps all the other ladies out there who aren't as evolved (or whose evolution is working differently) MIGHT, just MIGHT, think she and friendly Johnny are a pair based on their frequent dating-like behavior of hanging out all the time. And being seen together. In public. Having fun. And stuff. You think? Cause, you know, the private kind of BG stuff is often done in private and everything. Where folks wouldn't see it more or less ever.

The internet makes complaining about sunshine on a cloudless day possible.
posted by FauxScot at 1:03 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


> They start as friends and the guy is ONLY being friends for the purpose of "winning" her affections and thus having her decide he is just so great she wants to sleep with him. If it doesn't happen he gets pissed off because LOOK AT ALL OF THE NICE THINGS I DID WHY DOESN'T SHE WANT TO SLEEP WITH ME, and then she loses what she thought was a great friend because he had ulterior motives and got mad when she didn't do what he wanted (as mentioned above).

Way back when I was single, I had two male friends tell me -- just a few months apart -- that they were mad I was "using" them. My crime was being friends with them and being completely oblivious that they wanted to be more than that. I didn't ask or expect anything more from them than I did any other good friends, male or female.

I've been rejected plenty of times, but I never got angry at the guy for not wanting to make out with me.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:07 PM on September 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


nadawi, in many cases the best we can do is be sorry for and empathize with anyone who has suffered such situations without any malign intent of their own -- and the little sort of tragedy here is that in many cases we just can't know whether or not we can, also, assign blame to the other party.

To my understanding, that is what evil otto was saying.

Peace.
posted by Anything at 1:10 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


i would give my left tit to never again read another flimsy biological defense of shitty behavior. we overcome that sort of shit every single day - that's what being part of a society is about - and it's not too much to ask for people to just fucking evolve already.
posted by nadawi at 1:10 PM on September 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


Guys who complain about the friendzone are the scum of the earth.

Guys who try to take a friendly relationship with a female to the "next level", and, if rejected, take it in stride, are not.

The writer seems to conflate both these guys into a single stereotype.
posted by gertzedek at 1:12 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sorry if my descriptions were misinterpreted for the slot machine. Much like the garden, they only describe what a guy thinks about a girl

that if he puts enough coins into her, she'll eventually come up all cherries?

(well, i'm sorry, but this is SO absurd ...)
posted by pyramid termite at 1:34 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've attempted a response several times, but this was the best way I could phrase it, sorry if it's off-putting: Let's say you have action x. Action x is often done for bad reasons. We all agree that's bad. When x is done for bad reasons, it's because of misogynistic intentions and beliefs y and z.

However, it's possible to do x for neutral reasons. Evil otto, I presume, doesn't think you are allowing for this possibility. Maybe he's wrong! But operating under that belief, evil otto is pointing out that if x is done for neutral reasons, then it doesn't indicate y or z.


Let's let evil otto come back and clarify whether that's what he meant.

However, YOU seem to feel that it is possible to do action x for neutral reasons. Can you clarify exactly what "neutral reasons" there would be for the behavior we're describing?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:35 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


i would give my left tit to never again read another flimsy biological defense of shitty behavior. we overcome that sort of shit every single day - that's what being part of a society is about - and it's not too much to ask for people to just fucking evolve already.

i would give my left nut to never again read another flimsy societal defense of shitty behavior. we overcome that sort of shit every single day - that's what being a rational, thinking human being is about - and it's not too much to ask for people to just take some fucking responsibility already.

i agree and sympathize with what you say here, and the "oops, my genes made me do it," excuse is too often cynically used. my view is behavior falls somewhere between biology, conditioning, and choice. best we can do is make a conscious effort to be our best selves in spite of everything.
posted by echocollate at 1:39 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can you identify "guy accuses the girl and all other girls in the world of leading him on" in the text, EmpressCallipygos? Ain't seeing it in the text myself.

I read "if we’d been making plans to do something before this fateful incident, these plans mysteriously fail to materialize" as simply the guy loosing romantic interest. That's healthy and good for everyone!

Now "He doesn’t answer my calls or e-mails" sounds like a hurt teenager, but that's vastly preferable to creepy behavior. Also, I suspect many males initially missread that line as "he doesn't call or email me [anymore]", well that's the complaint I've actually heard voiced in similar scenarios.


So why does the article conflate this mostly healthy response to rejection with the PUA types? Just like crystal healers, etc., the PUA mythology tells a false story that (a) earns it promoters money and (b) counteracts even more harmful behaviors.

At it's core, the PUA mythology simply says "DON'T BE A CREEPER!" and "Try quickly and look elsewhere if you get rejected". All the bullshit techniques like negging simply provide a distraction that keeps the guy playing along, like chakras in yoga I guess.

Does practicing said mythological techniques turn the guy into an asshole? I donno maybe, but not necessarily longterm. What they really do however is keep him from obsessing over one lady who doesn't want him. Assholes are better than creepers. It's better to be healthy and believe in some chakras nonsense than to die of a heart attack.

I therefore suspect the article conflates the healthy response it describes with PUA nonsense, precisely because some guys learn to be less creepy through that PUA nonsense, maybe the author even knows a few.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:41 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel like a lot of the time I do have a sense that the guy insisting he just wants to be friends is interested in me, but I suppress that feeling because thinking every guy in the world must be into me is super vain. And then next thing I know the guy in questions won't talk to me for months, or unfriends me on facebook, or sends me an email ending in "MAYBE YOU'RE GAY!!!". I absolutely avoid friendships with awkward guys now, especially at work. At that's even though I'm really, really clear I'm in a long term relationship. But at this point, I no longer give the benefit of the doubt guys who just stand in their cube staring at me, or drop by to out of the blue ask me to say something in French and touch my arm, or regularly abandon wherever they're actually walking to fall into step beside me. That covers three of the five single guys I know at work. And so I'm quite cold when talking to them. Maybe they could be nice interesting friends, but it's not worth it to me to find out. Guess I'll file that under ways the patriarchy makes life worse for everyone.

Anyways, I'm way late to the party and I found the post delightful, as in someone wonderfully expressed how I feel about this super annoying thing.
posted by carolr at 1:42 PM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


In conclusion I think there are a lot of nuances to this stuff but a lot of it gets simplified to "fedora assholes who complain about the friendzone".

In conclusion, the friendzone is a land of contrasts.

(On a serious note, I was reading through all this and feeling relieved. I was saying to myself, "well, I've certainly been shy, but at least I haven't been a creep." Then, I remembered my freshman year in college when I did pretend to be interested in being friends with a girl who I really just wanted to date. I was a creep to her. Ugh. And to top it off, I did actually then own a fedora. Shit. Sorry for being part of the problem. I swear I've been behaving better for the last couple decades.)
posted by Area Man at 1:44 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I no longer give the benefit of the doubt guys who just stand in their cube staring at me, or drop by to out of the blue ask me to say something in French and touch my arm, or regularly abandon wherever they're actually walking to fall into step beside me.

Yeah, don't give those guys gives the benefit of the doubt. That's some weird-ass behavior.
posted by Area Man at 1:46 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can you identify "guy accuses the girl and all other girls in the world of leading him on" in the text, EmpressCallipygos? Ain't seeing it in the text myself.

To which text are you referring?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:47 PM on September 6, 2013


The text this FPP is about and that I quoted : Why Do Men Keep Putting Me in the Girlfriend-Zone?
posted by jeffburdges at 1:52 PM on September 6, 2013


The reason you aren't seeing it in the text itself, jeffbridges, is because the text is parodying a particular trope - and "guy accuses the girl and all other girls in the world of leading him on" is that trope.

You may not find those specific words within all particular examples of the aforementioned trope, either, but I trust that - because it is a trope - you can allow for a certain literary liberty therein.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:58 PM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


the tumblr post is a humorous article to her audience. sure, it got wider traction and she has to anticipate that but this isn't a rigorous academic paper proposing a concrete solution. if you think some things are being conflated or she's just not being fair or maybe it was just a miscommunication, why didn't she think of that, huh huh huh? well, then maybe consider you aren't the audience she's writing to and the people who have been in the company of the red pill-feminazis stole my ice cream-friend zone-nice guy-why do you always date jerks-pre pua jackass are just finding humor is something they recognize.

and i'm not saying don't talk about it or shut up or whatever the fuck. i'm saying that sometimes it's ok for things to not be precise and exactly right on all points when it's being presented as a funny commiseration parody piece.
posted by nadawi at 1:58 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


EC, I'm sorry, reading things into an article that aren't actually there and then treating that as the supposedly obvious basis of the argument is a complete non-starter, a horrible way to argue.
posted by Anything at 2:02 PM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Every woman I have ever been in the "friendzone" with, and watched my friends be involved with, seemed to place a lot of value on those very qualities of the friendship which mainly stemmed from a pursuit of a more-than-friends status. Basically a boyfriend without benefits

No offense, but what the hell are you talking about?
posted by corb at 2:05 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, reading things into an article that aren't actually there and then treating that as the supposedly obvious basis of the argument is a complete non-starter, a horrible way to argue.

I agree it's a horrible way to argue. That's why it's not what I did.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:07 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


jeffburdges:
You are describing asymmetrical information syndrome. Neither party is fully aware of the thoughts or feelings of the other, and are only able to make decisions and base their actions upon the available information presented to them. The main issue is when one party is acting upon assumed information, such as "if I'm nice to them enough, they'll like me enough to want to have sex with me". This is the common fallacy that needs to be addressed.

I am a big proponent of bypassing or shortcutting all pretense of feigned niceties. If you are not direct about your intention, you are behaving badly, because you are lying, either through act or omission, as to what your expectation is. And the real problem is that it requires an investment of time by the (usually girl) to observe the pattern and become aware that there is something other than the outwardly stated reasoning for interacting with someone in a more familiar manner than simply talking about the weather.

echocollate:
For many boys (I refuse to call them men, as they have not earned that title), they have NEVER been exposed to any alternative narrative for relationships with a person they have a sexual interest in. This is not limited to heterosexual attraction. If the only thing you have ever been exposed to (through media, family, religion, social attitudes of your local community) is an adversarial interaction with an end game of "get me a (wife/husband/partner)", coming to the realization that there are other relationships that you can have can be very difficult, if not utterly beyond the scope of imagination. It really does take a special situational change or imagination to see that there are alternatives, and an even more special individual or group of individuals to enact this change. This is why true platonic relationships are RARE between heterosexual men and women. There is an enormous amount of pressure, subtle and overt, to make those types of relationships very difficult to maintain, let alone come at from a truly neutral and accommodating circumstance.

Most men who say they are able to have close female friends are more likely to already be in a romantic relationship (married or already dating someone). Single men are generally not interested in "just being friends". They are preoccupied with trying to find someone to partner with, even if it is just for sexual gratification. If this were not the case, then this satire would not be anywhere near as uncomfortably true for so many women. Again, this should be just as much of an eye opener as the this post by bilabial, regarding how often something happens to one sex versus how often something is perpetrated by the other. The imbalance between the experiences is well documented, and is a major concern in our society today. It has EVERYTHING to do with the attitudes and social mores that our society endorses or encourages, because for the most part, individuals do not wish to think about things outside of their own personal horizons. Everyone removes agency from other people on a daily basis, but recognizing this many times takes superhuman effort of entire communities to change. And that's why we talk about it, and that's why we mock it with short little concise blulbs (because we're trained by advertising and the current media landscape to only accept short synopsis of info blurbs, rather than read novel length studies and essays about these social issues). But if you want to put everything off onto each individual, without providing those individuals even the barest hint of an alternative way of behaving, I guess we can look forward to our society never changing, and "it will always be so" will be our mantra as we march headlong into the abyss. (I like my hyberbole, thank you very much. No, you can't take it away from me. It's mine. Nyeah.)

I think about these things way, way, way too much.
posted by daq at 2:12 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Then is there a way to relieve that pressure at all? Besides saying "hey want to go on a date and I promise I won't get weird or aggressive or annoying or anything if you say no?"

Actually, the few guys who didn't freak me the hell out and took no for an answer well said something along those lines to me. I really appreciated it. "If you're interested, it's cool, if not, I'll be okay," or something like that. "No pressure."
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:15 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I assure you that [some] dudes can be pretty darn oblivious to COME HITHER signals in 40-foot letters of fire, so long as they fall short of literally stating "Take me now, sub-creature.""

I am this guy, so much so that my friends made a CAH card specifically about my inability to pick up signals.
posted by cuomofied at 2:19 PM on September 6, 2013


"aaaaaaaaaaaaagggggggghhhhh it hurts. it hurts so much.

I was That Guy. I am so ashamed.
"

Yup, me too. In large part because I had no idea how romantic relationships really formed. Even when I asked girls out on actual dates, I always felt like I had no real idea what the hell I was doing or how to get to what I wanted or even how to communicate it. I spent a lot of time on weird pseudo dates that were awkward for all parties. I had basically just internalized that being an asshole to girls was wrong, so I was going to do the opposite of everything those assholes did. That, plus an amazing inability of mine to actually figure out that there were girls crushing on me, made me into a weird little bag of romantic superstition and angst.

Then I met a random Spanish girl who asked me to show her around town, I asked her out on a date, and suddenly there was an, "Oh, so if you actually talk to girls about this stuff, some of them are totally into it!" There was such a weird shell of insecurity and obtuseness built up that all I knew was that being a decent guy didn't translate into mutual attraction, but not how to get over it.

Now I've been with my partner of about 12 years after I asked her out on a date the night I met her. She was hanging out with an old high school buddy of mine who had been friendzoned, and he spent the evening complaining to her about what an asshole I was. All I had to do was be relaxed, forthright and not an asshole, and he pretty much sold me to her right there.
posted by klangklangston at 2:20 PM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Terrible male friends are responsible for fully half the people I got to date in high school. If I could live my teenage years over again, I'd surround myself with even worse people for comparison.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:22 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I am this guy, so much so that my friends made a CAH card specifically about my inability to pick up signals."

So, I was living with a buddy and one of my high school friends was kinda trying to get him to notice that she was interested, and I knew that he was crushing hard on her but was being totally fucking awkward and uncommunicative about it. She wanted to know how she could get past the weird, like, couch-cuddling level that they were at. I told her to tell him, "You. Me. Sex. Now." when she was in the mood, and that'd be pretty fucking clear. (It worked.)
posted by klangklangston at 2:23 PM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I am a big proponent of bypassing or shortcutting all pretense of feigned niceties. If you are not direct about your intention, you are behaving badly, because you are lying, either through act or omission, as to what your expectation is.

I would mostly second this (as an aside, one of the things I find bizarre about relationship questions on AskMe is how dedicated so many people are to offering advice that is based on reading subtle "signals" that have supposedly been sent and sending "signals" in return and so forth in situations where my advice would be "tell them what you feel/want and ask them what they feel/want"). On the other hand, it's worth bearing in mind in all human interactions how often we ourselves don't know (or don't want to fully admit to ourselves) what exactly our intentions are. A lot of people are going to say "so, do you want to, maybe, catch a movie together some time" without explicitly thinking to themselves "I am doing this in the hopes of eventually being this person's romantic partner" or "I am asking solely because I want to be this person's friend." We all operate in something of a cloud of plausible deniability--plausible deniability, that is, to and about ourselves, so that we can protect ourselves from the pain of rejection or failure. And while that would suggest, in part, a corollary to your advice above ("try to be honest with yourself about what you want") I think there's a part of that vagueness of intentionality that is simply human--and even beneficial. Some of the scariest people in the world are those who have the clearest sense of exactly what they want, and who set out to make damn sure it happens. Being too clear about what you want tends to make your view of the world and of relationships rather instrumental ("how do I get what I need from you" rather than "I wonder what things you have to offer?"), being willing to "see what develops" is what allows us to become different people from what we are and to learn new interests and new tastes and new pleasures that we'd never imagined before.
posted by yoink at 2:31 PM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]



"When people feel rejected they get angry, and anger leads to irrational thoughts and ideas."

See, I read that, and I think, no, when (straight) men feel rejected they get angry, because the culture tells them they have the right to any woman to whom they feel attracted. Or, really, just to any woman.

That is, of course, an overgeneralization, but when I, a woman, have been rejected, I have got sad, and then either tried to stay friends if I could, or explained why I couldn't ... because it made me too sad, not because I was wasting valuable reproductive time, and not because I was only in it for the sexytiems.

So, yeah, guys who get pissed off about ending up in the friendzone? privileged assholes.
posted by allthinky at 2:44 PM on September 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


Hey, here's a MeTa where we're discussing this thread and how to not take general things personally in a contentious discussion.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:47 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm realizing now that maybe my social anxiety isn't the worst thing after all. By never asking woman out or going on dates, I don't assume the risk of offending someone or saying the wrong thing or assuming the wrong thing or thinking that they assumed something that they didn't or wondering something I'm not supposed to wonder. I'm sure even this comment is the wrong thing. That funhouse comment sums it up pretty well, I have no fucking idea what is acceptable anymore in this context. I'm just going to continue not talking to anyone unless it's in a professional capacity.
posted by averageamateur at 2:53 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


That is an awesome MetaTalk thread, btw.
posted by daq at 2:59 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


This bit of Don Quixote, in which an entire population of shepherds are laid low by the beauty of the shepherdess Marcela, who then makes a fiery appearance to tell them to fuck right off, has always stayed with me.

It has it all: the feeling of being helpless in the presence of beauty, the temptation to wallow in that helplessness, the poetry of self-pity, the instinct to mythologize the fair one as a cruel monster, and then the sudden smack in the face from reality--they're not a monster, we're just dicks!
posted by ssr_of_V at 3:13 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was a funny piece, but it would be better, and could be funnier, if it got to the truth, which is that the friendzone sort of the PowerBall of heterosexuality.

A game that everybody knows has terrible odds of winning, but provides some pretty specific thrills, and doesn't cost very much in the end.

No man over the age of 17 thinks that it's remotely likely that an attractive woman will fall in love with him after a sufficient number of concerts where she keeps a careful eighteen inch distance on the floor or late night, four-feet-on-the-floor soul-searching sessions -- but that's a heck of lot more intimacy than they're going to be able to get if they just ask out someone they meet or post a profile on OKCupid.

No good looking woman over the age of 14 (I think women learn this younger) can ever have any doubt what's going on when a dorky single guy cultivates her friendship, but while it's going on he can provide her a kind of attention that's not available from men she would date.
posted by MattD at 3:14 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm a good looking woman over the age of 14 and I've had dorky single male friends who, as far as I know, are interested in nothing other than friendship, I swear. Plus I'm dorky myself.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:16 PM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have no fucking idea what is acceptable anymore in this context.
attempt nothing that is not mediated by a good capitalist institution e.g. OkCupid
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:18 PM on September 6, 2013


Yeah, that's ... exactly the attitude I think the article was trying to satirize. I'm glad that the guys I know don't (at least not to my knowledge!) view spending platonic time with a woman as buying a "lottery ticket" for sex.
posted by Asparagus at 3:19 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


See, I read that, and I think, no, when (straight) men feel rejected they get angry, because the culture tells them they have the right to any woman to whom they feel attracted. Or, really, just to any woman.

That's not the actual message though - it's a bit more insidious than that. The message is that were you a Real Man (tm) then you would be attractive to the women you meet. Oh sure, no one deserves a woman - I mean a chef doesn't deserve customers, right? But it you were a *good chef* then you'd make your customers happy and coming back for more, if you were a Real Man, you'd make your lady-friends happy and wanting more.

And of course this is total BS, I mean tons of objectively awesome people just aren't into each other. But when that's the only narrative someone's been told, and they encounter the real world of human relationships for the first time, it's kind of distressing.

And then there's this other narratives, put forward by these misogynists and PUAs that tell them, "hey, you can still be a 'Real Man' you just don't know how to play the 'game,' here let me teach you how to get out of that 'friendzone' and into the 'endzone.' You just have to take 'em down a few notches, stop treating women like people! Goodness! that's what you were doing wrong in the first place..."

And there isn't really another popular narrative out there to counter that.
posted by Zalzidrax at 3:23 PM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think women also hear those same insidious messages, like, "He rejected you because you're not Good Enough" or "because you didn't follow The Rules."
posted by Asparagus at 3:26 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


No good looking woman over the age of 14 (I think women learn this younger) can ever have any doubt what's going on when a dorky single guy cultivates her friendship, but while it's going on he can provide her a kind of attention that's not available from men she would date.

Wow. Such a low opinion you have of men. Apparently they are either "dorks" who have no nuance, no guile, and no motivation beyond TEH POON. Or they are fuckheads incapable of treating the women they date with a modicum of respect or affection.

Your opinion of all women above the age of 14 is not worth addressing.
posted by like_a_friend at 3:26 PM on September 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


Maybe they do want to be friends but they have these urges and are just generally confused and exist in a sea of contradictory norms.
posted by planetesimal at 3:30 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


See, I read that, and I think, no, when (straight) men feel rejected they get angry, because the culture tells them they have the right to any woman to whom they feel attracted. Or, really, just to any woman.

I think that's close to the truth as I see it, but something a little more insidious is going on. Basically, it's not exactly that straight men (or all men, or what have you) are told that they have a right to any woman. It's that people, but above all especially men, are taught that

1. They are the protagonists of their own lives, and this extends when one is not yet mature to mean protagonist of the world.
2. The protagonist "gets the girl" they want.
3. That narrative may well require a hero's journey.

So let's unpack the bad and the kind-of-understandable from that.

With (1), well, of course one will almost always see themselves as the protagonist, and when you're young almost nobody is developmentally equipped yet to not be kind of myopic. But a major problem that arises there is that one applies obscene amounts of special pleading to their own actions and little to those of others. Essentially, one is both lacking in empathy and assured of their own morality.

With (2), well, in my personal experience - and I believe this is fairly universal but I might be wrong - this is less about ownership or anything over women (the misogyny isn't quite calcified yet, and I think ignorance of girls/women is closer to the truth) than it is, well... You know the framing device of Slumdog Millionaire, where the point is that the two get together at the end because "it is written"? It's not that they own the girl, not that they deserve her, but rather that they have feelings for her that are beyond what they have experienced prior to this point and what they know from almost everything they've read or seen up to this point is that the story ends with them getting the girl. That is simply the way it goes.

An interesting sidenote to this is that "water finds its own level" here still, to an extent, even in this mid-developmental stage. The concept of who is in who's "league" is always a little bit silly and reductive and insulting but the boy can take a rough stab at what he feels is "his league" at this point without losing sight of himself as the hero. I.e. Napoleon Dynamite isn't expecting himself to get together with Summer, but believes the narrative with Tina Majorino will play out according to his expectations. If that makes any sense. I hope it does, because it will be important in a moment.

With (3) we get into the basis of the Nice Guy shit. When first becoming friendly with the girl, the boy thinks "this is it. The beginning of the trials, at the end of which I will have that holy grail, a girlfriend who I can do sexy stuff with!" He likes her, and because even adolescent and teenage boys aren't, you know, monsters, they probably genuinely like her, probably obsess over her personality quirks and shift their senses of humor such that it matches hers, stuff like that. Actually being able to be friends with her isn't the problem.

The problem is that they are focused on the goal, while the girl, if she isn't interested (which for the purpose of this hypothetical she is not) is enjoying the journey. Partially because she's matured faster than he has (probably, I'm guessing a bit) and partially for other reasons, but she's just got a healthier view of it combined with maybe limited or conflicted understanding of his intentions.

And so once it becomes clear that she is not interested in him "that way," these things happen.

1. The boy's worldview is shaken, perhaps devastatingly. He is not the hero. At least, not the hero that he thought he was. Somebody else is the hero. Somebody else is the hero and he is the chump. Didn't she read the story? Nobody wants this ending! The audience wants the hero to get the girl, so either the boy is not the hero or the girl is defying what's supposed to happen.

2. With the possibility of "The Goal" stripped away, all of that journey was for naught. Nevermind that the boy enjoyed all of it, loves being her friend, has fun with her as a friend, it's all tainted now, and bitter in his memory.

So as you can see, this is where it gets fucked-up and ugly. And the girl did nothing wrong here. At all. And the boy was really just following the script he'd been handed all of his life. And perhaps for the "beta" boys going after "beta" girls this is even worse - not, I repeat, not because the boy believed he was settling or lowering his standards or anything like that - but because in the epic narrative in his head he was the hero who noticed her for all of her beauty and awesomeness that nobody else could appreciate. Hell, it's wrapped up in his identity by that point. So if she rejects him romantically, she was too blind to see that he "appreciates" her in such a profound way, which is bad enough, but if she starts dating someone else, good god. That douche. That fucking guy. That guy who doesn't understand her at all and who's every action different from the boy's hypothetical actions regarding her are just proof of what an asshole he is.

And so on. Most boys hopefully shed this bullshit by the time they are men. Some don't, and that's a bit complicated because those who don't likely never got a chance to see what real relationships are like and to shift their thinking, but these guys are still fucking toxic, desperately trying to make the narrative work and dismissing women and learning PUA tactics and what in order to finally get it to work.

To finally reconcile themselves as the Hero.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:32 PM on September 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


"Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together."

It's a line from On the Road, but ever since the Hold Steady used it for an album a couple of years back, it has hovered somewhere near the front of my brain, ready to pop up in response to another apparently ceaseless discussion on the troubles boys and girls have with each other. What would the Internet be without all this? Smaller!
posted by kenlayne at 3:32 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Guys who try to take a friendly relationship with a female to the "next level", and, if rejected, take it in stride, are not.

I think a remarkable percentage of the misunderstanding here is that there are a lot of people who do not think that is okay. Do not befriend me under false pretenses. You want to go out with me, say so. You want to be friends instead, we'll be friends. Instead.

The window of opportunity was the period in between meeting and when we began socializing alone on purpose but not dating. In some situations, friend-of-friend or team or other groups, that window might be open for years, but as soon as we start going to dinner or hiking or having long talks on the phone, we are specifically either dating or not dating. The box is open and the cat is either alive or dead.

When I think we are friends and you make a move and I say, "uh, I think of you as a friend," that's not being 'friendzoned'. You were always there. If I was into you, we would not have begun socializing on purpose but not dating, we would have started dating*. If, in that window of time, I approached you to go on a date and you weren't into it, then we could move on - if desired - to socializing on purpose but not dating, because we would only be friends.

An important aspect of that is that when we are friends, I'm now trusting you to not be trying to put things in me, and in return I am not trying to put things in you or any parts of you in me. I am able to engage with you on an entirely different level once that is off the table. To enter into that with me just so later on you can try to level up is, to me, as dishonest as being friends with me in order to get money or connections.

Sometimes it doesn't work that way; many people have perfectly sweet friends-to-lovers stories, but a good one involves two people who did not have ulterior motives, and then something changed between them and they acknowledged it. That's not how it works for most people though, in the real world. It's more of a device that keeps TV shows on the air for multiple seasons.

*A weird, dated word. Take it to mean "engaging socially with the stated purpose of getting to know better/approach a romantic relationship."
posted by Lyn Never at 3:33 PM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


No good looking woman over the age of 14 (I think women learn this younger) can ever have any doubt what's going on when a dorky single guy cultivates her friendship, but while it's going on he can provide her a kind of attention that's not available from men she would date.'

Wait, so because I'm over the age of 14, I'm not allowed to be friends with dorky, single guys? When a dorky, single guy "cultivates" my friendship (by which, I assume, you mean, engages in conversations with me about topics of mutual interest, which may include shared hobbies, our personal lives, or other things that are on our minds), I assume that he wants what he is attempting to cultivate: my friendship. Just as when I cultivate his friendship, it is my hope that I will get what I'm cultivating: his friendship.

Please let me know if there's some magical signal or trick that would allow me to cultivate potential friends without risking them eventually getting angry at me (and my experiences have included several instances of borderline-violent anger) when they proposition me and I tell them that I actually do want to be friends with them, just as I've always said and otherwise indicated that I wanted. Because I'm a cool person, and I want to be friends with other cool people, some of whom happen to be dorky, single, and male.
posted by decathecting at 3:36 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


It seems like there's an excluded middle here: Wanting to be friends with somebody and also wanting to sleep with them aren't mutually exclusive.
posted by Justinian at 3:39 PM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wasn't Jack Kerouac a total womanizer?
posted by Asparagus at 3:44 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, but wanting to be friends with somebody, wanting to sleep with them, and then not wanting to be friends with them when you ask them to sleep with you and they say no are mutually exclusive. In my experience, the people who complain that someone has "friendzoned" them do not continue to want to be friends with their friends once sex is explicitly taken off the table.
posted by decathecting at 3:46 PM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, that's pretty shitty. Pretending to be friends to try to get into someone's pants is not good at all.
posted by Justinian at 3:47 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think the problem with "Friendzone" -- used very differently by MRAs and feminists of course - and "Nice Guys (TM)" etc. is that these phrases purport to pin down very murky situations, often conflating a tiny % of bad actors with "all men" or "all women."

And people think about and write blogs about and argue about these concepts, rather than the reality they're trying to describe, so it gets disconnected. But readers are mostly either women or men, so they take the discussions personally as about them.

The friend to romantic partner boundary is porous for people at all ages, including those married to other people; I defy you to find a romantic movie that doesn't explore this ambiguity as a big part of its drama. Making these big generalizations and pronouncements about it all is just spinning wheels, which splatter mud and generate friction without actually getting us anywhere.
posted by msalt at 3:49 PM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Now I figured out why my 20's were so fun for me.

Christ, I was an asshole.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:50 PM on September 6, 2013


See, now, there... I have gotten pretty good at reading signals, though not perfect at it, and have remained friends with most women I've expressed unreciprocated romantic interest in, if we were truly friends, and remained close with most of my exes. But that took a lot of time and effort for me to get there and I understand people who would rather not put themselves through that.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:50 PM on September 6, 2013


Wanting to be friends with somebody and also wanting to sleep with them aren't mutually exclusive.

No, it can be quite pleasant, as long as those are the up-front terms of the friendship. But engaging in a sexless friendship and then one day saying, actually I think sex now, yes? It's been done, for sure, and sometimes it is one of those "things changed" circumstances, but that's some super-advanced stuff that has the potential to end a good friendship.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:50 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most friendships never have terms discussed up front.
posted by Zalzidrax at 3:52 PM on September 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


I don't know, Lyn Never. It seems like a natural progression, since (in my naive view) friendship is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a good romantic relationship. Also, I don't tend to have sexy friendships with anybody outside of one partner. So all of my friendships are sexless except for the occasional one that grows into something more. Is this weird?
posted by msalt at 3:53 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the problem with "Friendzone" -- used very differently by MRAs and feminists of course - and "Nice Guys (TM)" etc. is that these phrases purport to pin down very murky situations, often conflating a tiny % of bad actors with "all men" or "all women."

I don't think anyone - here, at least - is saying that all men or all women are essentially anything. In fact, the people who have claimed such - here, at least - have been roundly rebutted.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:59 PM on September 6, 2013


See, I read that, and I think, no, when (straight) men feel rejected they get angry, because the culture tells them they have the right to any woman to whom they feel attracted. Or, really, just to any woman.

In just about every novel ever the guy who proposes to a woman and gets mad at her for turning him down is seen as a putz and is a figure of ridicule. Take Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice as representtive of the type (Mr Darcy's anger when his first proposal is turned down is, also, evidence of his unworthiness at that point of Elizabeth's hand). Our "culture" is large, complex and contrdictory but there are strong strands within it teaching men very explicitly that the man who gets angry at a woman for rejecting his advances is small minded and a fit object for her contempt.
posted by yoink at 4:03 PM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Maybe, but that ridicule and contempt don't stop men from lying to the women whom they want to sleep with and who don't want to sleep with them.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:06 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Etruscan: this entire thread is filled with people thrashing about the scope of these terms. socially awkward guys (and girls) vs. manipulative PUAs vs. explicitly faking friendship vs. not sure how you feel vs. guys who think "all women lead me on" etc.
posted by msalt at 4:07 PM on September 6, 2013


It seems like a natural progression, since (in my naive view) friendship is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a good romantic relationship.

I think it can be a natural progression, but by the same token it is not required to be one. Two people who are not-sex-having-no-romance friends ought to be able to just be that kind of friend without either (or both) of them wondering if the friendship is in fact a prelude to courtship (and many people do seem to be able to negotiate that kind of relationship just fine).
posted by rtha at 4:10 PM on September 6, 2013


In just about every novel ever the guy who proposes to a woman and gets mad at her for turning him down is seen as a putz and is a figure of ridicule. Take Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice as representtive of the type

Er...no. Mr. Collins is represented as a putz all along, and that is WHY Elizabeth rejects him. He does not suddenly become a putz when she rejects him. His refusal to accept her refusal is merely further display of the same arrogance he's had all along. /austen derail
posted by like_a_friend at 4:13 PM on September 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


"Maybe, but that ridicule and contempt don't stop men from lying to the women whom they want to sleep with and who don't want to sleep with them."

Not any more than it stops women from feigning an interest because the illusion is beneficial to herself emotionally and/or financially.
posted by cuomofied at 4:13 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


rtha: >>I think it can be a natural progression, but by the same token it is not required to be one.

Absolutely. The default is remaining just friends, until someone makes a move. I was responding to Lyn Never, who said that if you've been non-sexy friends, that puts romance "off the table".
posted by msalt at 4:20 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


To me, dating is friendship with terms. It's basically saying "let's be social with an eye to something besides a baseline friendship." Maybe you end up never really getting off the ground, or maybe you end up hooking up not in a long-term sense, but that's the door that was open from the get-go. The natural progression to a romantic/sexual relationship is free to occur then, rather than a natural progression to a platonic relationship.

I do think it's super weird, and uncomfortable, with someone who's never previously even knocked on the door wants me to 180 my feelings.

I think a lot of people wish relationships could happen by osmosis, without ever having to talk or admit feelings or be brave, and so really like this idea of "we'll just haaaaang out for a year and then I'll see", but if you're the only one who knows that's the plan, the chances are really high that the other person is not going to read your mind and wait for you or "naturally progress" to being into you.

I was responding to Lyn Never, who said that if you've been non-sexy friends, that puts romance "off the table".

Yes, I'm saying that is true for me, and that I'm not alone in that.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:22 PM on September 6, 2013


Like a Friend, I have a fine opinion of many over 14 year old women I know. They date or are married to very nice men in most cases, no small portion of whom are dorks who understood you have to ask out a woman you want to date, but a romantic partner is always going to require things from you that a single male (obstensibly) platonic friend wil not. There's nothing at all wrong with enjoying that NSA (seeming) friendship, but there's also a certain inevitability about the outcome. No point in complaining when you lose at Powerball.

Decathating, your question seems to be its own answer. Why after your terrible experiences with inexcusably badly behaving men would you keep looking for what isn't likely to be there? Find your dorky male friends among those with girlfriends.
posted by MattD at 4:33 PM on September 6, 2013


Er...no. Mr. Collins is represented as a putz all along, and that is WHY Elizabeth rejects him. He does not suddenly become a putz when she rejects him. His refusal to accept her refusal is merely further display of the same arrogance he's had all along. /austen derail

You misunderstood my point. I wasn't saying that anger at rejection is used as a way of revealing hitherto unsuspected dickishness, I was saying that it is behavior that is associated with dicks--like Mr. Collins.
posted by yoink at 4:37 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Slight aside... I always feel that there's an uncomfortable undercurrent that sex considered as a even part of a decision making process somehow makes that decision sullied and impure. And that really kind of bothers me.

For example, if two acquaintances of mine (single guy) invite me to do something one night, one of whom is into guys, and the other of whom isn't, am I morally obligated to avoid temptation and accept the offer of the second? Am I a bad person if everything else is equal, and use the fact that the first offer might be a step toward a sexual relationship as a tiebreaker?

If I can choose to stay in for a night by myself or go out and be sociable, should I ignore the fact that if I'm sociable, I might run into someone I am sexually compatible with? And if that is the one thing that decides between the two, does that make me evil and manipulative?
posted by Zalzidrax at 4:37 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another good novelistic example would be Trollope's Can You Forgive Her. George Vavasor's fury at being rejected by Alice stands in deeply pointed contrast to John Grey's response. Grey insists that he will remain Alice's friend if she will allow it, and continues to work, unbeknownst to her, for her happiness, while George Vavasor indulges in fantasies of murdering her. It's pretty clear we're meant to see the "friendzoned" John Grey as noble and a role model and to see George Vavasor as unfit for human society. Of course, eventually Alice learns to see things this way, too. Reader, she marries him.
posted by yoink at 4:46 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that's pretty shitty. Pretending to be friends to try to get into someone's pants is not good at all.

Bingo!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:48 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Decathating, your question seems to be its own answer. Why after your terrible experiences with inexcusably badly behaving men would you keep looking for what isn't likely to be there? Find your dorky male friends among those with girlfriends.

Because I'm not a bigot? I've had a few friends in the past who have behaved inexcusably. Those people are no longer my friends. I also have many friends, some of whom are single and some of whom are not, who are wonderful people who would never think of treating me poorly. Those friends, when they have feelings, choose to talk about those feelings or otherwise deal with them in nonviolent, non-blaming ways. I'm certainly not going to give up those friendships, and I'm not going to avoid trying to make new friends, because some of my former friends have behaved terribly.

I should also add that one of the men who screamed at me when I turned down an invitation to sex was, at the time, in a relationship. What the former friends who have been awful to me have in common wasn't that they were single (not all of them were), or even that they were men (I've certainly known of female-female friendships that have ended over badly handled unrequited crushes); it's that they were awful to me. And I don't know of any way of identifying in advance who is going to be awful to me at some point down the line, unfortunately.

I have no idea what you mean when you say that platonic friendships have "a certain inevitability about the outcome." I hope you don't mean to say that I can't ever have lifelong platonic friendships with people who also like to date women, because since I'm a woman, they're going to "require things" from me sexually that I'm not interested in participating in. Because that's a pretty terrible accusation to make against some of my dearest friends. My friendships with all sorts of people, male and female, married and single, gay and straight, are almost always awesome. A few have ended badly. I'm not going to hold those bad endings against my other friends who happen to share certain demographic characteristics with my jerky ex-friends. Because that would make me an asshole. But again, I'm hoping that I'm misunderstanding what you wrote there.
posted by decathecting at 4:49 PM on September 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


Youn are misreading me. One of the nice things about platonic friends is that they don't need the things that romantic partners, even the best of them, require. It's natural to enjoy that. But it's simply mathematically unreasonable to expect that a single man, not adept at social norms, is going aggressively to pursue a very close friendship with an attractive woman with nothing but platonic hopes. A partnered man doing that is a separate issue altogether.
posted by MattD at 5:01 PM on September 6, 2013


There's nothing at all wrong with enjoying that NSA (seeming) friendship, but there's also a certain inevitability about the outcome.

Boy howdy, I guess I just have to wait for my 20 year "seeming" friendship with a dude to INEVITABLY implode because vagina. Any day now, I am quite sure. Aaaaaaaaaany day now. There is no way whatsoever that he simply values me as a person, because vaginas.

That you cannot see how utterly insulting your implications are with that phrase "(seeming) friendship" --insulting to me, insulting to all women, insulting to the men who are in fact our actual human friends and not scheming sex fiends-- makes me despair for continuing this conversation, so I won't.
posted by like_a_friend at 5:06 PM on September 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


But it's simply mathematically unreasonable to expect that a single man, not adept at social norms, is going aggressively to pursue a very close friendship with an attractive woman with nothing but platonic hopes.

This is some weird "men are all sex mad beasts" 1950s shit. There are plenty of socially awkward single men who will form friendships with women who, attractive as they may be to most, don't happen to light any particular fire for that guy. Not all men are constantly trying to get into every woman's pants--or only restrained therefrom by the "ball and chain" of being in a relationship with someone else. There are plenty who, you know, just fucking well like people--male and female.
posted by yoink at 5:08 PM on September 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


Like a Friend, I have a fine opinion of many over 14 year old women I know. They date or are married to very nice men in most cases, no small portion of whom are dorks who understood you have to ask out a woman you want to date, but a romantic partner is always going to require things from you that a single male (obstensibly) platonic friend wil not. There's nothing at all wrong with enjoying that NSA (seeming) friendship, but there's also a certain inevitability about the outcome. No point in complaining when you lose at Powerball.

You do realize, right, that this sounds like you're saying the only reason that you're not interested in pursuing relationships with these women is because they're already otherwise partnered, but if they weren't, it'd be "inevitable"?

Because I feel like warning all those 14 men to keep an eye on you or something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:11 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: I agree it's a horrible way to argue. That's why it's not what I did.

I originally responded to this comment with a quote (semi-mysteriously deleted by the mods) of this earlier comment of yours. I suppose now that I was reading you uncharitably before, and that we have here something of a double misreading -- note that jeffburdges was specifically referring to the article on the FPP, which you presumably didn't pick up on before saying he's just wrong on what's being discussed, and then I assumed you knew he was talking specifically about the article and that you were making stuff up about said article when in fact you were presumably referring to other branches of the discussion.
posted by Anything at 5:13 PM on September 6, 2013


Anything: I knew he was talking about the article. But I also understood that he thought I was ALSO talking about the article, and was trying to explain to him that I was NOT talking about the article. Instead, I was talking about the thing the article was itself making fun of.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:16 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Youn are misreading me. One of the nice things about platonic friends is that they don't need the things that romantic partners, even the best of them, require. It's natural to enjoy that. But it's simply mathematically unreasonable to expect that a single man, not adept at social norms, is going aggressively to pursue a very close friendship with an attractive woman with nothing but platonic hopes. A partnered man doing that is a separate issue altogether.

I had a long comment written out, but I deleted it, because I realized that my experience and yours are fundamentally different in such a way that I'm not sure I'm ever going to understand your point of view. I have absolutely no idea what "math" has to do with expecting my friends to treat me in a friendly manner. And I don't think I care to understand your point of view, because to the extent that I do understand it, I find it frightening and insulting to me and people I care about.

All I'll say is that I really hope you're honest with people you meet about your opinions on this topic, because your honesty would help people who believe as I do to avoid accidentally trying to become friends with people who believe as you do, and vice versa.
posted by decathecting at 5:21 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Having read through the comments, all I can say is that there's an awful lot of ingenuity invested in justifications for treating women as means rather than ends. It's really not, ethically, a complicated issue, despite all the complications of a brutal patriarchy that surround it. Everyone you choose to spend time with should be your friend, because you should value giving things to them as much as getting things from them.

All the "men and women are different" justifications are patriarchy and misogyny at work. While on a conceptual level it is obvious that the objectification of women preserves itself through the tactic of...objectifying women, it's pretty depressing to see quite so many examples here.
posted by howfar at 5:24 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wanting to be friends with somebody and also wanting to sleep with them aren't mutually exclusive.

No, it can be quite pleasant, as long as those are the up-front terms of the friendship. But engaging in a sexless friendship and then one day saying, actually I think sex now, yes? It's been done, for sure, and sometimes it is one of those "things changed" circumstances, but that's some super-advanced stuff that has the potential to end a good friendship.


So for a good long while there I was Pining Silently Over You And Look I Wrote A Poem No Haha It's Not About You Hahaha yesitis Guy. I genuinely have no idea how many relationships I failed to have because I didn't say or do anything, but yeah, there was a lot of "how come she can't tell I loooooooove her?" going on, and it was real dumb.

Then somewhere around the middle of college, and I really don't remember how this happened, but it suddenly occurred to me, oh, maybe I should just tell people when I'm interested in them. Lightbulb! Eureka! So I did, with this woman whom I knew through friends, and she gently and politely declined, and I said, oh, well, that does suck, but that's way better than all that pining bullshit, let's do this more.

So then, when I got back to school, I invited out one of the few women in my close social circle, and over hamburgers, I confidently deployed my new strategy of telling people when I liked them. And she freaked out and almost literally ran away. Huh. What?

Well, it turns out if you've been friends with someone for three years and then you suddenly spring on them "actually I've wanted you this whole time and I just learned how to say that so that's ok right sex now", it isn't ok. Especially if, unbeknownst to you, two of your other friends had independently done the same thing that week, one of them earlier that day. Whoops. We are assholes, and now I am an asshole with one less good friend.

But it's simply mathematically unreasonable to expect that a single man, not adept at social norms, is going aggressively to pursue a very close friendship with an attractive woman with nothing but platonic hopes.

I'm sorry, it's mathematically unreasonable? Like, the circumference of my presumed ulterior motives is 2πR?
posted by Errant at 5:24 PM on September 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


*sigh* It's always the woman's fault.
posted by _paegan_ at 5:41 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Again I just see so much rigid ideological compartmentalization going on in this debate.

Humans are primates are mammals are sexual beings. We have complex minds that have purely organic instinctual drives that give us a range of standard primate capacities and perversities, underneath a profoundly powerful (and exponentially adaptive) cognitive capacity to abstract and model the world in conscious or semi-conscious ways, primarily through language, and between those two (abstracted) capacities lies a huge zone of competing drives, wishes, desires, intentions, unconscious and intuitive understandings, self-perceptions (and self-deceptions), fears, and much much more.

We confuse maps with territory here a lot in discussions of matters on which many of us have strong feelings or issues for which we consider ourselves to be activists in everything we say and do. We have personal perspectives and histories we bring to the discussion, and we have our (disembodied, and it matters) gendered voices to claim authority or victimization (a word I do not mean as snark) or simply perspective.

It is likely that at some deep biochemical level, no two humans are ever in physical proximity without some activation of their sexual minds, their hormones, their socialized desires and repulsions, their secret crushes, their physiological response to touch or tenderness. I don't think sexual attraction and friendship are necessarily all that separable even if they are distinguishable and subject to intentional control with respect to behavior.

The word missing from the conversation, for me, is "love." Speaking from my own male perspective, and thinking about my friendships with women over the course of my life, I feel something is missing from this discussion (and would be similarly missing from a female perspective, if I may project as best I can, how I think my women friends might think about those same friendships). One doesn't need a language of suppressed intention, or transference and sublimation, or rules of explicitness, to negotiate this terrain as an adult, most of the time. To me, that's the essence of gender equality, and why having it in the workplace or the educational setting, or any other setting, is so *good* for everyone involved, men and women alike. Remember, patriarchy damages men too. Their hurts (our hurts) don't outweigh the harm patriarchy does to women, but you can't command a change in structures that are cemented with centuries of shame, anxiety, and institutional control.

Everyone has their history to tell. But a world in which the deep, complex, and rewarding spectrum of ways men and women can communicate with, learn from, support, and care for one another can get reduced to the sort of binary thinking where you either fish as a friend or cut bait as a suitor leaves out the possibility that love is a many splendored thing, that relationships evolve and change over time, that we are all attracted to each other in multifaceted ways and that not all attraction is directly linked to sexual desire, that sexuality is not the only domain in which love is expressed, but also that it is human to experience sexual attraction in the context of many kinds of interaction and equally human to endeavor to act on such attractions according to ethical principles and cultural norms, and that "Platonic" relationships come in many flavors and change over time.
posted by spitbull at 5:50 PM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Spitbull: I would posit that there is an even more important word than "love" missing from this equation - "respect."

"Love" can be complicated. You know and I know that it is possible to love someone platonically as well as romantically - but in this particular discussion, it may be all too easy for people to mistake one kind of "love" for another - agape gets mixed with platonic gets mixed with eros gets mixed with...And the danger is that if you're under the thrall of one kind of love, it's reeeeeal easy to convince yourself that you're acting under the influence of a very different kind of love instead, and things run the risk of getting conflicted.

"Respect," though, is something else again. I can be as love-addled over a guy as it is possible for me to get - but if I respect him as a person, if I respect his right to go about his business and associate with whom he pleases in precisely the way he feels comfortable, and I know that he share my emotions, then my respect for him is what makes me keep that to myself. (And, maybe, my respect for myself is what finally tells me that "you know what, maybe you should keep your distance from this guy for your OWN good until this is out of your system.")

You know? When you love someone, but it's a mistaken idea of love, you run the risk of trying only to please yourself; but if you act out of respect for someone, that already puts you in a place of considering their own perspective as well as yours, and acting accordingly.

And this, maybe, is what is frustrating things in this discussion so much. The men who do complain about the whole "friendzone" thing may love their desired with what they think is the most purest of loves, but they don't respect their intended women; they don't take their intended women's perspective into account at all. If they did, I wager their behavior would have been very, very different. Same too, with the argument that hooking up with your female friends is an "inevitable" outcome - it strikes me that if you truly respect another person as a person, that you wouldn't dream of saying that a particular outcome in your relationship with them is "inevitable" just by virtue of their gender, before you've spent years getting to know them as a person.

You can have respect without love. But in my books, you absolutely can't - and I dare say shouldn't - have love without respect.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:07 PM on September 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


"The word missing from the conversation, for me, is "love.""

Something that I was going to comment on was how a significant amount of narratives around male-female hetero interaction all conflate emotional and physical intimacy.

(I also think that a lot of the betrayal feelings come from sharing emotional intimacy and then finding out that physical intimacy was what the person was after all along.)
posted by klangklangston at 6:27 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Empress, I'm down with that formulation. "Respect" is one of those facets of "love" I'm talking about.

I guess I'm trying to suggest that we shouldn't generalize the rather specific demographic and contextual framing of this OP and most of the subsequent discussion here too quickly as a framework that encompasses the myriad possible forms of male/female friendship. Among other things, as I read some of the comments above and reflected on women I've considered cherished friends for 10, 20, 30, or in one case 40 years, I kept saying to myself "wait until you're older before you get so sure of yourself." You can get off my lawn anytime too ; )

I think it is indisputably the case that boys and men exploit the framework of "friendship" as a means of pursuing sexual success, and so do girls and women. I am unsurprised, both because I have experienced it myself on all sides of the equation, and because I have an evolution-driven (to be clear, not exactly an evolutionary psychological) view of such matters (with apologies to nadawi) in that I see all human behaviors and cultural institutions as ultimately shaped by the same forces that shape the history of all life on earth, namely competition for reproductive success at an individual organism level, and adaptation to novel environmental challenges at a species level. As an anthropologist (and here is where I differ from ev psych) I think humans are equipped with a unique capacity to inherit acquired adaptations through the primary adaptation of language/culture and the concomitant evolution of consciousness, mind, and agency. We can, as I think nadawi put it above, "overcome that shit every day . . ." as part of "being in society." ANd that is exactly what society does.

Society does not stand still, of course, and we are in a period of thrilling and rapid change in the norms of gendered behavior and balance of power in many spheres. Society is changing in other ways too, that affect the range of possible intimate relationships between people. "Friendship" is not a static category, and nor for that matter is "love" or "sexuality." Much of the dynamism in those institutions in fact is driven by the gains of the feminist movement in western society.

Underneath we are still primates, and we are hardwired to elaborate on and explore the possibilities of (and game) the social as well as the natural environments and structures we inhabit. It's necessary to make these things explicit in order to address them and institute changes in many levels of society, from the institutional to the psychological, over generations. Nothing I have said has been meant to defend any sort of behavior by males in friendships with females, and I join the general condemnation of disingenuous and ultimately dishonest and (indeed) disrespectful forms of "friendship" that have an underlying instrumental goal that is not understood equally by both parties.

But it is the meaning of "friendship" as such that interests me here more. I think if you foreclose the necessity of *struggling* with the forces of attraction at work in cross-gender friendships, by treating such forces as transparently explicit and conscious and intentional in all contexts, you foreclose the development of the institution of such friendships.
posted by spitbull at 6:38 PM on September 6, 2013


Umm, this article lays out an explicit scenario, EmpressCallipygos. There are no references to anyone leading anyone on in the text.

The only trope here is the "guy loses interest and walks away when girl rejects him", nothing more, nothing less. Does he bitch and moan about all women to his guys friends? I donno, that's not stated or relevant.

There is definitely a world wide problem with society blaming male sexual desires on women, complete with extraordinarily repressive behaviors in Islamic or Christian societies, but that makes no appearance here.

Yes, the title alludes to PUA mythology, but.. Afaik PUAs are not supposed to accuse anyone of anything. Instead PUAs are supposed to use people. Is using people bad? Yes if they could do it, but, like chakras or prayer, their technique do not work, except as a healing from damage done by whatever causes their pre-existing creeper behavior. Is an in-actionable desire to use people bad in an of itself? Only mildly so, it's as bad as believing in Jesus probably, mostly harmless. It's certainly far less bad than the vague threat and fear created by creeper behavior.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:03 PM on September 6, 2013


Jeff: I have tried three times now to explain to you that the comments you asked me about were not found in the article, but were rather used to describe the trope which the article is parodying.

It's like, suppose the article was about the lyrics to Weird Al's song Eat It, but then people went on to talk about Beat It instead. Right now you're doing the equivalent of asking me to point out where Weird Al sings "show them how funky and strong is your fight".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:19 PM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


"The only trope here is the "guy loses interest and walks away when girl rejects him", nothing more, nothing less. Does he bitch and moan about all women to his guys friends? I donno, that's not stated or relevant. "

It's implied in the word "friendzoned." It's a cluster of behavior; a trope. This blog post satirizes that trope. Perhaps if you are not familiar with the trope, you could take some time to reread the comments here. Many of them outline the general patterns of the trope, "friendzoned."
posted by klangklangston at 7:24 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I also think that a lot of the betrayal feelings come from sharing emotional intimacy and then finding out that physical intimacy was what the person was after all along.

You're absolutely right, but it's more - it's that if physical intimacy was what they were after all along, and they were lying about it, how can you trust that the emotional intimacy was untainted?
posted by corb at 7:42 PM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: I've attempted a response several times, but this was the best way I could phrase it, sorry if it's off-putting: Let's say you have action x. Action x is often done for bad reasons. We all agree that's bad. When x is done for bad reasons, it's because of misogynistic intentions and beliefs y and z.

However, it's possible to do x for neutral reasons. Evil otto, I presume, doesn't think you are allowing for this possibility. Maybe he's wrong! But operating under that belief, evil otto is pointing out that if x is done for neutral reasons, then it doesn't indicate y or z.

Let's let evil otto come back and clarify whether that's what he meant.


Since evil otto favorited my comment, I think it's safe to stipulate he endorsers my clarification. Not that I needed any special knowledge of his thought process, I just broke down his plain language.

However, YOU seem to feel that it is possible to do action x for neutral reasons. Can you clarify exactly what "neutral reasons" there would be for the behavior we're describing?

Well, let's be exactly clear what the "behavior we're describing" is, because it seems it's been shifted several times. I am not talking about complaining about friendzoning or blaming women for not acceding to the sexual or emotional desires of men.

The behavior that both I and evil otto have talked about is not pursuing/continuing a friendship after being rejection emotionally, or "ghosting" as described above. You seemed to not allow for the possibility that one can just absent themselves without having misogynistic reasons with this comment here.

I have described "neutral" reasons for doing so several times in this thread: here, here, here, here and here.
posted by spaltavian at 8:02 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Except the behavior described is precisely "guy loses interest and walks away when girl rejects him", modulo the girl complaining about him not answering her calls, when stereotypically she'd be complaining about him not calling her.

All the friendzone and PUA references are window dressing attempting to draw a parallel that may or may not work, or may not even be meant to work. They aren't actually what the text of the article is about at all. The author just wants you to think about them concurrently with her story, which I did.

I'm familiar with the notion of "friendzoned" of course. It's another piece of social mythology we employ to get guys to accept that they've no chance with the object of their unrequited desires and to move on to greener pastures. It's a little grey lie, like santa clause. The story appearing in the article involves a guy doing it relatively right, either with or without the aid of such little lies.

I suspect you're all just wanting to complain about people who talk about the "friendzone" online. Well, those are damaged people trying to share their weirdo self-help techniques with similarly damaged people. Like it or not, nobody else is offering those people any help.

I'm not criticizing you for laughing at them, well I giggle at them too, I lol'd at tardblog, etc. I wouldn't claim that laughing at them outweighs the story actually told by the article though.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:10 PM on September 6, 2013


I suppose what bothers me here is : We've no actual evidence from the story that said guys embraced the friendzone or PUA mythology to help them cut contact with the narrator. We're passing judgment upon the male characters based upon the title without any real evidence put forward. I'd laugh along with everyone else at the social misfits embracing silly ideas *if* we only knew that's what they actually were. But the author never says so.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:14 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I read this article and thought it was a funny lampoon of a certain type of guy and I laughed.

And then I read this thread and now I am confused.

I understand that I understand nothing.

Now I'm just waiting for the Aliens to come so I can go with them.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:27 PM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


We've no actual evidence from the story

I assumed the story was a satirical twist on the Nice Guy trope, as told from the point of view of the woman the Nice Guy was acting friend-like toward in order to sleep with. Do you have some reason to believe that the story is actually a hard-hitting factual exposé that didn't properly credit its sources?
posted by palomar at 8:33 PM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


the burden of proof women face has never so laughable than guys demanding that we know exactly what sort of man is being discussed in a humor piece before we decide if we want to believe the woman's version of events in an obviously fictional blog post.
posted by nadawi at 8:34 PM on September 6, 2013 [27 favorites]


Umm, the guys described in the story behaved appropriately : They walked away. The only connection lies outside the story.

Anyways, I see that the story is incidental to the authors point, which is that : Women don't say this particular stuff about men. Yes, that's true.

Awful lot of miss-information out there for everyone though, witness magazines like Cosmo. All fair game for mockery though of course. :)
posted by jeffburdges at 9:04 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not criticizing you for laughing at them, well I giggle at them too, I lol'd at tardblog, etc. I wouldn't claim that laughing at them outweighs the story actually told by the article though.

What on earth do you mean by this? The "story told by the article" is not actually a story, it is itself a way to laugh at the friendzone/pua guys. Did you not know that?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:22 PM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


i'm reading through the thread now, but want to respond to this:

How many of them were never seriously considered as a potential mate?

simply considering your friends as potential "mate"[s] (presumably, life partner?) is not inherently a bad thing. if you get along so well with someone, why not at least consider the possibility of the two of you doing more things than you currently do, if you both agree, when you're on the same page.

the world might be a better place if more people considered "hmm, i'm not initially physically attracted to this person, but is something about their personality able to tip the scales?"
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:55 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just dropping in to say that spaltavian and Anything totally got what I was trying to put across.

I feel like I should be more active in this discussion, but I already said everything I needed to say.

Apologies to Empress Callipygos. It sounds like somebody hurt you, and that's always a shit sandwich. I've been hurt, too. It sucks.
posted by evil otto at 11:54 PM on September 6, 2013


"Except the behavior described is precisely "guy loses interest and walks away when girl rejects him", modulo the girl complaining about him not answering her calls, when stereotypically she'd be complaining about him not calling her."

Yes, and sometimes you have to bring outside cultural knowledge in order to get the joke. The joke is on the trope; knowledge of the trope is assumed. So, no, as "nice guy" and "friendzone" are the targets, the behavior is not "described precisely" as you have described it, and complaining that the detail was left out is obtuse.

And comparing it to laughing at tardblog? You know that interpersonal romantic behavior is something we're largely responsible for ourselves, which is kinda different from being retarded, right?
posted by klangklangston at 12:11 AM on September 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: What on earth do you mean by this? The "story told by the article" is not actually a story, it is itself a way to laugh at the friendzone/pua guys. Did you not know that?

Please, note that there are several people in the thread at least from this comment on who indeed read one part of the article not merely as a satirical turnaround of the bitter friendzone attitude, but as a straight complaint (which they agree with) about men who leave a friendship after their romantic feelings have been rejected, and you yourself have joined the debate that has followed from these comments.

Given the above, I don't feel it's accurate to treat your reading as the simply obvious one. At the very least, you're not disagreeing merely with jeffburdges.
posted by Anything at 12:22 AM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


klangklangston: The joke is on the trope; knowledge of the trope is assumed.

You speak of "the trope" with a certainty, as if it's obviously this one precisely defined thing that anyone could look up on Urban Dictionary or Wikipedia. I don't think that's true at all. Like "patriarchy," "friendzone" and "nice guy" are terms with a fairly specific ideological meaning to one or two smaller chunks of the population, and a very different but seemingly intuitive meaning to the general public.

To a well-studied feminist, it's a given that patriarchy is a social order that many if not all participate in, women as well as men, to various degrees. But to the general reader, it means men -- perhaps a subset of mostly older men and frat assholes -- doing shit to women through their control of society.

And a lot of the failure of these discussions to get anywhere, IMHO, is people talking past each other because they mean different things by these terms. To most readers, "friendzone" means its surface meaning, a guy being acceptable as a friend to a woman but not qualifying for romantic interest. Obviously there is such a thing, or something roughly like that. People here are taking it to mean "the false reality described by the most bitter segment of Nice Guys (tm) who complain that women only like assholes," or something like that, and a similar problem is occurring. IMHO
posted by msalt at 12:47 AM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure how to say this without totally fucking this up, but when I was young, awkward, shy and what-not, I didn't really desire sex as such so much from women as I desired romance (for an unrealistic, uh, romanticized, definition of romance, untempered by the real world).

This doesn't make the situations described in the thread any better, ultimately, but I feel this might be the motivator for some men who do this. It's not any less pathetic, but if I had done this when I was 20 (that would have required close women friends, ahem) the motivations would have been more "wow, maybe this is someone who doesn't think I'm a loser, what with this friendship and all--maybe she'll love me, want to hang out with me, go places with me, even, gosh, do other things." Being in that spot, self-esteem-wise, is like looking at a chart of the earth's gravity well with you standing at the bottom holding a week-old birthday balloon.

I dunno. I want to be charitable to the idiots like young me because their motivations are more complex than just wanting sex, and that feels less manipulative, but ultimately it all looks (and feels) the same to the unfortunate woman involved, so who knows.
posted by maxwelton at 2:18 AM on September 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


the world might be a better place if more people considered "hmm, i'm not initially physically attracted to this person, but is something about their personality able to tip the scales?"

That is what women think a lot. Mainly out of a socialised dread of hurting others' (particularly men's) feeling. It is terrible advice. That way lies divorce.
posted by billiebee at 4:45 AM on September 7, 2013 [16 favorites]


I want to be charitable to the idiots like young me because their motivations are more complex than just wanting sex, and that feels less manipulative, but ultimately it all looks (and feels) the same to the unfortunate woman involved, so who knows.

I think there's a lot of truth in what you say, but I think it's also worth noting that "romance", of the type you describe, itself typically functions as a form of objectification. It's why the Manic Pixie Dream Girl stock character is so offensive. We end up seeing people, particularly women, as objects to be acted upon or acquired, rather than actors in their own right. I think what your comment highlights is an issue msalt raised directly above it: patriarchy isn't a simple product of men being dicks, it's a pervasive and insidious structuring of human interactions that functions to constitute those interactions in an abusive manner. The prime opportunity and responsibility for resisting this, however, lies with men, despite the fact that women are, at this point in time, actually doing most of the work on that front.
posted by howfar at 4:56 AM on September 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Apologies to Empress Callipygos. It sounds like somebody hurt you, and that's always a shit sandwich. I've been hurt, too. It sucks.

EC's responses aren't because she's been "hurt" and so she's lashing out or some bullshit like that. i'm not going to say much more because it seems like the menz have fully taken over this thread and we're being encouraged to just think about the guys feelings more as if we're not well fucking versed in that particular instruction.
posted by nadawi at 5:52 AM on September 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


Given the above, I don't feel it's accurate to treat your reading as the simply obvious one. At the very least, you're not disagreeing merely with jeffburdges.

also, there is nothing contradictory about this piece being a somewhat straight complaint and also not being a factual story where the participants needs to be exactly defined, so trying to say that EC is disagreeing with the other women here is bs. i frankly don't know how she hung out in this thread as long as she did. next time people complain about the girl-zone we can point them here to see the boy-zone is still alive and well.
posted by nadawi at 5:56 AM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


the world might be a better place if more people considered "hmm, i'm not initially physically attracted to this person, but is something about their personality able to tip the scales?"

No.

No it would not.

Because you say "people", but what I am hearing from your sentence is "women", right? The bullshit trope that is written by men, for men, where the shlub guy is so nice that he totally deserves the smoking hot lady, who should really just look past the surface, but god forbid that guy should look at a homely lady, because who wants to see that, amirite?

Women are people with their own needs, and we have the right to our own sexual desire that "nice" is not an alternate ticket for.
posted by corb at 6:33 AM on September 7, 2013 [23 favorites]


oh
   my
      GOD
My fellow men of MetaFilter, this isn't hard. Is not. Hard. This really isn't that hard, it's not difficult at all, so take it from me, who is a man, who has hit on women and everything, super impressive guys, that you are embarrassing the fuck out of yourselves and the rest of us right here.

Look, romance? It's not in some special category, or "zone", which is somehow exclusive from friendship, or lust, or limerence, or whatever else it is that you feel about other human beings. If anything, it's a concentration of feelings: you feel so many things so strongly about somebody that you feel there is a special intimacy between what you two people have. Super simple! Whoopee! Buy my book!

The notion of "pursuing a romantic affair" at the expense of friendship, as in, "oh, I didn't want to be friends, I just wanted to have a romantic with you", is antithetical to the nature of romance. If you're so hellbent on romantics-ing a woman that her rejection means you can't be friends with her, you probably were not her friend at all. And that means you probably should not have been trying to have a romance with her either.

EXCEPTION TO THIS RULE: you are fifteen, your favorite band is Simple Plan, and the way the sunlight catches her smile reflects upon the impermanence of all things. I was there too, once. It is really okay. After that you need to learn how to treat women like they're people, or else you will come off as looking like an ass on MetaFilter, and that is the worst fate anybody can possibly suffer.

"But I don't need friends, I am looking for a romance!" YOU FOOL! As romance is the result of concentrated emotions and intimacies, the more friends you have, the likelier it is that you obtain yourself one! I found my girlfriend hiding in a field amidst 15 or so of my closest friends, we were all walking to Wawa's having a good time and she gave me a look that was like IT LOOKS LIKE YOU ARE ABOUT TO BE MY BOYFRIEND. It was like Athena springing fully-grown from Zeus's head, where Athena is romance and Zeus is a bunch of good friends who you know you're already compatible with. Actually, I've never dated a girl without being friends with her friends first. It saves a lot of time and is really convenient!

I have tried to date girls that I knew nothing about, on account of how much I wanted to romantics them. It worked approximately zero of the time. It turns out that my desire to have somebody be my ideal romantic partner has nothing to do with whether or not they are! I pretty much don't talk to those people anymore, and it is entirely my fault, because I wasn't friends with them to begin with. I was pretending for the sake of maybe we can has intimacy now plz. That's not how it works.

Yes it feels bad when nobody is being your significant other, and I do feel sad for all the sad boys who are doing it wrong. But maybe they would be less sad if they stopped acting in ways that ruin everything for everybody, and more happy if they took on an approach that entailed, like, friendship and happiness and less intense forms of intimacy? Some of my closest friends are women that I totally had a thing for and are gorgeous etc., but who are also really excellent people and it turns out we can be crazy close to one another without any sort of romance involved. Because people are great. And now it seems weird that I expended all that time losing close friends and trying to force friendship with people I didn't know, because it turns out that just spending time with people you like is actually the quickest way to obtain romance and intimacy and all that cool stuff.

In conclusion,

1) people are great,
2) dating is low-risk,
3) don't make a big deal out of it!
4) But also don't do the thing where you befriend a woman just to drop her if she's not exactly into you, because it's really shitty for the woman involved and tells her that basically you only value her as a romantic prospect, which pretty obviously means you were only in this to fuck her and that your friendship with her barely counted. And remember that I'm a guy, so you can't pretend like you meant otherwise! I'm in tune with the guy hivemind! I know what this process is actually like!

(So do all the women here too, obviously, but I guess we're doing the thing where we pretend like guys are super deep and complex and women are all ignorant fools? Kind of rude, guys. How about we all count to three and then cut that the fuck out?)
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:53 AM on September 7, 2013 [60 favorites]


I don't think you should even be permitted to be a teenage boy without reading that Rory Marinich comment.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:00 AM on September 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


"To most readers, "friendzone" means its surface meaning, a guy being acceptable as a friend to a woman but not qualifying for romantic interest."

We uh sort of call that being friends, where I come from.

Related:

http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=4370
http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=4373
posted by XtinaS at 7:03 AM on September 7, 2013


(I'd like to add as a disclaimer that I never liked Simple Plan, even at fifteen.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:04 AM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm starting to think that my being raised with a bunch of older sisters has given me an advantage and perspective that I'm now learning is highly uncommon.

Because it seriously sounds like there are a number of adult males who still cannot fully process being friends with a woman without considering the possibility of sex. I honestly cannot fathom how frustrating that must be.

One of my best friends since high school is a lady, and is easily one of the prettiest people I've ever seen. I gave her away at her wedding, and I teared up when I watched her marry the man she loved, because she is my *friend* and I love and value her as a *person*, irrespective of her looks and gender.

I would find it insulting that boys would decry me as 'friendzoned' or 'beta' for that, but mostly I am perplexed that they don't have the capacity to actually connect with women as actual people, vs. frustrated gatekeepers that just need to come to their 'senses'. You're missing out.

(on preview: what Rory said, damn.)
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:08 AM on September 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Or, you know, what Rory said.
posted by XtinaS at 7:09 AM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm starting to think that my being raised with a bunch of older sisters

Yeah, I wonder how much that factors in. I have older sisters and older female cousins and it just never occurred to me growing up that you couldn't have friends-who-were-girls who weren't "girlfriends" (whether actually or prospectively). There's something bizarrely sleazy in the idea of a guy going through the list of all his female friends in his head thinking "Oh yeah, she wants me, and she wants me, and I'm pretty sure I've got a shot with her..." Bleaagh.
posted by yoink at 7:22 AM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I found my girlfriend hiding in a field amidst 15 or so of my closest friends, we were all walking to Wawa's having a good time and she gave me a look that was like IT LOOKS LIKE YOU ARE ABOUT TO BE MY BOYFRIEND. It was like Athena springing fully-grown from Zeus's head, where Athena is romance and Zeus is a bunch of good friends who you know you're already compatible with. Actually, I've never dated a girl without being friends with her friends first. It saves a lot of time and is really convenient!

Yeah, thisthisthis a thousand times this. It's not that I haven't dated friends, I totally have. I even married one! But I have never dated a single guy that became friends with me only because he already wanted to date me. Because those guys inherently suck and turn out not to wind up being your closest friend anyway.
posted by corb at 7:24 AM on September 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's something bizarrely sleazy in the idea of a guy going through the list of all his female friends in his head thinking "Oh yeah, she wants me, and she wants me, and I'm pretty sure I've got a shot with her..."

After a particularly bad break-up, one of my roommates invited a friend over, got really stoned, and went browsing through the Facebook pages of the incoming freshmen girls of his major. Just, you know, looking for prospects.

At one point I suggested that maybe there was something icky about doing that and he screamed and threatened to kick me out of the apartment, so I didn't bring it up again. I took his TV when I left, though.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:26 AM on September 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Apologies to Empress Callipygos. It sounds like somebody hurt you, and that's always a shit sandwich.

Er....no, I haven't been "hurt" in the way you are assuming. The understanding I have of this trope is entirely because I am a human being who is capable of empathy with other people.

I have not had anyone treat me this way, but i am possessed of enough imagination to imagine what it would feel like, and I am possessed of enough compassion to want to figure out what it would feel like. So no, it hasn't happened to me, but I can imagine that I would find it unpleasant if it did.

If something like this did happen to you, then I can't imagine why you're not understanding why others may also not like it happening to them either. I'm also baffled why you've come to the conclusion that the only way I must have a stake in this discussion is because of personal experience. I mean, straight people advocate for gay marriage, and caucasian people worked with the Civil Rights movement and childless people advocate for better education, so why do you assume that the only reason I am in this discussion is because I was personally affected?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:29 AM on September 7, 2013 [16 favorites]


And a lot of the failure of these discussions to get anywhere, IMHO, is people talking past each other because they mean different things by these terms. To most readers, "friendzone" means its surface meaning, a guy being acceptable as a friend to a woman but not qualifying for romantic interest. Obviously there is such a thing, or something roughly like that. People here are taking it to mean "the false reality described by the most bitter segment of Nice Guys (tm) who complain that women only like assholes," or something like that, and a similar problem is occurring. IMHO

Well, the original piece is making fun of exactly that kind of bitter person. That kind of person is the kind to write angry, frustrated essays, of which the piece is an obvious parody, about their inability to sleep with the women they want to sleep with. Even if it weren't, there's nothing exceptionable about complaining of related social failures. Threads wander.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:57 AM on September 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, no--it's because he can't tolerate having been rejected.

Its okay to no longer want to hang out with someone who didn't accept your romantic ovetures. It can be painful.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:58 AM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, the original piece is making fun of exactly that kind of bitter person. That kind of person is the kind to write angry, frustrated essays about their inability to sleep with the women they want to sleep with, of which the piece is a very obvious parody.

I think the internet makes people think there are more of these people out there than there really are because people have decided this is a thing now.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:01 AM on September 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Interesting... what do you "always friends first!" people think of online dating?
posted by yaymukund at 8:05 AM on September 7, 2013


I think the internet makes people think there are more of these people out there than there really are because people have decided this is a thing now.

I don't know, man. There seem to be plenty of young people on reddit/imgur/whatnot who believe in the friendzone as an obstacle to be overcome, as in Navelgazer's comment. Besides, the number of these men is immaterial: There are enough of them that parodies of their literary output are recognizable. It is a thing now.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:10 AM on September 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I agree with Ironmouth. I've many friends who spend their lives mostly single against their wishes, mostly men but as I get older more and more women too, none appear bitter. All the men just accept that they suck at dating and that they lack experience at relationships. Also the men have the option to keep themselves physically fit and date younger women who expect less relationship skill. We've a few websites on mythologies like the "friendzone", "ladder theory", PUA techniques, etc. Those websites apparently help people over difficult moments in their lives, but overall they are not a significant thing.

I agree too that it's okay to distance yourself from someone when an effort towards a relationship fails, although that tells me you failed to attempt physical intimacy soon enough after realizing your attraction.

It's okay moreover to want both a relationship and friendship with someone, but, once the relationship effort fails, discover that :

- They're not nearly as interesting as you thought once the illusion of romance dissipates. We all by necessity live in a mild self-disillusion. In fact, mildly clinically depressed people accurately access how others view them. Ain't surprising this extends to mates too, especially during courtship.

- Their friendship does not warrant the resource commitment they require too maintain it. I've frequently heard women complain about men they reject not wanting to be friends when really the man would love being friends, but he naturally expected that the woman would shoulder her share of the friendship, like initiating communication at least half the time.

"Always friends first" works for a particular segment of the population living in certain cultural environments. It doesn't work for people who move all the time. It seemingly doesn't work in smaller populations where people revert to more conservative dating strategies. It might not work for people who's social life doesn't provide enough friend turn over. etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:41 AM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Its okay to no longer want to hang out with someone who didn't accept your romantic ovetures. It can be painful.

Of course it is. It's also ok to be hurt that a guy who you thought liked you for you doesn't want to see you anymore when you take romance out of the equation.

the world might be a better place if more people considered "hmm, i'm not initially physically attracted to this person [and they don't feel the same], but is something about their personality able to tip the scales?"
posted by billiebee at 8:42 AM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the internet makes people think there are more of these people out there than there really are because people have decided this is a thing now.

This seems to beg for some sort of demarcation as to the number or percentage of people that do it. Regardless of that number or percentage, it's been a part of pop culture for years now. Sitcoms and romcoms and dramas have storylines about it, except they just usually resolve them in a fashion in which the bitter person gets what they want romantically or sexually, or their viewpoint is vindicated by the romantic interest being an awful person.

If someone decided this was a thing, it wasn't recently.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:43 AM on September 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


not even just pop culture - for years now women, including the women of this very site, have been telling stories about how they're treated and finding patterns - similar to the conversations about stuff like street harassment or treatment at conventions, there is always people (usually men-people) who want to assure all of us that we're mistaken, and it's not really that common, and that the internet has just sort of inflated it. yet - in all the conversations i've had with women nearly all of them say "yeah, that's happened to me" with a reaction that ranges from "what are ya gonna do?" to "holy shit, that's not just me?" so, it seems strange that thousands of conversations include gigantic groups of these women saying "me too" and then to hear that it's not really a thing. to me it's just another form of being told what has or hasn't happened to us.
posted by nadawi at 8:57 AM on September 7, 2013 [23 favorites]


Apologies if I'm totally repeating what people have said because I'm not sure I've caught every comment, but the two things that stand out to me about the voice being parodied here are a) the active language, being "put in" the friend zone, versus just being in the category of "a friend," and the idea of the imagined quid pro quo in terms of how girls/women are often described as "using" the guy (who is pretending to be a friend) for attention, company, sympathy, etc.

Friends give each other attention, company and sympathy. People who ignore you, don't hang out with you and don't sympathize with your troubles aren't known as friends. They are acquaintances, or less. In an actual friendship, you don't "pay" for attention, company and sympathy except by offering the same thing back. You don't offer money for friendship, you don't offer labor for friendship, and you certainly don't offer sex as payment for friendship (if you are mentally healthy and stable). You offer friendship for friendship. But the picture drawn by the guys who are being parodied in the post is that the woman is taking advantage of you (general "you" – not speaking to anyone here) by accepting your typical expressions of normal friendship and not repaying with sex. And furthermore, that they are coldly, calculatingly, and callously choosing to do this by actively considering fucking you, but then saying naaaah, and "putting you in the friend zone" in order to suck up attention and other friendship benefits without paying back with sex.

It's like the guys who feel this way believe every woman is doing some bizarre version of fuck-marry-kill hat-sorting with friends instead of just being friendly with friends and sexual with lovers. If you are a friend, that's your "zone" because that's what you are. You weren't put there so she could suck up your precious precious attention juices and cruelly laugh at you as you squirm with desire and frustration (or rarely, at least – rotten and sick people do exist). Friendship could possibly change to something more in some cases, but as a friend you are just a friend, with all that this does and doesn't entail.
posted by taz at 9:10 AM on September 7, 2013 [23 favorites]


what do you "always friends first!" people think of online dating?

I've seen a pretty large number of OKCupid profiles where the guy explicitly states that they prefer being friends first because they've learned that meeting someone new and entering into a relationship with them very quickly does not work out well for them, and that things work out better for them when they meet new people and start out as friends and see what happens. I see a lot of phrasing about "let's just hang out and do stuff, if something grows from that, great! If not, great!" Basically, exactly what Rory Marinich said in his awesome comment. In the "what I'm looking for" section on OKC, these guys typically indicate that they're looking for new friends and/or activity partners. That's why online dating services offer the option of indicating that you're looking for friends -- because some people actually are.
posted by palomar at 9:47 AM on September 7, 2013


Its okay to no longer want to hang out with someone who didn't accept your romantic ovetures. It can be painful.

Of course it is. It's also ok to be hurt that a guy who you thought liked you for you doesn't want to see you anymore when you take romance out of the equation.


That totally ignores the feelings of the person who just got rejected. First, it hurts to be rejected. That changes how people feel about people, regardless if it was a "fair" rejection or not. Second, we all have amygdala, right? Its programmed to be hurt when an object of affection is around and engaged romantically with another. These facts make it difficult to continue a relationship. And, as we all know, all of our human brains are designed to kid ourselves about the chances we have with objects of our affection--any number of men and women I've known have insisted to me a person is into them, or will change for them, or that their stated relationship interest can be changed to one more approximating that of the person who is interested in them.

The real problem is that our "guy does all of the heavy lifting in terms of facing direct rejection" model is flawed and no longer meets our needs. Women have more opportunities and more power and a more mutual model is needed. But for traditionalists of both sexes, it is hard to give up--men do not want to reject and women do not want to face rejection. But as more formal modes of introduction (through families, brokers, etc.) fade, we are left with the Luke Skywalker model, the X-Wing flying alone trying to navigate the difficulties of romance. It doesn't help that women generally are taught social cues more thoroughly--the burden of leading is often on the least knowledgable in the situation.

So it is not a surprise that there is a lot of frustration and confusion out there. Guys read a lot about what women want and do what is said and are confused about why this doesn't work, not knowing that much of the literature about what the other sex wants is really designed to make the other sex feel good about themselves (see Cosmo and PUA). And many don't want to take the emotional risk that the antiquated 19th century "man approaches" model requires without the social/emotional support that model had as its bedrock. So they sort of hang about in a twilight, attracted, but fearful and not doing the agressive social approach that model requires. Hence all of the confusion.

In the end, our older model makes these sorts of situations inevitable. Men are not educated in social cues and the coyness that poets like Andew Marvell alternately celebrate and deride is often advocated in books like "The Rules" is a big part of this. Also the mass presentation of attractive people in media leads both sexes to believe such a one is waiting for them out there and affects the process in a negative way.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:16 AM on September 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


That totally ignores the feelings of the person who just got rejected.

It seems like you are saying that if there are two people in a situation and we acknowledge the feelings of one person, that means we are completely disregarding the feelings of the other person, full stop, no attention paid to them ever ever ever. That seems kind of ridiculous.


First, it hurts to be rejected.

Yes. It does hurt to be rejected. You know what some people would call it when someone stops being your friend because you won't be their lover? A rejection.
posted by palomar at 10:22 AM on September 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


"That totally ignores the feelings of the person who just got rejected."

Dude, we all know the feelings of the guy who got rejected. You don't have to explain them again.
posted by klangklangston at 10:48 AM on September 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I found my girlfriend hiding in a field amidst 15 or so of my closest friends, we were all walking to Wawa's having a good time and she gave me a look that was like IT LOOKS LIKE YOU ARE ABOUT TO BE MY BOYFRIEND. It was like Athena springing fully-grown from Zeus's head, where Athena is romance and Zeus is a bunch of good friends who you know you're already compatible with.

The idea that you think it's a given that everyone can and should have 15 or so closest friends (implying, what, 30-50 other friends as well?) says a whole lot about the vastly different assumptions going on here about people's social temperament and social environment.
posted by straight at 11:09 AM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth, the second, third, and fourth paragraphs of your comment describe a world I don't recognize. Men also reject women's sexual advances, because the more mutual model that you say is necessary has already come about. I've never met a male sexual traditionalist who claimed that he didn't want to have to reject women, and no one wants to face rejection of any kind. On that score, listen to palomar.

The "Luke Skywalker model" that you suppose has replaced the old, formal, ridiculous, traditions is in fact only the model if you walk up to a person of whom you know nothing and ask them out. Of course that's going to fail most of the time. The predominant model now, as people have said over and over, is one in which you date people connected to your social group. Again, on that score, listen to palomar, who points out that online dating can be a way not simply to get into someone's pants, but to expand your own circle and theirs.

straight says that Rory's view, for instance, assumes a life with more friends than is realistic for some people, and that may be so; but a life with few friends is likely to be a life with few lovers, because the skills needed to attract both are similar.

Which is why the last paragraph strikes me as so silly. Men do learn social cues. Many men do have satisfying love lives. We aren't all browsing bookshops for instructions that wouldn't help anyway.

I have sympathy for these awkward people who have to learn from books what they couldn't learn from life and what life wouldn't teach them. I am one of those people. But they, too, can hurt the friends whom they would only care for as lovers by revealing to them how little their friendship meant. There is no necessary connection between the one's rejection of a sexual advance and the other's rejection of a friendship.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:36 AM on September 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


Something that occurred to me recently while watching cartoons was how the visual shorthand of someone falling for someone in a romantic sense seems to follow a common pattern:

Protagonist (usually male) sees someone (usually a female) and there's some kind of moment of awe: Tex Avery style wolf howling, or heavenly light/music, slow motion, etc. Often, they're comically mismatched, personality-wise, but he just can't help but be drawn to her, and then every rom-com ever happens.

I'm reminded of that Cracked article that talks about how movies affect your perception of things in ways you never considered, and I wonder if that's what's happening here: that dudes what believe in the "friendzone" are mistaking their sexual frustration with genuine passion for that person based on this sort of behavioral modeling, like they took away the wrong message about how genuine romantic encounters work.

Like, despite the fact they understand that guns in movies don't work a certain way, or how hacking as depicted in movies is laughable, but never stopped to think that maybe the "meet-cute" model of finding love is just as flawed, and that you can be physically attracted to someone and still not work as a couple, and that sexual attraction is often one-sided, and not this otherworldly force that's always mutually shared.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:40 PM on September 7, 2013


we all have amygdala, right? Its programmed to be hurt when an object of affection is around and engaged romantically with another.

Good thing we also have conscious thought and are not merely slaves to our biology.
posted by billiebee at 2:15 PM on September 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow. The way some of you project motives and use sex as a rhetorical device to evoke disgust is really offensive to me.

I mean.. the message here is like.. the wrong message. I don't think shy/sensitive men should be required to "man up", and get better at dealing with the pain of rejection.

So many relationships begin with friendship and so many people don't share their important feelings with people they aren't already comfortable with. So they get to know people, they make friends, they get comfortable, they invest.

Imagine being lonely, needing intimate companionship, and being repeatedly told that you have to instigate it.. if you don't it won't happen, but every time you try--you experience pain. It already takes you a major act of will to reveal your feelings, and then wham.. every time the pain of rejection. Every time it's harder to show your feelings, every time the rejection hurts more. You wouldn't become bitter? You wouldn't become twisted?

Desensitization to rejection is not a legitimate solution and it's really not "emotional maturity" either. I mean, the easiest way to do that is to not really care about the things you're applying for.

There's a conditioning happening here. I don't think anyone is unlovable but there are a lot of people for whom "wait until love is offered to you" is simply a non-starter, due to cultural norms.. and thus have to act but find it increasingly painful.
posted by yonega at 3:40 AM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Imagine being lonely in a male-dominated work &/or living space, wanting general companionship, but nigh continuously having men try to instigate more. You've talked about your boyfriend, or made a point to say you don't want anything right now, or even kept silent on the topic. You've tried being friendly to most, distantly polite to everyone, antisocial through body language, cold, a bit crazy, and maybe even passionately bring up uncomfortable social topics on purpose.

One guy attempts to put his arm around you in a movie theater and acts affronted ("I do this all the time") when you say it makes you uncomfortable because you don't want to have blurred lines or lead him on.

You've gotten friendly and "friendly" touches on your knees & thighs in college and on day trips with a new (no longer) possible friend on the bus; calling them out later gets rolled eyes and name-calling and you may naively accept their apology...or even apologize for getting upset.

You tell men to not get familiar with you by calling you babe, honey, sweetie, love, sugar, etc., and you just feel like the anti-fun chick as they act confused and annoyed.

You have boundaries about not wanting to be tickled or hugged or having your neck touched, rubbed, or massaged, then get made fun of for having those boundaries.

You loudly say you aren't interested in anyone from work, in anyone you work with through other departments...and still get sidelong looks if you jump out there to hang with someone. You weren't attracted to them, just feeling brave for getting out there. And of course, seemingly showing interest in one man invites the whole bloody vulture flock.

You can say no politely, with a cold stare, with a laugh, with a curse or three, or ignore that you ever heard the question....

I don't know if it has to do with being on the small side, or blonde. Maybe I have a "keep tryin to hit that" body ratio. Maybe it's my mostly anti-eye contact and faux-deafness interspersed with falcon eyes and a steady "No" that confuses them. I dunno, but it's a constant fucking battle. If I could have a blinking "legs are not open for business" sign, I'd wear it like an emergency bracelet.
posted by DisreputableDog at 5:09 AM on September 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


The people you're describing are criminals.
The people in the OP are not explicitly said to be criminals.
posted by yonega at 5:16 AM on September 8, 2013


No, the people I'm describing are coworkers and so-called friends at every job and college I've ever been at. This wide range of behaviors is, unfortunately, rather common.
posted by DisreputableDog at 5:49 AM on September 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Alas, what DisreputableDog describes is not criminal behaviour. Take a moment to imagine a police officer reacting to a report of errant knee-touching or neck massaging.
posted by billiebee at 5:50 AM on September 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


DisreputableDog, the culture that says men should be able to randomly hit on women using skeevy boundary violations does suck. It's rampant, especially at your age and in your industry, sorry to say.

There have been certain times in my life that it's happened less: when I had a very short haircut; when I wore a ring on my "wedding band" finger; and when I had a boyfriend who was with me most of the time.

When I wear glasses and/or a very badass-looking motorcycle jacket, it still happens, but marginally less, and changes the demographic of who's hitting on me.

Walking in public with my head down and a scowl on my face helps too. But if you're already at the movies with someone you think is just a platonic buddy it might be hard to do that.

When I'm fortunate enough to have a few close women friends, it happens less because I'm not trying to pal around with the men as much and I'm surrounded by my posse.

All that being said, I agree with Rory Marinich that some of the best relationships start as friendships. I think there are multiple dynamics going on with the concept of "friendzone." A person who has become a sincere and close friend, who falls in love with their friend, isn't the same as a clueless acquaintance trying to chat you up at work. And I do think the dynamics are a bit different when the woman is being friendzoned by the man, or when it's a same-sex friendship. It's always painful, though.
posted by xenophile at 6:01 AM on September 8, 2013


i'm gonna try this again -

i've dated friends. i've slept with friends but not dated them. and i've met friendzone assholes and once i learned to spot him stopped taking my panties off for him.

when i've dated friend and slept with friends and it went well, it went like this - we were friends. they treated me like a friend. they didn't constantly insult the people i dated or spent my time with. and then either quickly, or in the case of my husband, glacially slowly,both of our feelings changed, and our hanging outs started to change and before too much ado we talked about it and either decided to date or to be friends who fooled around.

sometimes that goes peachy keen. sometimes that change only happens for one person and the friendship either stays or goes depending on a bunch of different stuff, none of which is probably anyone's fault.

on the other hand, when i've been unlucky enough to run into the friend zone dude before i learned to recognize them and build a moat filled with alligators between them and me, it would go more like this - we would be friends. doing friend stuff. he might be a little giving with his compliments and maybe even money, but he always makes a huge show of how he treats all his friends like this, because he's such a nice guy. maybe i'd notice that when i pinged him on aim he was always right there or when i wanted to watch a movie he was always down. i'd probably start to worry he was kind of lonely, so i'd take him to a party with me - but then, he'd cling to me all night, and on the ride home he'd start subtly or not so subtly insulting the person he knew i had a crush on or going on an extended tirade about my most recent ex.

this sort of thing would go on for months (and maybe years). and then one day when he finally gets his feet under him he makes this big huge show of "i've always loved you, from the first moment, even when you did [thing he's always been upset about but didn't seem like a big deal to you], when you dated [guy he always told you was a jerk], always. i've been trying to show you [by explicitly telling you we were just friends and i wasn't hunting for more] but you just haven't seen me, so here i am, standing in front of you telling you that i love you [or some other speech that seems right out of a 90s rom-com]. and this is where it all falls down - because he hasn't been falling in love with me, he's fallen in love with some approximation of me and put it on me. to fall in love requires both people falling together. and so the rejection comes - as kindly as i can muster in my shocked state (or even worse was when i tried that whole just see if maybe you can love them, you know to spare their feelings! and maybe you're just being too harsh!). and this is where the nice guy really shows his ass because in that rejection he turns, and all that "love" that was spouted moments before very quickly becomes something scary.

this last scenario is the one that's being mocked in the fpp - not the first 2 where people just sort of naturally grow closer or further apart. it's the friendship that was a deception on one side the entire time and then when it fails the liar turns around with an attitude of all women are emotional and monetary vampires who only date jerks and never see nice guys like me! and that's the rub - the nice was never a nice guy - he was just a scared boy who in his fear turned into the jerk he always railed against.

i do feel badly for the guys who are so lonely or clueless that they think this is the way to go forward, but i reject the idea that it's women's work to fix it one nice guy at a time (and that we're not allowed to commiserate about this because it might hurt the feelings of some random lonely guy).
posted by nadawi at 6:06 AM on September 8, 2013 [19 favorites]


Has there ever been a thread in the history of the world, where the men were afraid of discussing what they were discussing in case they hurt women's feelings?
posted by billiebee at 6:26 AM on September 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Imagine being lonely, needing intimate companionship, and being repeatedly told that you have to instigate it.. if you don't it won't happen, but every time you try--you experience pain. It already takes you a major act of will to reveal your feelings, and then wham.. every time the pain of rejection. Every time it's harder to show your feelings, every time the rejection hurts more. You wouldn't become bitter? You wouldn't become twisted?

This is perhaps an explanandum where both constructionist purists and evolutionary reductionists like me could see eye to eye.

Dude, no one owes you their chromosomes.
posted by spitbull at 9:01 AM on September 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, ok technically your parents do, but they're paid up in full.
posted by spitbull at 9:04 AM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


i do feel badly for the guys who are so lonely or clueless that they think this is the way to go forward, but i reject the idea that it's women's work to fix it one nice guy at a time (and that we're not allowed to commiserate about this because it might hurt the feelings of some random lonely guy).

I've read most of this thread, and I wanted to throw in a - hopefully helpful - what about us menz angle to support that extremely true and important sentiment:

So, I'm really bright. Not as much as some folks here, but... you know. Bright enough.

I was also horribly socially awkward, (probably owing to a spot somewhere on the spectrum, and a childhood that made forming close bonds pretty antithetical). I chased after the wrong girl and got horribly burned. I missed glaringly obvious signals from a couple of girls who could've been the right one, and lost potential friends and lovers that way. I closed myself off for years. I did all sorts of things wrong - although I never blamed a woman for leading me on, or threw a fit over it. At least, in all the unpleasant things that happened to me in my youth, I was not a bitter fedora man.

When I was growing up, the narrative about being oh-so-smart was always, "You'll get what you want in life. You will make money. You will be important. You will accomplish this that and the other thing." I was told this... well, for as long as I can remember.

I was... dunno. Coddled.

Nobody told me that about the opposite sex. I grew up right as the Internet was still in its infancy, and there was never any expectation a nerdy guy like me would ever have sex at all, frankly.

Learning that being Very Bright was not some kind of golden ticket or special snowflake status... that's a thing I am, frankly, still a little bitter about. Not so much because I really care about those things anymore - I don't really mind having a modest income, and not being 'important' - but I do still feel like I was lied to, and that being sold all that crap about it led to a lot of unnecessary heartache and many years of (extra) low self-esteem as I led a mostly ordinary life.

Figuring out how to communicate properly with women, on the other hand... because I was tossed to the wolves, I had to be more open to changing my attitude, behavior and expectations. I don't suppose anyone has ever learned all they need to know about the subject of getting along with other human beings, but I feel like I'm past the worst of it.

It was, paradoxically, much easier. I didn't have extra baggage to slow me down in growing up and learning that, hey, women are people too, and that things work a whole lot more smoothly when I just listen.

So, uh, while this has gotten all sidetracked with 'what about us dudes?' I just wanted to say:
Pain sucks, but only because it has to in order to be taken seriously. I needed mine to grow up. I am grateful for it, and I would not spare my younger self, not out of self-loathing, but the simple honest truth that I would not have understood a lot of things in life if they had been served to me without it.

So even if it were not completely monstrous to expect women to put the feelings of men before their own, it wouldn't be helpful, and at least some of us do realize that.
posted by mordax at 9:55 AM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


> "Imagine being lonely, needing intimate companionship, and being repeatedly told that you have to instigate it.. if you don't it won't happen, but every time you try--you experience pain. It already takes you a major act of will to reveal your feelings, and then wham.. every time the pain of rejection. Every time it's harder to show your feelings, every time the rejection hurts more. You wouldn't become bitter? You wouldn't become twisted?"

Well ... even if we assume the best of intentions here, the particular dynamic we're discussing is falling for a friend, being rejected, and then cutting off contact with them because of the pain.

And if that started happening more than once, I might start to wonder why I kept building up these one-sided romances in my own mind. Why I kept romantically fixating on various people I know to the extent that being politely turned down for, essentially, a first date made me have the same reaction one would normally expect to experience only after an actual break-up.

After repeatedly seeing that dynamic, I might begin to ponder what it meant. If these feelings never had a chance to grow and be reciprocated in the context of a romantic relationship in the first place, why do they seem so strong? Why have so many people who were my friends suddenly stopped being friends from my perspective, and become instead nothing but reminders that they did not want to be my lovers?

I might ask, is that fair to my friends? Is that healthy for me? Is there a way I can change this?

And after burning a few of these bridges, I might even ask myself if perhaps these friendships were in reality not so much friendships as excuses for me to build these romantic narratives, and once that illusion could no longer be maintained, there was nothing of the "friendships" left on my side.
posted by kyrademon at 9:59 AM on September 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Nadawi, thanks for an excellent description of a certain type of creep. That's an awful situation, and to my eye, that guy has the first seeds of an abuser (in the anger about other love interests, that controlling aspect.) I can imagine that such guys tend to be younger and probably have more time to write bitter screeds on Reddit, because they will have fewer friends of any gender.

I think there's a different type of "friendzoned" guy, or maybe a superset, where the (adolescent) guy is not attractive to a lot of women but would be a fine friend. Some of these guys are so quirky and low self-esteem that they are sort of "pets." Some might not be putting enough effort into their fitness, appearance and hygiene. Many, I think, have just not found their power as individuals; they not "confident".

They don't realize that "niceness" -- sometimes passive aggressive BS 'niceness' but in other cases may genuine kindness and friendliness -- is not a sufficient qualification for a relationship. Always exceptions, but most women I know want a certain solidness, confidence, or hell even a bit of swagger in a guy to make him attractive.

I think there are a lot more of this other kind of friendzoned guy than the manipulative PUAs and delusional passive-aggressive boundary-crossers being discussed here. And a lot of the "what about rejected guys?" in this discussion could be coming from men who are or were in that more benign group. And some of the heat comes from them -- accurately -- feeling that they aren't as shitty as the first group. But still no one owes them a date.
posted by msalt at 10:37 AM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Always exceptions, but most women I know want a certain solidness, confidence, or hell even a bit of swagger in a guy to make him attractive.

It's not even that. It's that "nice" is what makes someone a decent human being. You need to be more special than that to be my -- or anyone's -- boyfriend. Your personalities need to click, there needs to be chemistry, you need to find similar things funny, you need to each have lives that have room for another person, you need to find joy in activities together. Some people like confidence or swagger, some people find it a giant turnoff, just like almost anything else.

But "nice" alone just means that you're not actively awful -- it's like if I opened a restaurant but all I could say about the food is that it "definitely does not have any rat in it." And if you open your "No Rat Here!" sandwich shop and don't get any customers, and then proceed to dominate every conversation about sandwiches with the fact that those assholes won't buy your sandwiches even though they have NO RAT IN THEM AT ALL and don't they understand how hard it is to put yourself out there and after all the work you've done making the sandwiches the least they could do is BUY one and EAT it -- well, you are not going to come across well.
posted by KathrynT at 11:00 AM on September 8, 2013 [26 favorites]


I was just at the high school stadium this morning, running up and down the stairs. There were a few other people going around the track; I was the only person on the stairs.

Then some guy walks over to the stairs. Which is fine, they're big, it's public. But does he walk up and down the stairs over at that end, giving us both plenty of room? No. He heads over to the stairs where I am. There are what, four empty aisles, and he seems to think we should share one.

At which point I say "fuck it" and go walk around the track instead.

I had not made eye contact with him. I had not smiled when I walked by him earlier. I had my headphones on. I was exercising. There was absolutely nothing about me that suggested that I was there to make a friend or get a date. But why let that stop him?
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:52 PM on September 8, 2013


This is perhaps an explanandum where both constructionist purists and evolutionary reductionists like me could see eye to eye.

Dude, no one owes you their chromosomes.


I didn't say anyone owes anyone anything. I never even implied that anyone owes anyone anything. Least of all did I ever imply that anyone owes me anything, thank you for very much.


...

And after burning a few of these bridges, I might even ask myself if perhaps these friendships were in reality not so much friendships as excuses for me to build these romantic narratives, and once that illusion could no longer be maintained, there was nothing of the "friendships" left on my side.


You, the enlightened and integrated person that you are, might ask yourself all manner of things. Unfortunately, very few people are you. Frankly, I don't even believe that you are you.. but I appreciate that you might hope that you'd be lucky enough to receive the experiences that would make you into the hypothetical person in your comment instead of the hypothetical person in my comment.

I mean, the original post is about something that a lot of people of all genders and sexual orientations know well. It's a system. The prevailing accepted male narrative in this thread of "I used to be this guy but then I grew up and attained swag."--when 'this guy' is defined extremely--well.. it's not that simple.

There's even lovely shit like this above...
... For many boys (I refuse to call them men, as they have not earned that title) ...

THANKS.

1. Things are slowly starting to change, but men are still largely responsible for instigating romance. For men who are more mainstream or are enmeshed with more traditional or regressive cultures... the idea of a woman someday sweeping them off their feet is laughable. They could--from their perspective--literally live out their entire lifespans alone and unloved, waiting for a woman to approach them.

2. Many men are not "men". Not all of us are paragons of manhood, brimming with confidence, strength, beauty, and I don't know.. some kind of sauveness. That whole.. gentlemanly, nothing phases me shtick where dudes just slide in and out of situations "like a sir" as the kids say. Many men aren't that.. and more importantly.. in my opinion should not be trying to do what they're trying to do however they're trying to do it. They're not constitutionally built for it and repeatedly trying to force themselves to do it is harmful for everyone involved.


You're always going to have your criminals, but the next iteration could have a really different and more free dynamic than we do now.
posted by yonega at 3:15 PM on September 8, 2013


My mom taught me (as a girl) that women always make the first move - men just think that they do. First the woman signals receptivity, then the man thinks he is instigating romance by asking her out.

So yes if men wait for women to ask them out they will probably be waiting a long time. If they engage with women and receptively read women's signals and ask out women who seem amenable, they will have far more success than trying to ask out women who haven't indicated any interest.

Yes, this requires social skills that come easier to some than others but these can be learned. That's just life, it's not a tragedy. It requires social skills of BOTH men and women. If a woman doesn't have this skill then the only guys who will ask her out are those who don't wait for cues, who tend to be at best awkward and at worst pushy and self centered.
posted by Salamandrous at 4:05 PM on September 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


yonega -

1) I am in complete agreement that the rather patriarchal notion that men must always be the instigators of relationships -- the pursuers rather than the pursued -- both exists and is harmful to both men and women.

2) I think you kind of missed some of the points I was trying to make; mainly that whatever the origin or reason for the behavior, if someone develops a pattern of repeatedly cutting off all contact with a friend when that friend hasn't actually done anything wrong, it might benefit them to examine their own habits and motives, and exactly what they mean and expect by "friendship" and "romance". I phrased it in the first person because you phrased your questions in the second person.

3) I, and I think a lot of other people, have no idea what you mean when you say "criminal". You do not seem to be using the word the way other people use it.
posted by kyrademon at 4:14 PM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow. The way some of you project motives and use sex as a rhetorical device to evoke disgust is really offensive to me.

Not half as offensive as the notion that women should squelch their own personal comfort and play nice because "some guys may be awkward" is to me.

Imagine being lonely, needing intimate companionship, and being repeatedly told that you have to instigate it.. if you don't it won't happen, but every time you try--you experience pain. It already takes you a major act of will to reveal your feelings, and then wham.. every time the pain of rejection. Every time it's harder to show your feelings, every time the rejection hurts more. You wouldn't become bitter? You wouldn't become twisted?

Okay, imagine if every time you tried to speak up when someone else infringed upon your rights and or feelings in some way, you were told that maybe the people who infringed upon you were just "awkward" or "shy" or "had bad social skills" and that you just had to understand what things were like from them and somehow the way you felt kept getting overlooked and ignored. Every time it's harder to speak up, every time people pay less attention to you. You wouldn't become frustrated? You wouldn't become angry?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:22 PM on September 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Imagine being lonely, needing intimate companionship, and being repeatedly told that you can get intimate companionship anytime you want, from anyone, by sheer virtue of having breasts and a vagina, and therefore any complaint you might have about being lonely and feeling unloved is just a shameless ploy for attention. Except you can't actually get intimate companionship anytime you want, because you're awkward and shy and maybe not the most physically beautiful woman around. You hear your male friends talking all the time about how they just want a girlfriend, they're so lonely, and they're awkward and shy and not the hottest guy around so no woman will ever give them the time of day and it's so unfair, they really deserve to be loved because they're so nice. But when you tell them that you know how they feel, you're in the same boat, they laugh at you and tell you you don't know what it's like at all, you're a chick and chicks can get laid whenever they want, so stop telling your sob story.

You wouldn't become frustrated? You wouldn't become angry? You wouldn't start thinking, maybe these guys aren't actually that nice after all?
posted by palomar at 5:47 PM on September 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


yonega, I was making a joke, and I apologize for implying you had said rejected men were "owed" something.
posted by spitbull at 6:13 PM on September 8, 2013


[Comment deleted; let's dial back the hyperbole and the fake quoting of things nobody said.]
posted by taz at 1:10 AM on September 9, 2013


Salamandrous: My mom taught me (as a girl) that women always make the first move - men just think that they do. First the woman signals receptivity, then the man thinks he is instigating romance by asking her out.

I'm sorry, but that just sounds really disingenuous. 'Signaling receptivity' is nothing like explicitly asking someone out -- it's inherently vague and non-committal, and its misinterpretation or the possibility thereof is a huge contributor to the sort of heartbreak men in particular face particularly often, especially on that side of the coin where signals from a woman are misread as receptivity when they are not.

Dismissing this burden, which men overwhelmingly have to carry, of being expected to send the explicit signal, is not something I can really accept.
posted by Anything at 2:23 AM on September 9, 2013


"Dismissing this burden, which men overwhelmingly have to carry, of being expected to send the explicit signal..."

Here is Louis CK on the subject

I gotta say though, as a bi dude-presenting-person who experiences both sides, the ever shrinking unbalance in who is expected to make the first explicit move is nothing like the burden of having to deal with all the bullshit associated with men who have their sensitivity to 'receptivity' calibrated wrong, particularly from those who carefully maintain a willful ignorance of where that calibration aught to be for max-creepiness.

For straight men the default is no danger except to ones feelings in those times and places that straight dudes can choose to put themselves out there or choose not to, no matter how socially adroit you get the emotional risk associated with putting your heart on your sleeve will always be there, but it will pretty much always be a conscious and informed choice. For straight women however, the default is one of an omnipresent background of shittiness that leaps out and does its damndest to fuck your shit up, the more socially adroit you get the more warning you might have and the easier to deal with it might be but the danger will never really go away. At the same time, just because the process of rejection might not be so familiar to you, does not mean it isn't there and doesn't mean it doesn't suck in ways that are pretty equivalently awful.

As a dude one can read the signs, inquire, get an answer, and be done one way or another - one can exercise explicit agency and just directly control one's own fucking destiny a lot easier. There is no need to end up socially responsible for both your own feelings and the feelings of all the dudes around you, whether you're interested in them or not, and socially engineer signals that not only mean the right thing but will be interpreted correctly by a population of dudes that includes both the genuinely and the willfully clueless, yet yet be given pretty much no effective social tools for doing so. All direct communication does is get clueless dudes, of both varieties, to see you as either a whore or a bitch depending on what is being communicated.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:44 AM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Blasdelb, my point was not to compare that burden against these burdens faced by women, only to respond to the comment I quoted.
posted by Anything at 4:49 AM on September 9, 2013


my point was not to compare that burden against these burdens faced by women, only to respond to the comment I quoted.

It isn't fair to pretend the burdens faced by women have nothing to do with this burden faced by men, though.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:07 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


(And so as not to abuse the edit window, adding this second sentence to the above:)

The reason it isn't fair to pretend that these two burdens don't have anything to do with each other is because women are constantly asked to suck it up and bear their burden so as to make it easier for the men to bear theirs, and that really isn't fair.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:09 AM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


I guess I was agreeing with you that 'Signaling receptivity' is nothing like explicitly asking someone out, but also saying that in its inherently vague and non-committal nature, and the resulting potential for both genuine and willfull misinterpretation, its potential for male heartbreak is indeed trivial on the scale of fucked up shit it does for women. For anyone whose eyes are not blinkered exclusively into a youngishly immature male perspective, this complaint, particularly in the context of the topic of this thread, approaches absurdity.

Being able to ask is not a burden at all but an opportunity that is a hell of a lot easier to pull off as a dude.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:22 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nor did I say they have nothing to do with each other, just that I was not arguing that the one I spoke of was heavier.
posted by Anything at 6:22 AM on September 9, 2013


(Honestly it's hard for me to figure out how you got the impression that I was pretending such a thing.)
posted by Anything at 6:25 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly it's hard for me to figure out how you got the impression that I was pretending such a thing.

The fact that you claim to be aware of the "women's burden" but then went ahead and reminded us "but what about the men's burden" anyway.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:34 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


when i dated women, i was the one who did all the asking. i'm shy, awkward, nerdy, weird, more than a little anxious. and yet i still managed it while respecting the women i liked and my friends who i found attractive. having held both burdens, if i could trade them forever, i know which one i'd go with. being the instigator is scary, but it's honestly just not as scary as being the receptor in heterosexual pairings (especially if your awkward nerdy ways draws the type of guy this post is about).
posted by nadawi at 6:44 AM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


What I mean was that those burdens are different sides of the same issue, i.e. the issue affects you in different sorts of ways depending on which side you're on. I doubt I'm saying anything particularly controversial here, but I fear you may be inclined to read worse intents to what I'm saying than I actually hold.
posted by Anything at 6:47 AM on September 9, 2013


you can either take responsibility for how you're coming across or blame the thread for reading you badly. it's interesting in this thread specifically which one you chose to do. your last few comments haven't indicated that you were saying they were different sides of same issue - but that you can't stand for dismissing men's burden and that you're just responding that and not really talking about women at all. what you say you mean now and what you said before don't really match.
posted by nadawi at 6:55 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought it was rather obvious that they were different sides of the same issue, and I was not expecting anyone to read to the contrary, unless one was from the very outset assuming bad intent or spectacular ignorance on my part, and that's something I just can't really help with.

W.r.t. to direct responses to specific individual comments, I try to read yours and everyone else's for what they are, and hope that others do the same for mine.
posted by Anything at 7:08 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


(I have probably said most of what I would have to say in this thread, so unless something very unusual comes up, I think that's it for me.)
posted by Anything at 7:11 AM on September 9, 2013


what is obvious to you about your intents is not obvious to the world. it's not an assumption of bad intent to read what you write and expect that it's what you mean.
posted by nadawi at 7:12 AM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


we all have amygdala, right? Its programmed to be hurt when an object of affection is around and engaged romantically with another.

Good thing we also have conscious thought and are not merely slaves to our biology.


usually, we are slaves to our emotion. If this were an easy thing that an average person could simply use the alleged "conscious thought" to solve, we wouldn't be having these discussions, would we?
posted by Ironmouth at 9:12 AM on September 9, 2013


"usually, we are slaves to our emotion. If this were an easy thing that an average person could simply use the alleged "conscious thought" to solve, we wouldn't be having these discussions, would we?"

I may not be much less cynical than you are about how much the average person, and even extraordinary people, actually think, but while we may be slaves to our emotions we understand them and act on them in a culturally mediated way. 'Friendzoning,' and all the whiny manipulative bullshit associated with it, are a thing while 'girlfriendzoning' is not because we allow it to be that way and can collectively choose to stop. Similarly, while you may or not be smart enough to think through on your own why just grabbing the tasty looking food in your local supermarket and walking away is not a good idea even when you are hungry, as someone who is on metafilter and not in jail we can at least presume that you have been culturally programmed to understand supermarkets in such a way as to make the necessary thought process incredibly easy.

Collectively, we teach boys that when girls don't like them back, and they feel hurt about it, that the hurt that they feel is somehow not their responsibility to deal with but the girl in question's, the responsibility of women in general, or feminism. The problem isn't that boys in the natural situation of unreciprocated love feel hurt, but instead that we both teach them to engineer those situations through cowardice and to understand that they are not the agent responsible for dealing with their own hurt. It makes no sense to insist that every straight boy growing up simply out-Spock their natural emotions, but we should be setting up boys to succeed with models for relationship formation that are not so dramatically unhealthy for them or so dangerous for women and ridiculing 'friendzoning' for the agency shifting bullshit that it is.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:01 AM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Blasdelb has a good point.

I'm not actually saying that the socially awkward guys who get rejected by the girls they ask out don't have the right to feel hurt. And I doubt anyone in here is saying that they don't have the right to feel hurt.

What we are saying, though, is that how they handle those hurt feelings is a big issue. There are culturally acceptible ways to handle having one's feelings hurt, especially when it comes to being disappointed by something.

* If I were a college student who was disappointed by a B+ grade, it would be fine for me to be bummed out about it - but it would not be fine for me to camp out outside my professor's office every day and beg him to change his mind; the way for me to handle that would be to maybe speak with my professor about where the weak spots were in my knowledge, and try to work on improving there.

* If I wanted to go to a restaurant while i was on a vacation and had only one day available to do so, but showed up and found that it was closed due to some kind of private party, it would be fine for me to be upset. But it would not be fine for me to go on Yelp and give them a zero-star review or to picket the place or crash the party.

* If I asked someone out - even a friend - and got rejected, it's fine for me to be hurt by that. But it would not be fine for me to insult them, ask them "why the hell DON'T you want me?" or go on some rant that I'd been "friendzoned". Instead, it would be much better if I either left them be - or, if we were friends, to let them know that "...Okay, I may need to lay low a while to get over my crush, I'll let you know when I'm ready to hang again because I don't want things to get weird for us."

So when people speak about "think about the socially awkward guy who feels really hurt if he asks a girl out and she rejects him," I wonder if they also ask us to "think about the student who worked hard on their test and only got a B+, their professor should totally give them an A-" or suchlike.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:25 AM on September 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


The reason it isn't fair to pretend that these two burdens don't have anything to do with each other is because women are constantly asked to suck it up and bear their burden so as to make it easier for the men to bear theirs, and that really isn't fair.

I know this wasn't a direct response to me.. but I feel compelled to say again that I never asked women to suck anything up. I didn't mention it to say 'this is okay because...' I felt this thread was in parts describing the type of men who might be in situations like the fictionalized one in the OP as emotionless sexfiends who use the guise of friendship to get close to women in order to force sex on them.

The burdens need to be completely redistributed. I haven't been about comparing active vs. passive and saying 'this burden is worse/harder than the other one'. We shouldn't be divided into door-to-door salespeople and loan officers.
posted by yonega at 11:31 AM on September 9, 2013


yonega - it's starting to get straight up weird to me the way you keep personalizing broad statements that aren't directed at you. you might find this recent comment by restless_nomad to be interesting.
posted by nadawi at 11:42 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know this wasn't a direct response to me.. but I feel compelled to say again that I never asked women to suck anything up.

And the fact that it wasn't a direct response to you is a pretty good clue that I wasn't accusing you of doing that.

But this is a direct question for you, yonega, right here: If the comment wasn't addressed to you, and didn't call you out, and if you didn't do the thing that you saw me speaking of, why were you so compelled to respond anyway?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:54 AM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


But this is a direct question for you, yonega, right here: If the comment wasn't addressed to you, and didn't call you out, and if you didn't do the thing that you saw me speaking of, why were you so compelled to respond anyway?

It seemed related/a rephrasing of comments you made which were directly addressed to me, EC. I don't think you were thinking of me when you wrote it or anything crazy like that.. I just wanted to be on record--If that's okay?


nadawi: The comment is interesting and thank you for linking me to it, because it clarifies some things for me.. but it's not descriptive of my experience. Maybe I've been feeling unusually sensitive lately, but.. the OP is really mocking and some of the comments both here and over there read as hateful or superior. The OP satirizes something that I see as an expression of pain and I see a lot of the discourse around this topic as mostly mocking men for being weak/not knowing how to appropriately express their pain/being compelled to act and not knowing how to.

You're pointing squarely at the wound. I don't think it's disruptive or denying women's pain or women's humanity to point that out. I'm not saying women caused it and I'm not expecting or asking for women to fix it. I'm also not injecting this where it isn't already.. the OP is targeted right on it.
posted by yonega at 1:53 PM on September 9, 2013


yonega, the loneliness and pain are terrible. I don't deny it. The bed's emptiness comes to seem as permanent as a cathedral's grotesque. But I think you mistake the target of the piece, which mocks the reaction to the pain, not the pain itself. Just as the right reaction to losing a game isn't to refuse ever to play it again, the right reaction to sexual rejection, if you ever really liked the person rejecting you, is not to refuse ever to see them again. It's an even worse reaction to let this failure warp friendship from an accidental blessing into a malicious curse.

Maybe, in the cold of rejection, it's only natural to put on a coat of hurtful, self-justifying ideas to keep yourself warm; but the frost eventually subsides, warmth returns, and the time comes to take off the coat and not to add another layer.

I see a lot of the discourse around this topic as mostly mocking men for being weak/not knowing how to appropriately express their pain/being compelled to act and not knowing how to.

Think of the piece and the comments as a lesson to men who are compelled to act and don't know how: Whatever you do, don't do this. People are angry and exasperated because others whom they thought of as friends hurt them. Those men can look at and learn from this anger and exasperation. By it, they can learn how to express their pain without hurting others and, ultimately, themselves.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:36 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am a big proponent of bypassing or shortcutting all pretense of feigned niceties. If you are not direct about your intention, you are behaving badly, because you are lying, either through act or omission, as to what your expectation is.

FWIW, i once took this perspective, and i was accused of sexual harassment. not to someone at work, but with an acquaintance in my social circle, i said something like "would you be interested in making out?" in much the same way you might say "would you be interested in going bowling?" we were out of ear-shot of anyone else hearing normal talking voice, but very much close to other people where she could escape if she needed to.

she accused me of sexual harassing her, a bunch of other people got all puffy-chested about it, it was a huge mess.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:20 PM on September 9, 2013


she accused me of sexual harassing her, a bunch of other people got all puffy-chested about it, it was a huge mess.

...Well, no wonder. Being "direct about your intention" and "coming out of totally nowhere with a sexual proposition" are two very different things.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:26 PM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Imagining all your friends as Mike Mitchell birds now. Adorable.
posted by maryr at 8:03 PM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


The burdens need to be completely redistributed.

Why frame it as the burdens being unequal? Guy friend is hurt that girl friend does not return the romantic feelings - but girl friend is also hurt that this relationship she thought was platonic turns out to not have been.

As someone who has been the girl in this situation, let me assure you that I did not just go on my merry way as if nothing had happened.
posted by rtha at 8:47 PM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Imagining all your friends as Mike Mitchell birds now. Adorable."

Done,

but shit,

now I'm pretty much like this but with all of my colleagues,

which is a bit awkward.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:41 AM on September 10, 2013


"FWIW, i once took this perspective, and i was accused of sexual harassment. not to someone at work, but with an acquaintance in my social circle, i said something like "would you be interested in making out?" in much the same way you might say "would you be interested in going bowling?""
While I am wary of even the tail end of this thread being yet another one about an issue women face becoming yet another one about providing dating advice for men who act creepy, this sounds like a pretty not ok way to go about your goals. Accurately communicating intention while genuinely remaining flexible to change is a pretty subtle and non-intuitive thing to do. Mastering it makes people better drivers, better dancers, and better at finding people to date without scaring the shit out of people. From your short description it sounds like you just blindsided someone who thought they were hanging out with you as a friend with an offer for a sexy act, which is a pretty not ok thing to do to someone. That is a really hostile and unpredictable thing to do that should naturally lead any reasonable observer to wonder what other unpredictable shit you are capable of. Being mindful of not physically trapping the person you asked is a really really great thing, but trapping someone in the really scary and dangerous position of having to say no to an unpredictable man is not such a great thing.

My awkward self learning how to dance and drive both helped me immensely in this whole communicating intention thing, and dancing communities are both full of awkward people and self-awareness of it, maybe those things could help you?
posted by Blasdelb at 2:28 AM on September 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


The corpse in the library: "I'm a good looking woman over the age of 14 and I've had dorky single male friends who, as far as I know, are interested in nothing other than friendship, I swear. Plus I'm dorky myself."

I will need notarized proof and several personal references before I accept this statement, because you are a female person and cannot be trusted.

{GIGANTIC FUCKING HAMBURGER}
posted by scrump at 2:44 PM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Being mindful of not physically trapping the person you asked is a really really great thing, but trapping someone in the really scary and dangerous position of having to say no to an unpredictable man is not such a great thing.

thanks for proving my point that simply being honest about your intentions is not in fact the approved way of doing things. so, you agree that, to some extent, you must hide your intentions, or the possibility of certain relationships or actions with others, must be concealed until an "appropriate" time. well, that opens up a big hole about what exactly is the appropriate way to handle something, and opens the possibility of people honestly disagreeing or misunderstanding each other. given that, it's not inevitable that any particular person in these types of scenarios is purposely being manipulative without an admission on their part.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:30 PM on September 10, 2013


Dude, honestly, I'm baffled that you think it's appropriate to turn to an acquaintance and, out of nowhere, ask her if she wants to make out. Have you not heard of flirting? That's a great way to test the waters of a casual friendship. What you are calling "being honest", from here, reads more like "being abrupt and blindsiding someone".
posted by palomar at 6:37 PM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


well, that opens up a big hole about what exactly is the appropriate way to handle something, and opens the possibility of people honestly disagreeing or misunderstanding each other.

No, it doesn't.

"Listen, I kind of dig you and was wondering if you wanted to, y'know, go out some time, only on an actual date" is still honest, but it's WAAAAAAY better than "do you wanna make out right now".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:40 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


And in all sincerity, cupcake: about how old are you?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:41 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


"being abrupt and blindsiding someone" is a subset of being honest or direct.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:45 PM on September 10, 2013


"being abrupt and blindsiding someone" is a subset of being honest or direct.

But it isn't necessarily tactful, and that's a word that has been left out of this entire conversation, on both sides.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:48 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


"being abrupt and blindsiding someone" is a subset of being honest or direct.

If you're at dinner with someone, do you ask them if you can have a bite of their entree or do you just grab as much as you want off their plate? Do you ask for their money when you split the bill, or do you just grab their wallet and pull out whatever cash makes you happy?
posted by zombieflanders at 6:55 PM on September 10, 2013


that's a poor analogy zombieflanders. what i did was analogous to asking for a bit of their entree. just grabbisg as much as you'd want off their plate would be analogous to rape, or sexual assault. it's a matter of ask vs. guess culture.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:58 PM on September 10, 2013


"being abrupt and blindsiding someone" is a subset of being honest or direct.

Okay. Let's apply the "being abrupt and blindsiding someone" model to other communications issues.

Inquiring after a coworker's health: "Hey, Bob. You look like utter shit. What's up with that?"
Quitting a job: "So, basically, I hate coming here every day and I feel like I deserve way better than what you're offering. Here's my keycard, hope I never see your face again."
Breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend: "Look, this just isn't working out for me. You're not fun enough, or hot enough, and you don't have enough money. Oh, and when we have sex I have to think about your best friend just to get through it. Can you leave now?"

There are better ways to communicate honestly and directly without being abrupt and blindsiding someone. If you wouldn't be abrupt and blindside-y in other communications situations, then why do you think it's okay and desirable to communicate that way with potential romantic interests?
posted by palomar at 6:59 PM on September 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


at some point, someone has to express interest in something the other person has not expressed interest in. it's by definition unexpected, and blindside-y. if what you just said wasn't blindside-y, something else you did: a look, a touch on the arm, the tone of your voice. it comes down to what you think is culturally appropriate.
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:02 PM on September 10, 2013


I don't know, man. I've been in plenty of relationships and makeout situations, initiated sometimes by me and sometimes by the male half of the equation, and it was never blindside-y. Looks, touches, tones of voice -- you don't have to blindside someone with those. If you're blindsiding someone when you let them know you're interested, there's something going wrong in your approach.
posted by palomar at 7:05 PM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


yea, that's the point. i don't do that. but above, everyone is saying don't be manipulative, be direct about you want. i was direct. as direct as you may ask someone if they would like to go bowling. and my counter point is, no, that's an overly simplistic explanation.
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:08 PM on September 10, 2013


"yea, that's the point. i don't do that. but above, everyone is saying don't be manipulative, be direct about you want. i was direct. as direct as you may ask someone if they would like to go bowling. and my counter point is, no, that's an overly simplistic explanation."

Yeah, you were direct. So was she. She didn't want to make out with you and felt you were acting like a creep. You seem to be confusing asking someone whether they'd like to make out with demanding that they make out with you. Just asking does not guarantee physical affection; she must have the ability to say no (which she did).

The system worked.
posted by klangklangston at 7:10 PM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


[One comment deleted; no namecalling please.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:11 PM on September 10, 2013


I just really don't understand the mindset that because a woman said no, that means the problem was being honest, therefore you must manipulate women into making out. It's like this tangle of objectification, bad definitions and willful obliviousness that leads inexorably to unhappiness for everyone.
posted by klangklangston at 7:14 PM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


yea, that's the point. i don't do that. but above, everyone is saying don't be manipulative, be direct about you want. i was direct. as direct as you may ask someone if they would like to go bowling. and my counter point is, no, that's an overly simplistic explanation.

cupcake, it honestly sounds like you asked your coworker to make out not because you wanted to make out with her, but because you wanted to contest this quixotic point on MetaFilter.

And I second EmpressCallipygos's question: How old are you?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:16 PM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


who regarded her as a make-out object rather than a person.

nope, i regarded her as a person who i would like to make-out with, and who may or may not like to do the same with me. why is this false duality? "rather than a person" "just a" girl friend/sex-object/whatever. this reductionism jumps to a conclusion and is not productive.

Yeah, you were direct. So was she.

actually, no, she wasn't direct. i left that part of the story out. she said something like "oh, hmm, not now, maybe sometime later." and i thought "well, that probably means 'no', oh well." it was a week or two later, second hand, when i heard about the accusations of sexual harassment.
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:17 PM on September 10, 2013


"nope, i regarded her as a person who i would like to make-out with, and who may or may not like to do the same with me. why is this false duality? "rather than a person" "just a" girl friend/sex-object/whatever. this reductionism jumps to a conclusion and is not productive."

Do you not understand what objectification means? You saw her as a person you would like to make out with. There's nothing there about her except as an object for your making out. It's not reductive to say that you are explaining your attempt at courtship as a totally objectifying process.

But I'm glad that you ceded that your definitions were bad and that you're being willfully oblivious.
posted by klangklangston at 7:30 PM on September 10, 2013


Do you not understand what objectification means? ... There's nothing there about her except as an object for your making out.

lemme bold the part you didn't seem to read

"nope, i regarded her as a person who i would like to make-out with, and who may or may not like to do the same with me. why is this false duality? "rather than a person" "just a" girl friend/sex-object/whatever. this reductionism jumps to a conclusion and is not productive."
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:33 PM on September 10, 2013


nope, i regarded her as a person who i would like to make-out with, and who may or may not like to do the same with me. why is this false duality?

Did you consider that the situation may have gone more smoothly if you'd taken the time to figure out whether her opinion WAS "May" or "may not" before asking her if she wanted to make out?

Did you read my suggested "would you like to go out on a date sometime" alternative? Is there a reason why you hadn't considered asking her that way instead?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:55 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


so, you're suggesting i figure out her opinion before i ask her about her opinion?

Did you read my suggested "would you like to go out on a date sometime" alternative?

eh, i've done that before too, but it's not proposing for the the same thing.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:06 PM on September 10, 2013


so, you're suggesting i figure out her opinion before i ask her about her opinion?

...No, I'm suggesting you figure out her opinion by asking her her opinion. "Do you want to go out on a date sometime" is how you ask her opinion about whether she is open to any kind of non-platonic contact with you.

eh, i've done that before too, but it's not proposing for the the same thing.

Uh, yeah, it is.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:08 PM on September 10, 2013


Ah. So you approached someone you're acquainted with and asked them to engage in a low-level sexual activity with you, out of the blue.

No wonder she was creeped out, man.
posted by palomar at 8:09 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


"lemme bold the part you didn't seem to read

"nope, i regarded her as a person who i would like to make-out with, and who may or may not like to do the same with me.
"



So, your answer is no?

She's the object of your desire to make out. You have described her as having zero utility aside from a means to make out. She is an object to put your mouth on.

"eh, i've done that before too, but it's not proposing for the the same thing."

Very few humans progress immediately to making out without explicitly romantic social contact prior. They are mostly found at parties and in clubs and will actually kiss you without you having to worry about signals.

I mean, do you have sex by yelling, "I touched your clitoris now you orgasm!" There's a process that most people go through for this.
posted by klangklangston at 8:11 PM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


That should read "asked them to engage in a low-level sexual activity with you, no dating," et cetera.

It's okay to want to make out with someone and not want to date them, but just blurting out "hey, wanna make out?" without any kind of lead-up is really, really weird and off-putting. That's why flirting is good. That's why getting to know someone well enough to know if they're into no-strings makeouts or not is a better idea than what you're currently doing.
posted by palomar at 8:13 PM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


And again, thinking that honesty was the problem? o_0
posted by klangklangston at 8:14 PM on September 10, 2013


I mean, NSA stuff is cool, but you still generally treat your partner like a person, not just an assemblage of orifices and membranes. Which means talking more about "I make sex time on you, yes?"

If you're truly just looking to get off with a person, and aren't particular about the person getting you off, you might be better served by bathhouses or prostitutes. In those contexts, your request would not seem out of place nor too forward.
posted by klangklangston at 8:18 PM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


She's the object of your desire to make out. You have described her as having zero utility aside from a means to make out. She is an object to put your mouth on.


well, at this point i think you're being disingenuous, and reading the worst possible interpretation. not going on and on about the other things we had in common isn't the same thing as having zero utility aside from a means to make out.

this is what i mean by the unnecessary duality. that expressing sexual interest in someone is the opposite of being interested in them in any other way.

if i ask my friend if they would like to go bowling, she's not the object of my desire to bowl with. if i relate an anecdote where i ask them if they'd like to go bowling, but don't mention all the other awesome stuff i like to do with them, that's not the same thing as saying they have zero utility aside from a means to go bowling with. (as a side note, do you see your friends as collections of utilities to satisfy your desires? is that the yard stick here?) in the anecdote, she's a person i'd like to go bowling with.

klangklangston, palomar, and empresscallipygos, i think you're projecting your own issues rather than actually reading or responding to what i've written. hopefully y'all can take a break and read the thread later.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:26 PM on September 10, 2013


hopefully y'all can take a break and read the thread later.

Please do not do this. You do not work here. Please take this opportunity to keep this thread from being a referendum on your particular dating situation and take a step back. Everyone else, feel free to get back to the topic of the thread.
posted by jessamyn at 8:30 PM on September 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think the thing you're missing is that when you ask a friend if they want to go bowling, you're not asking for intimate access to their body. And that's what you're doing when you ask someone if they want to make out. Making out with someone, generally, is a little more intimate than bowling with them, and asking someone to engage in intimate activity with you requires a little more social grace than what you displayed in your anecdote.
posted by palomar at 8:31 PM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Just seconding jessamyn, let's leave the derail about cupcake1337's anecdote. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:39 PM on September 10, 2013


cupcake's situation aside, there is something over the top and ideological about this statement:

trapping someone in the really scary and dangerous position of having to say no to an unpredictable man is not such a great thing.

A guy makes a pass, not so smooth, it failed awkwardly, that's life for you. But the language of coercion and victimization in this statement is way over the top. Seriously, "trapping"? "dangerous"? Advice on how to flirt and be more smooth, great. That's both human kindness and (hopefully) a step toward a better world for everybody. But being able to say no is part of the way the world should work. Everyone of every gender needs that skill. It's not a crime or an assault to ask.
posted by msalt at 1:11 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


msalt, have you ever been in the position of having to turn down sexual advances from a man behaving unpredictably? I don't scare easily, but it is incredibly fucking terrifying even when it all goes well, because when it doesn't it really doesn't. Being cluefull about the huge population of men who will turn from Nice GuysTM to raging violent monsters who are bigger than us and feel victimized by our lack of interest in sleeping with them really should be a basic fucking expectation for genuinely decent guys. Being that unpredictable dude making sexual advances would be like getting crazy eyes and telling your conversation partner that you REALLY want to show them your chainsaw juggling skills and want them to be really close so they have a good view, it wouldn't matter if you could actually juggle chainsaws, that would be fucking terrifying to hear from an acquaintance at a party.

Being able to say no as an answer is indeed and should be a necessary life skill for everyone, but some questions have zero business being asked.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:19 AM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


It is not, most of the time, a crime or an assault to ask a genuine question. The nature of microaggressions, however, means that one's fairly innocent and sincere question may exist inside a continuum of many hostile or ignorant or willfully malicious inquiries. Add to that the fact that the socialized violence of sexuality means that you can never be very sure if the seemingly nice guy in front of you is going to turn into a threatening, abusive idiot the second that you say no, or that he might do more than just threaten, and it starts to become clear, at least to me, that an awareness of how the genuine and sincere question may be received by a person socialized to grin and bear disingenuous and insincere invitations serves all parties well.

I've hit on women and succeeded. This is an exceptionally rare occurrence, as it should probably be. Most of the time, when I hit on women, they say no. But, because I know that saying no can be dangerous and that being uninterested romantically or sexually in me is not evidence of any deficiency of mine, I don't ask emphatically, and I take no for an answer the first time. (I have, to my discredit, not always in conversation; while never more seriously than that, I've rarely been more ashamed of myself than when I have clearly made someone uncomfortable by pressing the issue because guys are supposed to get what they want, or something.)

Being able to say no is part of the way the world should work, I agree with you. When was the last time someone took a swing at you because you said no to them? How many times would that have to happen, or even be threatened to happen, before saying no started to look like a fairly maladaptive response?
posted by Errant at 2:21 AM on September 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Blasdelb, while I want to favorite that other story, I ain't gonna. You understand.
posted by Errant at 2:27 AM on September 11, 2013


A guy makes a pass, not so smooth, it failed awkwardly, that's life for you. But the language of coercion and victimization in this statement is way over the top. Seriously, "trapping"? "dangerous"?

I was at a bar once, and a guy kept looking at me and staring at me in a creepy way - so much so that I approached a couple other guys in the bar and asked if we could pretend to be friends because he was creeping me out. When I finally left - alone - the guy jumped up and followed me out of the bar and a block down the street, shouting "why didn't you come talk to me?"

And that was his reaction when I chose not to say hello to him. How much more violently might he have overreacted if I rejected him making a pass at me?

"Dangerous" is not an over-the-top statement.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:22 AM on September 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


msalt didn't say anything about your situation; he said that description ("trapping someone in the really scary and dangerous position of having to say no to an unpredictable man is not such a great thing") doesn't automatically apply to cupcake's situation.

It may, but that determination can't be made based upon the limited information we have about it. I suspect you know that. You're doing that thing again where you jump between general and specific to make your point.
posted by spaltavian at 7:41 AM on September 12, 2013


msalt didn't say anything about your situation; he said that description ("trapping someone in the really scary and dangerous position of having to say no to an unpredictable man is not such a great thing") doesn't automatically apply to cupcake's situation.

How was his co-worker to know that for certain?

It may, but that determination can't be made based upon the limited information we have about it. I suspect you know that.

And I suspect you also know that that determination also couldn't have been made by the woman who had just been issued a sexual invitation out of god-damn nowhere. Oh, wait, maybe you don't, because you're defending the right of a man to proposition a woman without any respect for her sense of self or security.

You're doing that thing again where you jump between general and specific to make your point.

Yes, because that is a thing that people do when they have specific lived experiences which directly relate to the general point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:44 AM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


actually, msalt started by saying "cupcake's situation aside" so he wasn't speaking to it at all - he said in part "A guy makes a pass, not so smooth, it failed awkwardly, that's life for you. But the language of coercion and victimization in this statement is way over the top." to me, EC's response is right on point - she's describing how an "awkward pass" from one side can feel dangerous from the other.

maybe you're the one misreading the conversation, spaltavian?
posted by nadawi at 7:48 AM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


It may, but that determination can't be made based upon the limited information we have about it. I suspect you know that.

Ironically enough, this is exactly what Blasdelb was talking about. In other words, based on the limited information the woman had, she had no way to determine if the situation was threatening or not. After this conversation, I would suspect you know that.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:48 AM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


How was his co-worker to know that for certain?

I didn't say she could. Did you see me questioning her reaction?
posted by spaltavian at 8:06 AM on September 12, 2013


I didn't say she could. Did you see me questioning her reaction?

No, but only because it seems as if you're not taking her reaction, or potential experiences, or point of view into account at all. That's what people are asking you to do.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:12 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I didn't say she could. Did you see me questioning her reaction?

No, I see you outright overlooking her reaction.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:25 AM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


msalt, have you ever been in the position of having to turn down sexual advances from a man behaving unpredictably?

Yes, several times. The first was the moment I left the airport in Washington DC at age 17, as a very naive kid across the country from my home, the first time I had ever traveled by myself. A mid-30s guy immediately invited me over to his apartment in a nearby building he pointed to. The dude was very polite, but much older and larger than me (I was 155 lbs and very thin.) And he was the very first person I interacted with on a journey that was already very nervous making. I was totally freaked out of course but did my best to act cool and go on my way. And like you say, I had no idea how he was going to react. We were the only two people at an outside train stop of some kind at an odd hour.

About a year and a half later, off by myself at college, my boss at work who seemed like a very cool guy invited me out to dinner. It never occurred to me that he might have romantic intentions; this was many years ago and he didn't present as gay in any way. As he was about to drop me off at my dorm, he just grabbed me and started kissing me full on the mouth, with tongue. I shoved him away and jumped out of the car.

He was a lot older than me and on the frail side, so force was on my side if it came to that, but what had seemed like a genuine friendship and his power relationship as my boss really fucked with my mind and led to lots of self doubt. Had I led him on? Why didn't I insist on paying for my own dinner? Why did I let him buy me drinks? Does this mean I'm gay and just don't realize it? Etc etc.
posted by msalt at 1:10 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, a thing doesn't have to be threatening to be crass.

Also, muchos pocos hacen un mucho. Keep interacting with a crass person over time, and a menacing pattern can emerge from a situation that, at first, could apparently be laughed off.

Threat isn't always physical, either. It's amazing how much damage you can do to someone in the workplace, for example, without ever touching them.
posted by tel3path at 1:14 AM on September 13, 2013


Keep interacting with a crass person over time, and a menacing pattern can emerge from a situation that, at first, could apparently be laughed off.

The reverse is also true - the first time an woman gets a crass suggestion like this, she may not know whether he is just being crass or whether he could escalate further in the moment, so that first incident can also feel threatening.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:39 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


msalt didn't say anything about your situation; he said that description ("trapping someone in the really scary and dangerous position of having to say no to an unpredictable man is not such a great thing") doesn't automatically apply to cupcake's situation.

How was his co-worker to know that for certain?


to clarify: she wasn't my co-worker. she was a friend/acquaintance from a larger social circle, whom i had known for a few months.
posted by cupcake1337 at 4:06 PM on September 29, 2013


yes let's carry this on
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:38 PM on September 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


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