The Comrade Sector

(Content: screwed-up gender dynamics, heterocentric discussion of sexist concepts.  Fun content: Klingons and daguerrotypes!)

(Alternate titles included The Ally Territory, The Companion Realm, and Eight Rules For Dating My Non-Age-Specific Fellow Sapient.  [Edit: also, Salacious Tortoises would have been a good one.])

This is one of those subjects that makes it hard for me not to just profane for a while.  I have been spending time (any amount is too much) on parts of the internet where ‘The Friend Zone’ is treated as an established and accurate concept, and now I just want to reboot the world.  On the plus side, it’s also providing me with a fascinating new perspective on the way I view people.

I’ve mentioned before that one of the reasons I love the heroic villain archetype is that they are doing the right thing even while not feeling like it.  They protect people they don’t particularly care about and they stand up for ideals that they think are just daydreamy nonsense.  This is what I feel like most of the time, because while I’m a long-run optimist (I believe that people will eventually transcend their current widespread and colossal failures) I’m a short-run pessimist (I believe that on the road to that transcendence we will oppress, harm, and in various ways kill uncountable multitudes of people and things) and I have unreasonably high standards for folks.  I tend to think of myself as being misanthropic by nature, and continually try to remind myself not to act like it.  And yet the internet, in its signature style, teaches me things that were not the things I expected to learn.

And one of those things is that I’m way less misanthropic than some of the chuweros out there subscribing to supposedly mild and mainstream concepts that are actually totally awful.  And the Friend Zone will here act as our exhibit A.

The definition is simple: a woman (occasionally a man) is said to have ‘friendzoned’ a man (occasionally a woman) when she spends time with him but rejects the possibility of a romantic relationship, which the man was interested in.  Once it happens, there is no escape from its sorcerous boundaries, no matter how the man may entreat for a fresh trial to prove his suitability.

Or, in normal-person talk, ladies only date dudes they want to date, and callously disregard the dudes they don’t want to date who nevertheless want to date them.

I grew up in the age when home video game consoles exploded, and so was bombarded with the insistence that this new form of media would corrupt and ruin the young and completely remove their appreciation of daguerrotypes and that sort of thing.  Is this the reckoning that was foretold?  Do people now believe that relationships have terrain hazards?  If you mistakenly equip the Hylian Shield as you’re heading up the river valley, the octorok will shove you off the ledge and you’ll land in the friend zone and have to start over?

All of the things wrong with this framework require some effort to disassemble and fully appreciate.  It presents the idea that forming a relationship is, from the dude’s perspective, the task of continually avoiding ‘getting friendzoned’ until some kind of romantic connection can be made.  It’s an inherently adversarial concept like something out of Klingon rituals (“Women roar.  Then they hurl heavy objects.  [The male] reads love poetry.  He ducks a lot.“) and it repeats the same eternal stupid thing about men wanting (especially sex, but often generalised into ‘affection’) and women withholding (see previous).  But beyond that, it also implies that a woman can want to friendzone a guy but not be able to until he does something to justify it.  It has to presume this, because otherwise it would have to accept reality, which is: if a woman doesn’t want to date a man, then she won’t (voluntarily).  There is no complicated process, there are no rules, and there is no rigid categorisation; no one is getting a forehead stamp and sorted into the Non-Dating Cabinet.

Or, in abnormal-person talk: if the friend zone existed, it would be immediate and unstoppable.  You can’t dodge it, you can’t ward it off – you don’t get put in it; it simply eminent-domains the ground under your feet.

But some people apparently see a personal benefit to operating on this nonsensical framework (elsewise they wouldn’t be parroting it to each other), and as near as I can tell, it’s about the externalisation.  It lets a person reclassify what they did (or have done, or are doing) that made them an unsuitable date and turn it into something that was done to them.  And this is a particularly important reclassification to pull off if you are a Nice Guy.

The Internet Nice Guy, of course, is the guy who is sweet and caring and giving but women just won’t date him because they’re only interested in jerks.  At least according to his webpage.  In reality, it turns out that he’s a self-important self-entitled guy who thinks that not actively burning down orphanages puts him in the top 1% of humanity and just can’t understand why women don’t reward his awesomeness with Naked Fun Times.  He’s already spending all of his time hanging out with them and only doing what they want and trying to make them completely dependent on him for their emotional needs – what more is he supposed to do, explicitly say that he is attracted to her?  MADNESS.  If he did that, he would just get friendzoned!  Do you expect him to fall for such an obvious ruse?

At this point, I may sound like I’m constructing strawmen and chastising them for their dealings with strawwomen, but it’s honestly not that difficult to find examples.  A friend linked to another blog’s post on friendzone concepts, and lo, but the second comment from the top was a guy explaining that Some Women really do manipulate guys and use the dudes’ “honest mating attentions” for personal profit which they have no intent to compensate the dude for.  Check it out.  That’s a direct quote: “honest mating attentions”.  I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

So: do I have a low opinion of my species as a whole?  Often.  Am I insufficiently sympathetic to others’ pains?  Probably.  But am I as much a misanthrope as that guy?  No.  Because that guy believes that women are heartless selfish manipulators and men are conniving fools who are trying to trade for sex but are being hornswoggled by the evil women’s superior treachery.  That is what some quality misanthropy looks like.

Now, as a socially-awkward person myself (and note that when I talk about Nice Guys, I refer to a group I was previously part of) I do like rules, and I think the desire for rules is part of what makes Nice Guy philosophies and frameworks like ‘the friend zone’ so attractive to dudes: it purports to take a complex system and reduce it to a simple series of laws, interactions, and consequences.  Never let it be said that I am unwilling to provide good rules to replace bad ones.  Here are some actual rules that serve well:

  1. If a person does not want to date another person, then they won’t.  Attempting any strategy that might subvert rule 1 makes you a bad person.  (Trying to actually be a person they would want to date is a somewhat more complicated grey area; even if New You can be sustained, it’s still generally a better plan to try with someone else.)
  2. Person A, if treating Person B like a friend when Person B has only ever acted like a friend, is not doing anything wrong.
  3. Acting like a friend purely for the purpose of getting something from your supposed friend makes you a bad person.  (This was true when it was the jerks in school ingeniously absorbing the kid whose family had a pool, and it remains true now.)
  4. If a friendship is all one-way, then it’s not a friendship, it’s indentured service.  Ditch ’em.

But there’s a second aspect to this friendzone concept – its inescapability – that needs to be dealt with separately.  The premise is, again, that once a person has been identified as a friend rather than as a Potential Naked Fun Times Compatriot, the process can never be reversed, and it is impossible to go from being close friends to romantic partners.  Or, more importantly, dudes will claim that women will use their existing friendship as an excuse not to start dating.  So, keep in mind:

  1. If a person says they don’t want to date another person, the most probable answer is that they don’t want to date them, never have, and never will.
  2. It is possible that a person legitimately believes that, regardless of their possible attraction to you, the potential failure of a romantic relationship is too great to risk the consequences for the friendship.
  3. Ask yourself if you can, if nothing else, imagine a friendship with [member of whatever gender(s) you’re attracted to] that you valued so much, in its platonic form, that you would hesitate or turn them down if they propositioned you.  If the answer is ‘no’, then chances are good we’ve just identified why your friend didn’t want to date you from the beginning.*
  4. No one needs an excuse in order to not date someone.  Therefore, if you have had what you believe to be An Excuse deployed on you: it was for the sake of sparing your feelings and the other person simply doesn’t want to explain that, while you’re fun to hang out with, they might rather make out with a galapagos tortoise.

I have had a lot of female friends.  I have been attracted to some of them.  I have broached the subject of dating sometimes.  I have sometimes been turned down; I have even had things which I suspect were Excuses deployed on me.  What is the correct response here?

Move on with your life.

Which is bleedin’ difficult sometimes, I know.  Great Jaddeth Below, I know.  When I refer to myself as a ‘former Nice Guy’, I see parallels with ‘recovering alcoholic’ – with destructive behaviours, we might never stop wanting to backslide, we might have to work constantly to be better than ourselves.  I may never stop wanting to be Romantic Comedy Guy.  But resisting that is the definition of winning.  (And sadly there are no cookies for basic decency.)

I used to dislike stories that made it explicitly clear that Our Heroes could never really win – that they would just right this injustice, push back evil this time, and then some day it would come back, and they would fight it again, or someone else would have to do it, forever.  But I get it now.

*Gracious, I almost let a post go by without a footnote.  Well, it occurred to me on rereading this rule that the ‘you’ here might just be a polysomething person of the sort who doesn’t feel any particular need to maintain hard lines between platonic and sexual relationships, and that may be just fine on its own; I’m not saying you’re a horrible person.  But I hardly need to tell someone who has a robust set of sociosexual ethics that the turning-you-down person may not be comfortable getting into that, so I think the rule stands on its own, both in its judgey and non-judgey forms.

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28 comments on “The Comrade Sector

  1. hapax says:

    Lovely post. I have been bewildered by references to “friendzoning” in the past, and your explanation makes it clear that it was just as icky as it sounded.

    But.. “chuweros”?

  2. Will Wildman says:

    I’m trying ‘chuwero’ out as a derogatory term – it was fabricated out of whole cloth by the guys at Penny Arcade, and has no clear definition except that it is meant to refer to the most vile sort of individual. Due to this artificial origin, it also isn’t racist, sexist, ableist, or rooted in any other defined bigotry, and I find its syllables satisfying for an expletive. If it ever does gain popularity, of course, time will tell whether it gains any of those connotations and so becomes counterproductive.

  3. anamardoll says:

    This is such a delightful post.

    Mom and Dad have been trying to get me to watch “Big Bang Theory” with them, which I really really hate because as a female engineer, a lot of the “jokes” just aren’t that funny to me because the “jokes” really boil down to (1) engineers / theorists are bizarre, Other, and non-functional and (2) women won’t give the good sex to engineers. HAHAHAHA, yes, that totally describes me!! *headdesk*

    Wait, I had a point somewhere in there. Ah, yes, I remember now: anyway Male Lead was asking out Female Lead and she kept saying that she didn’t want to “ruin their friendship” and I’m wanting to SCREAM at the television that that’s a euphemism for “politely Not That Into You”. (The episode seemed to tacitly acknowledge that near the end, but I don’t think it was the take-away message.)

    And I’m frankly baffled by the “friend-zone” idea, because really which would people rather have? A polite, “I’m sorry, I value our friendship too much” or a harsh “I don’t find you attractive and your interest in Ren Fairs is off-putting to me in the extreme”??? It seems like the whole “NOOOO NOT THE FRIEND ZONE” concept is taking what women say (“I value our friendship”) and trying to game that into something to use against them.

    (This was one of many reasons why I flinched when Bella said she couldn’t date Mike because she didn’t want to hurt Jessica. I envision Mike running off to hurt Jessica and then ‘reasonably’ pointing out that Bella can date him now without fear of causing hurt. No no no.)

    Nice Guyism in general fascinates me because I was a girl geek who bought into it pretty hard back in the day and it was a bit of a blow to find out that the sweet nerdy boy who’d been your friend for years might not turn out to have been secretly desiring you all this time. I guess that’s the girl flip-side to Nice Guy disappointment — the realization that he really DOES want the Cheerleader. But, hey, that particular cheerleader happened to be my best girl friend, so I got over it pretty fast.

    I want to write a Feminist Fairytale that features Sleeping Beauty and a Nice Guy and all the issues therein of being expected to love someone you don’t even know just because they meet a bare minimum of decency. That’s on my list of things to do.

  4. Will Wildman says:

    I was a girl geek who bought into it pretty hard back in the day and it was a bit of a blow to find out that the sweet nerdy boy who’d been your friend for years might not turn out to have been secretly desiring you all this time. I guess that’s the girl flip-side to Nice Guy disappointment — the realization that he really DOES want the Cheerleader.

    I wonder if this is one of those cases where we’re talking about two distinct but related things? I’m not wholly sure what you mean by ‘nice guy disappointment’ so I’m really not sure what the girl-flip-side thereof would be. (Having thought about it more, I’m hypothesising that you mean you thought the Nice Guy archetype really was nice, and additionally thought that this was what your friend was doing, but in reality he was a no-caps nice guy who really was just your friend?)

    The first time I saw Big Bang Theory, I turned it off after about thirty seconds. Later I tried watching it with a friend (female, geek, hippie), and we enjoyed some of it to start with, but it got more and more awkward over time, I suspect because the writers got tired and so lost any previous sense of nuance and just went totally off the rails with problematic cliches instead. These days I just avoid it all the time. (That friend is generally quite good and insightful and aware of discrimination and sexism, but she also legitimately enjoyed the Twilight series, so I think she’s just really good at ignoring problematic things in fiction.)

    And I’m frankly baffled by the “friend-zone” idea, because really which would people rather have? A polite, “I’m sorry, I value our friendship too much” or a harsh “I don’t find you attractive and your interest in Ren Fairs is off-putting to me in the extreme”???

    I dunno about the Ren Fairs thing (surely there are women who are totally into them) but to a Nice Guy, ‘I value our friendship’ is a non sequitur to the primary thrust of his argument, which is that his efforts to this point mean he is owed Naked Fun Times. He has input the inputs and so responding now with either ‘friendship’ or ‘rejection’ is not allowed; those are supposed to be volunteered earlier. Ideally the first words a woman would say to him are either “I am an evil manipulator” or “I will eventually sleep with you if you follow these directions”.

    Blleeehhhhh. Going to go think about superheroes now.

  5. anamardoll says:

    I’ve really been mostly exposed to Nice Guyism in films, which usually takes the form (that I can see) of a Nice Guy being friends with a girl who in the end realizes that he’s been there all along and that he’s a better pair-bond than the Jerk Jock she’s been lusting after all film long. (The execution sometimes being unbearably squicky, of course.)

    And, of course, in real life it doesn’t always work that way — sometimes the girl really DOES want the Jerk Jock or she flat out doesn’t want the Nice Guy and takes a third option. As a teenager, that was a bit of a shock to me: that the nerdy guy wouldn’t realize that the Nice Girl is a better match for him than the Cheerleader he’s been wanting. Nice Girlism!

    Maybe this is a younger more idealistic version of Nice Guyism (“Someday you’ll wake up and realize I’ve been here all along.”) than the harsher form (“You owe me naked fun times now.”)? I think they stem from the same “input should produce output” where output is Romance, Sex, Happily Ever After, whatever.

    I’m actually totally into Ren Fairs, but was irked that one of the BBT episodes that Mom and Dad showed me was them going to a Ren Fair and Sheldon (Shelton?) picking apart the historical accuracy of everything. Anyone who enjoys Ren Fairs enough to costume up and go surely recognizes that historical accuracy is a bug, not a feature, of Ren Fairs. (By which I mean, yay turkey legs and porta-potties! (Though not at the same time!!))

  6. Will Wildman says:

    Ah, yes – and “Someday you’ll wake up and realise I’ve been here all along” is certainly the ‘benign’ version of Nice Guying. The issue tends to be that this is the story NGs tell themselves and, when pressed on the matter, they eventually revert to ‘I am entitled to affection’. And the whole thing is most definitely wrapped up in a presumption that the object doesn’t know their romantic preferences as well as the NG.

  7. storiteller says:

    “honest mating attentions”

    Dear Lord, that sounds like a voice-over on a nature show. “The Nice Guy here is showing the female his honest mating attentions, but it appears that she is disinterested. Nonetheless, he continues the pursuit.”

    As for “Friend Zoning,” I am personally living proof that the concept is nonsense. My mom and dad were very good friends while my mom was engaged to a jerk. She would frequently go to my dad and complain about said jerk and he would listen patiently. Even though he liked her as more than a friend, he listened and sympathized with her because he was first and foremost her friend. Quite a while after she broke it off with the jerk, they ended up getting together because she realized her best friend was actually someone she quite liked romantically. But she realized that only because he was her best friend first and foremost, not some Nice Guy who felt like she owed him a relationship for listening.

    That’s what I don’t understand about this whole mindset – the idea that it is impossible for someone to both be your friend and be romantically interested in you, as if they’re complete opposites. To someone also married to her best friend, I see it that attitude seriously undervaluing both friendship and romantic relationships.

  8. Will Wildman says:

    That’s what I don’t understand about this whole mindset – the idea that it is impossible for someone to both be your friend and be romantically interested in you, as if they’re complete opposites.

    Rather than being a core feature, I think it’s a secondary necessary part in order to maintain the mindset. (Like how Aquaman’s powers don’t explicitly include ‘nigh-invulnerable’ but obviously must in order for him to survive at the bottom of the ocean.) Once the Nice Guy recognises that the friendship is wholly enjoyable on its own and not as a mandatory prelude to ‘affection’, it’s a slippery slope to recognising that he does have something to lose if it were to go romantic and then sour, and then he’s at risk of just saying “Achtahellwitit, let’s just hang out because you are a person I enjoy being around” and the whole Nice Guy framework implodes because cross-gender interactions can no longer be reduced to transactions and obligations.

    …Or so I would imagine. *cough*

  9. Sam says:

    “Even though he liked her as more than a friend, he listened and sympathized with her because he was first and foremost her friend. Quite a while after she broke it off with the jerk, they ended up getting together because she realized her best friend was actually someone she quite liked romantically. But she realized that only because he was her best friend first and foremost, not some Nice Guy who felt like she owed him a relationship for listening.”

    Okay… I’m sorry but I don’t see how your Dad is any different from the Nice Guy scenario. Is it because your Dad stuck around and continued to listen to her problems with jerky soon to be husband? Well, that’s fine but some guys can’t stick around when they know that like their female friends (who already with someone else) more than just a friend. This should continue to send mix signals because I thought the problem with the nice guys is that supposedly can’t move on. But you’re story seem to imply that if just hang in there she will break up with jerky boyfriend or soon to be husband and end up with you.

    “what more is he supposed to do, explicitly say that he is attracted to her? MADNESS. If he did that, he would just get friendzoned! Do you expect him to fall for such an obvious ruse?”

    Wait… isn’t this a strawman argument. Claiming that the never tell them their attracted to them when many guys who said they’ve been friendzone say that they have said this?

    “1.If a person says they don’t want to date another person, the most probable answer is that they don’t want to date them, never have, and never will.”

    You must be psychic. Do you know how many people are married to people they said they would never date?

    “2.It is possible that a person legitimately believes that, regardless of their possible attraction to you, the potential failure of a romantic relationship is too great to risk the consequences for the friendship.”

    That’s kind of lame. There is always risk in a relationship that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try. And that doesn’t mean that if the relationship fails you can’t continue to be friends.

    “3.Ask yourself if you can, if nothing else, imagine a friendship with [member of whatever gender(s) you’re attracted to] that you valued so much, in its platonic form, that you would hesitate or turn them down if they propositioned you. If the answer is ‘no’, then chances are good we’ve just identified why your friend didn’t want to date you from the beginning.*”

    So let me get this straight if they propositioned him or her and they accepted without hesitation then he or she is the bad guy for accepting? I’m not even going to pretend that makes sense.

    “4.No one needs an excuse in order to not date someone. Therefore, if you have had what you believe to be An Excuse deployed on you: it was for the sake of sparing your feelings and the other person simply doesn’t want to explain that, while you’re fun to hang out with, they might rather make out with a galapagos tortoise.”

    No ones owed an excuse but it’s nice to know why someone won’t date you. But what doesn’t make any sense is that if you have all these reasons not to date a nice guy then why don’t you just tell to his face. Instead of on the internet.

  10. Will Wildman says:

    But you’re story seem to imply that if just hang in there she will break up with jerky boyfriend or soon to be husband and end up with you.

    No, the story demonstrates that there are such things as 1) friendships in which one person is attracted to the other but manages not to be awful about it, 2) relationships that start out as friendships, and 3) infers that being someone’s actual friend rather than pretending to be their friend in order to get ‘affection’ from them is in all ways a better practice.

    You must be psychic. Do you know how many people are married to people they said they would never date?

    No, I don’t know. I’m guessing you don’t have a census on the matter either. But since neither of us is psychic, it behooves us to actually believe the person who says “I don’t want to date you”, rather than deciding that we know their minds better than they do and should just keep pushing until they give in.

    There is always risk in a relationship that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try. And that doesn’t mean that if the relationship fails you can’t continue to be friends.

    Both true. But it doesn’t mean that you should give it a try either. And, again, each person gets to decide for themselves whether they think the risk is too high – one person can’t just say “I think it’s worth the risk, therefore you need to agree”.

    So let me get this straight if they propositioned him or her and they accepted without hesitation then he or she is the bad guy for accepting? I’m not even going to pretend that makes sense.

    Well, that’s not what I said, so again I’m going to agree with you that it doesn’t make sense. What I wrote, and what does make sense, is that people may completely reasonably not want to date a friend (even one who has various qualities they find attractive) and that “I don’t want to risk the friendship” is a legitimate position to hold. And that if a person can’t imagine not wanting to risk the friendship, this may indicate qualities of their personality that contribute to the other person not wanting to date them. I have no idea what you thought you read.

    No ones owed an excuse but it’s nice to know why someone won’t date you.

    It is nice to know, sometimes. But it’s still up to the other person to decide whether they want to volunteer that information. We continue to agree that they are not owed! I’m glad we see eye-to-eye on so many of these points.

    But what doesn’t make any sense is that if you have all these reasons not to date a nice guy then why don’t you just tell to his face. Instead of on the internet.

    I’m not sure what you’re referring to here; it doesn’t seem to relate to anything I’ve written.

  11. anamardoll says:

    No ones owed an excuse but it’s nice to know why someone won’t date you. But what doesn’t make any sense is that if you have all these reasons not to date a nice guy then why don’t you just tell to his face. Instead of on the internet.

    I agree with Will that this is a non-sequiter, but you’re making some very large mistakes here.

    One, by assuming that “you have all these reasons not to date a nice guy”. If I don’t want to date some Nice Guy (how do I even KNOW he’s nice? Consider Schrodinger’s Rapist hereby invoked.), I don’t necessarily have ANY reasons. Maybe I don’t want to date him for no reason at all.

    Or maybe I have ONE reason: Maybe I just don’t want to. Maybe he doesn’t float my boat. Maybe I prefer blondes and I don’t feel the need to broadcast that. Maybe it’s Thursday. Maybe I’ve got something going on in my life and I’m not in the dating mood. Maybe NONE OF THESE THINGS.

    You’re making the assumption that the only reason a woman WOULDN’T date some super Nice Guy is because of a laundry list of reasons that she, oh sure, doesn’t OWE him, but she really OUGHT to tell him so that he can then “fix” and/or argue each point logically and rationally. The world doesn’t work like that.

    Which brings us to two, which is that she should deliver the laundry list in person rather than from afar. Which tells me that you are very likely not a woman because you have never had to seriously consider that by rejecting someone — particularly by rejecting them with a laundry list of all the reasons why they are Undateable — you may be risking serious physical harm to yourself.

    And additionally undermines your OF COURSE SHE DOESN’T OWE HIM anything argument. Because if she doesn’t owe him an explanation, then why complain about how you received the optional explanation? It’s like “you didn’t owe me a Mother’s day card, but WFT you *mailed* it instead of delivering it *in person*?” Mixed messages there.

  12. storiteller says:

    I’m sorry but I don’t see how your Dad is any different from the Nice Guy scenario. Is it because your Dad stuck around and continued to listen to her problems with jerky soon to be husband? Well, that’s fine but some guys can’t stick around when they know that like their female friends (who already with someone else) more than just a friend. This should continue to send mix signals because I thought the problem with the nice guys is that supposedly can’t move on. But you’re story seem to imply that if just hang in there she will break up with jerky boyfriend or soon to be husband and end up with you.

    My dad does not fall into the Nice Guy scenario because:
    1) Nice Guys become friends with women for the explicit reason that they want to have a romantic relationship, not because they want to have a genuine friendship. My dad became friends with my mom first – they were part of the same group of friends in community college. He fell in love with her after they had been friends for a while. The same thing happened to me with my husband. This is much less icky than trying to become intimate friends with someone because you expect a romantic relationship to form out of it. It’s a major difference in expectations.
    2) My dad stuck around and listened to her problems because he was her friend, regardless of his interest in dating her.
    3) My dad asked her out long after (I think at least a year after) she broke up with her finance. He purposely waited until after she had passed the period of emotional vulnerability, when she would be ready to be in a relationship either way. She may have dated other people between the two, but I’m not sure.
    4) My dad didn’t assume that she “owed” him a relationship for being his friend. For one, my dad is one of the least entitled people in the world and two, my mom is pretty darn good at seeing through ulterior motives.
    5) My dad would have remained my mom’s friend even if she turned him down. Now, obviously, I can’t know that for certain, but knowing how loyal and “zen” (in the pop culture sense, not the religious sense) my dad is, I’m pretty confident stating this. I know he would be happy for her no matter what happened – that’s what loving someone is about.

    I know when my boyfriend and I broke up at the end of high school, I genuinely wanted him in my life even though we weren’t romantically involved anymore. He felt the same way. Similarly, two of my friends just got married, and their best man had once dated the bride. I know that not everyone can do that, but if you know you are incapable of maintaining a friendship if the person turns you down, you shouldn’t become friends with a person you are attracted to. You should just ask them out and move on if they say no. Becoming a person’s friend just for the sake of eventually asking them out, then dropping them if they say no is manipulative and mean.

    No, the story demonstrates that there are such things as 1) friendships in which one person is attracted to the other but manages not to be awful about it, 2) relationships that start out as friendships, and 3) infers that being someone’s actual friend rather than pretending to be their friend in order to get ‘affection’ from them is in all ways a better practice.

    Yes, exactly.

  13. Sam says:

    “No, the story demonstrates that there are such things as 1) friendships in which one person is attracted to the other but manages not to be awful about it,”

    Define awful? Do you define awful as not wanting to be friends after shown their romantic feelings? If so then that it’s their choice if they can no longer handle being just friends.

    “2) relationships that start out as friendships,”

    Was there an argument against that?

    “and 3) infers that being someone’s actual friend rather than pretending to be their friend in order to get ‘affection’ from them is in all ways a better practice.”

    Yeah, because that always works out. Don’t assume that someone wasn’t their actual friend if the friendship didn’t work out.

    “No, I don’t know. I’m guessing you don’t have a census on the matter either. But since neither of us is psychic, it behooves us to actually believe the person who says “I don’t want to date you”, rather than deciding that we know their minds better than they do and should just keep pushing until they give in.”

    Pushing? It’s called putting yourself out there and there is nothing wrong with doing that more than once. And if a person is firm on saying no that’s fine. But want bothers me is that they change their minds and expect person to drop everything and be with them.

    “Both true. But it doesn’t mean that you should give it a try either. And, again, each person gets to decide for themselves whether they think the risk is too high – one person can’t just say “I think it’s worth the risk, therefore you need to agree”.

    That’s bull crap. I didn’t say you need to agree. Just it’s too big of risk is a lame reason. And despite what you might think it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try either.

    “Well, that’s not what I said, so again I’m going to agree with you that it doesn’t make sense. What I wrote, and what does make sense, is that people may completely reasonably not want to date a friend (even one who has various qualities they find attractive) and that “I don’t want to risk the friendship” is a legitimate position to hold. And that if a person can’t imagine not wanting to risk the friendship, this may indicate qualities of their personality that contribute to the other person not wanting to date them. I have no idea what you thought you read.”

    Okay, that makes even less sense. Wanting to “risk” a friendship in favor of romantic relationship is a legitmate position to have. Because if the relationship succeeds they would be getting so much in return. I have no idea why you think one position is valid and the other is not. Also, if want you said had nothing to do with being propositioned then why use such a word?

    “It is nice to know, sometimes. But it’s still up to the other person to decide whether they want to volunteer that information. We continue to agree that they are not owed! I’m glad we see eye-to-eye on so many of these points.”

    But who says that it wasn’t up to person to decide? I have never heard a nice guy said the owed an explaination. They said would like an explaination but I never heard that felt they owed one.

    “I’m not sure what you’re referring to here; it doesn’t seem to relate to anything I’ve written.”

    It’s not hard to understand. This article is giving reason why girls don’t want to date nice guys. But you say that the girls don’t have to give them explainations on why they don’t want to date them. However, if these are the reasons why girls don’t want to them then why not just tell them. Instead of complaining about them on the internet.

  14. Sam says:

    ) “Nice Guys become friends with women for the explicit reason that they want to have a romantic relationship, not because they want to have a genuine friendship. My dad became friends with my mom first – they were part of the same group of friends in community college. He fell in love with her after they had been friends for a while. The same thing happened to me with my husband. This is much less icky than trying to become intimate friends with someone because you expect a romantic relationship to form out of it. It’s a major difference in expectations.”

    So according to you there is no way to have genuine frienship while still wanting to have a romantic relationship. That seems rather conflicting and hypocritical giving your stance. Do you consider that the reason they look for romance through friendship is because they rather date people that they know really well.

    “2) My dad stuck around and listened to her problems because he was her friend, regardless of his interest in dating her.”

    “3) My dad asked her out long after (I think at least a year after) she broke up with her finance. He purposely waited until after she had passed the period of emotional vulnerability, when she would be ready to be in a relationship either way. She may have dated other people between the two, but I’m not sure.”

    So your Dad is different because he waited a year? I thought the nice guys problem was that they didn’t know how to move on?

    “4) My dad didn’t assume that she “owed” him a relationship for being his friend. For one, my dad is one of the least entitled people in the world and two, my mom is pretty darn good at seeing through ulterior motives.”

    You keep saying that nice guys feel that they’re owed a relationship. But from what I seen the only person using the word “owed” is you. You seem to think that sense your Dad got to be with the woman he wanted that his not those like “entitled” nice guys. Which is false thinking just because a nice guy didn’t get to be with the girl they wanted doesn’t mean they’re entitled.

    “5) My dad would have remained my mom’s friend even if she turned him down. Now, obviously, I can’t know that for certain, but knowing how loyal and “zen” (in the pop culture sense, not the religious sense) my dad is, I’m pretty confident stating this. I know he would be happy for her no matter what happened – that’s what loving someone is about.”

    Again that’s fine but just because other guys may not been able to contiue the friendship doesn’t mean they weren’t really friends. Also, love doesn’t just go one way. If your Dad decided to no longer to friends with her ( or to no longer continue the friendship has it was) then your Mom should be understanding. If she really loved him she would have understood and let him go.

    “You should just ask them out and move on if they say no. Becoming a person’s friend just for the sake of eventually asking them out, then dropping them if they say no is manipulative and mean.”

    No, it’s not manipulative or mean to care about your own feelings. If it’s too much for them to handle then they have every right to no longer to be friends. They aren’t obligated to stay friends. Yes, it may hurt and be very painful but it’s their choice. According to this article the problem with nice guys is that the don’t accept girl choices. Yet here you are not accepting their choices. You say that if they can’t remain friends with someone they’re attracted to then they shouldn’t be friends from the start. Okay, but what about nice guys who are dropped as friends after revealing how they feel? Should girls not befriend a guy out of the risk they might develop feelings for them and end up having to reject them? If not then why should nice guys not befriend girls they’re attracted to? All relationships comes with risk but that’s not a good enough reason not to pursue it.

  15. Sam says:

    “You’re making the assumption that the only reason a woman WOULDN’T date some super Nice Guy is because of a laundry list of reasons that she, oh sure, doesn’t OWE him, but she really OUGHT to tell him so that he can then “fix” and/or argue each point logically and rationally. ”

    Listen to what you’re saying. You saying that these main ( but not the only) reasons why girls don’t date nice guys. If this is problem that the need to fix, reform, or whatever then why not just tell them face to face.

    “”The world doesn’t work like that.”

    You mean being honest?

    “Which brings us to two, which is that she should deliver the laundry list in person rather than from afar. Which tells me that you are very likely not a woman because you have never had to seriously consider that by rejecting someone — particularly by rejecting them with a laundry list of all the reasons why they are Undateable — you may be risking serious physical harm to yourself. ”

    That is so lame. You avoid conflict out of the fear of physical harm? Then why not avoid it all together inside just with nice guys. Sorry but that is just a lame reason because you unfairly make yourself the victim and the other guy the abuser. When the said person is not even here to defend themself. Also, that’s an ad hominem circumstantial to say just because I may not be girl means that I’m wrong.

    “And additionally undermines your OF COURSE SHE DOESN’T OWE HIM anything argument. Because if she doesn’t owe him an explanation, then why complain about how you received the optional explanation? It’s like “you didn’t owe me a Mother’s day card, but WFT you *mailed* it instead of delivering it *in person*?” Mixed messages there.”

    Because you’re the one giving the explanation and saying that this something that nice guys needs to changed. Also, I said it would be nice to get an explanation but not that their owed one. So it would be better to tell them face to face as opposed to on the internet. Where it come off as more passive aggressive.

  16. Will Wildman says:

    All relationships comes with risk but that’s not a good enough reason not to pursue it.

    That’s not your decision to make for someone else. If you’re unable to acknowledge that basic fact, then there is no hope of productive dialogue with you. Other people get to make their own decisions. Roll with it.

    You saying that these main ( but not the only) reasons why girls don’t date nice guys. If this is problem that the need to fix, reform, or whatever then why not just tell them face to face.

    The ‘problem’ that they need to fix is that they do not respect the rights of other people to make their own decisions. Having been told that this is the problem, you don’t appear to be interested in fixing it; you appear to be interested in arguing about why you are right to ignore other people’s agency. Consider the possibility that ‘just telling’ someone about their flaws usually doesn’t result in them fixing it – it results in them complaining that it’s not fair to them. Consider the possibility that folks who have seen this pattern before really don’t feel like getting into it yet a-bloody-gain.

  17. Will Wildman says:

    Additionally, stop using the word ‘lame’ to mean ‘bad’. It’s an ableist term and thus inappropriate. (Fair warning that if you complain about this, I will ban you like Zelda bans Ganon, and with less hesitation.)

  18. Sam says:

    “That’s not your decision to make for someone else. If you’re unable to acknowledge that basic fact, then there is no hope of productive dialogue with you. Other people get to make their own decisions. Roll with it.”

    I didn’t say it was my decision to make for someone. They can make whatever decision they choose. I’m just saying that it’s not a good enough reason. You confuse accepting people’s choices with thinking that making they’re choices for the right reasons.

    “The ‘problem’ that they need to fix is that they do not respect the rights of other people to make their own decisions. Having been told that this is the problem, you don’t appear to be interested in fixing it;”

    Missing the point. The point is that you’re saying this on the internet. They can either agree with you and change or argue against it. You can control how you present information but you can’t control their response to it.

    “you appear to be interested in arguing about why you are right to ignore other people’s agency.”

    Strawman attack. You obviously don’t know the difference between ignoring people’s agency. And feeling as thou they’re not making the right decisions for the right reasons. Not agreeing with a choice is not the same as ignoring it or not accepting it.

    “Consider the possibility that ‘just telling’ someone about their flaws usually doesn’t result in them fixing it – it results in them complaining that it’s not fair to them. Consider the possibility that folks who have seen this pattern before really don’t feel like getting into it yet a-bloody-gain.”

    Then why do you expect any nice guy to fix their problems while reading it on the internet? They even less likely to change their alleged behavior when about hearing about it online.

  19. Sam says:

    “Additionally, stop using the word ‘lame’ to mean ‘bad’. It’s an ableist term and thus inappropriate. (Fair warning that if you complain about this, I will ban you like Zelda bans Ganon, and with less hesitation.)”

    Listen to me I did not come here to be censored by some online PC dictator. Don’t bother trying to ban me I’m not coming back again. You clearly have an inability to listen to reason and have a sophisticated conversation . It’s moronic people like you who create misanthropic individuals. You don’t care about what is true you just care about what is ever convenient to your close minded ideology.

  20. Will Wildman says:

    And now I know how to ban people. Hadn’t had to look that up before.

    It’s moronic people like you who create misanthropic individuals.

    Wow, you’re really not willing to take responsibility for anything, are you? Bored now.

  21. anamardoll says:

    And now I know how to ban people. Hadn’t had to look that up before.

    But you did it wonderfully well and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. Once “PC” starts getting slung around, the true colors are flying, in my opinion. :)

  22. Eri says:

    That was just a whole lot of hilarity and terror. I kind of wish I had popped up before he was banned so I could offer my theory that Nice Guys are more likely to be date rapists. That could only have gone hilariously.

  23. unbeliever536 says:

    I only just read the “honest mating attentions” comment, and I, uh, I don’t know. I thought it was a parody when I first went through it. The guy’s second sentence starts, “In the time before males learned that sex created babies…” I mean really, how can that not be parody? So I was laughing a lot and then he went and congratulated Mr “the object of the infatuation knows of the pain of their admirer full well” and I don’t know what to think.

  24. Will Wildman says:

    I think that there are, unfortunately, people whose amusing turns of phrase belie their terrible social values. By which I mean that I think ‘before males learned’ is definitely meant to be humourous, but the ‘there totally is a friendzone created by evil women’ part is still sincere. (I’ve noticed that guys who promote these concepts are happy to make jokes where dumb sex-obsessed men are the punchline, which is supposed to sound anti-sexist (and fails) but also plays perfectly into the friendzone framework.)

  25. unbeliever536 says:

    There’s just a level of absurdity there that’s very hard for me to believe. It would be like someone telling a supporter of Obamacare that, in the face of the already existing free-rider problem created by emergency rooms treating everyone in a state of medical emergency, they simply ought to stop treating people.

  26. inknation says:

    Reblogged this on Ink Nation and commented:
    I hope that Mr. Narrowcrookedlanes doesn’t mind, but a friend shared this with me, and it was so brilliant that I had to share it with everyone else. I think that’s how most revolutions of thought get started.

  27. inknation says:

    “…who thinks that not…burning down orphanages puts him in the top one per cent of humanity.” YES. This. Exactly this. There are a lot of things about the “Nice Guy” mentality that I don’t understand, but this one mystifies me the most. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that “Nice Guy’s Lament” that’s been floating around the internet, but there was a bit of this mentality in there, too: (Paraphrasing, here): “Remember that time you were drunk and I didn’t take advantage of you? You should date me as a ‘thank you’ for being so awsome! Remember when I bought you flowers and told you that yor boyfriend was cheating? I deserve romantic attention from you for being such a wonderful human being!” I think that most “Nice Guys” don’t realize that thier extraordinary niceness isn’t really that extraordinary. As you put it, “there are no cookies for decent behavior,” and expecting someone to date you or sleep with you because you act like a decent person is embarassing at best, offensive at worst. You might want to raise your minmum standard for human behavior a little higher, Nice Guys.
    Brilliant post all around. I hope you don’t mind the re-blog action.

  28. mapleshaft says:

    I have always suspected that this Friend-Zone nonsense is more basic and primal than even that. When I was a child, maybe 6 or 7, I would go over to my neighbors house and play with the little girl that was maybe a year younger than myself. The neighbor across from her, he was also my age, and the three of us would play together.

    One day we started playing with paper dolls and they were all high school themed. We each grabbed a doll that we liked and started role playing. She obviously picked the pretty cheerleader, and the other boy picked the captain of the football team. I picked the slightly chubby linebacker with a letter jacket, because he looked most like me. She was interested in her character being courted, at least in the way that a 6 year old understands relationships.

    His character would beat up the other dolls and then he loudly boasted his accomplishments. Ha, fool I thought… I watched enough movies to know that girls like flowers and compliments. He isn’t even trying. So my character brought the cheerleader flowers and I told her she was pretty. What happened was that she announced I was a loser and that the captain of the football team was her boyfriend. Their characters started making fun of my character for being fat.

    I remember being really distraught by this and I felt injustice over it. I didn’t even think that justice was a concept that a 6 year old typically understood but I distinctly remember feeling at the time that it was unfair and that the cheerleader should have been my characters girlfriend… because after all, SHE OWED IT TO HIM for how nice he was being.

    That isn’t something that I was taught, this idea naturally popped into my 6 year old mind. Of course I grew up and realized how foolish and childish that was but perhaps the idea of the friendzone is a more fundamental primal (childish) thing that many of us arrived at on our own?

    Just wanted to share the story to give some fresh insight on it. Great article!

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