Escaping the friend zone

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now or (gasp) from the beginning, you may have noticed a subtle shift. Early on I was all about pure, unbridled ridiculousness, one of my favorites being my review of ice cream sandwiches. And I started there for one simple reason: those are the most fun to write – just plant my poles into the powder, gentle push, and before I know it: 60mph. More recently I’ve found myself weaving in some of my own personal experiences and/or trying to locate a message in the (still copious) nonsense, and that too is for a deliberate reason. I’ve noticed a trend –  y’all seem to enjoy reading about my failures. And that’s cool too, I guess. If my life lessons can help guide someone else’s or simply provide some entertainment, I can feel good about that. I’m not sure what my point is here other than to say thanks for hanging in there and if you like nonsense there will continue to be plenty of that; and if you like failure and introspection, well, I’ve got you covered there too. And now our feature presentation:

I’m pretty sure that at this point in the game, I’ve lost the vast majority of my male readership talking about being respectful to women and crazy shit like that – which is to say, of my 10 readers, 8 are women (up from 7). And to those 8 ladies I’d like to say: this entry is not for you. Got it? Go away. Stop reading. You are not welcome here this week… They gone? Is it just us three? Cool.

If you’re like me, you know what it’s like to feel helpless – to feel like, despite your best efforts, you’re being thwarted at every turn. And if you’re like me, you certainly know what it’s like to limp into the gladiator arena, already sopping from wounds too recent, opposite a hungry lioness. You fight hard and even manage to avoid total slaughter, but mere moments into the bout you realize your best-case scenario is being incapacitated and having the blood lapped from your body until the beast is bored of you. Was that too abstract? If so: the lioness licking your bloody near-carcass was a metaphor for being in the friend zone. We all caught up? Good.

At least that’s how it always seemed to me when I was searching in vain for Poundtown. Hey, like metaphors? Here’s another: being in the friend zone is yelling all the right things to a beautiful woman in a coma and praying that some of that is sinking in. Except, the truth is, you’re not saying or doing the right things and the object of your affection is perfectly lucid. Confused yet? Me too, but ride with me – let’s figure this shit out together. But before you start taking notes I need to give you my now-usual disclaimer. If you’re looking for advice from someone with a long track record of taming lioness after lioness you’ve come to the wrong place. However, I have spent the majority of my sexually active life in some lady’s friend arena and feel like I know the landscape pretty well.

Don’t get me wrong; some of the most rewarding and fulfilling friendships I have are with women. But if we rewind to the moment we first met and gave me the option of casual sex or meaningful friendship, I’m taking the sex, 100%. No offense to my friendships with these individuals, but sex was precious at the time – friends were already part of my life. Furthermore, I have not once – not one time in my life – met a woman I’ve been sexually attracted to and had the initial thought: “I’d like to make sweet friendship to her.” Not one goddamn time. That’s just not how my brain works if I’m being honest with myself. At the same time, one has to realize that your primal instincts don’t give you license to be a fucking creep – as many high-profile celebrities have recently found out. Instead, just be a reasonable human and have some respect for a woman’s space.

…but not too much respect. Look, eventually you’ve got to shoot your shot if you’re not content with having a friendship with this lady. Don’t waste your time or hers. If you’re just hovering around her, hoping your friendship will transform into lust you are just torturing yourself. I’m not saying it never works but I am saying if her answer is going to be “no” anyway you might as well just let her hit you with that frying pan now rather than sautéing you in it for months or years. Secondly, the earlier in the relationship you bring it up, the easier it is to get over – you might still end up with a good friend as a consolation prize. Women have the ability to completely shut that sex door when they’ve classified a relationship as a friendly one. I think most single men are like I was as a single man (if I may be that naïve), where that door never did latch too well – or the latch was rusted out and could be broken with a gentle nudge. Especially as a 20-something, I could have a completely plutonic relationship with a woman but if, at any point, she were to say, “hey, you want to have sex real quick?” she needn’t even bother with the latch as she had just busted through the wall like the Kool-Aid man. If any of my lady friends are still reading this, 1. I told you to stop reading a long time ago, and 2. We’re probably too good of friends to make it awkward now anyway.

My point is: To hell with ambiguity. Other than being coy to enhance flirtation and courtship, masking your intentions just causes you more eventual pain or makes you creepier. Above all, respect the woman you’re approaching and whatever her boundaries are. Otherwise, here are some notes I made (much too late for my own good but perhaps early enough to aid others) on avoiding/escaping the friend zone.

Imagine yourself in her purse – Are you being too complacent? Probably. The longer you’ve maintained this friendship role, secretly wanting something more, the more she, rightfully, views your relationship as purely plutonic. Imagine that every day or interaction that passes gets you closer to physically being inside of her purse. Picture yourself there: using her lip gloss as a bench to sit on, your nose barely clearing the opening of the purse as you bounce around uncomfortably and she goes about her daily life without you – flirting with this guy and that, using her index finger against your forehead to push you down deeper before zipping you in completely. Emasculating, right? Picture that every time you talk yourself out of being honest with her. Make a move, already.

Give good advice… but not too good – Trust is important. The more she values your input the stronger she’ll allow your bond to become. Really listen to what she is telling you and try to see her perspective – don’t just selfishly wait for your, “in.” Then, be selfish. If she starts asking you advice on how to approach some other dude with a perfectly good dude (you) right in front of her, that’s either an indicator that 1. She’s not interested in you sexually, or 2. She’s trying to figure out if you’re interested in her sexually. I haven’t figured out which. Either way, assume the latter. Look, I’m not proud of this but am willing to admit that I’ve hated on countless dudes I don’t know. That’s my journey. In the short timeframe where I was single and felt like I knew a thing or two about women, if a female acquaintance whom I was interested in asked me about some nebulous feller she might be hooking up with instead of me, the answer was negative: “He sounds kinda lame.” – “Nah, doesn’t sound like he’s interested.” – “He did whaaaat?”

Hey, it’s a cold world out there. As long as it’s not one of your homies, you don’t know him and he’s standing in your way.

Be a Magic Eraser – Honesty has been my best friend in my relationships with women, both plutonic and romantic. Make your case as the one in a million dude who is actually honest with her. She has to weed through so much bullshit from guys that it’s hard to tell what is and what isn’t. If you can be honest in ways that seem to be counterproductive to your own romantic best-interests, you can build real trust and pave to way to openly expressing your true feelings for her. Be honest, forward and well-intentioned. Be abrasive if that’s what the truth entails, but be gentle. Like a magic eraser.

Be lucky and accept the consequences – Your best efforts may not be enough in the end. Maybe on the day you bared your soul she just needed someone to be a friend. Maybe she just doesn’t see you in that light. Maybe one in 10,000,000 other factors are at play that could work against you. Or, maybe you’re lucky and your best efforts pay off. Sometimes, it’s just going to come down to that. Either way, accept the result with coolness and calm. Sex or lack thereof doesn’t have to define a relationship and ultimately you may gain more in the friendship you foster than you might have in the physical interaction.

Wow, that wasn’t funny at all was it? Sorry about that. I started thinking about things I’d want my nephew to know and shit got a little preachy. So, I guess I’ll just wrap this thing up with this: If she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to see your penis, you’re not doing yourself any favors by hoping or begging; your fate is sealed, my friend. Enjoy the friendship or get off the ship entirely. Just don’t let you be the reason she never considers it and don’t be a creep.

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