There’s a right of passage for every guy, which is to fall hopelessly in love with a girl only to have her reject his advances. She makes it clear that there is only friendship on the table for the two of them, and it’s devastating. So what do we do? Well, we’re usually pretty young and we’re definitely dumb, so we delude ourselves into thinking that if we prove to her how great of guys we are, she’ll change her mind and date us. We come over to talk her off the ledge when a guy breaks her heart because we’re better than that guy is. We charm her parents, because she always talks about wanting a guy who gets along with them, and we also know that there’s no more passionate a wingman than a mom desperately trying to hook her daughter up with the “right guy.” We buy presents, take them on “friend dates,” and just generally fawn over them because we’re Beyoncé-level crazy in love. Then once we get tired of it or she dates yet another mook, we’ll get angry and frustrated, call her a bitch, and chalk up our problems to the mystical “friendzone” that movies and dude culture have taught us about.
And we need to fucking stop.
Think about “When Harry Met Sally…” and the line in the first 10 minutes of the movie: “Men and women can’t be friends, because the sex part always gets in the way.” Hell, the movie was even written by a woman. Let’s address the argument my boy Harry makes.
“Men and women can’t be friends.” That’s the theory. There’s no argument in that sentence. The argument is in the following phrase, “because the sex part always gets in the way.” Ah, so we’re talking about sexual tension. Is there a scenario in which a man and a woman can be friends and there is no sexual tension whatsoever? No. Now, I want to point out that Harry oversteps things a little bit here. I would clarify that men and women can’t be BEST friends. The purpose of a best friend is someone who you can trust implicitly and say anything that’s on your mind to, without fear of judgment (unless you, you know, kill a guy). If there’s someone on either side of the relationship who harbors romantic feelings for the other (and there always is) then the trust level is not complete.
Now that we’ve established that, however, it does not by any means definitively mean that men and women can’t be friends. Of course they can. In fact, every self-respecting male should cultivate female friends. It’s the best way to study those crazy creatures. This is where we get back to the friendzone issue. The friendzone, when it happens, has nothing to do with the girl and everything to do with the guy. The friendzone is a purely male construct. There are two common scenarios.
1. Boy likes girl. Boy makes his move. Girl shuts him down. Boy becomes her friend in an attempt to woo her. Boy watches her date and break up with guys he considers inferior to himself. Boy becomes disillusioned and angry because girl friendzoned him.
2. Boy is friends with girl. Boy likes girl. Boy says nothing, and never makes a move because he’s a giant pussy. Boy watches her date shitty guys over and over, which frustrates boy, who thinks he’s a good guy, forgetting the fact he’s still a giant pussy. Boy watches her date and break up with guys he considers inferior to himself. Boy becomes disillusioned and angry because girl friendzoned him.
Do you see who’s making all of the moves in these scenarios? The boy. Let me share a personal story from college with you. Sophomore year, a girl I tangentially knew from high school and I became friends over similar music taste and sense of humor. It took me a while to work up the courage, but I finally made my move, and we drunkenly hooked up one night. Then the next day she expressed that it was a mistake and that she just wanted to be friends. I agreed, despite secretly always subtly trying to change her mind. Boom, Knox is firmly in category number one. And it lasted for a lot longer than I care to admit.
Here’s how “When Harry Met Sally…” fucked us. Harry and Sally end up together. Granted, Harry isn’t acting like an insipid little friend-puppet the whole time, but either way, the two “only friends” characters end up together. That ending, along with the stories we hear of two people who started out as friends and ended up getting married, has given false hope to millions of idiots out there, including me.
Let me share with you the advice I got from a mentor that finally snapped me out of my idiocy: “Girls are not vending machines where you can put in kindness coins, and sex comes out.” Seems simple enough, but it blew my fucking mind. By always hanging around and acting like a fucking chump, you’re not only degrading yourself as a man, but you’re also being a shitty friend. You’re pretending to do friend-ish things in order to present yourself as the best alternative to the guys she’s actually dating–except you’re not, because they have the balls to pursue a girl they think likes them, and you’re busy doing secret voodoo magic on a girl who you know for a fact doesn’t like you.
Here’s how you break the cycle. You meet a girl. You like her. You flirt with her. You express that you’re into her in a simple, direct, and masculine way. If she turns you down, move on with your life. Can the two of you become friends? Sure! You’re not going to be best pals, but I have plenty of female friends who started as romantic interests and have become drinking buddies and wingwomen. Do I still have some romantic feelings for them? Absolutely. I already said this–there’s ALWAYS sexual tension. You want to know why it doesn’t matter? Because I don’t get hung up on it anymore. If a girl doesn’t like me, she doesn’t like me. I’m not gonna waste my energy pursuing someone who doesn’t like me when there could be someone else out there who does. How did I come to this conclusion?
I grew the fuck up.