in which i compare the american bar scene to the war on terror
Everyone knows that girls like Confident Guys. A loud voice, a smooth touch, a self-assurance and projection of power.
Guys like girls who want sex.
Confident guys want sex. Confident guys take sex. Excepting, of course, when they misjudge and try to take sex from someone who doesn’t want to give it. The modern woman has to put up with a lot of Confident Guy, and has developed suitable defenses.
In this way our mainstream culture perpetuates an arms race. As men get louder and pushier, women get less trustful. And just like any other vicious cycle, it’s going to end in tears. A lot like the war on terror — as American drones kill more and more people (and civilians) in countries far from here, more and more of those countries’ citizens are turned against us and eventually become targets.
If your goal is to have sex right now, then being obnoxious and trying to take it at every opportunity might be effective in the short term. But those people you succeed in seducing will reflect this approach. They will be spoiled.
Similarly, if your country’s goal is to conquer territory and natural resources right now, maybe drone bombing with abandon is the most effective strategy. But the long term outcome of this choice is unending war and horrific violence.
2009–10: the 10 months I spent as close friend to a woman I was ruinously infatuated with. Tremendously, unstoppably in love. We took long walks. We listened to music. We talked for hours. We went to parties and camped at festivals. We flirted (she flirted?) frequently. And yet… and yet. Enter the friendzone. Was it way at the beginning, when we first met, and she determined that I clearly wasn’t romantically attractive to her? Or was it in pieces, over time, in the way that I failed to communicate more clearly what it is I really wanted? So that by the time I finally told her I was in love with her, as if it were not blatantly obvious, all she could do was say, “I don’t want to talk about it”.
And why did I persist in the charade? I must have thought at the time that I always had a chance, however slim. And there were times — a few, anyway — where it seemed close. Where if I could just find the move, say the thing, I’d be in. I would jump from friend to lover. Forget the sex, it wasn’t just the sex, it was the partnership. I wanted to merge our worlds.
That’s a lot to ask of a person! I don’t blame my former friend at all for not wanting to do that with me. I was in a bad state at that time in my life. Variously depressed, lonely, addicted, bored, numb. Certainly I had a lot to learn about myself. Had the roles been reversed, I would not have wanted that merger, so it was unreasonable of me to expect it.
Part of me wants to blame her for her cruelty in continuing to be so close with me, when she knew the pain it caused. But on the other hand, if I could go back to the beginning and warn that earlier me to stay away, to not put so much of himself into that relationship, if I could warn him of the pain that would follow, I feel certain he would still do it. Sometimes you have to play with fire AND get burned.
And if she had taken stock in the situation and let me know early on, in no uncertain terms, that she was not romantically attracted? Impossible. If only we humans could easily gauge just how attracted we really are to everyone, and then also communicate it effectively at just the right moment. I doubt she really knew how she felt. She may have been more confident and mature than me but we were both still in our early twenties. And ultimately, our friendship did have an element of flirtation. It was part of the magic. Why kill the magic?
Even if she had tried to dash my hopes clearly, early, often, easily, I doubt much would have changed. She was still the most amazing person in the world to me, at that time. And now, finally, looking back with some age and distance, I don’t regret my decision to inflict so much pain on myself. Being in her presence for that year helped build me into the person I enjoy being today.
the tables are turned
To all the men who read all the blogs detailing how to avoid the friendzone, I ask you to try the same mental flip and imagine yourself in your friend’s shoes. Or maybe it’s really happened to you. Three years after the events described above, I started spending more time with a college friend of mine. We went on dates. I wasn’t attracted to her. We drunkenly made out. It was a mistake.
The conversation we had, in which I tortuously explained in every way I could that I just wasn’t interested in a relationship, not mentioning the one true reason (related to physical appearance, of course), remains a shameful memory to this day. I should have told the truth. I should have lied better. I honestly don’t know. I should have kept her in the friendzone and not gotten into that situation in the first place.
Would it have been so horrible for her? Maybe not! Yes, maybe she was infatuated. And yes, I definitely enjoyed our flirtations. But I could have kept it that way. We didn’t have to drunkenly kiss. I was in control, until I wasn’t. And now she lives hundreds of miles away and we haven’t spoken in years.
why can’t we be friends
There are versions of relationships that explode the false friend / lover binary, despite the protestations of the MRA and anyone who claims “men and women can never be friends”. Men and women can certainly be friends, both romantic and not. Every position on the spectrum between friend and lover is an acceptable position that most definitely exists all over the place in the Real World.
HOWEVER — and this is important — I understand what the men’s rights movement is saying about the impossibility of friendship with women. In the weaponized version of mainstream binary gender relations as described in the first section of this essay, most women really don’t trust most men enough to “just be friends”. If they’re sexually attracted and they can stand each other, maybe they can be lovers. If they’re not, then it may not be worth the risk to try for a friendship.
So my conclusion is, unfortunately, that “most men and women can never be friends”. But that still leaves enough non-weaponized, non-PUA reading, not wholly distrustful people out there who want to give peace a chance. I choose to focus on these people. For us, confident doesn’t have to mean obnoxious, and friendship is real, and nice guys sometimes DO get the girl.
If the US government would try to stop killing innocent people, we could probably end the war on terror without much fanfare.
A burgeoning relationship is a delicate negotiation of emotions and stances. It’s diplomacy, not war! Don’t let your ambassadors commit too much of the national treasure before you have a real seat at the table. Match your partner’s stances in communication and behavior. Even if you know what you want, be coy. And if you don’t know what you want, you’re probably not alone. The best way to be coy is to occupy your mind with other plans — most importantly, to focus on the home front. Don’t worry about whether or not you’ll kiss. Just be engaged and try to have fun. Be judgmental — are you enjoying yourself? If not, fall back and refocus.
If you want to have a romantic relationship with someone, a fully romantic sexual partnership, say, but they don’t share that desire — then you have a decision to make. You can take what’s on offer, be it friendship with a touch of flirtation, or even just casual acquaintanceship — or you can walk away. Both options are acceptable. What you CANNOT do is get upset because someone doesn’t want what you want. Try to put yourself in their shoes; don’t be an imperialist power.