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March 19, 2010

Curse of the Friend-Boy!

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:08 am

An ancient evil resurfaces on March 23, 1998

Dear Breakup Girl,

I have a problem with not wanting to hurt anyone, even at my own expense. I know I must bite the bullet and break off clean rather than drag/lead on a relationship after it’s gone sour. I become what the girl wants me to be and when I want to be myself she thinks I’m going psycho when in reality I was just a facade to her in the first place. I guess I just have to learn to be myself first and find a girl who likes me for me and not who they want me to be. In a way I guess I don’t really have a question, I just needed to talk. Thanks BG. I really appreciate your ears.

A Hopless Romantic at Purdue

P.S. I also am a classic case of “nice guys finish last.” I don’t drink or smoke (anything) and I’m waiting until I’m married to have sex.

I do have a question after all. All of my relationships have lasted over two years. I’m now trying to find one that I can be myself in but every woman I know says does this just before I ask them on a date. They give me a big hug and say, Sometimes I’m even told that I’m their best friend. Yet some seem to flirt with me anyway, but when I ask them on a date they are always busy. I have 100s of great female friends and not a single romantic one. Minus one clinging vine that I have to cut loose. We broke up four months ago and she still thinks we are going to get married. (I feel like Wayne in “Wayne’s World” with Stacey.) My question is this. If a girl says “You are such a great friend,” should I give up on a romantic relationship or do women just get kicks out of confusing men? Thanks again.

Dear Hopeless Romantic,

No, thank YOU. You — along with your brethren all over the world who share this same waking nightmare — have provided me with one of the best articulations I’ve ever seen of

The Curse of the Friend-Boy.

First of all, OUCH. They hug you too? Yeesh. That adds insult to intimacy. Who knew niceness could be so harsh?

Second of all, I am still laughing about that Wayne’s World reference. Oh, no! Does she at least look like Lara Flynn Boyle? When she’s carrying a gun rack, maybe?

And finally, Purdue — and all you Friend-Boys out there — here are the definitive answers to all your questions. I admit I’m going to quote myself a little bit here, because I’ve addressed this issue occasionally (see, for example, Broken Heart Bob)– but why reinvent the spiel?
So listen up. (I know you’re all great listeners.)

Key concept: The opposite of “friend” is not “jerk.” Lots of guys ask me “why women date only jerks” — or why, when they try to be a jerk, they still don’t get laid. Come on, you guys: men date jerks too (male and female). It’s not necessarily a gender thing; it’s a stupid human trick. It’s something we all do when we’re feeling all low-self-esteemish, desperate, or undeserving of anyone warmer than the Great Santini. (Also, everybody, check your perspective: are all those “jerks” out there really bad people, or are they just “jerks” ’cause they got your girl? )

So no, women do not necessarily want to date jerks. Breakup Girl honestly cannot remember a single time when a friend said,”Okay, here’s the dish. He was twenty minutes late and monosyllabic except when he insulted my work at the soup kitchen. He blew clove smoke in my face even though I told him I was allergic, and refused to pay because he evidently left his wallet in his van, which is also his apartment…

..He will be mine.”

So what’s the deal?

Friend-Boys, go ahead and be a friend, but don’t Be a Friend. As I told Bob, be nice because you are, not because you’re trying to. It’s your character, not a campaign. Bob’s problem was that he’d go and build lofts for women and tinker with their computers and lug heavy furniture … and then wonder why they thought of him as more mover than shaker. You guys are setting yourself up for this stuff!!! And Purdue, you did the Bob thing right out of the gate. First you told me you become what the girl wants you to become (or so you think); then you said you “just needed to talk.” You don’t even think you can trouble me with a question until part two of your P.S. This letter is a microcosm of your love life. Don’t just share: ask. for what you want. Don’t shape-shift into what you think she wants; ultimately, it’s the strong sense of self — yes, even a nice self — that we’re going to go for. It’s like what I told Bob: you’ve got a role in setting the tone: the next time a girl piques your interest, ask her outbefore you fix her loft/”talk”/”listen” /”share.”

And finally, you ask, if a girl drops the friend bomb, should you give up? Probably, but maybe not entirely. I mean, don’t pester her, but at least pursue the friendship, if it’s not too excruciating for you. No, wait, I take that back; don’t pursue the friendship; allow it to flower if it’s going to. Don’t do all the work. If she really wants to be friends, she’ll call you, too. Otherwise, yep, let it go.

But here’s the flipside: jillions of relationships do morph from platonic to romantic every day (I mean, a loft is a bed…). Also, in this world where women “can” ask men out, but we — let’s face it — still haven’t gotten all the signals straight, making friend-ish noises can be a safe (but clearly not all that effective) way for less bold women to flirt. Occasionally, when women cry on your shoulder about all the other boys (i.e. everyone but you) they want to date but aren’t, what they are — clumsily — saying is, “Hello, I am a sexual being with needs and desires, hint, hint.” Granted, that’s a bit confusing, but no, women do not get our kicks out of confusing men. We think y’all are confusing enough, thanks.

So date on, Wayne. Baberaham Lincoln is out there somewhere.

And now, more letters from guys — and gals! — like you. Hey, maybe you all can exchange emails and share. On second thought, never mind.

Breakup Girl

P.S. BY THE WAY.BG did get an email — actually, several — from a very nice young woman whowas DYING to e-meet this Bob guy. She didn’t even know if they lived in the same country, so it wasn’t like she just wanted him to fix her transmission. So, if I may extrapolate: yes, women do think Nice Guy Bob is a babe. So there.


  1. As I’ve said before, nice guys don’t finish last. Guys who lack self-confidence finish last.

    Purdue is trying so hard to be liked that he morphs himself into what he thinks a woman wants him to be. He isn’t willing to be himself up front (and potentially get rejected for that).

    Being someone that you’re not ALWAYS backfires. There are a few ways it generally does:
    1. The woman likes the person you’re pretending to be, but she doesn’t like the real you. When you show who you really are, she breaks up with you.
    2. The woman would like the person you really are, but she’s turned off by the facade, so she doesn’t date you.
    3. The woman likes the facade, and would also like the real you. But when she discovers you were deceiving her for the first few months (years) of the relationship, she breaks up with you.

    And speaking of deceiving women for months or years by pretending to be the kind of man they want … how does this qualify as a “nice” guy? Look at Purdue’s examples. Most women would say that “honest” is nicer than “nonsmoker” or “teetotaler.”

    I think a lot of underconfident guys aren’t nearly as nice as they like to think they are. I certainly wasn’t (back when I lacked dating confidence). I would befriend women before asking them out, and point to that behavior as evidence that I was a nice guy. Later, I realized that there is nothing “not nice” about asking out a woman when you’re barely acquainted with her. If she’s not interested in dating (or if things don’t work out), we can be friends afterward.

    I no longer think of myself as a “nice guy,” though I’m probably slightly nicer than I was back when I did.

    However, my current girlfriend AND several ex-girlfriends would say that I am a nice guy … even though I made no special effort to convince them that I was.

    Comment by Karl R — March 19, 2010 @ 5:07 pm

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  4. thanks for your wisdom, Karl, as always!

    Comment by BG — March 21, 2010 @ 10:12 pm

  5. […] The Curse of the Friend-Boy continues on March 23, 1998… […]

    Pingback by Breakup Girl » I Can’t Believe It’s Not Boyfriend — March 26, 2010 @ 9:22 am

  6. […] human” you secretly mean smothering him with declarations of love and devotion (see Stacey, above), then yeah, he will turn into Sewer Creature and tunnel out of your life. And yeah, if […]

    Pingback by Breakup Girl » What’s a nice girl gotta do? — April 2, 2010 @ 8:49 am

  7. […] know, “friend” can get to be a dirty word around here at BG HQ. But in this case, it’s next to […]

    Pingback by Breakup Girl » My friend’s boyfriend is a jerk! — May 21, 2010 @ 9:06 am

  8. […] I know you’ve written about Friend Boys, but so far no one has seemed to share my curse, so my variation on the theme hasn’t been […]

    Pingback by Breakup Girl » Dispatches from the Friend Zone — February 4, 2011 @ 8:33 am

  9. […] talked about the Nice Guy thing a lot before, cautioning everyone that the opposite of Nice Guy is not Mean Guy; it’s a […]

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