Friday, March 26, 2010

"I know some of the nicest guys, who I would love to be friends with and hang out with, but after a while they always start getting a bit flirty."

I have your first question. This happens to me quite a bit. I know some of the nicest guys, who I would love to be friends with and hang out with, but after a while they always start getting a bit flirty. I know they're secretly interested, and I know that I'm not, but I still really want to be friends, because everyone knows that guys are more fun to hang out with than girls. These aren't the sorts of guys who would say anything, so should I just let them flirt and try not to flirt back? Is what I want impossible? Can girls and guys be just friends. Help me, Benny!


Receiver of Unwanted Attention.

P.S. I would follow you of course, but I imagine being the first asker of a question AND the first follower would defeat the purpose of commenting anonymously.

Dear RUA,

First of all, thanks for your question.

Second of all, thanks for giving yourself a name that lends itself easily to a phonetic abbreviation. In fact, rua is the word for "road" in Portuguese, which is awesome.

Third of all, thanks for keeping it anonymous. I'm speculating about your identity and I'm enjoying the mystery of it more than I thought I would.

Fourth of all, I'll actually get to the subject.

Now, ask yourself the following questions:

1) "What do these boys want from me? Do they want to make out with me once and then go back to being friends? Or do they just like to flirt?"

There are plenty of boys out there who will just have weird crushes on you, but, nonetheless, one thing that some girls don't seem to understand about boys is that, no matter how much you're in a boy's "friend zone," he'd probably still make out with you.

It's not that boys and girls can't be "just friends." That's a common misperception very much perpetuated by When Harry Met Sally and other pop culture artifacts in which a girl's best boy friend inevitably turns into either a boyfriend or a rejected depressed boy. So yes- boys are capable of seeing girls as "just friends." It's just that, for a boy, "just friends" means, "But I'd still make out with her." And because of that, sometimes we have days where our friends just start looking like good makeout material.

So, next time you start to think, "Ugh, does my friend have a creepy repressed crush on me?" also ask yourself, "Or is he just horny?"

The thing is, if a guy is genuinely just horny and/or lonely and periodically wants to make out with you, he'll be likely to give up when he sobers/feels less lonely/makes out with another girl/has a girlfriend. In that case, he'll eventually leave you alone at some point.

There's also a significant demographic of boys who, like girls, express friendship by flirting. I have a small handful of friends with whom I seem to have a weird mutual understanding that we're always going to flirt and compliment each other, but never, ever get physical. (More on that later.)

But for the purposes of the second question that I think you should ask yourself, I'm going to assume that these boys are not flirtatious and/or occasionally horny friends, but are indeed "secretly interested" in a more dangerous way.

2) "Do I actually wish these guys would leave me alone, or does part of me enjoy his unfulfillable crush on me? Am I a RUA or am I actually a RWA (receiver of wanted attention)?"

I have a friend, Erica, who has a lineup of boys who would do anything for her, and she encourages it. I thought it was sickening and I confronted her about it. She said, "I know what I'm doing. It's just that they never leave me alone so I have as much fun as I can."

When she said that, my opinion of her completely changed. She knew what she was doing and she acknowledged it. Situations like that can get a bit toxic when a girl convinces herself that she and the boys are good friends without acknowledging that the entire dynamic is based on the boys' pathetic infatuation with her. But if you can admit to yourself that the boys aren't friends as much as pathetic dudes who you continue to toy with because it's easy and it's not like they'll leave you alone anyway, then I think you'll be fine. It only gets bad if you pretend that it's a genuine friendship when it's not.

I guess my point is this: figure out whether you actually like these guys as friends or if you subconsciously enjoy their unrequited crushes on you.

And now, finally, I will *attempt* to teach you how to transform a boy who's interested in you into a boy who can see you as just a friend. In many cases, it will not be possible, but in some cases, it might be.

Basically, I've thought of several friends of mine who I have had crushes on but have come to see as just friends and how it is that it managed to work out that way, and based on that, I've come up with three suggestions.

1) Open up and/or lie about how crazy you are and what a bad idea it would be for the two of you to make out.

When a girl says, "I'm sorry, I can't make out with you, I'm just not into you like that," it hurts. But when a girl says, "I'm sorry, I'm a nutjob and you shouldn't make out with me," it hurts much less, because it doesn't insult the guy, it also lowers your sexy aura of mystery a bit, and it makes the guy feel respected.

If you're super brave (or if this is the truth), tell him that you wish you could have just a one-night stand with him, but you know you'll get clingy, so you don't want to risk that.

Basically if you make yourself appear less mysterious and more crazy, it will remind the boy of all the things he doesn't like about getting close to girls. Then he'll appreciate how nice it is to be just friends with you.

2) Flirt with him in a way that makes him feel good about himself but that he won't take too seriously.

As an example, I'll give you a list of facbook comments my friend Rasa (who has a serious long-term boyfriend) has recently left on photos of me:

"I'm so glad all my friends are good-looking."
"If you keep dressing like that, you're gonna get did."
"You remind me of Michael Cera. I have a crush on Michael Cera. OK fine I have a crush on you."

Her flirting is so playful and over-the-top that she never crosses the line and makes me think "Oh shit, she wants me to bone her" (which, by the way, is how all boys' interior monologs sound).

Flirting in such an over-the-top manner sends two messages: 1) You're an attractive guy, 2) I feel comfortable enough around you to say, 'I want to do you,' and 3) I don't ACTUALLY want to do you.

Making over-the-top sexual comments, like #1, can also succeed at putting a damper on your sexy aura of mystery.

Sometimes, this kind of OTT flirting is superior to simply not flirting back. For one thing, it's friendlier. But, more than that, simply not flirting back can sometimes lead the boy to flirt even harder, and in some cases it can kick the boy's insecurities into gear. If you give a boy the cold shoulder, be prepared for him to start saying things like, "Why do you hate me?" or "I'm so sorry, I'd never want to make you uncomfortable because I care about you" (as he attempts to jam his tongue down your throat).

3) Drunkenly make out with him. Just do it.

I sense that you'd probably rather not do this, but I'm going to put it out there anyway. If there's a lot of sexual tension there, making out with him just once might alleviate it, and, once making out with you is no longer an unattainable holy grail, he may chill out. Be sure to somehow make it clear that this will only happen once, whether that means being blunt and saying, "I'll never make out with you again," or by saying, "Haha, isn't it funny how I get drunk and make out with my friends."

If he "gets weird" afterwards, don't get down on yourself. Many girls get down on themselves for "letting it get weird", and they shouldn't. Many girls think, "I should never have made out with a friend! It's my fault!"

It's not. It's his fault.

The thing is, a one-night-only drunken make-out can actually be a good litmus test of whether a guy is even worth having as a friend. If he treats you with respect and friendliness after the makeout, then he's a cool guy.

If he expects more making out or treats you with less respect, then he would never have made a good friend in the first place.

In any case, this is only a good idea in a minority of situations, but I thought it was worth throwing out there anyhow.

To further emphasize these points, I'm going to invoke the movie Say Anything. If you haven't seen it, see it. I'm not in love with the movie, but it's well-crafted, it's easy-to-watch, and has become something of a cultural standpoint over the years. Ever seen a boy stand outside a girl's window while holding a radio above his head? This movie is where he got it from.

Anyway, in Say Anything, Lloyd (John Cusack) pines for Diane (Ione Skye) and is good friends with Corey (Lilli Taylor). Diane is distant and quiet. Corey is very up-front and loud. Both girls are emotional, but Diane expresses her emotions very hesitantly and Corey expresses her emotions with no filter. Diane has a mysterious past but Corey sings emotional songs about her ex-boyfriend for everyone to hear.

If you want to be more of a "just friends" girl, act more Corey and less Diane.

In Say Anything, as in real high schools, the Dianes end up with the Lloyds and the Coreys end up with the shitty cheaters. But in post-high school reality, the Lloyds usually grow bitter as they realize that they wasted their younger years obsessing over girls, the Dianes discover that their hypersensitity hurts them, and the Coreys usually end up having better social lives despite the fact that their sexy auras are slightly less mysterious.

Anyway, Rua, now that this journey is coming to an end, I'll answer your questions as directly as possible.

-Should I just let them flirt and try not to flirt back?
Flirt back in a really goofy way. If that doesn't work, then give them the cold shoulder, which should get the message across but might also mean the end of your friendship.

- Is what I want impossible?

-Can girls and guys be just friends?
Yes. But there will probably always be a vaguely sexual element. Sometimes that will mean occasional flirting, sometimes it will mean actually making out once or twice, and sometimes it will mean something more hard-to-pin-down, but that element will probably be there.

And even if it feels like every guy friend you make just wants to bone you, have faith that it won't always be that way. Making boy friends is just like finding a boyfriend: if you want it too badly and try too hard, you'll end up with someone who sucks. If you want people for the wrong reasons, you'll end up with the wrong people in the wrong roles. But if you let people drift in and out of your life, the good ones will stick.


Anonymous said...

RUA- I think I'm similar to many guys in that I flirt because I enjoy flirting, not because I actually want the girl I'm flirting with. It's how I show my friendliness. On occasion, I even flirt, in a very over-the-top way, with my very good guy friends.

Anonymous said...

Benny- Here's a question for you.

There's a woman who lives very far away from me. She's a friend from way back. She's a wonderful person and is apparently very good-looking, based on what other people say about her. (Sometimes, I find her attractive; sometimes, I don't- plus, it's hard to make a decision based on photos). We talk a lot- I texted her once saying that I was bored on Valentine's Day being around a bunch of couples (I have to admit that I wrote her first, wishing her a Happy Valentine's Day and such). She texted back saying that that wouldn't be if she were here. She usually makes very sweet comments when she calls. I'm not saying I don't like her like that; I just don't know. But she's visiting me soon!

Am I worrying over nothing? Am I being conceited? Am I leading her on? And how do I figure out my feelings for her, while, at the same time, toeing that line of a friend?

Anonymous said...

I forgot to post a name with that question. How about...Tom Cat on a Midnight Spree?

Anonymous said...

I am curious just what Viola thinks with this :D

Anonymous said...

Could be the top thing that I have read this month??