Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Getting Personal: Wasting Away In The Friend Zone

Guest columnists and contributors are generously sharing their talents and insights while I’m taking some time to care for my new baby. Today’s essay comes from “His Take” contributor, Dennis Hong, who writes about relationships and other topics at Musings on Life and Love.

I have no problem with the Friend Zone. The Friend Box. Friendship Island. The Vortex of Platonic Optimism…Whatever you want to call it, I think opposite-sex friends are splendid. They can be an arsenal of insight when we need help understanding, well, the opposite sex. What’s not so splendid is the opposite-sex friend who desperately wants to be more than friends. Especially when the opposite-sex friend who desperately wants to be more than friends is…Me.

Years ago, I had a classmate, “Holly.” She had just moved to Southern California, and I was one of the first friends she made here. I think she gravitated towards me because I was already familiar with the city. That, and I also threw parties. Lots of them. If friends were crack, then my apartment was her pipe, and she’d show up at my place whenever her social life needed a fix.

One night, a group of us set aside our rampant partying and went out clubbing instead. Late in the evening, Holly and I found ourselves separated from everyone else, and in a fit of drunkenness, we started making out. Over the next few days, I realized that I wanted to be more than just friends with Holly. So, I did what any rational non-eunuch would do: I asked her out.

Unfortunately, she confessed that while she enjoyed our impromptu kissing session, she wasn’t interested in dating me. Still, she continued to call me almost every day, and we started spending more time together, to the point where we were hanging out four or five times a week. And so, my crush continued to grow. Of course, her wanting to see me so much only made it more difficult for me to accept that she wasn’t romantically interested in me. But I was just happy that she wanted to spend all her free time with me. And this is where the “desperate” part of “desperately wants to be more than friends” weaseled its way onto me.

I became relentless in my pursuit. I bought her wonderfully thoughtful gifts. I took her out to fancy restaurants. When she had to work late, I brought food to her office. I left roses on her car. I took the grandiose romantic movie gesture to stalker-esque levels of persistence. You see, I failed to realize that the grandiose romantic movie gesture ends up being totally creepy if she doesn’t actually like you that way.

I made it ever so clear that I wanted to date her. And she made it ever so clear that she didn’t want to date me. But, we continued to see each other…mostly because she still kept calling me all the time. Until…several months later, she met another guy. One she was actually interested in. And, of course, she started spending more and more time with him. Soon, she started blowing me off completely. When I figured out why she was blowing me off, I realized that I was only a placeholder, and I was devastated. Not surprisingly, we drifted apart. We haven’t spoken in years now.

Looking back, I have nothing but regret for the brief friendship that I had with Holly. As wondrous as Friendship Island was, it was still surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef of Frustration. With soul-devouring sharks patrolling the waters. Just being around Holly was devastating for my self-esteem.

Today, I can only promise myself that I will never make the same mistake again. I don’t care how good a friend she may be. I don’t care how often she calls. If she sees me as a platonic friend, but I want more, the friendship will never last. And if I have a female friend who’s interested in me? Well, then I’m not going to be her friend. I’m not going to hang out with her one-on-one. There’s just too much potential for hurt feelings there.

Staying friends with someone you’re desperately in love with is like trying to get drunk on alcohol-free beer. Sure, you can practically taste the buzz. But, trust me, you’re never gonna get there. Again, I do absolutely believe that men and women can be friends. But, with one enormous caveat: they must both feel the same way. Only if both the man and the woman see each other platonically will the friendship be viable.

*Dennis Hong blogs about the life lessons he’s learned. Check out his and his friends’ musings here.

60 comments… add one
  • Budj

    Budj November 16, 2011, 10:25 am

    I think we have all been there – whether people like to admit it or not – we have all been on at least one side of this situation. The important thing is to learn from it and it seems you squeezed that experience dry of life lessons.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      honeybeenicki November 16, 2011, 10:55 am

      I’m pretty sure many of us have been on BOTH sides of it. I know I have.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        Eljay November 16, 2011, 12:12 pm

        Ditto…I’m there now.

        Link
  • avatar

    ForeverYoung November 16, 2011, 11:05 am

    I have been Holly before. :/ Trust me i’m sure she looks back and regrets leading you on as much as you regret letting her destory your self esteem.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Britannia November 16, 2011, 10:57 am

      I have been Holly before too, though it was different than this situation in that I had very legit reasons for wanting to ONLY stay friends (very good friends) with the guy… we had literally grown up together and I had love for him, but it was a sibling kind of love. I could never have imagined kissing him or being intimate with him, but I still absolutely loved spending time with him. The whole situation really sucked when he tried to make romance happen between us, and I lost one of my best friends because we couldn’t figure out some middle ground.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        ForeverYoung November 16, 2011, 12:15 pm

        Yeah… I didn’t let him buy me things or take me out to expensive restaurants or anything. I had some boundaries, haha. But looking back now I know I accepted way too much affection from him when (I knew) it wasn’t going anywhere. We had just been friends for so long it would have been so weird. And I liked being number 1 in someone’s life. Definitely selfish but it was like everything I wanted in a relationship except the physical part. It’s like when guys use girls just for sex and are getting all the perks with no commitment. Well for me all the perks was the friendship. I always had crushes on his friends so i’m sure that was hard for him too. Lesson learned for sure, I still feel bad about it occasionally when I think back.

        Link
  • avatar

    oldie November 16, 2011, 11:07 am

    I feel for you. Been there, done that. It really freezes you in place and blocks out the chance to pursue someone who actually loves you back.

    Reply Link
  • FireStar

    FireStar November 16, 2011, 11:11 am

    Aw. Holly did you wrong. It’s one thing to have romance grow out of friendship – it is something else to allow yourself to be the object of desire to get an attention fix. I’m sad you don’t live in Canada – you must get this a lot – but I totally have a friend who would love to meet a guy like you.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Addie Pray November 16, 2011, 10:48 am

      I agree! “And she made it ever so clear that she didn’t want to date me. But, we continued to see each other…mostly because she still kept calling me all the time.” Holly was part devil it sounds! I hate people like that. She accepted all the attention and gifts all the while knowing you liked her, Dennis. I hope you don’t let her into your life when/if she finds herself alone again.

      For the rest of the day, if I feel the urge to comment, I’m going to do a sit up. Seriously this is out of control.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        TheOtherMe November 16, 2011, 11:07 am

        Addie do you need a hug ?

        Link
      • avatar

        Addie Pray November 16, 2011, 9:35 pm

        Delayed response, but, yet. I’m still waiting for my hug.

        Link
      • avatar

        Addie Pray November 16, 2011, 9:36 pm

        *yes, not yet. i should practice re-reading before hitting “submit.” it’s just good form.

        Link
      • avatar

        TheOtherMe November 17, 2011, 8:51 am

        Huuuuuggggggggggggggggg 😀

        Link
    • avatar

      Dennis Hong November 16, 2011, 12:26 pm

      Oh, but… but… I already have a girlfriend who lives in Canada…. 😉

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5g196vURUDo&feature=youtube_gdata_player

      Reply Link
  • becboo84

    BecBoo84 November 16, 2011, 11:13 am

    Just wanted to say that I love your essays!

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    McLovin November 16, 2011, 11:29 am

    Really well written Dennis. I’m sure everyone has a “Holly” in their past and it’s healthy to remember just how one-sided those relationships were so that history doesn’t repeat itself.

    On a side note. Can you somehow work another flow-chart into your next piece?

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Dennis Hong November 16, 2011, 12:30 pm

      Ha. Yeah, it turns out that flowcharts are somewhat difficult to incorporate into dating advice. I’ll see what I can do, though.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    TheOtherMe November 16, 2011, 10:38 am

    …”I do absolutely believe that men and women can be friends. But, with one enormous caveat: they must both feel the same way.”…

    I agree but unfortunately, sometimes the other person says they are ok with just being friends but they are secretly wanting more. At least you were clear of your desires to become more than friends but unfortunately, you were still taken advantage of…

    Nice piece Dennis ! BTW this cracked me up:
    “I did what any rational non-eunuch would do: I asked her out.” 😀 😀

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Dennis Hong November 16, 2011, 12:28 pm

      Thanks. I just figured it’d be important to clarify that I do have balls. :-p

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Sarah November 16, 2011, 10:46 am

    Oh god, I remember being the desperate friend. A few times actually. When I was younger, I used to have a CRAZY crush on my friend all the way back from junior high. I’m not sure when it quite kicked in that he only hung out with me because we were good company together and he probably enjoyed the barely concealed ADORATION I gave him on a daily basis, but I’m sure it was long past we stopped hanging out and he got married. I remember that whenever I’d say something he liked, he always used to ruffle my hair….like a damn dog. Of course at the time I was like “He made a point to TOUCH me!! He wants to give me babies!! All of them!!! Squeeeee!!!”

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    2_J November 16, 2011, 10:49 am

    Ahh, i’m, unfortunately, in that same damn boat at this very moment. With the exception of her actually NOT knowing my true feelings. Why? Because i do not want to hear that i’m forever in the “Friend Zone”. With that being admitted, i’m really glad i read this article, couldn’t have been written at a better time. Thanks for the advice!

    Reply Link
  • leilani

    leilani November 16, 2011, 10:51 am

    Its hard to be strong enough to limit a friendship with someone just because they are interested in you romantically, and sometimes, especially if they are interested in you romantically. All that positive male attention from a friend you know would do anything you asked of them can be intoxicating, especially you’re hard up for that from other sources. Its definitely the right thing to do though. You don’t have to cut them off or anything, but don’t take advantage of things that you know they are only really doing because they want to be with you.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    bethany November 16, 2011, 11:07 am

    I was totally in love with a friend of mine in college- I told him how I felt and he said he just wwanted to be friends. After school he moved away, but I never stopped having feelings for him. A few years later he moved back and we picked right back up where we left off. Us hanging out ALL the time- 4-6 nights a week, me being in love with him and him not feeling the same way. I told him several times, and kept getting shot down. Finally I realized that I couldn’t do this anymore. I started dating, and my “friend” got mad/jealous. He didn’t want me that way, but he didn’t want anyone else to either. I wish we could still be good friends, but I think our history is too much to move on from.

    Reply Link
    • Will.i.am

      Will.i.am November 16, 2011, 11:29 am

      That’s a long time of him getting to have his cake and eat it too. Yes, guys and girls do this. I don’t want you, but I don’t want anyone to have you, because I love you always waiting on my beck and call. It’s a vicious cycle that always will end in hurt feelings.

      A friendship should be mutual. Plus, he knows he’s taking advantage of you as well. I could not take advantage of someone like that, when I’m spending 4-6 nights a week with them. At that point they are my girlfriend or fiance. Shame on your friend for doing that.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        bethany November 16, 2011, 12:56 pm

        Yeah, it was pretty sucky… The whole situation was a mess, because he was pretty much a raging alcoholic (a happy, fun alcoholic- but still an alcoholic), and I felt like I needed to be there to watch over him and make sure he was ok. Finally I realized that I was an enabler, I could only do so much and I couldn’t get him to stop drinking. He wasn’t interested in me in “that way”, so I finally moved on. I actually met my husband a few months after I finally let go of him 🙂

        Link
  • Will.i.am

    Will.i.am November 16, 2011, 11:21 am

    If you accept to be in the friend zone, it’s very hard to get out. If you are post college age (22-23), most people aren’t looking to make a lot of friends from the opposite sex. If they are, they love the attention, but much rather be with a jerk.

    These kind of things frustrate me to no end at times. You will hear a guy or girl talking about how much they are looking for a good mate, and it’s staring them in the face. I agree that I’m even attracted to the “bad girl” image, but deep down I know that they would never fit my long-life partner criteria.

    I’ve been the “desperate” friend before and it’s not the best place to be. I was luckily able to find out that if I didn’t pay them the attention they wanted, they would actually start calling me more. Then once I started paying them attention more, they would go back to the same dog and pony show. In the end, I had to choose to either accept this behavior or leave it behind and look for something more of what I want.

    I feel bad for the LW, because this is a common problem. Big enough to where MTV even launched a show called “Friend zone.” I’ve watched pieces of it while channel surfing and it makes me entirely too anxious. After being in that situation for years and years in my high school and early college days, I could never imagine myself going through that again. I love my friends of the opposite sex, but I found out early on that there would never be any emotional or physical attraction there. At that point, I could enjoy my friendship for what it was, instead of always trying to persuade her into liking me more than she did. Even the girls that have liked me through the years, and I felt that they were being a bit “overly” nice to me, I would just bring up their feelings about the situation and where we both see it going.

    I don’t like to lead anyone on and I don’t like to be lead on myself. I rather be told the hurtful truth upfront then sitback and hope all my dreams come true, that I have built foolishly in my mind. Something I’ve remembered over the last 5 or 6 years, is if you like someone, you should find out if they like you the same early on. No need to drag out the “nice game” for 2 and 3 years, if you can find out the answer you ultimately want in 1 month.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    runnerchic November 16, 2011, 11:23 am

    I think we have both been on either side of this situation. In the end it might be a good thing to have at one point in your life and to learn from the whole ordeal. Just….don’t repeat it.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    lets_be_honest November 16, 2011, 12:07 pm

    I can’t speak for everyone who has been “Holly” but I’d like to pipe in with my experience…
    I was the Holly I guess. I had been friends, not super close though, with this guy in high school. Years later, I moved next door to him and we quickly became close friends. He would come by almost every night of the week, watch Lost and just chill out. Sometimes there would be other friends too, but usually just the 2 of us. He would have girlfriends on and off, we’d talk about them and I was single and always would say how I did not want to be in a relationship. He always said I was more like a guy than a girl and I just assumed that’s one of the reasons we got along so well. We became the best of friends, 100% platonic.
    Then, seemingly out of the blue (and I’m pretty good at picking up on hints), he tells me he got a job offer across the country, but was in love with me and if I would have him, he would not move for the job. Out of all the emotions that brought out, the one I felt the most was anger. I know, surprising, right? I couldn’t believe that all this time I thought I was lucky to have such a great friend, one who claimed to understand why I wanted to be single, shared his relationship stories with me, etc. I considered him a great friend and knew I was lucky to have him. I honestly felt betrayed. I knew I was losing him for good if his feelings were so intense that he would give up a great job in a great city. How could he have let them fester so long? How could he put me in a position of having to break his heart when I had no intention of ever doing so. If he told me early on he was getting feelings for me, we might have been able to work through them and remained friends. And now, just because I didn’t want him romantically, I was losing a great companion. I thought he liked me for me as a friend, like he claimed. I almost felt duped.
    I know this may come across as absurd. I’m sure some will think ‘poor you, some great guy is in love with you.’ But remember what a lot of commenters have said before on here…you can’t help who you love or don’t love. You either have that feeling or you don’t. Anyway, thoughts? Does everyone think I’m a jerk? Do you think that in all situations its really just a desperate for attention girl who is playing the guy?

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Eljay November 16, 2011, 12:21 pm

      I wouldn’t think that at all. Just because someone is a “great guy”, doesn’t mean he’s a great guy FOR YOU. You have to want the same things and feel the same feelings in order to have a fighting chance at being romantically involved. I think I would have had the same reaction you did, just a little upset that I’m now losing one of the best friends I thought I had. Then I’d feel like a selfish heffer for thinking that way!

      Reply Link
    • avatar

      6napkinburger November 16, 2011, 12:23 pm

      No, I agree with you and I was thinking something along the same lines.

      Sure, there are some people who hang out with “Dennis” because they are bored, having nothing else going on and like the attention. And those people suck. But that’s not whats going on most of the time. Most of the time, there is genuine love and affection felt by “Holly”, only no romantic feelings. There are feelings of comfort and happiness and friendship and loyalty, and occassionally territoriality, though those are present in the most platonic relationships. (Or has no one ever gotten a teensy-weensiest bit jealous when their best friend starts hanging out with someone else doing the things you usually do together and doesn’t invite you? If you said no, i call BS or they aren’t your actual best friend). You love them, you just aren’t IN LOVE with them.

      And sometimes you are aware that they may feel something more for you than you do for them. But maybe you aren’t willing to lose the friendship you value so highly just because they have a crush and you make it very clear its never going to happen, and they date other people. Is that selfish? Sure. Are most (actually ALL, except parent/child) relationships selfish? Of course. We are close with people because we enjoy aspects of them and spending time with them. If we didn’t enjoy them, those are just “pity” relationships, and no one has or should have a whole world of relationships merely out of pity. So all relationships are selfish and it is up to people to protect themselves. If the friendship is making one person secretly miserable, it is up to the person who is miserable to cut out the friendship. It isn’t fair to expect “Holly” to guess that her best friend is miserable because they spend time together and for her to have to affirmatively cut him out.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        McLovin November 16, 2011, 1:15 pm

        I really like that perspective.

        Link
      • avatar

        lets_be_honest November 16, 2011, 12:27 pm

        Interesting point about the best friend jealousy. Agree with all of it. It sucks though, in my opinion, to be on either end of it.

        Link
    • avatar

      Fabelle November 16, 2011, 12:25 pm

      I totally get where you’re coming from & don’t think you’re a jerk at all! Opposite-sex friendships can get really murky, so I’ve always been happy to find a dude who legitimately just wanted to be friends. If he was talking about his dating life casually and saying you’re like one of the guys, then you’re right to feel a little betrayed. It’s like.. aren’t I cool enough to just chill with, minus you having a crush on me?

      Reply Link
    • avatar

      moonflowers November 16, 2011, 12:54 pm

      The anger is justified in my opinion. Here you are, letting your defenses down and trusting in this guy to be interested in you as a person and a friend, and totally not because he’s trying to get in your pants. That can be a big relief and a safe haven – and *then* you find out he was actually hoping to deceive you into eventually boning him all along. I know that sounds super harsh and he was probably more terrified of losing the person he loved instead of being all devious there, but unwanted secret sexual desire for you is just creepy.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        Dennis Hong November 16, 2011, 1:14 pm

        I don’t think that’s necessarily the case (it certainly wasn’t for me). He could’ve enjoyed her company and truly wanted to be friends. But somewhere along the way, he started developing feelings for her. And that’s when he said something about it. I think it’s a little harsh to assume that the whole time, he was only friends with her to try to get into her pants. Feelings change, ya know.

        Link
      • avatar

        lets_be_honest November 16, 2011, 1:42 pm

        But don’t you agree he should’ve said something when the feelings started. I’d have to assume they started before he decided he was so in love that he wouldn’t move away, right?
        Also, I don’t think he was just trying to get in my pants so to speak. I do think he genuinely fell in love, which in the end sucked for both of us.

        Link
      • avatar

        Dennis Hong November 16, 2011, 1:52 pm

        Sure, if you can pinpoint the exact moment those feelings start. But it’s not ever that simple. Sometimes, they just kinda creep up on you. You think you just really enjoy the other person’s friendship, you love hanging out with them, you’re happy they’re your best friend, but then… one day, you suddenly realize you’re totally in love with them.

        Haven’t we all seen When Harry Met Sally?

        Link
      • avatar

        Dennis Hong November 16, 2011, 1:55 pm

        For the record, I agree that it you KNOW you’re totally in love with a friend, and you choose to say nothing about it, then you deserve whatever awkward consequences you hoist on yourself.

        Again, though, I just don’t think it always boils down to the person knowing, but being too much of weenie to say anything.

        Link
      • avatar

        lets_be_honest November 16, 2011, 2:00 pm

        Thats true. For the record, I look back on that with a lot of sadness now. Just took me a while to get there.

        Link
    • avatar

      TheOtherMe November 16, 2011, 1:33 pm

      You’re not a jerk LBH, as I am sure he didn’t take you out to expensive restaurants & leave roses on your car. You probably didn’t call him every day KNOWING that he wanted to date you, that’s the main difference, you were surprised by his feelings but Holly knew all along.

      I have had friends who wanted to jump out of the friend zone & into T.O.M. town but I never took advantage of them & never gave them hope that my feelings would change.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        lets_be_honest November 16, 2011, 1:42 pm

        Right, I guess that’s the big difference-leading on or not.
        Who wouldn’t want a ticket to TOM Town!

        Link
      • avatar

        McLovin November 16, 2011, 4:33 pm

        I know, right?! I’m sure T.O.M. “Town” is hard to find, but well worth the journey.

        This whole conversation makes me realize that I need to have a long overdue discussion with someone that I don’t think will end well.

        Link
      • avatar

        PFG-SCR November 16, 2011, 4:35 pm

        OT: Did you move back to Oregon?

        Link
      • avatar

        McLovin November 16, 2011, 5:18 pm

        I haven’t moved yet. Lots going on. I got a new computer and didn’t save the link to the forums so, obviously, I haven’t been there for a while.

        Link
      • avatar

        TheOtherMe November 16, 2011, 7:38 pm

        T.O.M. “Town” isn’t hard to find but you need a special passport ;D

        Link
      • avatar

        McLovin November 16, 2011, 8:24 pm

        Uh huh. Well it sounds like the only person that needs to be in T.O.M. “Town” is already a resident so that’s all that matters:)

        Link
  • avatar

    AKchic November 16, 2011, 12:10 pm

    *hug*
    There will always be a Holly out there. The only thing we can do is recognize them for what they are and avoid getting sucked in.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Christy November 16, 2011, 1:45 pm

    “Staying friends with someone you’re desperately in love with is like trying to get drunk on alcohol-free beer. Sure, you can practically taste the buzz. But, trust me, you’re never gonna get there.”

    So true!

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Martin November 16, 2011, 3:58 pm

    I was exactly in this situation nearly 10 years ago when I was in college. I was totally infatuated with this girl and she made it completely clear that I was far from what she was looking for in a relationship. But of course, I kept on hoping and trying to mold myself into the guy she’d want to be with – I’d like to think I wasn’t too pathetic about it, but I’m pretty sure I was.

    It lasted one whole semester before I got home and consciously detoxed myself out of it. At first, I actually hunted around the Internet looking for how to make a girl stop seeing you as just a friend and start seeing you as a boyfriend. Answer; you can’t. The only way out is to take the way out of the relationship as a whole – don’t call, don’t visit, don’t see, don’t email. Date others. Next semester, when my heart didn’t leap into my throat when I saw her, I realized I was free(!) and really thankful it only lasted three months.

    From that moment on, once a girl said anything like “just friends” or gave me *any* indication that she wasn’t interested, I would simply back off and put her into my Friend Zone. I didn’t care how beautiful or great I thought she was, or how much I enjoyed her company – I’ll walk away and it’ll probably be a few weeks (cleansing time) before she sees or hears from me. Nothing is worth the self-esteem destroying weight in the chest feeling that you don’t quite measure up when you’re around her – especially if she’s so great.

    It’s not that I refuse to have anything to do with a woman who says she’s not interested – in fact, what I do is take her at her word. Once I’m sure I’m no longer entertaining any fantasies about us being together, I usually call. I’ll be her friend with no other expectation beyond that – no point in neither having the relationship and the friendship at the same time. After all, she doesn’t stop being a great person just because she’s not attracted to me, right?

    Funny thing; I’ve had four girls that I’ve asked out – who told me that they just wanted to be friends then – come to me and tell me afterward that they had feelings for me. Of course, this was often months later and I just happen to be dating someone else – the most shocking one being the girl whose cousin I was dating … the cousin she introduced to me!

    Women (still) confuse me.

    Reply Link
    • Will.i.am

      Will.i.am November 17, 2011, 8:38 am

      Dating is still about timing and luck. Maybe they were telling you the truth at the time, or maybe they didn’t like seeing you with someone else. You never know, but like you said, you take their word for it and move on. No point waiting around trying to change the situation. Most of the time though, if they aren’t interested in you at the time, and they become interested later; it’s because you are seeing someone else and they have lost the good quality time they had with you.

      Reply Link
    • avatar

      platonic or not April 17, 2012, 3:30 pm

      This seems so damn familiar to me. I have had three such experiences in past. Once you recognize that the girl is not interested in you, its better to move out of it. The first one was the hardest, since it was too hard to move on. I had lost quite a lot of self esteem. Blown to smithereens almost.

      Now I am interested in some and by some strange chance, there is no friendship angle mixed in this one. 🙂

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Calle November 16, 2011, 4:43 pm

    I enjoyed this piece very much. I think most people have experienced a Holly in some aspect, although the Holly written about was more on the extreme end of the spectrum. I agree with Dennis also about the difference between both people feeling platonic and unrequited feelings from one friend. People want to pretend like things can be swept under the rug but when one friend feels strongly (not just a crush but bordering on love) about another and makes a confession there are usually only two end results: the friendship is over or a romance begins. The issue is that if someone’s unrequited feelings are not returned they still have some semblance of hope if they continue to hang out, etc. At least if people date, they know they tried and it is over. Anyway, just my opinion that it is a little too sunshine, roses, and my little ponies to think you can remain friends with someone after they confess they are in love with you and you do not return the sentiment. I was in Holly’s position, except I didn’t lead the guy on by hanging out with him several times a week. We still hung out occasionally but he was extra huggy and still trying to “woo” me in a way. I finally just realized enough was enough, that even though I was only seeing him occasionally and not leading him on he still was getting the wrong idea, so I slowly backed off away from the friendship and it never really recovered.

    Reply Link
    • Will.i.am

      Will.i.am November 17, 2011, 8:44 am

      Feelings are feelings. You really can’t sweep them under the rug if you really care about them. Probably why I have very few female friends. I usually want to date women that I meet and hit it off with. Usually the women I’m not that attracted too, is due to conversation, so looks are never factored into the equation.

      In my area, most girls after a certain age, are just not into entertaining guys to entertain them. The one’s that have their life together and have a career are looking for an equal. The one’s that are left still partying all the time are the one’s that are looking for the perfect 10. And when they get that perfect 10 in their eyes, that person is a 5, at best, in everyone else’s. Funny how the heart works at times.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Allison November 17, 2011, 8:59 am

    Friends zone totally sucks. I’m not sure I agree with limiting the friendship if you’re not the one with the feelings, though. It’s nice to be considerate, but if I told a guy friend I had feelings for him or he found out, and then said we had to stop being friends, I’d feel even worse. I’ve been interested in guy friends and realized it wasn’t mutual, and most of the time, we stayed friends and I felt fine about it. So, had they started avoiding me, I probably would have felt less fine.

    Reply Link
    • Will.i.am

      Will.i.am November 17, 2011, 10:20 am

      I don’t know if I would want to have the same intensity of a friendship with someone, if I had feelings for them and they didn’t have the same for me. Makes it even worse if you hang out pretty regularly during the week. Those are the kinds of friendships you tend to develop in high school and college. After that, it’s hard to have those intense friendships with no commitment from the opposite sex.

      Even the women I know that have a decent amount of guy friends, more than half of them have or had a crush on them at some point in time. If you create friends, due to them having similar viewpoints as you, wouldn’t you do the same thing dating? The only difference is the romantic attraction.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Naika November 20, 2011, 10:17 pm

    Hi Dennis,
    Read your essay, and man, the timing was crazy for this. I have an article about my experience in my blog here at: , but it was the same for me. The feelings just kinda creep up on ya when you realize this friend is just amazing and that you feel that you want to really see if you both can take it farther. I asked her out, she said no, she wanted to stay best friends, said that if she just met me that a fling would’ve been fine, but we’re friends now and she doesn’t want to ruin it and so forth. Right now, we talk here and there, but it’s been torture for me at the moment. I wanna keep my distance, but I don’t want to shut her out if she wants to talk about something.

    Oh, and as a response to Lets_Be_Honest’s story, I don’t think you’re a jerk, but to be honest, i think that you being angry would rub me the wrong way. As Dennis said, the feelings really do creep up on some of us, and I was surprised that he was WILLING to give up that job to be with you. Sure, you can point the finger at him and say “It was his fault for putting in me in the position of giving him the axe for festering all this crap for so long”, but from the way I see it, once your feelings develop like this, how much torture would it be for him to be with you if you didn’t reciprocate the same kind of feelings towards him? You sound like someone that would definitely be a great friend to be around, but it’s hard to know where your heart is headed when you suddenly just fall in love I guess.

    LBH, part of me wants to say that you strung him along, but I can tell your feelings of friendship are good and honest. I’m sure is was too, but coming back to Dennis, it just creeps up on ya. This is what love does, and we just have to be willing to be open to all kinds of things I guess. For the girl in my post, it’ll be awhile before I get over her and destroy any feelings of love I had for her, but if this friendship causes me pain from the pangs of unrequited love, then is that truly a friendship that you want to keep? Thoughts?

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    E December 13, 2011, 11:26 pm

    Man, I was there for 2 years and just recently got out and moved on. I think my story is worst than yours so let me sing the blues for you…Ha ha ha….

    This girl used to be a co worker and we were never close. We would hang out occasionally with other co workers after work. She left the company and called me for 1 1/2 year trying to get me to go out. I would always make excuses or tell her i was going through a ruff patch which I was. She would respond, all you need is a good women! I always had a crush on her but I knew she had a BF so I didn’t want to go there.

    After 1 1/2 years of her keeping in touch with me, trying to get me to go out I gave in. We met for drinks and closed the bar. I had a great time with her but I found out she was still with the BF who she lived with.

    I should have stopped right there and not go out with her anymore but the next day she email to say she had a good time and that we should go out more “Frequently” wink. So I asked her out and we hung out until 3am. We shared a cab together which dropped her off first. We were holding hands and when we got to her house she let go and was nervous wondering if her BF was home.

    The next day she emails me to let me know what a great time she had and she said “We should be going out all the time”.

    Now when we went out she was always talking about how bad her relationship was which is tipical when you are in the “Friend Zone” and a security blanket. The guy would go out with his cousins, male friends, female friends and not include her. So what was she doing in turn, going out with me.

    This should of been a sign to let go. I did have a talk with her early on and told her that it wasn’t a good idea to go out with her all the time because 1. She was still in a relationship, 2. I was interested in her and I didn’t want to end up developing feelings for her.

    She got defensive and said well what’s the problem don’t you like my company? Do I bore you or something? I said no I just think it would be better if we were acquaintenance instead of going out all the time like a couple. I explained that it would not be fair to me because I could be spending time with someone who was single and available to me. She just said well “Whos to say who I will end up with 2 years from now”..

    So I ended up going out with her for the next 2 years and did things couples do (movies, dinners, wine tours etc). She would text me, email me all the time. Although sometimes when I initiated she would be a little distant which would upset me.

    Anyway, she finally broke up with the guy but I ended up in the same status 6 months after her break-up.

    I recently decided it was time for me to distance myself so that I would not get hurt. I fell in love with her and she told me she only wanted a friendship. I didn’t want to keep going out with her and get hurt when the next jerk came into her life.

    So I told her I wasn’t going to go out with her anymore because I expected more of a friendship and I understood she didn’t have these feeling for me but I didn’t want to experience being jealous, hurt when she hooked up with someone else.

    She responded, Ok, I understand and we left it at that.

    I’ve been feeling a little guilty because I was the one to cut off ties but I had to protect my heart. I really cared about her a lot but I couldn’t continue to go out with her as a friend when my expectations of her kept growing. Believe me I tried sooo many times. This is why i kept it up for 2 years. I kept saying to myself to block out the feelings and just enjoy going out with her and being her friend. It worked for a while but its like trying to hold your breath.

    So in these situations you have to break all ties….

    By the way I have a female who has been a platonic friend for over 10 years. When we first went out she laid the cards on the table and said that she had just gotten divorsed and was only looking for friendship. I accepted that and never had a problem with her. She got married again, divorsed again and now lives with her BF for 5 years and we are still dear friends. I never developed feelings for her even though we spent a lot of time together because the cards were on the table from the begining. She is very attractive yet I’ve been able to maintain a friendship with her.

    I think opposite sex friends need to state their intentions from the begining…

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      platonic or not April 17, 2012, 3:44 pm

      What you told about having a platonic friend is a fact. And it usually works out when the cards are already laid out when the friendship starts. I have a friend with whom i became friends in college. Friendship just happened between us both and lots of coincidences too. She is indeed very pretty and attractive. but I guess its as already told. When one knows already at the start that, this person is ready only for a friendship, things go smooth.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    Todd Smitts July 4, 2012, 2:57 am

    Am I late to the party? It’s been a few months, but I wanted to comment.

    To lets_be_honest, I’d say, no, you didn’t do anything wrong. Certainly sprining a huge ultimatum like he did was unfair. I don’t think his revealing his feelings were a betrayal per se, however. I agree with the folks above that say feelings can develop slowly over time.

    To Martin, it always interests me to hear stories of it happening to women. I still doubt it’s anywhere near as common, but maybe it just makes me feel better to know it happens to them too. 😉

    To E, I think walking away (without being mean about it) was the smart thing to do. If two people don’t want the same thing, it’s often better to go their separate ways. That’s not being a jerk, it’s just about survival. I’m a big “How I Met Your Mother” fan, but I didn’t like the arc that almost made Ted out to be a badguy for keeping his distance from Robin after she rejected him. Feelings can’t be turned off like a switch.

    Reply Link

Leave a Comment