#2168 The problem with girls, highlighted by Girls

I have this friend Rachel who went for dinner with a guy and his girlfriend last month. The guy brought a friend along (Matt) to keep the numbers even, and my friend and the new guy got along pretty well. They talked a lot over dinner, had some drinks, talked some more, had a few more drinks, flirted, made eyes, went to a bar afterwards, danced, held hands, walked home together, then kissed on her doorstep. He then went home like a gentleman should. After they said bye, she realised he hadn’t asked for her number. Not to worry, thought Rachel, he can easily get my number off his friend. The next day, she got a text from her friend, saying he hoped she’d had a nice time, but no text from Matt. A week later, the awesome foursome got together again. It was a repeat of the first time – talking, drinking, flirting, making eyes, dancing, hand holding, except this time, at the end of the night, she invited him inside. The next morning he got up, said thanks for a lovely evening, and didn’t ask for her number.

Four days later, she received an email from Matt with a link to some YouTube clip he’d promised to send her. They emailed back and forth for the next five or so days, then Rachel decided to take matters into her own hands. ‘Dear Matt,’ she wrote, ‘Seeing as you haven’t yet asked for my number, here it is.’ He responded immediately, with – in my humble opinion – the douchiest line I’ve ever heard: ‘Wow, you just took all the mystery out of this whole situation. I’m kinda disappointed.’ A week later, the awesome foursome got together again for dinner. And guess what? Rachel and Matt spent the evening talking, drinking, flirting, making eyes, dancing and holding hands. And at the end of the night, she went back to his apartment. And guess what else? He still didn’t text her the next day.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with relationships. Growing up I always had a lot more female friends than male, and that made me the perfect sounding board – a straight guy who would sit and listen to his lady friends speak at length about their relationships. But over the years this experience had two adverse effects on me: I became very cynical about the way that girls act in relationships; and I stopped being able to listen to somebody tell me about how much of a cretinous fool-in-love they were being, and still manage to give them kind, gentle advice. My, ‘Oh wow that really does suck, I’m so sorry he acted like that,’ became, ‘HE OBVIOUSLY DOESN’T LIKE YOU AND HE’S SLEEPING WITH YOUR BEST FRIEND SO STOP PURSUING HIM YOU UTTER FREAK.’

The other problem I found with girls who chased after douchebag guys was that it seemed to only encourage more douchebaggery in guys. Thanks to books like The Game and TV shows like Mad Men, guys could plainly see that being nice to girls would never get them anywhere. We’re constantly inundated with messages that tell us: If you want a girl to like you, act unavailable. Lie. Cheat. Don’t text back. Strip her of her self esteem and she’ll fall in love. And no matter what, never be one of those pathetic nice guys, because you know what happens to them – they never get laid! I read this brilliant comic strip recently where a girl is standing there bemoaning her single status. She cries out, ‘Where are all the nice guys!?’ To which 10 of her male friends glumly reply, ‘We’re over here, in the friendzone.’

The new TV show Girls exemplifies this problem brilliantly. You have two relationships shown from the two female protagonists’ perspectives. On the one hand, there’s Hannah with her emotionally unavailable sex partner Adam. He is so detached from the relationship that he doesn’t text back or even bother to listen when she’s talking. Despite the fact that Hannah’s friends tell her that he’s a douchebag, she continues to go back for more, knocking on his door – just in case he’s home – if he hasn’t replied to her messages. And on the other hand there’s Marnie with her sickly sweet boyfriend Charlie, who loves her so much that she feels smothered. She hates it when he touches her.

Girls is only into its second episode, but while it has spotlighted the problem, it hasn’t offered any type of solution. I wish I had one – if I did, I wouldn’t have to try and be kind to a girl who’s crying over a guy who treats her with less respect than a dog turd he’s stepped on. To my complete and utter surprise, shouting doesn’t seem to work.

In conclusion: People are crazy.


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  1. Jenny says

    I often wonder how the feminist movement has just seemed to pass this whole generation of young women by, without the slightest whiff of influence when it comes to relationships, self-respect, personal confidence, and self-belief. The scenario you paint, which I’m sure is realistic, is very sad for us all – males and females alike. I neither understand why it is like this, nor how it will change, other than placing some serious constraints on all those lovely young women who allow men to treat them so appallingly. And to Matt, the guy in your story who responded that Rachel had taken all the mystery out of the situation, my response is simply unprintable.  

  2. Rebeccah says

    Matt is an idiot and Rachel’s friends should let him know he’s acting like one. She is enabling him, their friends should point that out too, I think friends do have a role/responsibility to be honest in all this.
    I’d just like to say I married a really nice guy. He’s probably on paper a ‘friendzone’ guy, except he’s hot! And he treats me beautifully. If he didn’t, there would be trouble. If I didn’t treat him beautifully, there would be trouble. Marriage (or a partnership/relationship) should be our most important relationship and we should behave accordingly when we’re in them.
    I’m really happy. A good guy is a good guy, and that makes it easy to be happy.
    My 2 cents

  3. Hannah says

    I’m on orders to rest up this weekend, I’m surprised I haven’t got sick sooner, I’ve been in NYC for 7 months as an interning Brit.

    I found you via Twitter, and thank you, thank you. It’s fascinating to see something that isn’t 100% re-blogs and links and also, something which is honest. Here’s to you and your blog which I’ll be spending the good part of tonight with.One thing I’ve found to be true is, ‘the person who cares the least has the most power’ and I will agree with you that people are crazy, sometimes it’s just best to catch eyes with someone on the subway and then leave it at that.

  4. says

    I love this. It sucks when it doesn’t work out with a dude but you’re right, cut them off and say a swift au revoir! There is no point making yourself miserable by smooching around his heels with your sexy eyes if he doesn’t like you!  

  5. anon says

    Matt is, as you rightly stated, a douchebag.  However, your post’s overall sentiment seems to be that girls just need to stop wanting crazy, crappy dudes when there are perfectly decent doormat boys out there, ones who are less partner and more servant (because their are only the two extremes to choose from??).  Meaning that crazy, crappy dudes are just a given in life — they can keep on keepin’ on and ‘that’s just the way things are idk.’  Meaning that it’s not the shitty behavior of these males that is the issue — the issue is with girls who complain about it, while simultaneously rejecting the love of a ‘nice’ dude (‘nice’ is not nice, ‘nice’ is “I’m gonna never disagree with you even for some fun, playful sparring and also I’m gonna hover and yeah you don’t want an equal in this relationship, right?, because I’m more of a “do everything you say and feel martyred’ type”).


    ugh I can’t anymore, I feel like it’s 2010 and I’m commenting on Thought Catalog

  6. Guest says

    I TOTALLY RELATE to being the frustrated straight male friend of girls. My friend’s wise mother provided at least a partial explanation, which was that men are problem solvers and women are talkers. If you go to a guy with a problem, he generally wants to find a reasonable solution and then help you execute. Go to a chick, and she’ll likely be a better sounding board and more willing to listen to you ad nauseam (and more willing to ask what YOU want to do), and much less likely to help you pursue a resolution. 

    It becomes frustrating when you invest time and energy to talking/attempting problem solving with a girl who then proceeds to act as though the conversation never happened–because she wasn’t really looking for a solution! I have a new policy where I request first to know whether my lady friend wants advice or just to vent, and then either tune out or pay attention accordingly.

  7. Guest says

    Has it ever occurred to you that douchey guys act as they do at least in significant part because girls don’t call them on their shit? I think that was sort of the point, at least in part. 

  8. Jack says

    I actually think Anon on put it very nicely here, let’s ditch the stereotypes, there doesn’t need to be any polarity about a man’s role in this situation.
    And Hannah’s quote is the truth, and it may be a depressing thought, but if you learn to appreciate and exercise the kind of restraint she described in the subway example then it’s really not the end of the world. The ‘nice guy’ needs to question what ever gave him his false sense of entitlement in the first place. I don’t think anybody really ‘deserves’ anybody in life.

    Isaac, not to preach or anything, but I really think the solution you describe is right in front of you. The most important step is for people who enable this situation to come to the realisation that you came to. And you’re right, shouting doesn’t work. But if we all cut the crap, stopped messing with the female population and started saying what we really think, in an unemotional unshouting way, then the curse might be lifted. Your cynicism is your friend here!

    I like you too.

    (Rebeccah, I’m glad the only thing you could think of that kept your husband out of the friend zone was his ‘hotness’…)

  9. Dick Tracey says

    As an extremely hot and desirable female (I clicked this link from facebook, I really hope that it doesn’t post it with my facebook identity.  OR EVEN WORSE, DIRECTLY ONTO MY NEWSFEED) I have a number of male friends ‘friendzoned’ who I think of whenever I’m reading internet jokery.  I picture them shaking their fist at the image macros and cartoons about stand up guys friendzoned because they’re kind and intelligent, screaming impotently at their monitors “RIGHT?!?!?”.  It’s not that, it’s just that they usually have giant glaring character flaws.

    I’ve gone off on a tangent because of the huge offence I take to the whole friendzone label, but I came to agree with your general sentiment – girls are the WORST.  Ugh.

  10. Omn says

    I get the feeling that you’ve sort of perhaps labelled yourself a “nice guy” at some point Isaac (although as you say you have since become cynical)  – of the sort lamenting in this piece of prose: http://www.stwing.upenn.edu/~jenf/writing/rant04.html….. I feel like it’s kind of the ultimate defeatist attitude really, this whole “ooh I was too nice so I’m in the friendzone”. 

    People should just be themselves and understand that they will sometimes be attracted to people who don’t like them, and sometimes there will be mutual attraction that will be lost if someone doesn’t act on it for a long time i.e. ” the friendzone effect”.  I think there is a lot more to be gained for both sexes (but in my experience especially guys) from just being up front about who you are and what you want from people and pulling yourself out of the situation quickly if you find things aren’t working out.

    Sure you can label the Matt guy an asshole as much as you like, and to be honest I find his “douchey line” fairly repugnant but at the end of the day he hasn’t lied or cheated or anything? Maybe his line is douchey, but is it more douchey than just staying quiet or sending her a few half hearted texts to lead her on? At the end of the day it sounds like he’s just said in so many words “I want a casual fairy land hookup thing with no hint of commitment”, which she has somewhat condoned….

    I’ve always made a point of saying fairly quickly to people that I don’t do one night stands and that if I’ve got to the point of even mentioning my feelings for them it’s because I envision being in a committed relationship with them.. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, either way it’s highly preferable to agonising over my place on some magical nice guy/jerk spectrum and training myself to act differently (which will inevitably attract someone who doesn’t like me when I’m not acting)….

  11. Bro... says

    The “Friendzone” doesn’t exist. Girls are not machines that you put “nice” coins in until sex/a relationship drops out. 

  12. Amy says

    ‘People are crazy’. 

    yeah I agree on that it’s not so much a men/women problem, but a human/human problem. 

    There are so many different people out there, each so complex. It’s good to point out these things so people can be more aware of them, and do what is best for them :)

  13. says

    Love it.  In my giant London houseshare, all my housemates are having relationship drama, and it’s not just the girls that are getting walked on these days.  So I’m listening to one male housemate like he’s on repeat ‘but not every relationship is the same, so you can’t compare mine to others’, says the boy who’s on/off gf invited her ex to stay at her house, in her bed, and lied about sleeping with him after my housemate spotted the condom wrapper on the floor.  I’d say it’s fair to compare it to all those other doomed relationships where people have been cheated on.  And then there’s the housemate that just broke up with his gf and wanted to ‘return her herbal tea because she might want it’, WTF, men are slowly turning into women.

  14. Guest says

    Coming from having three older sisters as well as both close male and female friends growing up,  the conclusion I came to about all of this was that females, like males too, just want someone interesting. My closest female friends and sisters [who are for me, my favourite females on the planet] all have long-term boyfriends / husbands who I respect and who I get along really well with – they’re not assholes but they’re not simpy pushovers either. Coming from my situation then, the “nice guys finish last thing” seems to be a total myth. Perhaps a better expression is “nice guys finish last with girls they’re not meant to / won’t want to be with long-term anyway”.

    I think a lot of single guys (myself included not so long ago) give too much credence to the “girls don’t want nice guys” thing / myth, simply because we want to find some sort of explanation for why we’re not living “happily ever after” at this point in time (the answer of course is…there is no answer!). At the end of the day, if you’re comfortable with who you are and your actions in and out of a relationship don’t cause [too much anyway!] grief to others, I think the best approach is just to enjoy single life and not worry about why / when / how you’re going to meet that right somebody. 

    Self-relfection and self-improvement is great by all means, but trying to completely overhaul your personality [if that’s even within your ability to truly change?] just to improve your chances of “success” with the opposite sex isn’t something that appeals to me, and I’m sure it’s the same for plenty of others as well.

  15. Thinkingofyou says

    Character flaws…. like….say…  an overblown ego? Or maybe you mean a flaw like the cataloguing of ones “friends” who beg to step out of the “friendzone”? Oh, but of course they are not friends, because why would anyone be friends with such flawed people, right? Maybe, if we’re speaking honestly, you keep them around to reassure yourself that you are indeed “extremely hot and desirable”, because really, deep down, you’re not so sure you believe your own hype…
    Maybe that was mean. Here’s something constructive:
    Most likely, these guys still think there is a chance with you. Most likely, consciously or not, you have something to do with this. If you are clear that you have absolutely no romantic interest in them, and if you are honest with yourself about which of these guys’  friendship really matters to you, then you should be clear with them. After all, wouldn’t you rather a friendship in which you can be honest about your fears and desires, in which you can share in life’s successes as well as struggles? Because that sort of friendship is remarkably rewarding, and the ones in which you feel the need to constantly stay desirable and important… those ones can be very taxing. 

  16. isaaclikes says

     The friendzone absolutely does exist, but I agree that girls are not machines that you put “nice” coins in until sex/a relationship drops out. One out of two ain’t bad?

  17. isaaclikes says

     I kind of like what you’re saying here and kind of completely disagree with you.

    You’re right – there’s a lot more to be gained by being up front about who you are and what you want.

    And sure, Matt is a bit of a jerk and that douchey line was ridiculous, but obviously he wouldn’t act in that way unless he was allowed to. I’m not particularly concerned with his behaviour – I don’t like it, but he can act however he wants. What I’m concerned with is why my friend Rachel allows him to do that and goes back for more when he has acted in such a douchey way. It’s fairly obvious that no relationship is ever going to develop, but she still seems to hope for a relationship to develop. That makes no sense to me.

    I’m not saying you should agonise over your place on some magical nice guy/jerk specturm, and that’s where I feel like you’ve completely missed the point. Sure I have a little beef with the douchebags, but they wouldn’t continue to act like douchebags if they weren’t rewarded for their behaviour. It’s like a spoilt child – if he gets candy every time he throws a tantrum, what’s he going to do next time he wants some candy?

    My beef is with the girls who allow this type of behaviour and then reward it. That is crazy to me.

  18. isaaclikes says

     Fair call – and I’m not advocating for simpering wimps who want to sit there and listen to of a girl’s problems while rubbing her feet and telling her she’s beautiful. (Obviously some guys could do this and not be friendzoned, but you know the type of stereotypical guy I’m talking about.) A backbone is key to getting what you want, and that’s usually I assume the biggest character flaw for guys who do get friendzoned – they don’t have one.

    Like Hannah said below, ‘The person who cares the least has the most power.’

    I don’t like that quote, but there’s truth to it. Moderation is key.

  19. isaaclikes says

     Thanks, Jack! p.s. Rebeccah is my sister, and I can tell you unequivocally that her husband is no pushover. He’s a nice guy but he’s also funny, clever, talented and extremely self confident. (Plus it doesn’t hurt that he’s the best example of a young father that I’ve ever witnessed.)

  20. Jenny says

    I think it’s time you wrote a piece on “The Problem with Boys”, because it seems that you are blaming women for men’s bad behaviour. Whilst I completely agree that men would not continue to behave badly if women refused to accept bad behaviour, that doesn’t excuse men from such behaviour. So – the problem with boys – why do so many boys/men behave like this with girls/women? What’s wrong with boys/men? Now that would make an interesting and depressing post!

  21. isaaclikes says

    Well, Jenny, maybe I’ll write it this week. At the risk of sounding sexist, I’m more interested in girls’ reactions to this type of behaviour than the behaviour itself, but I’ll have a think about it.
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  22. Rebeccah says

     No apology needed, I over simplified. I guess I was saying I found all his niceness attractive, but you need attraction too, otherwise you just have a great friendship

  23. Chelsea Jade says

    Personally and as an aside, I abhor it when you think you have a friend in someone and they declare ‘feelings’. 

    It feels like an unfortunate fact of life to be instantly considered romantic fodder for one whose sexual preference you are. It invites a behavioural shifts I personally find exhausting. Game playing, egg=shell walking.


  24. Guest says

    This has been extreamly insightful.
    I am infact one of those girls letting this shit happen.
    I don’t know what it is that draws us to douche bags. In my case I have been seeing a douche for a year. I know he is one and that I should not be seeing him. He is always wanting to see me but insists a doesn’t want gf. I am confused at why because he obviously likes me a lot. Its not like he has other girls on the go.
    I think its the excitement of it all. He makes me so nervous every time we plan to meet up. also he is ridiculously attractive. So i see him,then turn into a stupidly love sick mess afterwards and swear not to see him again because i like him too much. So I ignore him for weeks on end.
    Until i’m over him just enough to feel like i can see him again. So hard to cut all ties with some one i have fallen for that waaants to see me. Utterly stupid and irrational.

    I WILL stop this and keep an open mind with the nice guys out there.
    thanks isaac!

  25. Lion says

    I know i’m late to the party, but this is something I’ve really struggled with recently. As a guy whose been in the friendzone for well over a year (wow, major lack of self-respect, right?), its so easy to blame the girl for the situation you put yourself in. I realise that the whole time, I was trying to prove myself, to prove that I’m a nice guy, that will always be there, willing to give anything and everything to make her happy. Now I know that was my fatal flaw, not only because it made me a doormat, but because it would never have made ME happy. What about what I want? Someone who is equally as dedicated to me as I am to her. Now, I KNOW I don’t have to prove myself, because I know, through and through that I am able to provide all the things I tried to prove I could provide, and I know I don’t have to show it, because I all those values are there and ready to be given to one who deserves it, and who is ready to offer me the same.
    I actually feel sorry for all the pretty girls who are out there who know they’re hot, because they are able to get away with friendzoning guys and stringing them along just to boost their egos. Because we never call them up on it cause we’re such pussies, they come to believe it is normal and acceptable behaviour. I have massive respect for the girls I’ve communicated my feelings to and have backed away and not strung me on, those are the ones with decency, dignity and respect.
    As for the girls who chase after the douchbag, a friend of mine once made a massive, simple, and undeniable call. Shit attracts shit. If you’re gonna play games and fuck around and degrade and lower yourself, you will attract those of similar, well, shittyness.

  26. Melissa says

    I was in the exact same position as you a few years ago…I left the country to get away from the cycle. 

    Like you I knew it was bad (mentally), but it was so good (exciting) at the same time, oh the torture!  Looking back now, my friends weren’t impressed with my behaviour either :(

    My 2 cents would be to say yes quit it now….it will never change and you will never suddenly be ‘the one’ in his eyes. 

    Best of luck!

  27. dramaking says

    Although these stupid situations may be relatable to some people. They are not at all common place where I live. Over privileged white kids with no real problems, creating boring issues to blog, bitch, whine, twitter and make films about. Kid’s need to stop watching so much television and live real lives. Lives where people act maturely and respect themselves and each other. FUCKING FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS. Go and listen to some KRS one and sort out ya Daddy tissues. Also Issac don’t front like yo the eternal nice guy eh…

  28. says

    Can’t wait to see ‘Girls’! Re douche bags –  my girlfriends & I found the Sex and the City ‘He’s just not that into you’ episode highly illuminating.  Down with ‘mixed messages’ ! For the most part, the messages aren’t that mixed.

  29. #girlprobs says

    This is so true and it makes me sad! Girls say they want nice guys but they always go after the douchebags because they “can’t” have them. Great article

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