Ask Dr. Nerdlove by Harris O'Malley

Why Did I Get Friend-Zoned?

DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a woman who recently met an awesome guy, but things aren’t going the way I’d hoped.

I do have to admit that it was difficult at first because I was not used to flirting in a REALLY obvious way, nor was I able to join in the conversations he had with his friends as easily I had with others. He tends to like to talk about video games, while I like to talk about social issues and justices; but when the timing is right, we both like and have talked about science and technology! After some time I was able to joke around with them. Both luckily and unluckily for me, this man of interest is a very close and long time friend of my brother.

You probably can predict what already happened here: he friend-zoned me right off the bat. According to his logic (as well as my brother, who is also a self proclaimed nerd), he said that when he met me, he automatically saw me as a mutual friend because he had been friends with my brother for a long time. He also further commented that he likes to take things slow and that he didn’t know much about me to form an opinion. This is where I differ from his opinion, because in my perspective, this is what I thought was dates are for: two people getting to know the other party in a more private and intimate setting.

His response came as shock to me because I didn’t encounter such a reason before. Don’t get me wrong here, I have been rejected in the past but only after having some dates. The shock mainly came from my inability to understand why he chose to make such a difficult decision so quickly without hearing my side. I also do understand that not everyone thinks alike nor is able to handle certain situations as well as others do, which is why I take their reasons into consideration to make a decision. As for my case, I knew what the risks were for dating a close friend of my brother’s and I knew that it was worth it to try to take that risk with him. I know that I am not one to be uncivilized when things don’t go too well. All my past relationships have ended nicely where we communicated our troubles and still ended up being friends. Albeit we are not as in much contact as before, but we are still able to see and act normal around each other without any bitter or awkward feelings. However, my brother’s friend could have known all of that if he could given me that chance to show/explain that side of me.

Sorry if it took a long round-about way of asking my question but here they are: Knowing that he does not want to take a risk with his buddy’s sister (me), would he ever want to do so in the future?(my brother invites me to hang out with his friends every other week)

Or should I see this as a dead-end forever? I am always able to move on once I know that there is no option. I guess for this particular situation, I can’t quite understand the rejection because it felt that both of us were not able to see each other’s side outside of the friend circle to truly discover whether we are truly attracted to that person or not.

One last thing, he does know that I am not a bad looking person because his parents and friends told him that I am cute after seeing my photos. He also smiled and thought it was a compliment. Knowing this also further confused me as to why he didn’t want to try for a date.

Thank you for reading all of that and all of your help!

– Bro-Zoned

DEAR BRO-ZONED: Here’s the thing I think you’re missing BZ: the issue isn’t whether he’s heard your side or not when it comes to dating you. The issue is that he’s given you what’s known as a “soft” no — turning you down with a socially plausible, yet indirect, reason why he doesn’t want to date you.

Now this may not be a FALSE reason. He could well be what’s known as demisexual; that is, he’s someone who doesn’t feel romantic or sexual attraction to somebody until after having gotten to know them and having formed a fairly intimate platonic relationship with them first.

But I don’t think that’s necessarily the case here. Just between you, me and everyone reading this: I don’t think the issue here is that he takes a while to develop an opinion.

Now to be sure, people tend to progress at their own speeds when it comes to attraction; some folks feel that spark immediately, and others take time to warm up to people. There are plenty of relationships where the attraction builds over time before it turns from mutual platonic affection to romantic or sexual interest. You’ve got your speed when it comes to relationships – act on the attraction, check for compatibility along the way – while he has his. His happens to be a little more phlegmatic than yours, and that’s fine… different strokes for different folks and all that.

But to be perfectly honest, it sounds like he’s not attracted to you, and really, that’s all there is to it. Whether or not he knows about your dating style or being able to be cool with your exes is really beside the point. Hearing your side of things isn’t going to change his mind if he’s just not into you in the first place and frankly, nobody is really obligated to hear the other person’s case if they just aren’t interested in dating them. You can’t debate somebody into liking you, after all.

He may well change his mind over time and realize that maybe there is something about you that gets his motor running, but sticking around with the hope of changing his mind is a bad idea. It’s a Nice Guy move and tends to lead to Oneitis, making things awkward all around. If you’re genuinely interested in being friends with this guy – regardless of whether or not he decides he wants to date you – then I’d say go ahead and hang out with him and your brother on occasion… but on the whole, you’ll be better off to write him off as a crush that didn’t work out and move on.

Good luck.

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