DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m writing to you from a position of slight desperation and I’m really, really hoping you’d help. I’m a 33 year old grad student at one of the leading universities in the USA. I’ve never had a girlfriend of any sort and in fact am still a virgin. One of the reasons for this is my staggering reticence with women; reading your blog (which I cam across last week) was a mind blowing experience as I see so much of my younger self of the Platonic Back Door tactic. Older, and maybe a little wiser, I now know it to be nonsense and this summer I finally decided to try and do something.
The object of my affection is a fellow grad student at the same university; she is in her late 20s, incredibly cute and fantastically smart. Most of all she is my match in wit and banter. I’m a very outgoing, sociable person and it was fantastic to meet someone who can give as good as she gets, tirelessly, when it comes to a bit of teasing. More than anything we have a lot in common and I can genuinely see myself being quite happy with this woman for a long time. I’ve known her since last year, so we’ve been friends – good friends – for about a year.
Discovering I was attracted to her came completely out of the blue at the beginning of the summer. I finally plucked up the courage to ask her out for a date last week. We went on that date a few days ago and it ended in catastrophe. After a pleasant enough evening I casually mentioned that I would like to kiss her. She totally froze up and, after a few moments of silence, said that it would feel like kissing her brother. After a few more moments of chatting it became clear that all bets were now off and this would be our last date.
I’m perfectly aware that my error was moving too fast; I was extremely angry with myself afterwards and spent much of the rest of the evening beating myself up in my head. I couldn’t believe that what could have worked with frankly the most amazing woman I’ve ever met had ended up in the toilet over one single misplaced sentence. I was perfectly aware of the fact that transitioning from friend to romantic partner required time and yet I got carried away and blew it. I told myself firmly that this was it and that at very least I’d tried, and decided to move on.
The problem is – for the first time in a long time, I don’t want to. Usually in these situations I am true to my word and would not pursue this any further. But I am a real believer that in picking our partners in the long term compatibility is far more important than romance. I’ve never met anyone with whom I am as compatible as her, and I’m just not prepared to let this go over a misplaced move right at the beginning. The challenge facing me, I guess, is how to escape the friend zone with this one. I’ve never really done that before – but I’m prepared to make the effort for her. I guess on some level I’ve realized that she is, most definitely, the one for me.
Could you possibly help?
Friend Zone Parolee
DEAR FRIEND ZONE PAROLEE: Let me correct you real fast, FZP: you didn’t really make an error here. You didn’t move too fast or really do anything wrong. All that happened is that you went out with someone and she decided that she wasn’t attracted to you. That’s really all there is to it.
I mean, you can dress it up as transitioning from friend to lover or what-not, but it all comes down to the simple fact that she’s just not into you. And that’s a risk you run into when you’re asking people out, whether you’re friends with them first or not. I am questioning whether she knew this was a date or just the two of you hanging out as friends… but I suspect that if you were clearer about things, then she wouldn’t have said yes in the first place, so it would be a wash all around.
You are, however, overreacting to all of this. I get that you’re inexperienced and you really like this woman, but your despair and self-anger is seriously out of proportion to what actually happened. It’s not a catastrophe, it’s just an awkward moment at the end of a date that ultimately went nowhere. That’s it. Everything else you’re dealing with is entirely self-inflicted. Right now you’re giving yourself a nasty case of Oneitis; you’re turning her from someone you like into The One, with a capital T and O. Except: she’s not. She may be wonderful and amazing, but she’s not the only woman out there who you’re compatible with or who you’ll be attracted to. There are literally millions of single women out there and there will be plenty who are just as awesome and smart and gorgeous and all those other qualities that make your heart stutter when you see her. You will find others – and more importantly, those others will like you back.
Can you get out of the Friend Zone? Yes. You just have to be willing to walk away and date other people. Can you get out of the Friend Zone with this person specifically? Well, it can happen… but honestly, I wouldn’t bet on it if I were you. You would be much happier in the long run to recognize that you’re lucky to have someone awesome like her as a friend and move on to pursuing other people. And there will be other people.
I realize this sounds harsh, so let me end this with pointing something out: you did well here. You got over your shyness and your aversion to asking women out. You cowboy’d up and asked someone out. And then, towards the end of the date, you made your move. That is goddamn huge. Yeah, it didn’t go the way you hoped but dude, could you see yourself doing any of that a year ago? Or even six months ago? That’s some serious progress! Yeah, getting rejected sucks, but that’s how you build up your skill points, man. You’ve just shown that you can do this. You should be proud of yourself.
So do yourself a favor. Take a day or two, feel your feels and then let ’em go because you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished here. Take that to heart and start looking for those other awesome women. You’ll find them. And you’ll find the ones who like you too.
You’re doing great, man. Remember that.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com)