If men get “friendzoned” – do women get “girlfriendzoned?”

I was about 8 years old the first time I was ever propositioned for sex and I looked like this:

hebbrownskylark

Me at Arby’s with the 1980 Buick Skylark and hand-me-down trucker jacket from my brother. My mom took my brother’s “Incredible Hulk” patch off the coat for me when the jacket was handed down to me (thanks Mom!). The Snoopy T-shirt was NOT a hand-me-down!

This isn’t something I’ve talked about with very many others. I was heading to a “boyfriend’s” house – he was the same age as I was, and he had a brother who was about five years older (I would say 13). I went to the door, and into the house and asked if I could see the boy (whom I will not name here). His older brother informed me I would not be able to see him – unless I “did” something with him. Meaning the older brother wanted me to do something with him, not the younger brother (just to be clear). Which the older brother described in detail. I think anyone reading this can figure out what he described. And this is how I learned about “the birds and the bees” before my parents even had a chance to tell me. He did not force himself on me or anything, and I wound up just saying “no” and left. I was not really traumatized by what happened, more bothered than anything else (I was 8, I really didn’t know what was going on). I told my mom what happened, and I’m not really sure what resulted from it, but I think she probably said it wasn’t a good idea to go over there anymore. It was a different time, and parents didn’t make as huge of deal about things like they do now. In this day and age of social media and instant communication, there would be no “hushing up” of an incident like this! The boy I was going to see was one of my first “boyfriends,” we had actually kissed in the red shed in our back yard. It was as awkward and unromantic and you would imagine anything between two 8-year-olds would be. Not long after this happened, they wound up moving back to Indiana, where they had lived originally.

He wasn’t my first “boyfriend.” There was also the boy in my second grade class, whom I’ll call “Steve.” He wore glasses, he was funny, we were great buddies. I even have a great snapshot of him waving at the camera, which I am not sharing here! And earlier, in kindergarten, there was the red-headed boy with curly hair and skin as pale as porcelain. I remember hanging out with him a lot on the playground, and one day when we were talking, he blurted out, “I can’t believe I made you laugh.” He was probably the first boy to develop a crush on me…he was about a full head shorter than me (I’ve always been kind of “Amazonian”,) lol…His parents divorced and re-married, and his last name changed later to another one. Eventually we grew apart, as schoolkids do. But I’ll never forget him trying to impress me by making me laugh. No, I don’t remember what he said to make me laugh!

My first “boyfriend” was another neighbor boy, the second born of three boys (my brother was friends with the oldest of them). I barely remember the incident, I think maybe I only about 3 or so – but per my mother, I guess I was in his parent’s garage with him and we were playing “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” My mom either yelled at me to get home “right now” or she went over there and fetched me. Yup, we were stripping down right there in the garage! Only a couple of years later when I wandered into their yard, one of the other boys declared, “No girls allowed.” Oh the battle of the sexes…does it ever end?

hebwithtiger

Me with “Tiger” at about age 3, when I played the “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” game with a neighbor boy. The incident was not photographed, but this is about what I looked like at this age. Note the hand-me-downs from my brother (Go Blue!).

Then there was the boy whose dad had a “super trike” (three-wheeled ATV), and a Grand Prix. That’s when I first learned how to pronounce a French word, as I recall. I guess you could say he was my kindergarten boyfriend (though he was a year older), we played together quite a bit, but would become bitter enemies years later, because girls were icky – and so were boys. Such was the way of the world for a kid.

Fast forward years later, and I still tended to have quite a few male friends, even after I got married. Only now there were complications – now girls weren’t “icky” to boys – and vice versa.  Which could, in some cases, mean….

The dreaded “friend zone.” Apparently this phrase may have originated in a 1994 “Friends” episode, where Joey referred to a lovelorn Ross as being “mayor of the friend zone.” What this implies is that Ross wasn’t “getting any” with Rachel, the object of his affection. And since according to the movie/TV universe all male and female interaction eventually leads to sex, right? I refer to the case of “When Harry” vs. “Met Sally” and will make my closing argument, lol… Was Rachel being a “tease”  by not jumping into bed with Ross? Is that what we were all supposed to believe? So because of this show, we have the term “friend zone,” which is still widely used today. And disliked in some feminist/progressive circles.

The problem with this thinking is it’s male-centric – it’s all about what the MEN want. They want sex and aren’t getting it. Women want emotional connections with others. How are women supposed to respond? Guys may think women are putting them in the “friend zone” by not acquiescing to sex, but what about women? Are men putting women in “the girlfriend zone” with this thinking? Are women supposed to assume that every single one of their  heterosexual male friends has designs on getting them into bed? Do women “owe” sex to men who have done anything nice for them?  Let’s be honest here. I’ve entertained erotic fantasies about my male friends. I have a very vivid imagination. But thoughts and fantasies are JUST THAT. I’ve been married for 20 years – virtually any male person with whom I befriend is going to be, by default, put into the “friend zone,” as it were. My marriage comes first. There may be people out there willing to betray the people they married, maybe have a little tryst with someone else. But let’s be realistic – not everyone wants to put everything on the line and take this kind of risk. Let’s see…20 years of marriage, 20 minutes (or more) of sex. Hmmm… , what to pick, what to pick?  And I’m not even judging other people who do this! Temptation is a very, very real thing. We’re all human, and we all have feelings – some of which may be almost impossible to control. Sexual attraction to another person sometimes just happens – it can’t be explained, ignored, or swept under a rug. I’m not talking about a hot Calvin Klein underwear model, or a hot Spanish goalkeeper.

casillas1

Real Madrid’s goalkeeper Iker Casillas.  I’ll never forget the first time he made his international debut, in a UEFA Champions League match where he subbed in for an injured ‘keeper. And wound up becoming the permanent GK.

I’m also not talking about a woman with a nice rack and an ass that won’t quit. I’m talking about “that” sexual attraction/magnetism between two human beings.  It can happen when you least expect it, and even come to life in the most unromantic settings imaginable. Call it pheromones, call it chemistry, call it magical, call it what you will. It’s a thing – it WILL sneak up on you, and chances are, you weren’t seeking it out when it hit you! You don’t have to be in a singles bar, swiping right/left through Tinder photos – REAL sexual attraction can hit you like a sneak attack – even if it’s someone you’ve known for years.  Yes, people do fool around and cheat, for lots and lots of reasons.  And because of this, there are divorce lawyers waiting in the wings and worse, betrayed trust with jilted spouses/significant others and alienated children.  And if you want to get back on the horse after all of this, there are dating sites! Cheating in and of itself does not make people “bad.” Any person who says they’ve never felt tempted to do the horizontal hustle with someone other than the person they’re “supposed” to do this with is probably a liar.

I’m no relationship expert by any means. I know some men are about the hunt – and playing the mating game. I know that with any guy I befriend there’s always a possibility that he won’t be happy to be “just friends.” Well guess what? Maybe women don’t want to be “just a fuck buddy.”  People can and do develop infatuations with and crushes on other people, even while in committed relationships. Some might even believe monogamy is an unnatural state of being. In the rest of the animal kingdom, monogamy is the exception, not the rule.  If you know another human with whom you can easily confide, relate and converse, it’s a priceless thing. If you have this with a longtime partner or spouse consider yourself really lucky (which I do)! Do you have this kind of connection with a good friend? That’s great, too! Sex is a fleeting pleasure, but truly great friendships can last a lifetime. If you can make someone laugh – and have them make you laugh and smile? Enjoy it. We’re social animals by our nature, to be sure, and yes, we’re also very sexual creatures. With brains with which to control the sexual urges. And there is nothing more sexy about humans than their brains.

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