I used to be a host for a small-time subscription television channel. The segment I hosted had a short shelf life, but I met some great people along the way. One of those people was named John*.
John and I were attached at the hip. Wed tell each other about our annoying families, go to lunch together almost every day and smoke joints in the stairwell while the rest of the office was out doing office-y things. Its safe to say we were pretty damn close.
On one cold, sunny Sunday, John asked me to help him pick out a new winter coat. I merrily obliged, seeing as fashion and hanging with friends are my two favorite indulgences. He and I met at a department store, and off we went on our journey to find the perfect-fitting coat. We found a good bargain and walked out of the store feelingwarm and satisfied.
As we strolled out the revolving doors, I prepared to part ways with my new BFF, but he grabbed my hand and cornered me into a nook outside the store, on the busy city sidewalk.
“Sheena,” he said, “I think you’re adorable.”
Oh, no. I knew where this was headed.
Would you ever consider, you know, being more than just friends? Because I’d very much like to be more. You don’t have to answer me now. Just think about it.
He kissed me on the cheek, let go of my hand and walked away.
I can’t say I didn’t have a feeling John liked me. I’m not stupid; I saw the signs. I’d been bracing myself for a confession like this.John wasn’t my idea of the perfect romantic partner. I wasn’t physically attracted to him, andhe was too entitled for my taste.
So the next day at work, I mustered up the courage to tell him I wasn’t interested. John was a calm guy, so I expected him to react in a calm way. He didn’t.
He lashed out at me, accusing me of stringing him along and blurring the lines. I was shocked. I had seen mybehavior asmere friendliness and nothing more, butJohn couldn’t handle being just friends.
A month after our nook rendezvous, he quit his job at the TV station. And just like that, we went from fast friends to fast enemies.
If I could count the number of times I’ve been alienated, reprimanded or called a number of choice words because I enjoy interacting platonically with men, I’d be out of fingers and toes.
I love to talk. Ask me who the hottest soccer player on the FC Barcelona team is or why Hilary Clinton should be president, and Ill have a million and one opinions. Im an innately amicable person;I thrive off social interactions with people. Audience outreach and engagement is the very reason I enjoy writing as much as I do. I love making friends wherever I go.
But about theonly successful friendships I have with menare with guys who are either coworkers or gay.
My coworkers and I can’t f*ck each other, and my gay friends and I definitely cant f*ck each other, so our friendships just work. Theres no added pressure to explore the relationshipany further, because theres no potential for our friendshipto be anything more.
But nearly every OTHER guy Ive ever tried to befriend has taken it the wrong way. And when I didn’treciprocate romantic feelings, I was told that I was“confused,” or a “tease,” orthegirl who’s stupid because she keeps dating assh*les and makes no room in her heart for the “good guy.” (And no, that isn’t how I’d describe guy. It’swhat he called himself.)
A once-friendship would then blow up into anI-wish-we’d-never-metsituation.
But in my experience, men have always had underlying motives when approaching me, and they act onthem, twisting my words and killing the friendship. My relationships with men feel like nothing more than business transactions: They come for a certain service, and once theyve figured out they wont be making any personal profit, they move on to the next bank — er, girl.
To all the men who thought I was leading them on by simply spending time with them and talking about life: Nah. Maybe I just wanted to shoot the sh*t with you and not gab with girls about how much guys suck for once.
Maybe, just maybe, you’re overestimating your worth — and underestimating mine.
*Name has been changed.