Escaping the “Friend Zone”

Let me tell you about the worst insult I ever got.


When I first attended Pepperdine University, I was still something of a geek.  Well, some would say I still am, and I probably couldn’t argue convincingly.   At any rate, there were a number of women there I was very attracted to, but from whom I couldn’t get the time of day.


One was a gorgeous Jamaican girl who worked as a secretary in the business center.  I found reasons to show up there frequently, flirting with her, and over the months we actually developed a bit of rapport. She was interested in my dreams and aspirations, and I think she found me a bit amusing.


Then one day I finally got up the nerve to ask her out.  I remember that she got very serious, and she said something to me I’ve never forgotten.


I wouldn’t go out with you,” she said.  “But I’d marry you.”


I was kinda thunderstruck.   WHAT?  What precisely did she mean?   To be honest, I walked away a little dazed, and feeling insulted.


What had she meant? That she didn’t find me attractive, but would be willing to get her citizenship by marrying me?  (No…she was already a citizen)


How about she didn’t find me attractive, but would be willing to let me support her and her children? (Ummm…there are some implications to that.  Wouldn’t that imply that she believed in my dreams, thought me a good gamble?)


No matter what I thought, the REJECTION loomed large.  But there was something in what she said that made me think that I needed to dive deeper. There was something there for me, if only I could find it.




The truth is that I never sat her down and got her to explain what she meant. It hurt too much. But over the years, as I matured, I came to some conclusions that helped me transform my relationships, and my life.


I believe that somewhere in the following cluster of thoughts could be found the truth…but I cannot mind read and say precisely which notions are most likely.


I really was a geek. I wasn’t “fun” on her terms.  I probably couldn’t dance, wasn’t “cool” (I’ve never been “cool”), had no sense of fashion (still don’t, really), and probably wouldn’t have fit in with her friends.  But…she saw something in me that she felt she could actually love, and bond to for a lifetime.


I was insecure, didn’t know how to talk to women, didn’t “turn her on” in that sense…but that’s the exterior stuff.   In her heart, she felt that she would be able to help me gain that confidence if she invested herself.  That I’d be a good bet.


I probably wasn’t as good looking as the guys who she wanted to glide around with having fun at clubs and parties…but on a gut level she knew I would commit to my family. That her children would be safe, and that I would develop into a partner she could trust and have faith in.


In other words…while I didn’t have the exterior polish that sparked her in the “hey, we could have fun for a weekend”…I did have the qualities she felt she could love for a lifetime.


And at the moment she said it, I didn’t understand that.   And it felt like one of the worst insults I’d ever heard, because it didn’t match what I wanted to hear.  I didn’t want to hear that I needed to grow, to change, to focus, to mature.  My “surface” didn’t match her “surface”, but she sensed that my essence matched her essence.


Wowsers.    What a lesson, and it took me years to realize that I had NO right to expect a woman to have trust. There are too many predators, fakes, and wannabe males in the world.   No higher a percentage than manipulators, fakes, and wannabe females, of course.   They deserve each other.


It wasn’t at all wrong for her to ask for fun, and flash, and gorgeous good looks and power in her dating life, while she made the best choice she could for the longer term.  Not at all. In fact…I’d damn well think it was her responsibility.


It was MY responsibility to make my outside match my inside.  To clearly and unequivocally broadcast: “this is who I am. This is where I’m going.  This is what you can expect from me.”  I had no right to expect her to take me on “trust” unless I was willing to extend a similar level of trust to her.  I wanted her because I liked her outside and her inside. She was better integrated, smart, lovely, sexy, confident.


IT DIDN’T MATTER WHAT MY “POTENTIAL” WAS unless I was willing to bond with a woman with a similar amount of work remaining to be done.  She was a lioness. She needed a lion.


I was a cub.




Yeah.  The “Friend Zone.”  We were friendly.  Maybe even friends. But she didn’t want more.  Because I wasn’t ready.  All I had to do was invest a couple of thousand hours actually BECOMING and I’d have popped up on her radar as potential mate material…AND fun for a weekend.  Then, GAME ON.


I don’t even remember her name any more.  But remember her voice, and her eyes, and the gentle way she told me the truth.  She helped me become a better man because I wanted to be the kind of man who could attract and hold a woman like THAT.


And if I had resented her?  Blamed her?  Said it was her responsibility to climb down from her cloud rather than raising myself up?   I’d still be a cub.


And never, ever, would have been worthy of the woman in my life.


It is the responsibility and right of every human being to find the best, most powerful and beautiful partner they can find, by whatever standards they hold in their heart.   To complete ourselves as much as we can, and to hopefully find someone who feels perfect, who you relish in every way, who rocks your socks off and lets you love them half to death.


Whereever she is, I hope she found her lion.  She sure as hell helped me find my lioness.






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