09
Jul
10

just friends

Reader F. J. asks:

How can I go from being “just friends” to being her boyfriend?

Dear F.J.:

ugly ugly ladder

This is probably what the friend ladder looks like to you. Image: m_bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but in my experience, you can’t.

Once a girl has put you in the “just friends” category, you’re pretty much stuck there for the rest of your life.

The good news is, she may never really have put you in the “just friends” category. But if she’s told you she thinks of you “like a brother”, or has told you she actually just wants to be friends, there’s a pretty good indication you’re in the friend zone, and you’re not coming out.

I’m sure you know this, but heterosexual guys and girls work differently when it comes to “romance” (or really, sex). When you meet someone, you size them up and categorize them. Guys categorize girls in terms of “someone I would sleep with” and rank them on a scale of how happy they would be to sleep with them. You can think of it as a ladder — girls are placed by rank on the ladder based on how willing you would be to sleep with them and/or tell your friends that you had done so.

Girls, however, have two ladders — one for “guys I would sleep with” and one for “guys I will be friends with”. You can fall anywhere on either ladder when a girl meets you, and move up said ladder as you get to know the girl better. You can even jump from the “guys I would sleep with” ladder to the “guys I will be friends with” ladder. Unfortunately, you can’t ever jump back.

Or at least this is how it works according to The Ladders Theory. (It’s a pretty terrible website full of lots of typos and bad graphics, but it pretty much has everything you need to know about the theory.) A friend of mine introduced me to the theory a few years ago, and I scoffed at him. “I’m not like that,” I told him. I’m capable of turning a real friendship into a romantic relationship, aren’t I? But the longer I’ve gone on in life, the more true the Ladder Theory seems.

Yes, it’s extremely cynical. And insulting, really. Are we so reducible? And my answer is a firm “yes”. Ranking people in terms of their sex appeal is a completely unconscious, reactive, animal process, and once you start to think about it and rationalize it, you can start making up lies about how attraction really works, blah blah blah. But the Ladder Theory actually makes quite a bit of sense. You are on one ladder or another of every girl you know, and you will probably never know which ladder you’re on unless you ask the girl to be romantic with you.

I can probably tell you where each of my guy friends ranks on whatever ladder he’s on. If I’m being honest, there are a few guys who probably think they’re on the friend ladder who are really on the other ladder. (So there’s your hope.) I can also point to many instances where a guy jumped from the relationship/sex ladder to the friend ladder; in fact, with some, I can pinpoint it to the hour it happened. And I can tell you about guys I’ve met who went immediately to the friend ladder. But I cannot find a single instance where a guy actually went from friend ladder to relationship ladder. Honest.

So, as I said before, if she’s ever said something like “I can tell you anything!” or “I’m so glad we’re friends”, you’re probably on the friend ladder.  You can ask her out and see how she squirms at the thought of sleeping with you and cringe as she says, “But you’re like my brother…” If you’re brave enough to do that, my hat is off to you. But truly, my advice is: go find someone else to like. And treasure your friendship.

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12 Responses to “just friends”


  1. 1 Melisa
    July 9, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    I can tell you honestly that all of my relationships have been with people I’ve been friends with. I think I’m different in that way though so that’s just probably false hope for this guy. But I’ve been friends with guys for awhile and then something clicks. It’s never something you can push though and nothing I ever see coming. And then there are the bunch of other guys who are solidly in the friend category and will never get out. But like you said, you never know unless you ask but if you ask, you could be risking the friendship.

    • July 9, 2010 at 1:05 pm

      I think the argument in this case would be that they weren’t ever on the JUST FRIENDS ladder to begin with, that somewhere in your head you always considered them sexually viable, even if you were just friends. The definition of the “just friends” ladder is basically someone you would never consider sleeping with, ever ever ever ever. (Or ever again, possibly.) However, the website I linked to does allow for a slight possibility of jumping from the friends ladder to the sex ladder, so maybe you’re just a rare bird. (I definitely think you’re a rare bird. 🙂 )

  2. 3 Zkeller
    July 9, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    OK so I have to know where do I sit on what ladder Kat? 🙂

  3. 5 Consuelo
    July 9, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Dearest Kat,

    Do women have ladders for men that they’d let put it in their butt and men that are strictly for their punani?

  4. 7 jayem
    July 9, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    Consuelo,
    I think there are either women who will let someone put it in their butt and women who won’t.

    Kat,

    I am one of those people who becomes friends with a guy because I have a crush on him, in general. So, there may be more hope for this guy than you make it sound. This girl may have more “guy-friends” on her sex ladder than it may seem.

  5. 8 Consuelo
    July 9, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    So if one of my ladyfriends only wants punani love and I want what-what in the butt would that be grounds for ending the relationship?

    • July 12, 2010 at 1:08 pm

      Depends entirely on your priorities, amigo. If you think having no sex < having no anal sex, then yep, you should break up. I know very, very few gentlemen who would feel this way, though.


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