Doctor’s Note: Hey Nerdlovers! I’m in the middle of developing something really awesome, something that’s going to take both Paging Dr. NerdLove and your dating lives to the next level. Not going to give too much away yet but there’re some very cool new things that a lot of you have been asking for.
Of course, I’m a one-man show at the moment and there’re only so many hours in the day, so the columns on the blog are going to change a bit.While I’m deep in the current updates, I’ll be posting Ask Dr. NerdLove twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays (plus my Kotaku column every other week). I’ll also be re-running some of my favorite columns from the archives. The podcast will be continuing as usual and I have some really awesome things coming on that front too.
Once things ease up and I have the time and bandwidth, we’ll be returning to the usual Monday-Friday schedule.
Hey, Dr. NerdLove!
I read your article from a while back titled Cutoff Culture And the Myth of Closure, and you said in it that people don’t have the right to expect you to talk to them after a breakup under any circumstance. You also said that and that no one is obligated to give closure to another person. I can sympathize with that opinion, but I wonder if it in your opinion also extends to people having the right to end friendships with no need to explain themselves? See, I’ve been seeing this girl for like 6 years. Nothing too serious, we would go out like every 2 months or so (both lazy and not too eager to call first), but then suddenly she said she started seeing someone else, but had been hesitant to tell me. I never minded her seeing other people (which she claims she didn’t do throughout our time going out) – all that mattered to me was that she’d still be available to me. Alas, she said she no longer wanted to do stuff with me. Of course she threw in the classic line about wanting to still be friends and meet up and spend time platonically.
After careful consideration I decided I didn’t want that – I’ve gotten so used to hanging out with her for not just friendly talks but also hanky panky, that I found such a downgrade unbearable. I texted her some time afterward and she said she wasn’t seeing anyone at the moment, but that she still didn’t want to get back to doing stuff with me. She gave me several reasons, like us not seeing each other often enough (never spoke up about it earlier, I swear!), and me seeing other girls – to which she only made her dismay apparent very shortly before the “breakup”.
Of course I’m not like all those “nice guys” who feel entitled to something. She had every right to not want to do shit with me anymore. But it hurt me, it hurt me bad. I only then realized I had grown really attached to that girl. We both claimed not to want a relationship (which perplexes me all the more considering her sudden desire for exclusivity, while at the same time it not being a relationship, lol), but seeing each other for so long was bound to make at least one of us emotionally attached. Anyway, what I decided to do is to not accept her continuing friendship, but to cut off altogether. As I mentioned earlier, I find this sort of downgrade unbearably degrading, because I don’t really see any value in the relationship, unless it maintains its sexual component. Call it Friend Zone anxiety or whatever – I know many guys do reluctantly keep such friendship and torment themselves, but I just thought it would be better for me (was tempted to say “both of us” for a minute there, but I’m not that noble) to just distance myself from her and forget about her.
The thing is, this reaction was most strongly fueled by pride and dignity (rooted in insecurity, perhaps?). I realize that this rationalization of mine is probably quite misplaced, since the chick had been into me and does consider me attractive. Still, for some reason this fact doesn’t make me feel any less humiliated, and I still feel as if she wanted to Friend Zone me. I know, I know, women don’t Friend Zone men, men do it to themselves for not having the balls to just go away – which I’m trying to do. But some people would also perhaps say that through my own aloofness I’m jeopardizing a valuable friendship. Well the problem is that I don’t do male-female friendship strictly out of the conviction that if a woman sees you as a friend, you’re not good enough to be a lover. And yeah, it’s humiliating too.
So yeah, of course I’m not entitled to sex or even interest from any women, but I believe it’s therefore only fair to say that they are not entitled to my friendship, emotional support etc. I do have the right to refuse to continue a relationship that I feel drains and hurts me. Call it selfish, call it childish, but I just can’t get over the fact that I’m no longer sexually fit for a woman who used to think I was just fine not too long ago.
I just very recently had a similar experience with a long-term “friendship” that started with texting on badoo, then we met, hugged and kissed and slept in one bed (for some reason I opted not to initiate intercourse, but not sure to what degree it’s a problem in this case), and then I thought that would be the status quo – to my disappointment it turns out that after her recent breakup she doesn’t wanna do stuff with me anymore. We live in different cities so we haven’t seen each other since that last visit, and it’s been almost 2 years. She said she’s not looking for anyone at the moment, that she’s growing jaded and has been through too much. I’m not even sure whether to believe her or she’s just sayin that stuff to not have to tell me she’s not attracted to me anymore (if she ever was). But it disappoints me a lot. She also gave me those classic, humiliating lines like “i really value our friendship, you’re a great human being but I guess that’s it” – and that was my cue to leave.
So tell me – is it wrong for me to have maintained a long distance relationship working entirely on the assumption that I’d be able to fuck that chick in the future, which I totally wouldn’t have done hadn’t I thought she’d let me fuck her? I also like her as a person, but obviously I’m cutting off too, which I do feel bad about. But I don’t want a strictly platonic relationship with that girl, I couldn’t bear it. Is what I’m doing within the limits of acceptable behavior here? Or is this the behavior of a damaged person?
I don’t want a platonic relationship with any woman for that matter (except lesbians), as all I’d ever think about when I’m with them is “I wasn’t good enough to be this woman’s lover”. It would bother me even if I wasn’t really attracted to that girl in the first place, it’s more of a pride thing. I just take it as a personal affront if a girl doesn’t find me attractive. I try to handle it with class, never lashing out or saying mean things etc, just saying that in this case there’s nothing more for me here, and leaving. But it’s the principle that I’m more concerned about. Is this sort of pride normal, or is it some artifact of a deep insecurity? Please help!!
Thanks in advance!
Pride Only Hurts, Never Helps
First of all PJHNH, I think you kind of missed the point of my column on so-called “cutoff culture”. It’s not about “you don’t have the right to expect anyone to talk to you ever again after a break up”, it’s about the demands that many people put on the person who’s breaking up with them. In that case, the aforementioned author was demanding that his ex – someone who, ended their relationship – do more emotional work for him. He was insisting that he had a right to her time and attention because she didn’t break up with him the right way and owed him closure.
Which, frankly, is bullshit. Much like people who demand closure or explanations from their exes. While I don’t doubt that there are many people who legitimately think they want an explanation (and no, they wouldn’t be happy if they knew), most people use that demand as a way to try to relitigate the relationship and the break up. It becomes a way to keep the break up from being final and keeping their ex in their lives.
So no: you don’t get to set terms on a break up and the person dumping you owes you neither explanation nor closure. It’s nice if they care to give an explanation, but they’re not required to do so, nor do they have obligations to you after the end of the relationship outside of logistical ones like returning property.
But I think that misreading leading into the issue you’re having here. You’ve functionally set yourself up for failure with a lot of your future relationships.
In a lot of letters there comes a sentence that you can literally point to and say “Well there’s your problem”. And hey wouldn’t you know it, there’s this line right here:
“I don’t really see any value in the relationship, unless it maintains its sexual component. ”
Well, there’s your problem, PJHNH. Your attitude, frankly fucking sucks. You’re treating friendship as a step down from a sexual or romantic relationship with someone. Not only is that not true, but most women who are legitimately offering you friendship are going to be insulted by the idea. That’s a great way to close a lot of doors in your life.
Take, for example, your FWB of six years. When she ultimately decided that she wanted to commit to another guy, you made it clear that her relationship with you was contingent on your being able to sleep with her. In that moment you told her that while you may have enjoyed spending time with her platonically, her primary value to you was as someone you could stick your dick in. That’s going to hurt. A lot. Small wonder that, once she was single again, she didn’t want to fool around with you.
And no, there really wasn’t any contradiction there. She may not have wanted exclusivity with you. Alternately, she may have wanted it but felt like she couldn’t ask for it… and when she found someone who was open for it, she decided to go for them instead. And once your belief clear that male-female friendships are only worth it if fucking is an option… well, that’s not really going to charm women into dropping their panties for you, bro. You say you don’t believe that you’re entitled to sex, but goddamn, “ I just take it as a personal affront if a girl doesn’t find me attractive” sure as shit says otherwise.
She didn’t Friend Zone you, my dude. Congratulations: you Friend Zoned yourself.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you have to be friends with people, or that you have to be friends with someone who gives you the LJBF speech. Not all of those offers are legit; some really are for politeness’ sake. If you feel that, emotionally, you couldn’t handle being friends with someone you’re attracted to, that’s just fine. A lot of people feel that way, and their feeling are completely legitimate.
Similarly, if you feel like it’s just not worth having any sort of a relationship with women if you can’t fuck them, that’s legitimate. That’s your belief and you’re welcome to have it.
It’s a stupid belief, but you do you. But you’re also going to have to accept that the idea that a strictly platonic friendship is saying “you’re not good enough” is going to cut you off from a lot of relationships – platonic and otherwise. Because here’s the thing dude. Sex isn’t the Super Saiyan form of friendship. The two are entirely separate.
A woman wanting to be friends doesn’t mean that you’re not good enough to fuck. Hell, there are plenty of women out there who’ll fuck a guy but not want to be friends with him. Being friends with someone – real friends, not just acquaintances – means a level of trust and intimacy that other people don’t get. It means that they feel that you’re someone valuable, someone they want in their life. A good friend is rare. Dick, however, is abundant and of low value. And whether that particular woman is interested in you or not, other women will recognize the attitude you’re giving off too. And that’s going to shut down more potential sexual encounters than opening the conversation with “Nice drapes, do they match the carpet, or is it original hardwood?”
If you want to start having relationships that don’t go down in flames, you’re going to have to start recognizing that this prideful idea that a friend is someone who’s not good enough to fuck is bullshit. The fact that a woman isn’t interested in your dick lower her value, nor does it devalue you. The attitude you cop about it, however, sure as shit does.
The next time a woman offers you her friendship – without access to her body – and you feel that sting, then you need to realize: that’s just your pride fucking with you. You can either go with your pride, or you can take a chance and interact with that woman like she’s a person.
And like you suggest: that kind of pride never helps. It just hurts.