Bullish: When Guys Just Want to Be Friends

On the topic of guy friends

I’m not a dating expert so much as someone who writes a lot of advice about standing up for yourself and getting the things that you want. I probably can’t tell you how to attract men in the first place, but I have a hell of a lot to say about conducting yourself once you’re in demand. (See Bullish: Picking a Boyfriend Who Doesn’t Hold Back Your Career or Bank Account.)

The idea that you keep dating all these guys who want to stay friends reminded me of something. A few weeks ago at a small networking gathering (see Bullish: The Nerdy, Reflective Person’s Guide to Networking), I met Rebecca Wiegand, co-author of The Gaggle: How the Guys You Know Will Help You Find the Love You Want.

When Rebecca first started explaining “The Gaggle” to me – sure, you don’t have a boyfriend, but you have a gaggle of guys who all like you in various ways, so that’s good – I was horrified. “Wait!” I said. “Some cool, hipster dude all full of literary references wants a piece of you – like sex or emotional support or hanging out plus sex plus emotional support – but doesn’t even want a relationship, much less a grownup relationship? RUN AWAY. You are saying that you should keep talking to those guys?! Time is a zero-sum game! Emotional support is not limitless!”

My whole deal is about cutting the crap. (See Bullish Life: Achieve Goals and Glory by Recreating Like a Total F*cking Badass.) But Rebecca made her point well. Undoubtedly, some of these guys who say that want to be friends are not serious, but some surely are! Maybe they know other guys!

I emailed Rebecca, and she and her co-author Jessica Massa replied with the following:

Dating – or online dating, or post-dating, or non-dating – doesn’t always go exactly the way you expect, that’s for sure. Hearing the “friends speech” must be frustrating every time! But if you want it, you have an opportunity here.

At least some of these men probably genuinely want to be friends with you. You’ll be able to tell who they are because they’ll follow up their speech with actions – they’ll invite you to things, email and text you, make an effort to get to know you better, etc. They’ll work to cultivate a real friendship with you. And when it comes to these guys, if you enjoy their company and attention, let them be in your gaggle! Sounds like they might fit the spot of the Unavailable Guy perfectly.

The beauty of having platonic guy friends who are in relationships (aka Unavailable Guys) is that they’re fun to be around, without all the extra does-he-or-doesn’t-he drama of more ambiguous relationships. You can get a guy’s advice on your other romantic quandaries. You have a front row seat to a man’s side of a relationship. And (this is a big one) you have a guy who will happily be willing to introduce you to his SINGLE guy friends. So if you enjoy any of these guys – and they make the effort – then keep them in your gaggle, don’t consider your dating stint to have been a waste of time, and enjoy all the perks of having these guys in your life while you keep an eye out for a more romantic connection.

- Jessica Massa & Rebecca Wiegand
WTF Is Up With My Love Life?!

So, there. That’s something. You now have a lot of guy friends. They might have older brothers.

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    • Fabel

      I’m not currently dating–or seeking anybody– but I did read this whole column & just wanted to say that I always love what you write about introversion. As an introvert, everything rings so true.

    • Mike

      “I’m pretty sure the problem is with these pathetic cads and not with me”

      First things first, get over the “its not me its them thing” If you’re not in the relationship you want its you, believe me. ( guy or gal) But the good thing once you admit its you then you can do something about it. The truth is though most people in this situation would rather be right than honest. In that case feel free to keep banging your head against the wall while basking in your righteous superiority of how awesome you are.

      Second guys aren’t that complicated. They want fuckable, supportive, nice, reasonably happy partners (where talking long tern here For shorter and shorter relationships eliminate items on that list in reverse order.) Aaaanyway, At no time are we really looking for awesome that’s what your girlfriends admire.

      Yes, It’s very important that my partner be happy and supported in whatever decision she makes: career, personal whatever but you know what those are things I want for her because they make her happy. Personally I could care less if someones a scientist or works in a supermarket or if they’re, cool, trendy, opinionated or particularly smart for that matter. In my personal case I like arty, smart types but simply being nice trumps those other two by a hundred fold.

      Which brings me to my last point. I think the value of simply being a nice person is a vastly under rated quality among women. They value independence, respect, strength and somehow see niceness as a weakness or at the very least as compromise to men. You ever notice your sweetest friends have the least problems getting dates. Its totally admirable to be an intelligent independent person but unless your genuinely sympathetic and nice as a person please don’t wonder why your single

      • Eagle Eye

        Eh, I disagree, as someone who no one would quantify as ‘nice’ or ‘sweet’ in that I’m pretty sure my intensity kinda overpowers the two adjectives above – I don’t think that the OP would really want to be with someone whose looking for a ‘nice girl.’ My boyfriend of 3 years certainly isn’t a ‘nice guy’ he loves and supports me (although certainly not blindly and neither do I simply blindly support him – if I think that he’s making a mistake I tell him, and he does the same). Instead, he thinks that I’m awesome and I think that he’s awesome and together we’re just more awesome. Our mutual intensity compliments one another, whether that means heated political debates or decided to find the perfect recipe for pan seared steak.

        And I don’t think that I’m an outlier here since of my friends in serious relationships, most of them are pretty intense – and few of them would be considered ‘nice.’

      • Sandra
      • Mike

        haha all i did was add some basic guy perspective that was sorely needed to this post. But of course women are natural experts on the subject of guy behavior. That’s why this chick went on 30 dates and doesnt have a boyfriend. Oddly imo not once does she even wonder if its something about her.

    • Daisy

      Where oh where can I get a walrus print dress? Also, “Andie” sounds like a truly awesome person! I do hope she’ll take some of your advice into consideration and lands herself a good man.

    • Mike

      I didn’t mean to suggest you cant get into a good relationship if niceness is not your strong point I’m just saying your drawing from a much smaller pool. I will say as a guy if you took a poll, after sexual compatibility “nice” and “supportive” (being blindly supportive is not really support) would be at the top of the list. Sorta like i imagine employed and not living at home might beat the top of a woman’s list.

    • Faith

      I love this article. Love, love, love it.

    • d

      Somehow I feel if a guy wrote about “When Girls Just Want to be Friends” people would be labeling him a nice guy/creep/loser…

    • Renee

      I’d rather fuck Neil deGrasse Tyson than Channing Tatum…no question.

      • e jerry powell

        And you would be absolutely correct.