Bullish: When Guys Just Want to Be Friends

Let’s just all make sure there’s nothing stuck in our teeth

As I read your letter, one thing didn’t quite feel right. “I’ve met a nice, pretty girl online who I can relax and talk nonsense with, but I still want to be your friend” sounds suspiciously fake. Like the kind of thing you say to let someone down easy. (I have told a guy, “You’re nice, but you’re just not my future husband,” when I wanted to say, “You kiss like a slimy but unusually muscular eel.”)

Do you make aggressively intense first impressions? Do you bring up stopping female genital mutilation a bit too soon after the appetizers? Do your online pictures look substantially different from how you look in real life?

The OKCupid blog (which I quoted in Bullish Life: Online Dating Tips from Professionals and Happy People) recommends deliberately playing up (rather than minimizing) what’s different about you. If you have a big nose, post a profile photo that shows that that is some serious NOSE. While lots of guys are into big boobs, it may be true that more guys are into thin, flat-chested ballerina types than are specifically into medium-sized boobs. Exaggerate.

So, please do ask your most blunt female friend, dude-like guy friend, and/or the aunt who says uncomfortable stuff at family holidays if there’s something that everyone always notices first about you that you don’t even think about, or something that maybe you don’t even care about that others find off-putting. An artist might not think anything of having paint under her fingernails (kind of unavoidable), but among non-art people, this could seriously gross out a germophobe at dinner. Et cetera.

Your OKCupid ad should do this work for you.

So, assuming we’ve got the obvious stuff out of the way, it’s time to edit your OKCupid ad. I will write the first line for you!

“If you just want a nice, pretty girl to relax and talk nonsense with, I’m probably not her.”

I also am not sure what this line is truly about, but if you’re really hearing it that often, go with it. Own it.

Your ad should say a lot of what you’re saying to me, but in a positive way. Your work is really important to you and you’re not interested in pretending to be dumb. You are very concerned about stopping things like child brides and genital mutilation. Maybe you should mention the mint-green dress with walruses on it. I think it sounds awesome, and so will some dudes (or they won’t care about what you’re wearing at all). But this will make it clear that you are “not a porn star” and not dressing solely to impress them.

I think you’re intense. I’m intense. I have been told this by men before, thought it over, and decided not to do anything differently. I like people who are also intense. As an introvert, you are probably looking for much more intensity from a romantic relationship than is a more extroverted person – after all, they can get what they need from a rotating cast of hundreds of friends and acquaintances.

I once told a guy on a first date – in an attempt to weed out anyone looking only for sex – that “I’m an introvert. I have a best friend and a Mom already. All I need is a life partner. I don’t have room for anybody else.” It was a bit of an exaggeration (I actually have two close friends, and I also like my dad and brother, and I check in to Facebook a lot), but an effective one. And it didn’t scare him off at all.

As I wrote in Bullish Life: How I Met My Soon-to-Be Husband on OKCupid, online dating technology can allow you to pre-qualify and save an awful lot of time. My ad specifically said:

  • I am in a “Get those kids off my lawn!” phase of life.
  • I am a serious introvert.
  • I think a lot about class in America.
  • I enjoy enforcing justice on wrongdoers.

It also said “I am not amused by any activity that involves wearing a costume in Brooklyn” and “Please act as though you are content with the fact that your youth is over!” This worked very well for me. I even got a couple of messages from guys who were like, “I just wanted to compliment your Monty Python reference in paragraph 9. I know you’re way too together for me. I am youthful and sloppy.” (I politely wrote back, complimented their own clever references, agreed that we were not a match, and wished them luck. It was nice. Good citizenship all around!)

If you’re getting enough messages that you’ve been on thirty OKCupid dates, then you’re clearly attractive enough that you can afford to frighten away some of these dudes upfront.

Share This Post:
    • 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.