Politeness ≠ Flirtation: Being Friendly Doesn’t Mean I’m DTF

Things He Says:

[Insert an omnipresent interpretation of my non-flirtatious behavior as flirtatious. There are too many things to name just one.]

Thing She Says:

My parents raised me to be polite. Call adults Mr., Mrs., or Ms. Say please and thank you. Don’t use profanity and don’t put your elbows on the table (ok, those last two rules remind me of a Victorian governess that I would gladly disobey).

Having these values ingrained into my identity dictates my interactions with others. I’ve taken pride in being known as a “sweet” girl throughout childhood and still being kind as an adult in a world full of rude assholes.

But too often this friendly behavior is misconstrued as flirtation.

NEWSFLASH! Just because I’m polite doesn’t mean I want anything to do with your genitals.

Here’s a helpful equation to remember this, easier than the quadratic formula:

Politeness ≠ Flirtation

See, more memorable than  quadratic

I can’t tell you how many unwanted comments, winks, numbers, inappropriate texts I’ve received from guys who I was only being a nice human being to.

There’s a middle-aged mailman friend who dropped off mail at the office I used to work in. He’s good company, a funny conversation break from the monotony of administrative tasks. When I left, I gave him my number so we could keep in touch and meet for lunch sometime. This past week we were supposed to have lunch, which we’ve had twice in six months—not often enough to show I’m interested in anything more than that. I offer to pay for my meal because it’s cheap food, but he always does. He always calls me “cute,” and I brush it off and change the subject. I’ve always kept it friendly—because I’m not interested—though he’s said things that have made me uncomfortable despite him being a nice person.

Though we were supposed to meet for lunch this week, I sent him a text asking for a raincheck because I’m sick. His reply angered me, made me feel even worse than whatever sickness I have. It made my stomach churn and probably caused my diarrhea (or maybe that was the virus—sorry, TMI). Before I had the chance to respond “Was that a joke? Because I’m not laughing,” he threw in an LOL and apologized.

rob text conversation

Like the other things he says, I let it go. He’s harmless, I tell myself.

Until he’s not. I don’t know if he would actually try anything, but I don’t want to find out. This time I shouldn’t have forgiven him. I hope my silence was enough to make that clear.

Chelsea Fagan explains why mistaking friendliness for flirtation isn’t always harmless, even when no harm is intended:

“I will give the men who have engaged in these kinds of uncomfortable, inappropriate acts the benefit of the doubt in assuming that most do not intend to hurt the woman they’re pursuing. But what is clear is that a boundary that has been set in body language, in tone, in clipped responses, is not being respected. A woman being polite and outgoing is perceived, at least on some level, as a wide-open door into which you are free to walk and behave yourself however you choose. If she clams up when you begin following her or insisting on continuing the exchange, you are somehow free to ignore that because of the initial friendliness she showed you. This is not okay.”

To the guys who think I’m flirting with them when I’m just trying to make friends, I’m sorry if you think I’m leading you on. But if I’ve told you that I’ve felt uncomfortable with something you’ve said before, then why do you keep doing it? If you know you’re going to apologize again, then don’t fucking do it. It makes my day turn sour and ruins our beautiful platonic relationship. It makes me afraid of what might happen next, from a come-on to a hard on—neither of which I want to encounter.

But the unwanted flirtation goes both ways, with men in the same predicament. There’s nothing wrong with flirting or being flirted with. But when that trespasses on someone’s comfort level then that’s not ok.

Was it too forward to give Mr. Mailman my number? I don’t give my number out too much, only to people who I plan to meet again. My friends sometimes think I’m flirting, but I’m not trying to get in anyone’s pants. What am I doing wrong?

Yes, I’ll make it clear if I am flirting. You’ll know if I’m DTF. I will touch you if I’m hitting on you, and will apologize for accidentally touching you if I’m not. I need to check myself and see how I come across to people, and make it explicitly known how I feel about them and what my intentions are.

Is politeness so uncommon that “society has reached a point where everyday greetings and helping hands are so rare, they’re now mistaken for flirtation”? Does it take being a bitch for the message to come across that I’m not flirting? But then that might put me in the “woman’s paradox where if you aren’t friendly you’re considered rude and if you are then they think you’re flirting or leading them on.” I’m not being a coquette—I’m just being kind!

Casper the Friendly Ghost isn’t tryna get his invisible dick wet. Can’t we all just be polite to each other without it meaning something more

casper frightened

Casper image credit: Polyvore/I-Love-Cartoons
Quadratic formula taken from Wikipedia.

Have you had similar experiences? How do you combat the friendly vs. flirting dilemma?

How to tell if someone is actually flirting:
SIRC Guide to Flirting
Ask Dr. NerdLove: What’s the Difference Between Flirting and Just Being Friendly?
Flirting, Or Just Being Friendly? How to Tell, In Person and Online

Nice Guys Shouldn’t Finish: Part II

Part 2

Thing He Says:

But I’m a nice guy.

Thing She Says:

If you said you’re a nice guy who’s constantly friend zoned, you should continue reading.

This week we look at another problematic belief of the not-so-nice guy: nice guys finish last.

“Nice Guys Finish Last”

A guy I met on a bus once said to me: “Girls don’t like me because I’m nice. They just like jerks.”

I’m not sure why he felt this way, but he actually wasn’t a nice person after all. Maybe it’s because he was from another country and American women were a foreign concept. Maybe it’s because he was an engineering major and felt unmarketable to the ladies (see nerdy guys). We had a good rapport so we decided to meet up, but he would leave me waiting late in the night in the cold only to get angry at me for calling him out on his BS and not sleeping with him.

Not only would a genuine nice guy NOT leave someone alone at any time of day in any type of weather, but a genuine nice guy wouldn’t condemn them for refusing sex. To respond to the notion that girls only like jerks while nice guys are unloved, Everyday Feminism states, “The belief that women like jerks contains hints of misogyny because it stems from the stereotype that women want to be dominated and controlled.” Violence against women (and rape culture) is rooted in this mentality and these actions of masculine aggressors—or jerks. If girls like jerks so much, then maybe you, Mr. Not-So-Nice Guy, might have a chance.

Extra Beef

Not-so-nice guys are as widespread as manspreaders’ legs—on planes, trains, automobiles around the world—to such an extent that they are commonly referred to as Nice Guys™ (trademark included). In addition to the two beliefs of not-so-nice guys explored above, Nice Guys™ are seen as sexist for many other reasons:

  • “Some Nice Guys™ consider themselves heroes for not raping women or hitting them.” With this mentality, any man who goes out of his way not to act out in violence against a woman is being nice. Well I’m sorry that you feel this way, but not raping doesn’t equal nice in my books, and barely being a decent human being doesn’t entitle you to someone’s body.
  • “Some Nice Guys™ do not see themselves as guilty of sexual assault because they were very gentle with their non-consensual groping, and they equate sexual assault as only being violent and forceful.” A friend of mine always comments on my cleavage or lack thereof and asks if he can touch. Sometimes I say no, sometimes yes just to get him off my back. Boobs are just squishy pockets of fat after all. But when he doesn’t bring it up, he commends himself and says, “See, I was being nice today.” Writing about not-so-nice guys has made me realize that this behavior seems innocent on the surface, but is actually sexual assault, and that I’m encouraging his actions by saying yes.
  • “That they are using a failed seduction strategy and need to learn or be taught to be alphas or seducers, like pick-up artists. Let’s not forget about this guy who went on a killing rampage in 2014 because he “lived a life of pain and suffering” and rejection by the women he wanted sex and affection from.
  • Nice guys are nice for even noticing you.” This manipulative belief makes a woman seem like she’s inferior or insufficient, while the Nice Guy™ is superior.

Why is this important?

As Josh Greenberg found out this season on my favorite TV show, Man Seeking Woman, being a Nice Guy™ isn’t that nice. When Josh is spurned by his coworker crush, he sets out to enact a Nice Law in which gals will be legally required to date the guy who’s nicest to her. Josh is hailed as a hero by the friend zoned Nice Guys™ who finally get the girl of their dreams. But quickly he gets a taste of his own medicine when his law backfires and a homeless man named Chainsaw holds the door open for him. Legally bound to enter into a courtship and have sex with Chainsaw, Josh is confused and disgruntled, but has a necessary epiphany:

“I get it now. Just because I was nice to Rosa doesn’t mean she has to sleep with me. She has the right to sleep with or not sleep with whomever she wants. It’s up to her and I just have to live with it.”

If only all Nice Guys™ realized this.

When a Nice Guy™ feels like his “nice” behavior should be rewarded with a piece of ass, I’ll give him a piece of my mind instead. I was raised to be polite and kind to others, to respect and treat others as I would want to be treated. A genuine nice guy—and nice person—is kind without feeling entitled to anyone’s affections, and “is interested in women as people and not just bodies.” He is kind without expecting any sexual ROI or graduation from the mythical friend zone. Too bad there isn’t a creepy, unwanted man like Chainsaw lined up for each of these Nice Guys™.

Get educated:
How to Escape the Friend Zone
But I’m A Nice Guy
Friends
13 Reasons Why Nice Guys Are the Worst

Share your experiences with these Nice Guys™ below!

Nice Guys Shouldn’t Finish: Part I

Part 1

Thing He Says:

But I’m a nice guy.

Thing She Says:

Are you a nice guy?

Are you friends with a girl who dates guys that don’t deserve her?

Are you her shoulder to cry on when these relationships end?

Do you go out of your way to do anything you can to help and make her happy?

If you said yes to these questions, then kudos! You just might be a nice guy!

Now ask yourself these questions:

Are you constantly friend zoned?

Do you hope against hope that one day she’ll realize you’re meant to be together?

That you’re her downtrodden knight in shining armor who will vanquish all the jerks?

If you said yes to these last questions, then you’re probably not a nice guy after all.

But I’m nice to her and she tells me that she values our relationship, so shouldn’t she want to be more than friends? you ask. I know you say you care about her, but this mentality is poisonous.

Some men expect sex when they buy women alcohol. When a guy expects a return on his investment—that the time or money he spends on the girl should correlate with admission to the party in her pants—then that makes a nice guy a not-so-nice guy.

So what’s a not-so-nice guy?

In my experience,

  • A not-so-nice guy thinks he’s in the friend zone.
  • Not-so-nice guys think nice guys finish last.

This week we’ll look at the not-so-nice guy’s place of residence: the friend zone.

Steppin’ into the Friend Zone

The friend zone. That painful purgatory. An exile of eros.

Coined by Friends character Joey Tribbiani to describe Ross Geller’s missed opportunity at becoming Rachel Green’s bae, the friend zone is the awkward situation wherein someone is infatuated/in love with someone who thinks of them as only a friend. From the brotherly Ryan Reynolds in Just Friends to Jorah Mormont and the Mother of Dragons, the friend zone is as pervasive as it is inescapable (Friends and Just Friends are bad examples, but generally those relegated to the friend zone often remain there). Though anyone can be friend zoned, not-so-nice guys often use the friend zone to rationalize why a woman isn’t interested in them. When someone is friend zoned, they tend to see themselves as the victims. But the truth is that no one should expect someone to be romantically interested in them because they’re treating the object of their unrequited love nicely.

To quote Salon, the friend zone “needs to die.” Why?

  • “The friend zone perpetuates the myth that being “nice” doesn’t get you laid.” If a nice guy feels entitled to the girl who friend zones him, the girl is seen as a reward for simply being nice. Just because a guy is nice, that doesn’t mean the girl owes him anything. She doesn’t owe him sex or a legitimized relationship.
  • “The friend zone perpetuates the idea that men and women can’t be friends without sex being a factor.” Why can’t men and women just be friends? I beg to differ with the old adage that we can’t ever platonically coexist.
  • “The friend zone posits that sex is the ultimate end of any relationship.” Let’s just listen to the sages here.

Sometimes not-so-nice guys can’t handle rejection so they believe they’re being friend zoned. But sometimes people friend zone others in order to take advantage of them. Now if you’re the one, female or male, putting the person into the friend zone, then a word of advice: When friend zoners exploit the friend zonee to do anything for them, then that’s just as bad as the not-so-nice guy who thinks he’s being friend zoned. Don’t lead the person on. That’s not nice.

People (and friend zonees) aren’t stocks to be invested in, so don’t treat them as such.

Click here to read part 2: why the belief that “nice guys finish last” is harmful.