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Sunday, March 2, 2008

....but he said "She's Just A Friend"

Morning divas,

You can agree or disagree, but I'm a firm believer that men and women can't 'just be friends'. They can be associates, colleagues, even close acquaintences but not a true friend in the familiar sense. She can't be one of the boys who is always around, calls and texts him back and forth and keeps it platonic... No. Hello no!

There are only three reasons why a man and a woman are supposedly "just friends". They used to have sex. They are having sex. They want to have sex.

I have a serious aversion to 'the friend'. Call it suspicion or call it experience. All of my life, ' the friend' has been taking my man. There is something about me that sends 'the friend' in to overdrive. There is something about my presence so threatening to 'the friend' that it compels her to finally complete her mission; remove me from the picture, and claim him for herself. And I know some of you divas can relate.

Freshman year in high school I had a burning desire for this kid in my spanish class. We had a mutual female friend. I was shy then (can you believe it) but I talked about him incessantly to my girls. "I'll hook you up. I just know he has a crush on you too," the mutual friend said. And it turns out that he did have a crush on me. And for a week or two he finally began talking to me and just when things were on the upswing.... BOOM. He and our mutual friend were boyfriend and girlfriend. What the hell just happened?

I had a crush on a guy who was a year ahead of me. He ran track. He was sort of captivated by me for some reason and rather than be my typical, bashful, adolescent self, I flirted back. Soon we began talking regularly, walking home together, and all that cute stuff that high schoolers do when getting to know one another. Well... he had a friend who had a huge crush on him. I knew this. She'd joined the track team just to be around him. When she caught wind of us spending time together she moved in quick. Within two weeks they were boyfried and girlfriend.

Having arrived home in tears, mom chided "Don't ever let these women know your business. If you like someone and he wants to get to know you, keep it to yourself." It was sage advice that I practice to this day, but it was incomplete. She should have told me to be wary of the female friend. It would take a devastating heart break seven years later before I finally realized this lesson on my own.

The "just friends" situation is difficult to maneuver, and could very well be the deal breaker for the unprepared woman. In most cases, when there is a female tag-a-long, she wants your man. He may or may not be oblivious to this, and it is much more difficult a situation if he is in the dark. You see, as women, we plot. It's in our DNA. We know that ultimately we must secure a man with whom to biuld a fort and bear kids and we are willing to do so by any means necessary. It's strategic warfare really. A woman will put the same amount of effort into conquering a love interest as a man will put into taking over a small country. Men have always underestimated this quality in women. That's why they're often so easily dooped...
The ally is a strategic position for "female friend" because it allows her to serve as his counsel and gather precious information. She knows everything about him. She knows all of his friends, she has complete access to him, and what's best... she is able to keep tabs on all of his romantic interests. She has his ear. She can manipulate his love life, insinuating her "friendly" advice on the woman she percieves as as a threat; eliminating that woman from the picture when need be. This woman/friend sets herself up to have mobility. She can float in and out of his life as she pleases. With her, his guard is down. His defenses are lowered. She suprises him with a bold move one day and BOOM, sister takes over the whole operation. Women have been doing this since the beginning of time. It is nothing new. Too bad most dim-witted women will shrug the woman/friend off, not wanting to seem insecure.

Screw insecurity.

I like to operate on intuition and experience.
In order to establish anything between a man and woman, they must first be friends. This is my mantra. However,when there is already a woman there guarding the friend post, I wonder, can he make space for you? It has been in my experiendce that he can't and won't. He is incapable of letting another woman in, even if he truly is interested. In the movie Brown Sugar, Taye Diggs character married his significant other, but never let her in the way he did his homegirl, and ultimately the homegirl destroyed the relationship. (It didn't help that she cheated, but perhaps that's because she was feeling neglected!)

So why would a woman go through the pains of taking the platonic route? It's safer and highly effective. Perhaps they used to date, it didn't work out, but she still has visions of them marrying in the next five years. Play the friend. Suppose he is highly desirable and she's worried that if she approaches him as an admirer she' ll blend in with the crowd. Play the friend. Suppose she's insecure and needs a stealthier route into his heart. Play the friend. Suppose she doesn't believe that the time is right for a relationship or there is some obstacle in the way of romance... like distance. Play the friend.

This summer I met an amazing older man. Let's call him Mr. X because he had rhetoric like Malcolm and a career that compelled me to keep him anonymous. Mr. X was a beautiful; chiseled asiatic bone structure, robust mauve lips, and fiery eyes. His face portrayed the intensity of a lion and his body was strong and lithe, like a runners. Mr. X was militant and cerebral; the type of man whose brain was always going, always creating, and constantly analyzing things. His intellect turned me on.

Nevertheless, Mr. X had a friend. A female friend, who was like a sister to him. A homegirl. In fact she, upon discovering that Mr. X was intrigued by me, even played Cupid. How nice of her! (ladies, don't ever let a woman do your dirty work) But my instincts told me there was something more. I felt like there was a always a third person in our pre-romance (as you will discover in a few lines, it never made it past innocent flirtation). The two of them talked all the time. He discussed his feelings and qualms (as he was significantly older) about me with her. I felt that with her constant input, she was turning the knobs of our relationship. This woman had too much power, and I knew early on this was not good.

A few weeks after meeting him, his homegirl contacts me and says that because I have alluded to my interest in Mr. X via my profile on a certain internet social-networking site, Mr. X no longer wanted to have anything to do with me. I was to him write him a professional e-mail at once, pulling out of the pre-romance, and agreeing to be professional acquaintances. She added of course, "Have I ever given you bad advice?" Well.... She did hook us up.

What a fool I was, in retrospect.

I discovered later that day that he did not think my slip-up was all that bad. "What's with the letter? You act like you murdered someone!" he laughs on the phone.

"Your homegirl told me you were appalled. She told me to write it."

"Oh no! Don't mind her. She's just very protective of me. We go way back."

Oh really... ?

A month later he vanished from my life without explanation and I ultimately discovered that it was because of his homegirls clever machinations. I was naive then. Very naive. But God will give us scenarios in order to teach us valuale lessons and from that point on, I would be ever weary of the friend.

Fast forward to 6 months later. My current interest is preparing to open for a chart topping rap star on my campus thanks to my negotiation on his part. He is standing amongst his entourage of good-natured, talented, charismatic, charming men... I mean, I like his friends. There are few there that I don' t know, so in between chatting wiht his friends and my coy flirtation with him, he introduces me to a few other people. And then a woman approaches and I notice that when she does, his body language changes. He stiffens. He looks away. He backs up about three inches changing our relative distance from initimate space to platonic space.

Hmmmm. I'm suspicious. And I've seen her before. She was at another event and he didn't bother to introduce us. She is also in a slew of pictures with him.

"Oh, who is this? Why don't you introduce me to your friend?" I said with the smile of a confident social butterfly.

"Oh yeah, that's my homegirl."

His homegirl. I am introduced and satisfied but I notice that when she is around my interest is much less interested.... So I bid them good bye, say have a good show, and go find my friends. I have a way of shrugging people off, you know, like I'm too good for this shit... but I don't know if that's a good thing in this case.

Half way into the rap stars performance, I stumble back stage. My interest and his entourage are still back there, watching the show from the wing, as are several of my other friends. He makes no move to greet me, so I hang out for a while with my friends. Eventually I walk over to him to tell him he had a great show and we get to talking as usual. I'm cracking jokes in his ear, making sure he smells my Obsession... penetrating his ethos.

She is beside us, looking disturbed. This woman is more than friend! Well, apparently she is his rap groups official photographer and she thought that she should take some photos of the group.... and of her and the group... and of her and my interest, while I was standing there. My, how appropriate?

Good, I think. This woman is good. She can think on her feet. What better way to get me away from him than to make me feel like a fifth wheel? She took one look at me; a beauty queens assurance, 4.5 inch Donna Karen heels, a killer silk Nicole Miller Tunic dress.... and she decided that I'd have far too much pride to be fifth wheel. And she was right.

I give a curt good bye and make my way over to my friends. I need to drink. I'm all confused. And hurt, much more hurt than I care to show or admit.

"Ayesha..." My friend says a few moments later, snapping me out of my blank stare.

"Is that his girl?"

I glance over my shoulder to see the two to of them hugged together and HYAH!!! It's like I've been drop kicked in the stomach. I feel myself deflating like a helium balloon, my ego shriveling like a dream deferred. For that one moment, I felt so hurt and humiliated and bewildered.

And then Ayesha returned. I left with my friends. Indulged in some food and some spirits until I was playfully off-balance. Dabbled in some debauchery. Partied some more. Passed out sleep. My defenses kicked in. The defenses that develop around a woman scorned multiple times. Let him go! Pay him like last months phone bill. My best friend implores that I lose his number. But why? Why should the homegirl win? I'M TIRED OF THE HOMEGIRL WINNING!!! I NEVER WIN! For once, I want to not lose to calculating woman. For once, I want the good-hearted, fly woman with genuine feelings and intentions to be the victor. For once, I want the man to use his head and his heart.. together. Just once! For once, I don't want to be bow out of the game because some manipulative woman out-witted me... or to spare my pride (it's very important to me)

Alas, my true feelings have interrupted my pride and now I'm in limbo. I like him but will absolutely not stand for a man stringing me along until he decides that he actually is in love with his homegirl ala Brown Sugar, for those of you who've seen the movie. I'm too good for that.

I hate to get you to the end of this rambling, wordy blog to tell you that I have no solution. But I don't. I honestly have no idea what to do except to shrug it off, become aloof, take a huge step back, and entertain other options. But do I like him more than that? Does he even realize that what he did was humiliating and disrespectful? Perhaps I'll stay in the ring and fight this time. Perhaps he's worth it.


Perhaps i'm worth it.

Flyness and fun(ky days in the future),



Anonymous said...

i'n all reality from both perspectives it seems that both the man and the female friend where in it like that from the begining. haveing girl friends are the best way to determine which one is right for you. by becoming friends in the begining you can determine much more than starting out in a relationship. theres much more openess in a friendship and you can find out who the person really is, whether or not they make sense for you or should they stay a good friend or become just a friend. if you think he's interested in her, he probably is was or isn't sure. i don't know any way around it, i guess you kind of have to find the guy who knows it would work, or the one who just doesn't have any girl friends, but why wouldn't a guy have any girl friends

Anonymous said...

I feel you... "Friends" are always bad news!

Ike said...

In response to the first comment, I totally believe in being friends first. It's a mantra that I live by. I like to take the relationship slow enough that "i" am a friend... although it is clear that he and I are also interested in one another. However, when there is a strong woman friend in the picture I find that a man will hold you at arms length. It's almost like there's no room in his heart for an additional female friend. That spot is already taken. So he won't let you in. In order to ever build something succesful, a woman and a man must be both friends and lovers ultimately. How can you conquer the task of becoming his confidant if someone is already there?
It's such a difficult predicament.

Men can have female friends. Hell, I have male friends!! But it's a matter of proximity. I don't have male friends that are as close to me as my best friends. I don't have male friends that I confide everything in, except for the gay ones. That spot therefore open, receptive, for some lucky man.

Thanks for all the advice. Please keep the comments coming.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting on this topic. While we both are still pretty uncertain about what to do about this issue in the end, you have at least rejuvenated the dialogue.

There is a man in my life who is clearly interested in me but has a "friend", and even though he has articulated his romantic disinterest in her I had to stop myself! I just know that girl is gonna swoop in and activate her plan to pull him just as soon as she catches on. What is a girl to do? Just continue to put myself out there only to be trumped and controlled by the friend? Could I even be mad at him if they get together since he told me he doesn't feel that way about her? Or should I just try to clue him in to the reality of female scheming? Hmm..?

Ike said...

I will post this comment and give you a response. Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

that sux!!!! u must feel madd stupid (LOL)
i enjoyed reading ya blog though i felt like i was reading ya diary!!!
still sux though

Ike said...

ummm, no, don't feel stupid. Stupid is to stay in a bad situation and get played. Nevertheless, it all worked out in the end.

Anonymous said...

I feel you! Same situation...We need to hear the finale!!! Did you figure out what to do? Did he get his mind right?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but I do play the friend role right's not fun and not somewhere you wanna be. I do agree with you when you say a man and woman should be friends first, because it does allow you to know someone better. When you start off with romance, both people are too busy trying to impress each other. However, if two people are doing the friend thing, there should be understanding that there is mutual interest for romance in the future. If you're really good friends with a dude and he keeps on saying you're "just friends" but doesn't act like it, he's confused. This is why it's really hard to play the friend role because you know you're interested in him, but he's just kinda stringing you along till he makes up his mind about what he wants. My advice is if you encounter a dude like this, just leave him alone. He's just a confused dude that might end up messing with your head and his female friend is just bitter that he hasn't stepped up for whatever reason. Even if they get together, it will probably be a crappy relationship. You're too fly for someone like that.

A.Smith said...


I'm the friend. My best friend is male. We lived together in our last semester of college... and I had always heard all those same comments "men and women can't really be friends..." "it's just a matter of time before one of you tries something..."

He and I have spent enough time together privately that I really believe that if something were gonna pop off, it would have, and it hasn't because I firmly believe we both are only interested in each other as friends.

I know plenty of women who do exactly what you're talking about, though -- they do the friend thing because it's easier than trying to be straightforward... and they do their damndest to stifle the attempts of any other women.

That's why I've always made it a point to never really get to know any of his "interests..." I meet them once, but refuse to speak to them without having him around. I insist that our relationship is always contingent on him so that my intentions can never be misconstrued.

The longer our friendship goes, and the more my own friends comment on what they think is inevitable, the more I wonder... but aside from not being attracted to him in that way, I'd HATE to see our friendship messed up by a relationship gone wrong.

Luvvie (aka Queen IG) said...

Wow! That was one of the best blog posts I've read in a while.

This is VERY interesting, and I have not thought about this issue of what a man having a close female friend does to his potential interest.

I have a lot of close guy friends, and a couple have admitted to me that their girlfriends have felt threatened by me. But I can safely say I have never "Brown Sugar"ed any of them. When my guy friends are in relationships, I make it a point to reduce our contact so as to not jeopardize anything. No more random phonecalls, and definitely nothing during "caking hours".

Is that enough?

"Ike" said...

LOL, Nicely put. Well, some women will be threatened by you regardless, but if you only have honest intentions than no one can fault you. Sometimes, however, even 'friends' like to have their say over who he dates-- now that is problematic.