This post is in response to an article I came across a few days ago from one of my most read Indian blogs, Arré (though it was written last year).
Mr. Arora wrote this article as his response to an article by Ms. Nimisha Mishra about the ‘nice-guys’ who expect relationship in return for being a good friend.
As his author bio says, ‘confused about most stuff’, I could see in his article how that was true.
My first response to the article was to leave a comment but the issue here is so intense and pervasive, I decided to write a response article so the larger audience, especially men can learn a few things they still don’t seem to be getting right.
So, here it is.
Dear Mr. Arora,
Before I start, I’d like to request this to not be seen as bashing but more like opening a dialogue with you about a part of women’s experiences that you seem to not understand. And since I saw your writing history on Arré, I was positive that you’re a smart person who’d make a genuine effort to understand this.
Your article begins with the following lines:
“The “friend-zone” is really just a communication error. Not all “half-boyfriends” are sneaky assholes who are nice to women only to get into their pants.”
Nimisha used the term ‘nice-guys’ for those who use the word/accusation that the girl ‘friend zoned’ them.
You have to understand the difference.
Friend-zone is NOT a communication error. It is a deliberate phrase invented to humiliate the girl, for getting back at her. The fact that you used that phrase and worse, called it a communication error is alarming. There is NO zone.
If you are told you aren’t welcome romantically, you have the chance to quit being friends; there is no obligation for you to stay friends. Hence, the ‘zone’ does not exist.
But men continue to be friends on the face, while internally hoping that she might fall out with her boyfriend and consider them when they give her a shoulder to cry on. Hence, they put themselves in this ridiculous zone of a fake friend.
‘Half-boyfriend’? You say, not all ‘half-boyfriends are sneaky… which means you are still endorsing the phrase despite putting it in quotes.
If you felt short of words, here are a set of phrases to use –
‘romantically rejected men’.
‘friends who got shot down but continue to lurk’
There is no such thing as a ‘half boyfriend’!
Either you are a boyfriend or you are a friend. There is no in-between. So, just because a girl rejected you as her boyfriend, you immediately pretend ‘it’s no big deal, I will always be your friend’ while in your heart you tag yourself as a ‘half boyfriend’?
I don’t know if you used that phrase because of the movie (Half-Girlfriend) and somehow thought this would make the article zingy for digital readers, but it is my humble request to use the correct terminology when talking about love, sex, and rejection.
Like the word ‘incel’ that was around past few weeks (more than usual) after the mass shooting at a High School in Santa Fe, where a romantically rejected young man opened fire and killed the girl he had been stalking and hitting on for months. The exact same happened in Toronto in April.
For those of you who may not know, an ‘incel’ is a made up, fucked up word that means ‘involuntary celibate’. Which means someone who is not getting sex, who is a virgin but not by choice but simply because no woman is accepting his advances.
Doesn’t that phrase reek of entitlement? Like women owe sex to men, to these so-called ‘nice-guys’ who pretend to be friends?
And just to make you all aware, this incel thing is like a terrorist organization, they run websites, Facebook groups, they have organised terminology such as ‘Chads’ for the muscular alpha males and ‘Stacy’s for hot, desirable women and they hail mass shooters who take revenge on women who rejected them, as martyrs. To understand how it gets from being an individual’s rejection to being a political-terrorist agenda, read here.
If I could, I’d rephrase your lines to ‘not all romantically rejected men are assholes’ or ‘not all men are friendly to women just to get into their pants’.
This would make a lot more sense and be a lot more respectable.
You got one thing right – both the man and the woman have the choice to keep or kick the friendship.
But immediately you went wrong again, the author of that piece ((Nimisha) DID NOT ‘fail to recognize that the choice swings both ways’.
In her piece, she writes about how the guy who she thought was a good friend, after rejection, showed up at her door, drunk and created a scene, didn’t miss any opportunity to humiliate her.
She isn’t complaining that ‘the guy got rejected and ghosted out on me and I missed him’ and called him selfish for leaving her alone. She, in fact, reveals that she had friends already and was happy either way, his presence was not mandatory for her.
Men are often too blinded and in a hurry to defend their gender, they don’t pause to listen carefully and understand what the woman is saying.
In school, I became friends with this most controversial, most hated, boy in the class when our teacher made him sit with me (the good kid) as punishment. We talked and the friendship got deep. He had been acting out because his parents changed his school, was on the verge of suicide and his grades and behaviour at school were awful.
Somehow, I helped him calm down from the hurdles of a troubled teenage life and he fell in love with me. I deeply cared about him and when he proposed, I could understand why that would happen. He was lonely and miserable and found comfort in me. I did not humiliate him or got all ‘you want to get in bed with me, hence you’re an asshole’ thing’ with him.
Instead, I became like his unofficial therapist and explained it to him that I respected his feelings but I wasn’t looking to be in a relationship. His next move, as you suggest he had a choice to take, was he got super drunk and send his friends to blackmail me emotionally so I would feel sorry for him and accept him. Over the years, the emotional manipulation escalated to a brain cancer scare where he tried to get my attention claiming he was dying, only to reveal a few weeks later that it was to make me unblock him.
I always cared about him (and he took advantage of that) and that he was going through stuff, hence I was always there for him, even when he was acting out. I tried to not make him feel bad about it. I offered to stop our conversations so he could get himself together. In return what did he do? He kept crossing lines one after another when I finally had to block him out of my life.
I am telling this story to you because you will find more girls with experiences like Nimisha’s and mine than yours with the so-called ‘not asshole half boyfriend’. The majority suggests a trend you failed to recognise.
In the next part, where you write your story, you again mention the phrases ‘half-boyfriend’ and ‘friend zoned’ and all, I am sorry to say, defeat the very purpose of your article.
You blame women for not giving ‘a simple statement of your intentions’.
I don’t know why you would say that, because in Nimisha’s case, in my own case and unfortunately in your own story, this does not seem to be the truth!
In every incident, the woman in question conveyed that they are not interested in being romantic with the ‘friend’ in question.
Next, you say and I quote:
“What we have come to term the friend-zone is really just a communication error: On the part of women for not knowing that they ought to draw a line, and on the part of men for not thinking there could be one.”
In this statement of yours, you blame women for not knowing how to draw a line? Are you serious, dude?
When a friendship begins, it is that – friendship.
And if either party starts to develop romantic emotions, it is them who are breaking the friendship in hopes of getting into another relationship. How would a woman know what the friend is imagining in his head when she is just being a friend to him?
My stalker got attracted to me because I was helping him cope with suicidal tendencies.
Once I did become aware of his intentions, I immediately drew that line making him aware that this was just friendship and so did Nimisha and even the girl you wrote about! Where else and how else should we have drawn the line?
When you should be blaming men for not being able to handle rejection with dignity, you want women to take half the blame?
You continued to hang out with that girl, despite knowing she does not feel that way about you. Whose fault is that? And you only backed out when you saw another guy in the picture. What does that suggest?
That even after being rejected, you chose to be around her so you could get some chance but when you saw that chance taken by someone else, only then you blocked her.
Let me quote you again here:
In 2017, this act of self-preservation and killing all contact, would make me an asshole masquerading as a “nice guy”.
Absolutely not! No one would call you an asshole for killing contact with her to gather yourself and move on. But what makes you an asshole is that fact that you chose to remain friends with her and want her to take half the blame and you only backed out when there was another guy in the picture. Why didn’t you quit talking to her the same day she rejected you?
This is exactly the problem.
Men like you don’t choose to move on until you are forced to. No one would blame you or call you names or vilify you if you stopped talking to a girl you fell for who turned out to not feel the same for you.
There are men out there, who back out immediately when they see their intentions are not welcome and sooner or later the woman hanging out with the man of her choice is bound to be problematic for him. So they end connections sooner. No woman in the history of the ‘friend-zoning’ as you call it, would complain about such men who were initially friends but later backed down because they wanted to self-preserve. Ever.
That is the polite, right and legal thing to do.
You say you weren’t expecting sex in return. Neither was my stalker. But 10 years later, he found me through my author websites and got back in touch with me.
I know it is still not about sex. It is about this male obsession. He got engaged to a woman and the first time he talked to her, he mentioned me to her and later requested me to talk to his future wife over Skype. Do you realise how fucked up that is? He didn’t. I had to make him realise that.
This is what men do. It’s not always about only sex. It is about that unattained trophy, that conquest they want to chase, hence you didn’t end connections with your friend and hence my stalker got blocked for the nth time in the last decade because I knew his engagement would break if he keeps obsessing over me in front of his future wife.
He might fuck that up anyway, but I for sure don’t want to be the reason behind his broken relationship.
You say: I haven’t seen much of the world, but I’m fairly certain no one wants to pass along condoms to a girl we harbour romantic feelings for, as she moans with some other guy – and two months later, tissues, as she moans about him.
Have you ever met a girl though who asked you to be a friend to her and pass condoms to her while she enjoys sex with someone else?
When you offer to be someone’s friend, you do offer to pass tissues when they cry, yes.
But it’s on you. It’s all on you. You offered to be her friend, she didn’t force you to. You certainly haven’t seen the world and are most certainly confused about stuff:
Romance is a complicated thing and everyone deals with rejection differently. Some knock down doors and some close them shut. But it doesn’t make us assholes.
Indeed romance is a complicated thing. But this isn’t romance though, this was one-sided attraction. For romance to exist, there has to be a mutual connection. Yes, people deal with romance and rejection differently.
By writing this article, I don’t know you were trying to convince, the world or yourself that ‘you were not an asshole’ because you didn’t want sex, but had genuine feelings for her.
That changes nothing. It could be a 140 word Twitter statement: I am not an asshole because the girl who ‘friend-zoned’ me was someone I actually cared about.
You are completely forgetting the point that she neither wanted sex nor genuine romantic feelings from you.
I understand where you’re coming from. You are trying to make the world feel sympathy and not judge guys who get rejected by girls who were once friends.
You are trying to differentiate yourself from the filthier breed that only befriends women with the sole intention of getting into their pants. We get it.
Your feelings and care and love were all genuine. But you ultimately turned out to be no better at least not much better than those assholes because you still blame the woman for not ‘drawing the line’ when they clearly did.
I get that #NotAllMen brigade vibe from your article. Instead of writing this piece the way you did, you could and I suggest, re-write it as ‘how to handle rejection with dignity’ or ‘what to do when you develop one-sided romantic feelings towards a friend.’
That would be a piece that would have the potential to do some good to the world.
We all know very well, not-all-men. We aren’t fools.
But in a world where men like the mass shooters and the acid-throwers and you exist, how would Nimisha or me or any other girl know whom to trust or not?
Here is an exercise, I’d like to end my article with:
I offer you a bowl of roasted chana chaat.
There are several round chickpeas in that bowl.
I take the bowl and poison 15 out of the, let’s say 50 roundels, and put them back in the bowl.
I ask you to eat the chana chaat now.
Unreliable men in society are like those poisoned roundels of chickpeas and us women are asked to trust them all and get blamed when we are vocal about our consent and still blamed when we aren’t.
This is misogyny!
You are a part of it and I urge you to realise it.