I've had it with fake guy friends!

Sure, we're "just friends" -- until the beer starts talking!

By Cary Tennis

Published September 22, 2003 8:00AM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

There's a genre of men I'm good at finding -- or maybe they find me, I don't know -- but I find them disgusting. These are the fake guy-friends guys. You out there know who you are!

I meet a guy, usually under benign circumstances, and we become "friends," we hang out, we go to dinner, movies, we have the conversations about our feelings on the opposite sex without directly talking about how we feel about each other. The relationship goes like this long enough so that I get comfortable, I think, Cool, I have a new friend. I don't think he's interested in being more than my friend, because if he was he would have tried to kiss me, offered to buy me dinner, done something that was more than just friendly. Sure, some part of me secretly wonders why. We're both single, attractive adults, but I'm happy having a new friend who won't talk in the middle of movies and will listen to my stories.

Then it happens, it always happens. Maybe there's too much beer involved; maybe, as in the latest case, there's too little electricity -- whatever. He makes his move. It doesn't matter whether I end up making out with him or I say something along the lines of I'd rather preserve our friendship, because right then, the friendship is over. It never turns into that romantic-comedy mushy romance of my lifetime crap. Either I call too much after that because I still think we're friends or, horror of horrors, I might be hoping that there was more to this than a one-night stand and he thinks I'm being clingy or he gets clingy or I hurt his ego or whatever. It never works out; we never can remain friends.

Cary, it's heartbreaking; I've lost more people I've considered "friends" this way, and while I know in my heart that they were never really my friends if they treat me like this it has gotten to the point where I don't trust any man's intentions anymore. Is there something I'm doing? Should I come up with a warning speech before I hang out with a guy -- like "Make your move now or forever hold your peace"? Can a straight female ever safely think that her straight guy friends want to be just friends? And where can I find a fun gay guy to hang out with? I'm sick of these posers!

"Just Friends"

Dear Just Friends,

Ah, yes, how well I know the non-mating dance of the fake guy friend, having been high-schooled in the 1960s of free love but colleged in the 1970s of male chauvinist pigs and "the personal is political." Free love was personal and therefore political and thus suddenly no longer free. And so a generation of men urgently retooled. With an alacrity that would have pleased their professors had it been applied to anything more abstract than the nubile bodies of female classmates, they quickly learned to pretend that the bond they were seeking between man and woman was a principled one founded on political equality and shared interests. Thus a generation of men learned, under penalty of loneliness, to act out a fragile deception. Thus history, with its trademark smirk of ironic cruelty, gave us the sensitive guy.

I know this is your life and not a romantic comedy but if it were a romantic comedy the female lead would gaze into the eyes of the trusted male friend who has taken her out to a romantic dinner and bought her lovely flowers not because he wants to seduce her but just because he wants to cheer her up on account of she was feeling down because of her troubled dating life. She would give him her trademark look of tough-but-vulnerable salty sweetness and say, "Make your move now or forever hold your peace." And in darkened theaters all across the land women would explode in spontaneous applause, which would drown out the next hideous 30 seconds of dialogue in which he protests he really wasn't going to make any kind of move at all, really, but if that's what she thinks of him then maybe she can just forget about being friends, and stomps out of the restaurant, leaving her with the bill.

Remember that conversation between Alvy and Annie in "Annie Hall" when they're on their first date:

ALVY: "You know, we never kissed before and I'll never know when to make the right move or anything. So we'll kiss now; we'll get it over with and then we'll go eat. OK?
ANNIE: Oh, all right.
ALVY: And we'll digest our food better.
ANNIE: Yeah.
They kiss.
ALVY: So now we can digest our food.

Romantic comedy thrives on the tension between what's hidden and what's revealed. So to avoid being the victim in the romantic comedy, you must be willing to reveal more than anyone else is willing to reveal. Your willingness to reveal is your trump card; it is your way of breaking the rules, and thereby breaking out of the circle of tacit deception. From now on, if a guy says he only wants to be your friend, say to him: I only become friends with men who want to fuck me. If you don't want to fuck me, why should we be friends? (You don't say, "I only become friends with men I want to fuck," because you want to put the emphasis on him and his intentions, not yours. You can sort out your own feelings later, in the privacy of your own home.)

As to the men currently in your life, divide them into men you would fuck if you had the chance and men you would not fuck ever. Then, for the men you have no sexual interest in, redefine your friendships: demote them to the rank of social acquaintances, professional associates, important business contacts, etc. Reserve the category of true male friend only for those men you would gladly fuck. That way you will never be surprised or confused.

When you have done this sorting out, you will probably have a handful of male friends left that you do not want to fuck but whom you cherish like your own life. Take each one aside and say: Just in case you were wondering, we're never going to sleep together. Just so you know. For future reference. If it should ever come up.

There. My work here is done.

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Cary Tennis

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