Tuesday, April 04, 2006

F-Word

Here's the way it happens. There's clicking, audible and palpable. One shoe of expectation has dropped and the resulting thud is reassuring--it massages you like your trainer as you prepare for your moment in the ring, readying you for your graduation, at long last, from this infernal division. The thud is a herald: "this is it!" it trumpets, kneading your shoulders and prepping you for greatness. But you've been here before. You've been this close to the title, and have never worn the belt of achievement. You've seen it up close, touched it with your greedy, deprived little fingers, but it was never yours. So now you wait for the other shoe to drop, the way it always has in the past. And when that thud comes, it's anything but reassuring. You try to see it as a new beginning, as freedom from the slavery of just not knowing. That it's an end should serve as some relief. But you can't help feeling that it's a small death of sorts, the end of something, the curtailing of possibility, the decapitation of hope. You hear it spoken, as you have many times before. It never sounds good. But now, repeated ad nauseum by voices of various timbres over decades, it sounds somehow sinister, as if hissed with a forked tongue, even though the word itself should be a badge of honor. Is there anything more important? Use of the word in proper context is a compliment like no other. When meant, truly heartfelt, it conveys the deepest respect. It's an acknowledgment of greatness, of affection and honor. It designates you as special. It separates you from the herd, brands you with a special marker, binds you to the speaker through public accolades of your importance. And yet, every time you hear it, your disappointment overwhelms you, obliterating the positives. As the syllable rings in your ears, the only thing it sounds like is failure.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't know, I'd like to think you're talking about f as in feminism. But then you say "the syllable", and feminism has 4. I give up. Simcha

Chutzpah said...

Simcha...no wonder you can't get a date....duh.

Chutzpah said...

And then they start calling you "kiddo" afterwards. Ouch.

Nice Jewish Guy said...

Sounds like someone's been sent to The Friend Zone.

Sorry...

Ro said...

I'm sorry... I would think the "zone" would be blocked off once and awhile atleast for traffic.

Best Wishes

Amishav said...

I once uttered the "f" word and immediately regretted it. Its not only a terrible thing to hear, its a terrible thing to say.

VJ said...

I've got a slight idea that this is about the dreaded 'Friends Zone', but thinking about the general predicament, I came away with a few unusual thoughts. Yes, it's been done before, but I still like to think of it as severely under utilized resource. So, OK here's it is, the radical plan.

This is my central premise. Friends are a good thing. True friends are a rare good thing. They are much under estimated of late, but they've always been among the most influential relationships we'll ever have in our lives. This is true throughout history.


So do something radical. Believe them when they say this to you. Given this, they just don't drop off the face of the earth. They are not to be shunned at shul. They are not to be avoided at dinner or in conversation. Somewhere, somehow you both have come to some basic prior agreement. You like each other, and can be caused to be concerned about one an other. This does not have to include the romance, flowers, sex or much very much beyond simple sensibility. You just have to care for one another as if you belong to the same community and share many of the same values. Again, this is probably a given.


So pick out the top 5 or so prospects who said this to you in the last oh, 5 years. Just one decent prospect a year perhaps. Some will be ruled out as the type of 'decent' friends needed here as they never truly meant their words. This may even apply to most of the prospects, and/or many of them will have 'moved on' by now, in mind, body and spirit. But there's a few, a very select few who DID mean their words, or are of a rare and respectable enough character to mean it to and for many of the people they meet in the community. These are the guys & gals I'm speaking of presently.

The crazed idea that I've got is a simple one. The next time you come in contact with such a person, greet them warmly. Ask 'How Have you been?', and mean it. Inquire about their situation as you last heard of it. Ask for updates. Most will naturally inquire about yourself. Tell them openly: 'Im still looking for a decent husband/mate/BF/GF/Wife'. Smile, cock your head in mutual understanding and perhaps even take their hand and impress upon them that 'As a friend, I'm commissioning you, no, Deputizing you in this grand quest to find me a decent prospect for a date'. Smile and ask them about their friends and if they are single, married or available. It's that simple.

This naturally gets the mind working for most blokes. Is Stinky out of jail yet? Is Uncle Hal still sober? Aunt Terry over that hatchet incident with her last BF? Most people can come up with something. Mostly though, long before the advent of the internet, this is how folks would hunt up more likely prospects and develop a network of people looking out for them.

Truth be told, many people are rusty with these thoroughly old fashioned skills. More than a few have been burned with the claims of well meaning pals of this or that 'Mr. Wonderful' only to spend the proverbial 'weekend at Bernie's' locked in the bathroom shivering in fear or puking your guts out over the poorly made breakfast/dinner or worse, some dangerous concoction in a 'spiked' drink. It constantly requires much intestinal fortitude and yes, even bravery. But perhaps one of those old friends knows someone local who might be more your style, who you might get along with better. It's a start.

Now some people remain in the ring with a prospect who'll just will never commit. That's a double tragedy as not only have you wasted years with this ying yang, he/she has kept you from other more likely souls who you might have had a better 'connection' with. So the trick really is after awhile, to 'catch, examine & release'. It's quick, effective and humane. But that fish can bring others, and indeed can live to be caught again (and again) if necessary.

So friends, and even casual friends are not to be scoffed at. They *can* be valued assets in a determined search, if only developed properly. After all, if you're living in and working in the same neighborhood & community, why not ask the members where to go to find what you need? That's often the issue with Jdate, too many of the decent prospects are 'geographically undesirable', and hence are less likely to be chosen from far afield. Cheers & Good Luck! 'VJ', ga.

Anonymous said...

VJ - You forget the obvious. When you are interested in someone and that person only wants to be a friend and cannot return your romantic affection, then you will have no desire to have anything to do with that person. Its too hurtful.

My question for Esther is what made you belive, even for a second, that the guy(s) was (were) posibly interetsed in you other than as a friend. Maybe your ability to read signals needs some adjustment??

Chutzpah said...

VJ,

When men say "let's just be friends" it means "I don't want to have sex with you" which means "I don't think you are attractive enough to have sex with" which then in turn means "my friends wouldn't fuck you either".

I was a professional headhunter in the days before the internet and I prospect for leads all day long in my current sales position. The problem is not a lack of networking skills...it's a lack of men, a straight Economics 101 supply and demand problem.

I attend monthly alumni events at both my college and law school. When looking at men 35+ the good ones are married, the divorced ones are players, the never married are committment phobes or gay. Looking at men under 35, they have plenty of time and plenty of choices to find the next more perfect total package, and relegate women to the friends or friends with benefits zone on a weekly basis.

Stop thinking the problem is that single women are "doing something" wrong.

I went on myspace and looked at every man that I thought would be a reasonable prospect. Each one had a collection of female "hotties" numbering from 20 - 200. Did these men have male friends in their networks? No, maybe one or two, who then had equal harems showing on their page.

Esther Kustanowitz said...

VJ, deputizing is a good idea. Just because it hasn't worked in the past doesn't mean it won't work in the future, does it?

Anonymous, "what made you believe, even for a second, that the guy(s) was (were) posibly interested in you other than as a friend?"

Um, I don't know. Maybe the fact that we seemed to get along really well? Or that we laughed a lot? Or that we had a lot in common? Or that it was some kind of intangible connection that I hoped meant something more? Or maybe it was endless emails or phone calls? Or maybe it was just stupid, clueless hope springing eternal, that after however many years of platonic, platonic, platonic, I was finally on the trail of reciprocated affection? Silly me.

"Maybe your ability to read signals needs some adjustment??"
Clearly. I'll wait for someone to ignore me, and that's how I'll know he likes me. There's no objective set of "signals," and that's the problem. Most people aren't direct about how they feel, so one ends up having to guess and infer from gestures, words and inflection. And to an extent, we all see what we want to see. Clearly, I wanted to see something that wasn't there.

Of course this is all theoretical and based on the totality of dating experience, not on any one person in particular. Because I don't do that here, as you know.

Scott Seltzer said...

All in all, interesting discussions. I think I'll try VJ's suggestion with a woman I recently dated.

I've become friends with some women I met on JDate - we chat sometimes and follow each others' dating situations. We have even gotten together as friends sometimes. None of them have set me up.

On the other hand, I did set up someone I met on kosherstars.com with a friend of mine and they just got married 2 weeks ago! Dating networking is definitely a good thing.

Regarding Esther's "I'll wait for someone to ignore me, and that's how I'll know he likes me.", I just couldn't help thinking of the following lyrics:

"If certain girls don't look at you
It means that they like you a lot
If other girls don't look at you
It just means they're ignoring you
How can you know, how can you know?
Which is which, who's doing what?
I guess that you can ask 'em
Which one are you baby?
Do you like me or are you ignoring me?
Do you like me or are you ignoring me?
Do you like me or are you ignoring me?
And all you need to do that
Is one good pair of big balls
"
- from the first song on http://www.danbern.com/fiftyeggslyrics.html

-Scott

Anonymous said...

Chutzpah ... I can certainly understand it if you are jaded (Lord knows I have a jaded attitude about jdate as it has not served me well). But you really need to stop generalizing, labeling, and stereotyping. Even if it seems like 80% or 90% of men are this way, the only way you will ever meet someone is if you are persistent, keep your mind open to possibilities, and continue to believe that there just might be someone "different" out there for you. Otherwise, you might as well just give up.

How can you go from "let's just be friends" to "my friends wouldn't F__K you either"? How could you possibly know that? Everyone has a different frame of reference, and different likes/dislikes/preferences. And it might not even turn out to be one of his friends ... it might turn out to be someone that he knows in the office or at the gym or somewhere else!

Statements like "the good ones are married, the divorced ones are players, the never married are committment phobes or gay" are short-sighted. You might as well pick an ethnic group and start making racial slurs and generalizations. True ... when looking at the > 35 population ... most of it is married. And true ... many of the ones that are left out there are not quite normal or are being too selective. But there really are some that do fall into the normal category ... they are just more difficult to find because they are smaller in number compared to the total single population > 35.

You say "Stop thinking the problem is that single women are 'doing something' wrong". It's not that single women are doing something wrong. It's that single women AND single men who have this kind of attitude are doing something wrong.

Dating is like being in a war. You engage, you get wounded, you heal, and you have to get right back out there over and over again until the war is over. It's ok to call the enemy who just wounded you a few names on the way back out, and it's ok to feel concerned or scared about whether you are going to make it or not. But you can't turn this into a blanket assumption cause someday, the enemy is going to be your friend.

Blogger S.

Ro said...

I have been sent to the friends zone so many times that I have rented a condo there.

I have had some very confusing situations where I was labeled as a friend but the guy has said and or given me signals to make me think otherwise. Which is even more hurtful because who wants to be jerked around especialy if you like them.

I think being a friend is a good thing in and of itself. I value the title of friend however when rejection is connected to the term it makes it almost seem trivial and hurtful.

I wish people were easier to read or more honest and direct. I think it would help bring down the real estate in the zone.

VJ said...

Well I wanted a few other responses to show up before I posted again. I really think that if you've come as close as what Esther describes, you have some sort of serious 'friend' connection. They well know you, and they also know for what ever reasons, you're not exactly right for them. But by knowing you, and yes, even liking you as a friend, they can more easily imagine how you might be a great fit with their friend Josh, or perhaps even with relatives. That in itself is meaningful, and I think can be a valuable asset if developed properly.

And although this is done from time to time, it really needs to be a constant serious effort, done with steady determination and the kind of hope filled heart we all can cherish and dream about. Again, that's the very definition of bravery. Yes it hurts. It's getting you down deep in the soul, and perhaps they even recognize this, which should mean that they can become good deputies to the cause of finding you someone who fits better.


Now to some of the cynics and the comments made by Ms.Chutzpah. There was a story in our local paper , the AJC [AJC.com] yesterday about a pair of twins, now 80 who have lived together or nearby each other all their lives. They got married in a double ceremony the same day, worked in the same defense plant before retiring, and even dress alike. One of the twins is still married to a fella who dated the other one. But he dumped her for her sister. Now folks, these gals look very much alike, it was a slight personality difference that probably set that one husband off about his now sister-in-law. The Moral of the story is that looks are not everything.


So attraction is a very strange thing. We could go on for ages about how some folks will be attracted to mostly Blondes, redheads, big or tall, fat or skinny. But make no mistake about it. Still, there's a tremendous difference between just sex and a good romantic attachment. The former can be had for a song almost anywhere at anytime. The latter is a more rare animal.


So Chutzpah, 'let's be friends' can mean many things, but it typically does not mean 'I find you so repulsive that I will not 'do you'. It more often can mean something more like: 'I'm friendly to the prospect, but I'm entangled right now/I'm not looking for your type/ I think we'd be lousy together for whatever imagined reason.'


So Ms. C, I admire you for doing all the logical and necessary things to acquire your targets. But know that if you really wanted 'some action' badly enough, there are always guys out there willing to oblige you. That part is the simple part, satisfying the physical can come easy, working to higher standards has always been more of the issue.

So the 'Friend zone' hurts, and it never gets easier. It's the soul of the person we want to capture and captivate. When we make a connection and know this, yet sometimes the voyage never happens, the ships pass silently past each other in the night, and we ever remain a little bit more unknown to the other. That's what is so tantalizing about the entire scenario. It's there you can see it, why can't they? All mysteries mostly. But hopefully we can use them in a more useful manner as a utility fielder in your quest.

Like I said it's always worth a try with a special sort of friend. Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

Anonymous said...

Chutzpah is correct in one respect. If a man is attracted to a woman (and usually vice versa) then he will not want to be "just friends without benefits." He is attracted and will want to be physical with you. 99% of the time. But C is wrong to assume that his friends wont find you attractive. Hell, I have had many women in my life who I thought were unattractive, but a friend of mine didn't, and I accordingly matched them up (at time, successfully). I once dated a girl, who then set me up with her friend cause the girl wasnt in to me. Happens all the time.

Important point for everyone is put your best foot forward when you deal with people. Treat a date like a job interview. If you go on an interview and curse out the manager when they dont hire you, you'll never get a job with anyone that guy knows. But if you impress the manager and maintain composure when they reject you, they may recommend you to another company or client if it turns out that you arent the right fit for their job. Same thing with dating. You may not be right for A, but may be perfect for A's friend, B.

Chutzpah, Ive seen your comments on other postings, and checked your myspace page. Not to insult you, but it appears you are looking for guys who are out of your league. You have got to - got to - open your mind up a little to guys who you might not have considered before. Sorry for the reality check.

Esther, as to the signals. While sometimes its hard to know, usually if a guy is interested they make it clear. They ask you out. If that is murky and you're not sure if its a date or platonic, look for the physical signals. The boldest go in for the kiss. The more cautious are less obvious. A hand on your leg. A touch of your shoulder. Slight brush of your hair. A gaze into your eyes. And to those who may be way too shy or nervous and cannot do even that, you have to show them you are interested by being bold and giving them a physical signal. Touch his hand, his arm, his leg. If the guy doesnt respond to that, then move on - he is not interested in you romantically. Pretty simple. Be wary of a guy who is calling/e-mailing you constatntly without making a move. Its fine when you are younger. Chalk it up to immaturity and learning. But at 30+, if you dont know his (or her) intentions pretty soon off the bat, proactively find out or move on. You are going to waste away your time and sanity.

Finally (and dont bash me on this one), women, you may have to tone down your act a bit. I know it sounds sexist to say this, but certain traits turn men on, and certainly some turn men off. Many men do - do - want a smart accomplished woman. They want someone with a good sense of humor. But, they want someone feminine. Being too boisterous, too sarcastic, too dryly funny is a turn-off for most men. They associte that with Rosie Odonnell, Rosanne Barr, Paula Poundstone, etc. Not a group you want to join if you are looking for a guy. (Sarah Silverman is the exception because she looks the way she does..). Guys will think of you as that funny chick, one of the guys. Try to mask that a bit if its the case (or else, try to look at good as Sarah Silverman..)

Chutzpah said...

When I tell a guy "let's just be friends" it means "I don't want to have sex with you and none of my friends would want to fuck you either." Just sayin.

Chutzpah said...

Anon,

I have said this many times...I will date anyone with a pulse and no restraining orders against me. My standards are so low that even most newly released prison convicts would qualify for a date with me.

Ro said...

When this topic comes up you always get a mixed bag of thoughts and advice. However I have to disagree with Anon.

Whatever happened to being yourself? If you are naturally dry/sarcastic and or boisterious...why should you have to stifle your personality? Now I agree that being polite and mannerily is important and watching you words in any social situation is a must however I disagree with altering your personality to fit some ideals that a guy may or may not find attractive. You want whoever your with to like you for you because lets be honest the real you will come out at some point.

I also think it's a double standard that someone like Sara Silverman might get away with being sarcastic and very forward while others can't just because of how they look.

I'd rather be myself and single rather than be something that I'm not and coupled.

As for the friends with beneifts thing. I agree with that aspect I've been there and frankly if your they type to get attached that situation should be avoided. If someone really wants to be your friend they will treat you as such.

Anonymous said...

"I'd rather be myself and single rather than be something that I'm not and coupled."

Ro ... you may change your mind someday. I believe that it's not right to expect one to make a major change in their personality in order to meet someone ... but there are various qualities/habits/traits that many/most people find abrasive or annoying. It is not unreasonable to try to change these if you want to open up more possibilities. Sometimes you just can't be yourself. Haven't you ever met someone where it was clear to you and an entire group of people that this person was just "way out there"? Sometimes people don't even realize it.

Speaking from the male perspective, I kind of agree with what Anon is saying. There may be others who are attracted to women who are boisterous, loud, etc (like Rosie Odonnell, Rosanne Barr, Paula Poundstone) but I am not. I agree that it does detract from femininity. Of course, we are also dealing here with descriptive words that are very subjective and open to interpretation. I actually DO like women who are witty and sarcastic (to a degree). But not if they aren't feminine. These are just my preferences. I will say that I think this tends to be pretty common amongst men though. Kinda like most women don't like guys who act effeminite, or who have trouble making decisions or who don't take charge. These are male qualities that most women expect in a man.

Another Anon

VJ said...

I don't know, I think Ro has a very valid point here. After awhile, we just revert to our true selves. Now there's any number of such examples Anon 2 about women & men 'hiding' their various selves in order to gain security, wealth, fame or fortune. It's a very familiar motif in plenty of 19th century literature. It's fallen out of favor as we have been allowed to live fuller more realistic lives that recognize that nature may have all blessed us with differing talents, outlooks, histories and attractions.

There's no real reason why any women or man should hide their essential nature from someone they truly love, (perhaps parents may be an exception
here in certain circumstances). It's not only unneeded and unnecessary, it can be fairly detrimental to any future based on trust and mutual understanding.

Yes, this can create difficulties, and may make you less attractive to some people. But you are not looking to be all things to all people., You want someone to appreciate you for being you. Not you in a cloak of concealment or subterfuge, but the real you. That's pretty essential.

Now for the specifics. Except for her first husband, who I think still made out decently, Rosanne Barr's ex-hubbies made out very well. The almost feckless Tom Arnold would certainly still be a cypher lost in the Iowa corn fields without her assistance to his 'career'. Rosie's never been my favorite, but she's working the other side of the street now, and seems to be doing well presently. Paula Pundstone is the ringer here. My goodness folks, her entire act is based on her self depreciating character humor! Sarcastic? Leave that to (married) Sara Silverman, (a very acquired taste, BTW).

What do all these gals have in common? They're all COMICS people! We've got very little idea of who they might be at home. (Well Barr did leave behind a long series of restraining orders...). Still we've got little idea here to base some sort of characterization for 'female types'. These are very polished professional entertainers here folks. Trust us on this one, your date/spouse will be normally MUCH less entertaining!

So find someone who appreciates you for who you are, because without that it's really not worth much. Cheers & Good Luck! 'VJ'

Ro said...

As myself I'm fairly quiet and softspoken. Having good manners and social graces is what I'm getting at. However if someone didn't like the fact that there are times that I may not want to talk ussually because I have nothing to say then I'm obvisouly the wrong person for them.

I still have to disargree with both Anons.

I also have tried to be more of this and or that to attract certain people and I found that all I was doing was lieing to myself. Because in the end your the one that has to deal with you.

But sure there are times when I see obonxious people and go wow but ussually it's a case of bad manners in the wrong social setting. I try not judge people like that and accept them and move on.

I think we got a bit off topic here.

Ro said...

Thanks VJ! Good points too. We all have differant sides to our personalities if you find that you don't like a person because they are too quiet or too loud or Rosanne Barish then you reserve the right not to hang out with them. It doesen't mean they have a serious personality flaw either just means you don't click. I think opening up is ok but a person shouldn't have to stiffle themselves just so they can fit into more social groups or find a mate. Like VJ said you can't be all things to all people.

Mel Balsamo said...

Must be a really painful experience for you. Its obvious that you haven't broken the barrier of friendship. Its difficult really, its hard to manage the amount of friendliness you should exert to someone you want to go beyond with than just a friend.

Mel Balsamo
JRomances.com