I never got to fuck Robyn. She effectively friend zoned me from fifth grade to the last time we hung out a few years ago. We made out for, like, 15 seconds my first weekend in college when she just so happened to be visiting campus to see her sister. She had a boyfriend and, as she put it, "It wasn't my time."
Even after she cut the make out session on my bed short, I was still convinced that this minor display of interest meant something, especially because I'd known her since I was 9 and, I don't know, was still trying eight years later, which had to be a sufficient enough declaration of love. I mean, we were such good friends. I just knew that she would come around and eventually realize that she loved me too. There was a time in middle school when we were so tight that people thought we were dating. But she always liked other guys. Finally, I thought, after this level of psychotic persistence, it is my time. This is what happens in college. This is when the tide turns. This is the delusional male ego at its peak.
We went out that night and I was 17 and it was still new and exciting to drink a lot and we passed out together on a couch at, like, 4am. I was really pathetically and desperately trying to initiate something physical with her, while also trying to not be a rapist. Even after the night we'd had, where we ran around like a couple—at least in my warped version of events—she consciously told me it wasn't going to happen and felt no remorse because, I mean, women don't have to show remorse in rejecting some sociopath. Regardless, it was still crushing to hear such an affirmative NO. It's not like I view sex as a prize or trophy earned for a fun night out. I'm just saying that after a night like that you think a girl likes you and when she doesn't it breaks your heart and fucks your head up.
After Robyn denied all of my advances—in recounting this, it almost feels like it didn't happen, which means I've probably subconsciously suppressed some part of it because it's so embarrassing—I definitely, like, cried and begged and professed my longstanding love for her as if that would somehow change her mind and walked out of her sister's apartment fucking sobbing and hyperventilating and completely defeated and even got curved on my thirsty ass last ditch attempt at a goodbye kiss. I was the deepest in the friend zone I'd ever been and it was sobering and awful and a testament to how efficiently the friend zone can ruin a man.
Sometimes you're just friends, but you both want a night out, a cuddle and an orgasm. Sometimes it's more.
I understand that the friend zone is this potentially dangerous concept. Some men get in this space of desperation where they feel entitled to women and that's not even remotely cool at all. It's important for dudes to get the fuck over their crushing rejection as soon as possible and either learn to love a girl as a friend or just move on if the only thing they can envision is a relationship. Like, I'll never condone dudes in the friend zone who pull the Nice Guy Card and go insane on women for not wanting to fuck them. You get, maybe, one drunk night as a 17-year-old to do that before you have to grow up and get it the fuck together. But in order to do that, you have to understand what you went through emotionally so you can learn from it.
You try to pick apart the scenario. You think, "Wow, she's always in the worst situations with other guys, but we have an amazing time together and she still doesn't want me? What did I do wrong that makes her not want to take it to the next level? If she thinks I'm ugly, can she just say that then?" More times than not, you have to move on. You can't operate under the pretense of friendship. It's like when Seth told Summer, "Maybe I just can't be just friends with you." It's dishonest.
You love her and she's beautiful and you get along incredibly. You will marry her this second. Why can't she imagine any of this? What's wrong with you? That's when you get spiteful. That's when you get all weird and motivated like, "I'm gonna get rich and famous and she's gonna see me on TV and realize that she made a huge mistake." The friend zone crumbles your dignity and turns you into a total fucking asshole and it's just never a good place to be. But, if you're lucky, you can get out of it.
It's crazy. For every Robyn, there's a friend who didn't feel you at first and then, the next thing you know, you're fucking. You slowly but surely learn how not to do dumb shit like cry and beg at 4 in the morning. You learn to stop thinking that it has to happen right away, and realize that even if things don't progress romantically after a few hangouts, it isn't necessarily completely ruled out in the future, assuming you're not a total creep, of course. And when that time finally arrives, you learn to just go for it and not talk so much. Sometimes you're just friends, but you both want a night out, a cuddle and an orgasm. Sometimes it's more. Either way, it happens a whole lot more when you're not an idiot kid who's been conditioned to think that women owe you something to the point that you fucking cry about it.
And it's tight once you cross that line, for both parties. I think everyone I know has fucked all of their friends. I could be wrong, but from what I've gleaned from my experiences and conversations, friends hook up pretty often. And, is it just me, or does it seem like the world needs that? Humans have this insatiable desire for love from another person and, for some reason, sex feels like the highest, most prolific acknowledgment of that. That's why guys sometimes want to be with girls who are just their friends, and, I would assume, that's why girls sometimes feel the same. And that's also why the friend zone can be so devastating. Master it or get out before you lose your mind.
Ernest Baker is a writer living in New York City. Follow him on Twitter here.