When you become a parent, you are the one who is supposed to have all of the answers. I like to think that my perspective is pretty sufficient for my teenagers because I have already gone through what they are going through, naturally, and I have learned a lot in life thus far. But occasionally, my children show me something and they have no idea that they have done it. My 14-year-old son, Logan, is starting to deal with an issue that I am only now starting to understand and work through in my 30’s and I am a little mind blown by the perspective that he gave me on Friday night. One minute I am a parent being protective of my child, and then the next, I am just a girl again thinking about the flip-side of what he is saying and hoping it’s not my fault that he’s going through it.
Parenthood has me really thinking that the Friend Zone is bullshit, as odd as that sounds.
When I was 15, I became the teenage girl who only dated assholes who made her unhappy. Eventually, a pattern emerged. I became an adult who was doing the same thing and it was clear that I was a habitual offender; I was always devoted to the wrong guy and wouldn’t walk away until I was so depleted and exhausted that I had nothing left to give and I didn’t care anymore. I was angry that I was treated badly, but I was used to it, so my relationships always ended with me leaving and wondering what I was doing wrong. Long story short, after a lot of pondering and some therapy, I finally figured out what the pattern was about and I only partially blame the guys I have been in relationships with because I had no idea I was with them to fill a void in the first place. I am not letting anyone off the hook here for treating me badly, but I am saying that had I taken the time to understand my childhood and myself, none of my relationships would have gotten as dark and scary as they did. I can’t fix anyone else, they can’t fix me, and the desire for that to happen can lead to very dysfunctional situations. I am happy to say that I have figured all of this crap out. I can also say that I have many, many guy friends who never would have treated me badly. And it's sort of bullshit. (Watch how many times I say that word in this post.)
Throughout my life, starting from the age of 14 years of age to now, I have always had male friends telling me I am better than the assholes I have chosen. I would basically nod, say thank you, love you, and go back to what I was doing because whatever they said never really resonated.
My son is very open with me. He is deep, sweet, intelligent, and cares about people. He told me about one of his girlfriends who is in a bad situation with a guy. I got all of the information about the girl because it’s my job as an adult to make sure I don’t need to get involved, but I also just listened to him and tried to give him advice. He described the girl as innocent, different from the other girls, said she reminds him of me (big red flag for me that we pass this crap onto our kids) and he is upset that she is putting herself in a stupid situation. They are obviously very close because he wouldn’t even tell me who she was in order to protect her. He is trying to be there for her but she won’t listen. He is mad at the guy and can’t say anything. He is frustrated that he is taking the time to give her advice and then he has to watch her ignore it and continue to hurt herself. It dawned on me that my son is “the good guy,” the one that this girl may never learn to appreciate, the one who gets “friend zoned” while she continues to date assholes, the one who will have to repeat the same advice to these girls, over and over and over, unless I can explain to him that it’s the girls’ issue, not his. As a mother, I would rather him be the good guy than the asshole and I am proud of him, but I also don’t want him to attempt to save every broken girl because I know how that ends. As a mother, I want him to put his time into a girl who is capable of loving him back and not get hung up on the ones who will make him crazy. As a mother, I know he deserves a girl who knows herself. I don’t want my sons to love girls who love assholes.
I have a lot of guy friends; I always have since I was in middle school. (Some, most, all, none) of them want to sleep with me. I don’t know. I am sure that it varies just like the depth of every relationship. But whether or not they are romantically interested in me or have been at any point, I realize now that I have probably really upset them from time to time because some of my stories have been upsetting. Women often talk to their male friends about their relationships to gain a perspective that they can’t get from their girlfriends and although I have always heard my male friends say “You deserve better than that,” I never thought about how I made them feel every time I ignored their advice. Women can be protective; I am very protective of my friends, but it is inherent for a (good) man to want to protect a woman. My son is 14. He is protective of me, he is protective of his sister (even when he can’t stand her) and he is already displaying concern for girls his own age. What I haven’t considered when I talk to my male friends about how another “man” is behaving is that maybe I can’t talk to them as if I am talking to my girlfriends. When I listened to Logan, I realized how upsetting it could be. First of all, if they are good guys, they will never be okay with an asshole. Secondly, they sometimes feel like taking action and when you don’t let them do anything and then go back to the situation, it’s very frustrating. What if their need to protect me has actually upset them more so than it would one of my girlfriends and by treating them the same, I have made a big mistake? I once told one of my guy friends over the phone what a boyfriend had done after I broke up with him and it got quiet. He had put the phone down in order to punch something. He came back and I apologized. I don’t want a girl upsetting my son like that. It's bullshit that I was with the assholes.
Every single one of the good guys in my life has a mother and if I were that mother, I would have told them not to be as patient as they have been with me in the past, but as a girl, I am so grateful for the men in my life who have told me I am a catch, that someone will treat me well, and that I deserve a guy who will give me the world. I think about the patience they have had with me over the years and I am beyond grateful, but I am also very sorry that they have had to watch me suffer.
Women make a lot of jokes about how men don’t listen, how they aren’t empathetic, how they only think with their penises…but it’s not always true. And it is also not always true that being this way gets you friend zoned...but it seems true sometimes.
I just want to give a shout out to all of my male friends who have loved me so much, who have listened to my bullshit, over and over and over and over and over on repeat, like a broken record and not really gotten the same in return all the time. Thank you for being awesome men and not little boys. Thanks for telling me over the years that I deserve a good guy....like you.
I usually have some end paragraph that ties together everything I have said, but I just don’t. I think I am just curious as to what the men have to say about this.