Thinking back to my single and lonely days, I distinctly (painfully!) remember how often I was trapped in the friend zone. You know what I’m talking about: wanting to date, not quite knowing how to get with a person you’re interested in, end up sidling alongside them, becoming their friend and then confidante, even best friend, but they never quite see you as anything other than a dear friend.

I was always that guy. The best friend guy. Always had a bevy of girls around because they needed to bounce their ideas off of someone (and this was before the gay best friend thing became fashionable). But I was the safe guy, the one they could talk to, the one whose shoulder was always there for them to cry on. On one level, it was nice to have the attention and to be able to hang out with so many women. I learned how to be comfortable around this strange species of humanity, how to listen to them, what things they were concerned about. On another level, it was rather emasculating. Think about it: you weren’t seen as a “guy” as much as this sexless/genderless friend. Gender neutral.

You were a nice guy (or gal pal).

You were the one who watched the object of your affection go off and date, get into relationship after relationship, making bad choice after bad choice, waiting for them to FINALLY learn their lesson and appreciate what was beside them all along. How did that work out for you?

Like a fine piece of writing, I was never appreciated in my time. This may have been a function of where I was in life. High school/college-age. Ready to settle down (then … I out grew that a few years later once I recognized the pluses of singleness). I hadn’t come into my own. The girls/women I was interested in weren’t interested in settling down or lifelong commitments. They wanted to date and have fun. They weren’t looking for husband material.

So, memo to the nice guys: your time will come. Eventually your peer group/dating pool will come to appreciate you for what you are. You just need to be prepared when you are. Don’t be living in your mother’s basement or shacked up with an ex-girlfriend. Don’t let your lifetime of “woe is me” attitude define who you are. Don’t become self-defeated by your perceived ineffectiveness at dating (or unattractiveness to the other sex). Have a job and be prepared to be, if not a provider, then at least an equal partner in the relationship. Nice guys (or gals) don’t have to finish last, only be in a place where they can be appreciated for who they are when the time is right.

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