Ugly-until-I-get-to-know-you then-you're-a-friend Syndrome

Ok, I’m not really physically attractive, but the ladies say I’m nice and sweet once you get to know me (well, SOME do). However, once they get to know me, I’m a friend, and now out of the ‘relationship’ range. Am I permanently stuck here?

I and, well, another respected SDMB poster whose name shall remain anonymous, were discussing a topic very similar to this one on AIM the other night.

Our tip:
Very early on, physical contact in the potential more-than-friends relationship must be initiated. Hand-holding, a hug, a kiss. On the first date, if at all possible.

Otherwise, you will quickly find yourself sliding down the greasy abyss of, “Oh f*ck; we’re becoming platonic pals!”

You may get more rejection and lose more potential gal-pals if you go this route. But you will also thwart creeping lack-o-intimacy.

No, see they don’t want to touch me with a ten foot insulated pole until they get to know me. They won’t date… Erg

Friends turn into lovers all the time. If the relationship works out, it’s usually a great one. If it doesn’t, you lose a friend.

Once you become friends you get to touch, right? Becoming friends first is cool no matter what you look like.

Speaker, I’m pretty sure there’s never been a woman attracted to me on looks–pretty I ain’t. And I’ve gone through the whole female friends who assure me that there are plenty of (unnamed, unknown) women out there who would just loveto date me thing. There were times I was pretty sure all these (unnamed, unknown) women were in Tibet, or somewhere else I’d never actually go to.

But I’ve also had a few female friends turn into lovers, and I was married to one of them for a little over eight years. If it can happen to me–and I could be rejected by an Inflate-A-Date–it can certainly happen to you. Sometimes you just gotta be patient.

Patience is key. I’m suspecting you are fairly young. Forgive me if I’m incorrect.

It’s been my experience that in our younger days both men and women go for looks. But by the end of college, people are tired of dating based on physical attraction alone. What good is it to be dating a super model if you can’t stand to be around them?

So be a good and honorable person. It will be recognized eventually.

(with regard to the OP): No, Speaker, you are not.

Have some patience. Like many of the other posters here, I’m quite sure that I’m no poster boy (see for a picture). Throughout high school and most of university, I felt much as you do now. I had many female friends, but no romantic relationships. I thought that I was completely and incurably unattractive, and that I would never find anyone who thought otherwise.

I’d like to share with you two of the things that I’ve learned since then. First, it is certainly possible for friendships to change into romantic relationships. Secondly, you don’t have to be handsome to be attractive.

Before she was my girlfriend, my fiancee was just my good friend. We enjoyed each others company very much, and as time went on we spent more and more time with each other. After about a year, I asked my friend if she would like to become more than just friends. She said no. And she told me that she loved me. And then she said that she never wanted to see me ever again. :frowning:

Okay, I know that doesn’t sound too encouraging, but bear with me until I get to the happy ending, k? I feel like I have to mention this part of the story… There were numerous reasons why a relationship between the two of us would be impractical, but even understanding her reasons for not wanting it I was devestated by her decision. I’ve been rejected by women before, but never by one as well trusted or as close to my heart as her. Biggirl mentioned that you could lose a friend if the romantic relationship didn’t work out… from this experience, I’d have to say, that has to be one of the most painful ways possible to lose a friend.

After three weeks of solitude, we finally got back together and decided to make a go of it. That was two years ago, and we’re hoping to tie the knot later on this year. I’d say that there have been several benefits to having been friends before we started dating… for one, we have always had very good communication with each other. There was never an awkward stage of “I want this but I don’t want to say so because I want to be attractive”, IYKWIM.

As for being attractive without being handsome… well, I learned that in university. What you say and how you present yourself is very important. I learned that giving compliments, being warm and open, go a long way towards impressing the ladies. Or impressing the men, for that matter… I’ve known women who are not the perfect picture of physical beauty who never seem to be without a boyfriend.

I learned that flirtation can be fun. I learned that desperation isn’t sexy… most of the time. I learned that there actually are a few women out there who get impressed that you self-publish mini-comics and work on the student newspaper… not my SO, unfortunately, but nobody’s perfect. :slight_smile:

I also learned that I actually do have standards… That it’s better to be alone than to be with someone I don’t really like (YMMV). I learned that masturbation is okay. I learned that people can make really bad decisions when they’re not feeling good.

Somewhere along the way I also learned that I talk too much. I hope that what I’ve written here will be of value to at least someone. Good luck, and don’t worry about it.

sigh This could be the story of my dating life. Don’t get me wrong, I have some fantastic guy friends. I mean, they are the absolute best, and I keep getting more guy friends. But what gets me, is that I must be the “buddy chick” type, not the dating type.

I mean, I don’t consider myself unattractive. I’m certainly no supermodel, but I’m happy with who I am and I’m comfortable in my body.

But my guy friends are more likely to come to me for advice about their relationships than ask me out. Don’t get me wrong here- I love my guy friends, but(for the most part) I’m happy with them as friends. It just seems that as soon as I get to know a guy, we fall into the buddy stage. And then, they tell me that they don’t understand why I’m not dating anyone seriously, because they can’t see why guys aren’t tripping over themselves to go out with me. But, again, there’s no indication that they are interested in going out with me. Or I get, “If I wasn’t in a relationship, I’d be interested in going out with you, so I am, and so I’m not”. Yeah, that’s cryptic.

So, Speaker I pretty much understand. Sorry about the hijack of your thread here. This has just been a huge part of my daily thoughts here lately, cause I’m frustrated by my dating life(or lack thereof)

It depends on the person, Speaker. My special Doper and I were just friends for a long time, and then eventually it just sorta…happened. Unfortunately, being stuck in the “friend” category happens far, far more often than anything else. People in today’s society typically do put quite a bit of emphasis into the following items:

  1. Personal appearance.
  2. Display of confidence.
  3. Money.

I’m sorry, but this is the way things work with most people in society - IMO. IMO, it is driven by our entertainment culture.

I think internet relationships have helped out tremendously for the hideously ugly like myself. People get to know me, and have the chance to like (and love) me, inside, without worrying about or caring about my personal appearance. After all - only 4 Dopers have ever met or seen a picture of me - ever. I can guaran-tee that had we all met together in a public place, before knowing each other well, I would have been the ignored, quiet one in the corner, as everyone flirted shamelessly with “the beautiful people” of this Board.

When you do find someone to whom none of these things is really important to them, becaue they only want to be with you, the person, then if you feel the same way about them by the Goddess keep them and cherish them.

I know I want to keep and cherish my new love. She makes me feel like I am the Queen of the World, and my heart thrills every time I see her post on the Board, or in chat or ICQ. And she says I do the same for her. :slight_smile:

I feel your pain man. I call it “good guy syndrome.” Welcome to the club.

All I can say is that you keep trying and keep trying. Eventually, somebody will give you the green light!

I got lucky, but I had to wait for a good 5 years of seriously looking and falling into this same trap over and over and over again. Now I don’t know if 5 years is a good (Keep in mind that in that 5 years I only had one girlfriend that lasted for 2 weeks. Before this no girlfriends.) average or a bad one. But definately evidence that if you just keep going at it, you will find somebody.

Plus Milossarian speaks truth. Set out from the front that you are interested in them as possibly more than friends. They’ll know from the start and possibly see you that way once they realize how kick ass you are.

I hope you guys are right :slight_smile: What I really need to work on is my unending sarcasm :). Ah well, I can wait. My hand still loves me.


I have always found that once a relationship has edged towards “friends” it’s basically over as far as romance is concerned (not always, but pretty much…) Not necessarily a bad thing, since you know that it will be just that. You can then move on to better prospects.

I think a lot of people like to have “safe” relationships that they don’t need to worry about becoming romantic. The trick is to not make yourself fall into that category if you don’t want it. I don’t consider myself terribly good looking, but I have learned that having a lot of self-confidence goes a long way (even if it is a conscious effort). People like to be around others that seem to have a handle on life. Their confidence comes across as extremely attractive. Think of all the famous people that we find engaging but are light on looks. What they have is a mystique that is based more on attitude than anything else.

Also a great way to show interest and get quick feedback is to use touch. If you are talking to someone you like, touch their forearm when making a point. If they do likewise, it’s a pretty sure bet that they are interested. Another clue is to change your posture (way that you cross your legs when sitting, hands in pockets while standing, etc) and see if they mimic you. If they do, take it to the next level. Just don’t try to win people over by just being accommodating, funny and nice. It’s great for being a wonderful friend, but it is lousy way to show someone that you are interested.

That’s my experience anyway. Hope it helps.

If you do it with your left hand it feels like somebody else.

At a guess, without knowing you or ever having met you, I would say that when you meet someone you don’t want to be seen as coming on too strong. Consciously tyring to avoid this may give girls the impression that you’re not after them at all, and so they’ll think “he just wants to be friends” and treat you that way. Then later when you tell them otherwise, they’re not interested. Remember, we live in a society that places the emphasis on the male to make the first move. If you’re not making it then she may lose interest.

I’d have to disagree on the ‘touch asap’. That can REALLY turn people off. Don’t touch the girl at all - at least not with your hands. Use your eyes. Catch her eye and keep contact longer than you normally would. When you’re talking to her, don’t drop eye contact at all. Use your body language to tell her that she has all your attention. If you’re sitting next to her, face her with your body, cross one leg towards her (ie, if she’s on your right hand side cross your left leg over your right). Smile. Listen. Compliment her. And do not break eye contact. I cannot stress that enough.

Note please, the above isn’t advice of the “how to pick up” type, just “how to give someone the impression that you like them”.

Until I realised all this a few months ago I was in the same boat as you. I’m not with anyone yet, but girls I meet now are not dismissing me out of hand as a friend - they’re actually taking an interest and it’s great :slight_smile:

Good luck

I guess I’ll have to agree to disagree on these points :slight_smile:

I think that contact is important, but it has to be very casual…, like a light touch on the arm when agreeing with a point that they made, etc.

Staring intensely at someone can quickly be interpreted as ‘stalking psycho’ behavior. I agree that eye contact is important, but not to the ‘nth’ degree. Just enough to show that you are really interested in the other person and what they have to say. Again, it’s more important to catch their body language and see if it is tying in with yours. It’s a subconscious way that we bond with people.

I met a woman and she joined me and a friend for a movie. We ended sitting next to each other and I noticed that every time I change my position (legs crossing, not crossing, leaning to the left, leaning right) she would mirror me. After the movie, as we were leaving, she asked me out. Try it, you’ll soon see what I mean.

All sympathy to you, Speaker. Been there, got that T shirt. May I add 2 cents and what I feel is an important cautionary note?

The general consensus here has been along the lines of: “Don’t worry. You can break the friend-only cycle in time, but you may need to wait until you and your peer group mature enough to broaden your chances”. This is good as far as it goes, especially the ‘don’t worry’ bit, but I think its a little lacking in optimism.

It may sound like a cliche, but the fact is that your attitude, how you feel about yourself and how you come across to women is a major factor here, and more important than looks, wealth… whatever. If you meet someone who gets your pulse rising, but if you have deep self-doubts about ever getting anywhere with her, then you probably communicate this doubtfulness, and both you and she gravitate to the much safer, easier we’re-just-friends routine.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

The first relationship you should worry about is the one you have with yourself. I’m not intending any criticism here, and for all I know you may already be the most switched-on guy in the world! But these thoughts might help, that’s all.

Take time out to look at how you live, how you go about your days, what your goals are, and to see if there are some major changes, or at least changes of emphasis, you want to make. Do you want to get fitter and healthier? Do you want to sort out your goals and priorities, and then chuck out some of the junk in your life (that isn’t really getting you anywhere) and make more space for new activites that are more conducive to where you want to be? In other words, get your act together (even more than it is already…!) and get a sense of fulfilment, of who you are and where you’re going, what your values are and how you’re pursuing them.

In time, you’ll acquire a much more relaxed air, you are at ease with yourself, you know where your sense of fulfilment comes from, and you have more confidence in yourself. You also get into the habit of driving your own destiny - you fix your own goals, and your own path towards them. All these things will vastly improve your chances of dating Miss Wonderful (if that’s what you want). It’s attitude that counts. But you can’t fake it. The only way to come across as someone who has his act together is… to get your act together.

And now, two warnings. First of all, don’t be too quick to dismiss the ‘friends’ angle. Don’t get conned by all the media’s constant hype about shiny happy people having fun, getting laid, having wild sex and stunning relationships. Sex sells, and the media is about selling. In real life, there are planety of times when having a good friend matters one hell of a lot more than getting laid. Yes, it can be hard to see things that way at times, especially if the friend is drop-dead-eat-me-gorgeous, but it’s true.

And getting as reputation among women for being a nice guy who’s a good friend is no bad thing at all. Cream always rises to the top eventually! Perhaps the women in your peer group are just getting their range-finding gear sorted out. They’ll make lots of misses at first, but eventually they’ll sort out where the quality lies… and that’s you.

But heed this. Eventually, even when you do get more confident in your ways with women, it comes down to the fact that what you don’t ask for, you don’t (often) get. So, you face decisions: do you make a move or not? Do you try for the date or not? Do you wake up together or not? The worst experience of my life centred on a very special woman indeed thinking I had made a move, or was intending to (even though this was not the case). It nearly drove me alcoholic and suicidal, and it wasn’t pretty.

So be careful. If you have a female friend \ acquaintence, and you are thinking of trying to move things on, ask yourself a question: “How special is this woman to me?”. If you get a rejection and she ebbs out of your life, how hard is that going to hurt? If you wouldn’t be able to stand the loss, don’t risk it. Keep things platonic, but open-minded, and if she wants to get physical she’ll initiate. If you are willing to lose the friendship, and think it’s worth the potential gain, then go ahead and ask for what you want. Sometimes you’ll get a no, but sometimes… just sometimes… she’ll melt into your arms and confess she was getting worried you’d never ask.

I’ve been through it all. May my words from the trenches save you some of the hassle I’ve been through!

I didn’t say stare, just don’t break eye contact. If you’re not used to keeping eye contact then it can be one of the hardest things in the world to master, that’s why I put so much emphasis on it. More than half of face-to-face human communication takes place through the eyes, so they have to be giving the right message. They can give the message “I like you and want to get to know you better”, or they can say “I’m nervous and insecure and you intimidate me” or anything inbetween.

Definately, don’t stare, but keep your eyes on hers a good 90% of the time. You are allowed to blink. And wink if it’s appropriate :wink:

On a side issue, Last year I took a Psych class called “Sex, Love and Attraction” and one thing I learned that may help you is that when deciding on how attractive they find a guy, girls base quite a bit on what other girls think of him. That’s why guys with girlfriends find that suddenly they are a lot more popular with the ladies. He’s got a girlfriend, so there must be something good about him… So if you get your female friends to tell their friends that they think you’re dead sexy then theoretically at least, your chances should improve.

This is all what I was told in class. A few girls who I’ve mentioned it to said that it’s completely true, a few have said that they’ve never really thought about it before and one or two have said that it’s total bullshit, so make up your own mind.

And you’d know how? :slight_smile:

Did anyone else see American Pie? One character somehow got the whole school to spread rumors about his sexual adventures, and his stock went up significantly. It fits in with what big_yellow_kingswood said about girls liking someone that other girls find attractive - your bevy of female friends could pay off eventually.

I too know the perils of The Friend Zone. For me, there is little attraction without friendship, and I feel your frustration, Speaker. I have tons of amazing guy friends that I would not trade away for the world. For some reason, I tend to get along better with men than women, and I make friends with them easily. But sometimes, I don’t want a long conversation about world affairs or where we’ll be in 20 years or fart jokes. I want my bones jumped.

Unfortunately, I’ve also been guilty of putting good friends who care about me into the dreaded Friend Zone, probably without thinking about it too much. Maybe I just didn’t feel any heat? Even though it was there? Many in this thread have given good advice, but I sense that it’s not about eye contact or forearm petting or leg crossing. The times that good friends have turned into lovers, it’s been because gradually the friendship and the conversations and the hugs turn into something hot crackling between us. The times I’ve tried consciously to turn a friendship into a romance have all been miserable failures, although I’ve kept the friendships. YMMV. It’s hard to be in that position, ie, “If he’d just give me a chance, he’d find out that I am the hottest woman alive. But instead he sees me as something sort of neutered.” I guess the best consolation I have is that when it happens, it happens good.

My above post related more to long-established friends.

When you do meet someone new, and there are sparks, make your move quickly. Milossarian is dead-on. She’s got to know both that you are a kind, considerate, sweet boy on the surface, and a wild animal underneath. The key is, DON’T accept less. Don’t make it comfortable to lapse into friendship. Don’t let her rattle on about her ex-boyfriends or the other guys she likes (BTW, a sign that she sees you as safe, male, doormat boy. Eject! Eject!).

Make your intentions clear from the get-go. That can mean hugging, holding hands, eye contact, kissing. If she rejects you, you are not “losing” a friend - if you were meant to be friends you will become so. Girls go out, by and large, with the guys who have the balls to approach them and make them feel sexy. Be that guy.

And may the force be with you. If you learn how to do this, please let me know!