By Ebun Oshin
Coming home after a long day at work, I had only three things on my mind Shower, Dinner and Bed in that order. However, I walked in to see Hamid, one of my cousins, watching a football match with an expression on his face that said something was wrong and it clearly wasn’t the match as it had only just started. I contemplated interrupting his match to ask him what was going on or simply pretend like I didn’t see anything and just go have that shower I was already looking forward to. My caring or maybe curious nature got the better of me so I asked casually, “What’s up Sourface?”
“Ah, that means something is up. I’m listening.”
He seemed undecided whether to tell me or not but when he saw I wasn’t budging, he gave in and said, “It’s just some girl that’s pissing me off.” He said with a frown.
Now, this is not a new thing. Girls piss guys off all the time and vice versa, so I knew there was more to this story than he was telling. Even though I was tired, I decided to hear him out. Then, he passed his phone to me and said, “Read that text.”
I skimmed through the text and it went along the lines of, “Hey, I think you misunderstood what I was saying. I like you as a friend. I really do and I don’t want anything that will ruin this friendship we’ve got.” The sender was someone called Gbemi. I handed his phone back to him and judging by the expression on his face I could tell the text wasn’t what he wanted to read.
Hamid and Gbemi have been friends for years. They met in university during their undergraduate days. When Hamid met her, she already had a boyfriend and even though he really liked her he did the respectful thing and didn’t bother her. But few months ago, Gbemi and her boyfriend split up. Hamid saw this as a good opportunity to make his intentions known but not wanting to look like an opportunist he decided to wait it out. Now, there is another guy chasing Gbemi and according to Hamid, she is beginning to like this new guy and she talks about him a lot. So, not wanting to lose her, he decided to make his move. Not surprisingly, Gbemi was taken aback, but instead of taking that as a cue, Hamid pressed on. He told her how he had always liked her from the first day he saw her, he literally professed his love to her and when Gbemi wasn’t reciprocating, he got angry and told her he would talk to her later, and then hung up. She sent the said text after the phone call.
It was hard for me to say anything because I, like Gbemi, have found myself in similar situations where guys I considered very good friends suddenly expressed their feelings for me and I found myself at a loss as to how to react. But at the same time, I felt bad for Hamid, I felt even worse when he told me something similar had happened to him before. I wanted to hug him but I knew that would probably make him feel embarrassed so instead I told him not to worry that he would meet a nice girl who would love him madly, truly, deeply and all that.
He smiled and shook his head. “I know what the problem is,” he said, “I think I’m too nice.”
“No! What? No way! That can’t be a problem. Every girl wants a nice guy.”
“Well obviously not the girls I’ve been meeting.”
“No, that’s not true. Being nice is a good thing. You shouldn’t let these things get to you.” I was about to launch into a pep talk about why things were not working out and how I was certain he was going to meet a lovely girl when he stood up to leave.
“Don’t worry Ebun, you can’t understand.” He said as he picked his car keys and made for the door.
I was confused but shrugged it off. After all, I was only trying to make him feel better.
The next day at work, I was talking to Alex, one of my colleagues about what had happened to Hamid. Alex likes to think he’s an expert on all things relationships and the workings of the female mind so I asked what he thought about the whole situation. He said rather bluntly that Hamid was one of the unlucky guys who found themselves trapped in the Friend Zone. He agreed with Hamid that he was too nice because, according to him only nice guys found themselves in that zone.
Alex told me he had been a victim on a number of occasions and it took a while for him to realise what women were doing to him. I disagreed and told him it wasn’t our fault. He nodded and said, “Whatever. My point is the moment a guy sees a potential, i.e. a girl he wants something much more than friendship from, he has to make his intentions known up-front. Because the moment you approach them as a friend, you’ll forever be considered a friend. And believe me, that is the worst thing that could happen to a guy.”
I disagreed and pointed out that men are just as guilty but he wasn’t having it. He told me to ask other guys and they will probably say the same thing. I didn’t have any guys around to ask so I decided to bring it to the men and women folk of Bella Naija. So, what do you men say? Have you found yourselves trapped in the Friend Zone? Are we ladies responsible for putting you in there? What can guys like Hamid do to avoid this zone? And to the ladies, are guys responsible for the zones we inadvertently put them in? Is being too nice one of the criteria for getting into the zone? Are there other criteria?