Guys often talk about ‘the friend zone’: a dreaded mythical place where they end up when a woman who’d they like to date (or, at the very least, sleep with) has only platonic eyes for them. However, many of us ladies have found ourselves in similar situations: pegged as ‘the homegirl’. As in “Man, Tasha, you’re like one of the guys. You’re cooler than most of the girls I know. I can talk to you about anything and you get it!”  Great if you have no romantic inclinations towards the dude in question, sucky if he’s your crush, and out-and-out depressing if it’s a recurrent theme in your life.

I’ve known a lot of guys who have praised the ‘cool’ girls in their circles for their relatability, for being down-to-earth and a refreshing alternative to the pretentious, superficial women of the world…only to run out and lavish their romantic attentions on those same villainesses! For shame. And then they come back  around and complain to the down chicks when it all goes awry. A vicious cycle, is it not? But to be entirely fair, this is much like the plight of the “nice” guy who feels that he is put on the platonic pedestal in lieu of the “bad” boy who gets all the lovin’.  Same script, different cast.

My personal bad experience came during the time in which I could talk about Hip-Hop with the same passion and knowledge as the dudes, yet got passed over for the girls who’d much sooner listen to Destiny’s Child than A Tribe Called Quest. Many of these dudes were also very serious about being ‘righteous, Asiatic Black kings,’ but when it came girlfriend choosing time, they had the same Eurocentric influences in their tastes as the other guys–opting for long, straight hair over locs that looked like their own. The chicks they put on a pedestal often represented the values/aesthetics they claimed to oppose.

Why is it that men (and women) so often look past that dope ass friend with whom they have everything in common when it comes time to pick a boo? How can you complain about girls who complain about basketball, yet be willing to knock down a girl who loves sports to get to one of the ones who don’t? Well, to be fair, what we are looking for in a buddy is not always the same as what we are looking for in a partner. And as much as we may adore our opposite sex best friend’s sense of humor and superior wit, that doesn’t always come with a side of physical attraction. Beyond that, life isn’t fair and people just aren’t always great at realizing a great thing, even when it’s right in front of their faces.

So, what does the homegirl do when she’s feeling passed by like a Pharcyde song? If she changes some of her habits/dress to suit what the fellas want (or seem to), then she runs the risk of being inauthentic; but if she keeps doing what she’s been doing, then she may continue to feel neglected. The best answer may often be somewhere in the middle: remain true to your personal steez, without being afraid to switch it up a little bit on occasion, like for special events. But never feel like you have to become something or someone else, because ultimately, it isn’t going to do anyone any favors in the long run.

The woman of one man’s ‘friend zone’ is the ideal candidate for another’s ‘girlfriend lane.’ As frustrating as it may be to see your homeboys wanting to hang with you constantly, yet love all over someone else, you can’t become an entirely different woman in order to garner the affection of others. If anyone will see through this facade, its gonna be the guys who love you like a sister. And regardless of who notices your switch up, who wants to be the chick who changed up who she is just to get a man? Nothing admirable about that. Make the best of your role as a fly on the wall; learn what you can from your close connection with the guys and use that info to your advantage when pursuing relationships with men outside your inner circle. Allow these male friends to serve as your confidants and advisers as you navigate the dating scene and you might find that someone even more compatible sees you as far more than just ‘a friend’.

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