"Men place women into two categories: I would sleep with her, or I wouldn't sleep with her. Women place men on a ladder, and men move up and down that ladder."
He was right. Flashback to 2012: There I was, new to Sydney, with a new friend of a friend. But, it also could also have been a date. I couldn't tell.
Was it a date? Were we going to be good friends?
I had just moved to Sydney, and I didn't want to date. I ended up in a relationship anyway — with another guy — shortly after. Chances are, that first guy will always just be a friend. But, his words stuck with me.
It's true. Subconsciously, women put men into categories. I'm not the only one who thinks this way.
As I'm a "professional traveler" and the Taylor Swift of travel blogging, both men and women are open with me about their relationships. Maybe I'm just a good listener. But chances are, if someone's single, I'm his or her go-to person for advice and updates.
Mind you, Los Angeles also has a very particular dating scene. So while I don't personally use every one of these categories, I'm well aware of its existence. Here are the 10 categories women place men into:
1. The Acquaintance
This could be that friend of a friend she met once, a former classmate or maybe even a loosely extended colleague. Think of that guy she wouldn't follow on Instagram, but she might accept his friend request on Facebook.
She doesn't actually know him. An acquaintance can move into any of the other categories. Unless, of course, the guy doesn't elicit any interest in her. If he's just an acquaintance, chances are, he'll always be just that, unless any of the following is true:
- They are forced to spend time to get to know one another.
- There is a mutual attraction and curiosity.
- Strong mutual friendships bring them together.
- There is the potential of working together.
To get beyond “acquaintance,” two people have to get to know each other. But more importantly, they have to have an incentive to do so. However, people have different needs for one another. Sometimes, we don't need the other person at all.
2. The Friend
They hang out probably through mutual friends, a hobby or work. They enjoy each other's company, but that's that.
You don't hook up with friends. I repeat, you don't hook up with friends. If you're hooking up, you're not just friends.
Maybe you tried it once out of curiosity. But if you're regularly hooking up with someone, you're not just friends. Don't let any rom-com make you think otherwise.
Friendships, however, can also change. A guy is not friend-zoned forever. Friendships can lead to acquaintances, best friends or romantic interests.
If he hits on her and she isn't interested, it could signal goodbye to their “friendship.” If he's attractive and attracted to her, they could transition into new muses. If she doesn't find him attractive, but this term changes, he could upgrade from friend zone to romantic interest.
Chances are, there is a romantic deal-breaker here. Most likely, he'll always just be a friend.
There are so many factors that determine whether or not we're attracted to someone. It could be the way he looks, his lifestyle, whatever. He's in the friend zone. But, it's not a problem if he's just looking for a friendship, too.
3. The F*ckboy
I hate that word. I returned to LA after traveling the world, and it was the hot new phrase for fornication. This implies that a woman literally just wants to have sex with a guy.
Basically, my generation has finally given women some sense of agency. Women are not equal, but we still want to be. For years, society has hyper-sexualized women, so to even out the playing field, Millennial women have turned the tables and hyper-sexualized men.
I wish that instead of “getting even,” we had just raised the bar on their end. I don't understand why men would want to sleep with women who don't think they're good enough for relationships. But, I guess this fills two people's needs.
There is no friendship with the f*ckboy. (I still cringe when I type the word.)
You are acquaintances. You have sex. The second you start to get to know one another and hang out, you're dating. You're just too immature to call it so. It also doesn't count if she has real feelings for him, but if their relationship is limited to sex because he doesn't want more.
Honestly, I don't really care whom you want to have sex with. This isn't about judgment. I'm just saying that women have redefined their gender's role in sex so that they can use men for sex, too.
But if you're going to engage in a relationship where you are respectfully fulfilling one another's physical needs, just take it back to old school "Sex And The City." It's just casual sex.
4. The Best Friend
This is one of the guys she's particularly close to. She loves him as a friend.
They've probably talked about the relationships they've had with other girls and guys. She plays wingwoman for this guy. She knows that his new girlfriend will either hate her with jealousy or want to be her BFF, too.
Let's get something straight: As adults, guys aren't going around looking for new BFF chicks. If a woman meets a new guy and he's particularly friendly, he's probably not trying to be her best friend. He either wants to date her, sleep with her or work with her.
A woman can really only have a true best friend of the opposite sex if they've both had the time to get to know one another. Perhaps they've been pulled together by family friendships, childhood or teen memories, college classes or a professional setting. Maybe she's dated one of his best friends.
I know what you're wondering: Can a best friend become more?
Maybe, but it's actually harder to date a guy best friend. She would be losing so much if it didn't work out. They'd have to be on the exact same page, and it's really only worth it if they think it's going to be eternal true love.
People say you should marry your best friend, but a lot of times, someone you're dating becomes your best friend, not vice versa. He can absolutely go from best friend to dating, but the whole point of most guy best friends is exactly that: They would never date each other.
5. Back-Burner Boy
This is another phrase I hate to admit, but I know it exists. A back-burner boy is the guy a woman knows is interested in her. When women need affection, they run to this guy.
Back-burner boys are reliable. They love the girl, and the girl takes advantage of it. I think leading someone on is the worst thing you can do. Love and lust are so fragile as it is. How dare someone hurt someone else for his or her own selfish needs?
But, it's a thing. Women who have back-burner boys are usually women who are back-burner girls. Remember: This isn't just a friend. This is actually someone who a woman knows is romantically interested in her, but she doesn't communicate her disinterest.
6. The Assh*le
This guy doesn't treat her right. In fact, she might actually be the equivalent of a back-burner girl. It doesn't matter if she's friend-zoned, if they're hooking up or if they're dating. He's full of lies, cheating or worse, selfishness.
The assh*le isn't very nice. I'll reiterate: Relationships only work if you're on the same page. The only thing that really makes this guy a jerk is the fact that he's playing games or leading her on. It's deception and manipulation.
It may not be his actions that make him a jerk. It might just be that he isn't meeting her expectations, and she is putting up with it instead of walking away. Ladies: If he sucks, then don't be in a relationship with him.
If you aren't happy with your relationship or his behavior, you have three options:
- Address it so that his behavior changes.
- Accept that his behavior is part of the person he is right now. Thus, change your needs and attitude toward the relationship.
- Change the relationship status, which might mean bumping him to acquaintance or friend. Or, just completely walk away.
She's only dating a jerk for as long as she allows him to be a jerk.
7. A Crush
This could be an acquaintance or friend, but the fun in it is both of them don't know one another that well, and they want to learn more. It doesn't matter if they've loosely known each other for years, or if they've actually found each other online.
She's curious and interested. He has her attention.
This is arguably the most complex and ambiguous concept in the English language. “Dating” varies from “just talking” to “being her dude” to “seeing him” to “I've been dating my boyfriend for five years.”
Dating someone means he is a friend you are romantically involved with. There is some level of trust, activity and engagement. There are so many stages of dating, and the experience isn't just unique to each individual. It is further distinguished by the way two people create this experience together.
I hate labels. (Yes, I know it's ironic that I'm creating some for this post.) I've literally been in a relationship where the guy I was dating would come to my family's house for Christmas and Thanksgiving, but I would still struggle to introduce him as my boyfriend.
(Side note to my future boyfriend: You have to grab me by the shoulders and be like, “I'm your boyfriend and you like it.” Then, I'll be great. Otherwise, I get as weird about labels as everyone else does. I'll run.)
Why do we get weird about labels? Because it puts pressure on us.
We don't want to define a relationship before we're ready, and this is mostly because we don't know what we want. Half the time, we don't know what's going on. Communication is key to any type of relationship (even if the relationship involves just getting along with your parents).
Until you make the decision together to date exclusively, you're just dating. But, it's important to note that you're dating, not “chilling.” Man and woman up to the phrase. It literally just means you like each other and are getting to know one another. That's it.
Love is crazy and beautiful. Love is invested. If you are her love, there is commitment on her end. It doesn't matter if you're just dating. She is loyal to just you.
It doesn't matter if you mutually love one another for three months or 40 years. Love is when you really start influencing the other person, and you start making sacrifices for each other.
The problem is, people express love in different ways. People love in different amounts. People love on different terms. Love is the present and the past, but it's not always the future.
This comes down to one reason: Love can be unequal. That's when it fails. Love can fail, but it was still love.
10. True Love
True love, on the other hand, is mutual and equal. It's a choice between two people, every day, forever.
“I love you. I truly love you.”
"I truly love you more” just isn't grammatically correct. It doesn't work. It doesn't exist.
There is no “We were truly in love” if it's a matter of the past. If a woman categorizes you as her true love, you've earned one another's devout trust, time, respect, admiration and affection. If you're her true love, you're her best friend. If you're her true love, there are no other categories.
You both threw away the ladder. Besides — let's be honest — men are pretty darn complex, too.