Please raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by the "friend zone."
I'll admit I once sat in the friend zone for more years than I can recount, and I was always waiting for my call up to the big leagues.
The friend zone is a cold, lonely place, and it's where no guy wants to end up.
It all started way back in middle school. (It was during the most awkward of years of my life, so I can't really blame those girls — not even the one I used to chase after in the halls. If you're reading this, I'm sorry.)
Time after time, I would pine after girls who I thought would be my girlfriend, but I didn't understand quite yet what it actually meant to have one.
I just saw everyone else coupling up (and repeating the process over and over again). I was envious, and I thought I was missing out on something.
On top of the perpetual "friend zone" sign I had hanging over my head, I was also almost always deemed "the good guy," the "best friend" and every other label given to a guy who had no chance with the girl he pined after.
While I'll admit I had more friends of the opposite sex growing up and all throughout life; I won't say I regret it.
I listened to all of them complain and whine about their boyfriends and their woes with guys, but it was just one big lesson in patience and active listening.
Girls didn't deem me a "threat" to them, meaning they didn't think I was trying to be a typical guy to them, but that was just because I was raised differently.
Aren't we supposed to respect the opposite sex and treat them equally? Guess not everyone got that memo.
It always drove me crazy when girls called me a "good guy," almost as if I were an obedient pet, or that I wasn't quite up to their standards of what a male should be.
Today, I wear that "good guy" label proudly because it's made me who I am, and I wouldn't want to be any other way.
I didn't have a date to any homecomings or even to my own prom, but ironically, neither did most of the girls.
When it came time for those group photos, you best believe they didn't want to pose alone.
Call me old-fashioned, but I didn't understand my generation's habits and patterns when it came to getting with one another.
I thought you had to take girls out on proper dates and court them.
I was usually wrong (there are countless Facebook and MySpace messages professing my intentions to many girls), and I couldn't quite understand what I was doing wrong.
Being relegated to the good guy in the friend zone role always stung, but I kept on marching on in hopes that one day my big break would happen.
That concept of finding the "one" has always plagued me, but I have a very wise friend who once told me that if you seek it out, you won't find it. The "one" will find you.
This concept always stuck with me throughout the years, even as I floundered in the dating world, and it gave me hope.
Luckily, that day did come.
After college ended and everyone from my town migrated back home, there was an influx of new faces.
That meant there were more people I could make a lasting first impression on and possibly find the woman who could very well be the illustrious "one."
It wasn't instantaneous or magical; it was more a slow burn that led me to my girlfriend of nearly two years.
She was a friend of one of my friends from high school, and we would all go out together.
She had initially been interested in another friend of mine, but that luckily didn't work out. My long-term plan of being the friend paid off big time.
I took my chance, told her how I felt and put in the effort to give her a reason to date me.
All those years of "no" and sitting on the sidelines had been completely erased from my mind.
No longer did I question every last decision I had made, and this provided me with newfound confidence.
I always hated the phrase "good guys finish last" because it was another negative to add to the stigma.
But it turned out to actually be a battle cry; a personal mantra I one day would succeed and get what I worked for.
Being passed over and being rejected only built my character, and today, I'm happier than I've ever been.
I thank all of the many girls over the years who didn't give me a chance or time of day, who thought I was just good enough to be your friend.
The lessons you've taught me now allow me to be a better man. Due to you, I'm able to understand, to listen and to relate.
Maybe I'm not the only "good guy" who has been friend zoned, but I wouldn't trade my experience for anything.