“Is it wrong that I mistake effeminate men for gay and automatically slide them into the friend zone?” I asked a friend recently when a soft-featured pretty man with beautiful brows and a flawless complexion asked me out and my mind screamed BUT I THOUGHT YOU WERE GAY!!!
His gentle vibe—the one I’d already made up in my head before he made his play—felt more girlfriend or gay buddy. Someone to call for tea, outfit or home décor advice. Thoughtful enough to remember birthdays and special occasions and lend a sensitive ear in crisis. Not nibble my ear in passion.
Friend said unapologetically, “No, I like those hard features too. Who wants a man who looks or acts too much like his sister?”
Our laughter erupted.
“Men can be softer if they want to,” I soon sighed. “I thought we wanted them in touch with their feminine side.”
It felt like what I was supposed to say to fake being more evolved or, at least, PC, but am I really wrong for having a preference for deep-voiced manly men with broad chests and sharp jawlines like that actor who plays superhero Thor or just about any guy at the gym. For wanting them with unplucked eyebrows and enough muscle and macho to change a tire and lift the couch. Or me.
Want tenderness in there somewhere, but also sexy is a sense that he will bare his teeth sometimes in a non-Neanderthal way when his ego is jeopardy, and the nagging has gone too far.
Too, I become suspicious when men I date laugh or agree with everything I say because I am not that funny or wise nor am I supposed to get my way all the time and I want a mix of energy, mission, and confidence that says he has a unique perspective and mind of his own, but is willing to compromise and collaborate. An alpha man with a sprinkling of unconscious feminine traits. I sound like that fairytale girl and her porridge. Too hot, too cold, just right. But I will know it when I see it.
“Not it” was over a former boyfriend’s house grilling when he put on a soap opera he recorded during the work week and I almost choked on my chicken bone when I saw him crying over the kidnapping of a character like he was four years old. No, no, no. I don’t even watch soaps or cry easily, but I want to be the soft, silly, occasionally soppy one.
This guy who asked me out recently had a whispery voice, favored bare, baby-faced Patrick Neal Harris and had more of a cashmere sweater-and skinny jeans addiction than me and I’d seen him flipping through People magazine on his IPad—all drivers for putting him in the friend zone.
I take my men in sturdy jeans, leather jackets or dark suits with big, bear-paw-like hands and thundery laughter. A face that leans rugged with some hair on it and a slightly unreadable smile that suggests he might be thinking about the Seahawks score even though he’s let me drag him somewhere else. He only wants a fourth of the closet and nothing to do with soap operas or celebrity gossip. He is a little inelegant but not so much that he is mistaken for a primate. And he would only wear skinny jeans for a Halloween rocker costume and return them to the thrift store the next day.