Forget the ladder theory

15 Dec

For those who are unfamiliar with the “ladder theory”, it’s a common explanation for why it is difficult to turn a friendship into a romance. Here’s how it goes:

Supposedly, every woman has two ‘ladders’ for men to climb–one to advance in friendship, another to advance in a romance. The ladder metaphor stems from the idea that advancing as a friend and as a romantic interest is mutually exclusive: someone who’s half-way up the friendship ladder will not be able to cross over into a romance without first going down or, more often than not, taking a nasty fall. Once you’re established in the girl’s mind in the “friend” category, you’re pretty much stuck. Hence the exclusively male lament, “What do you mean, I’m important to you, but you won’t go out with me?”

To me, guys who subscribe to the ladder theory lack imagination in their relationships. For these guys, relationships with women exist in the binary: either a girlfriend, or a friend. It doesn’t occur to them that many couples start out as friends, and good romantic partners are in fact good friends as well.

And the most important flaw to the theory: most girls do not, in fact, sort their friends into such neat categories.

If you subscribe to the ladder theory, stop. It only limits your options. Things are much, much simpler than you think:

  1. Do you find your female friend sexy and attractive? Guess what? There’s nothing wrong with it. She’s a woman. And you’re a man. There’s no rule saying you can’t be attracted to your friends.
  2. Just because you find someone attractive, and that someone is a good friend of yours, doesn’t mean you must date her. But you could. Or not. You can stay friends, or you can try for a different relationship. Relationships do not fall into fixed categories. It’s entirely your choice. You can create your own relationships.
  3. Take risks in your relationships. Nothing is permanent in life. Good things only happen in your life if you take action.
  4. Afraid you might lose your friendship if you ask? Guess what? You’re probably already too invested in this friendship of yours to be fair to yourself and to her.

One final, golden tip: How to you treat your friends? Do you treat your friends different from your romantic interests? Put plainly, do you flirt with your friends?

If you think it’s morally wrong to flirt, or if you think flirting should only be reserved for romantic interests? Here’s my advice: LOOSEN UP. Flirting is fun. It’s for everybody. Girls love to flirt and be flirted with. It makes them happy.

Flirting also make you more attractive to girls. Even to your friends. Flirting with a girl doesn’t mean you’re trying to date them. It just makes her realise you’re a fun, attractive guy. It makes her think of all her nice girlfriends they can introduce to you. (Boy, do they love to do that.)

And: once your friends think you’re attractive and fun, it becomes possible for you to date them.

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