I’m a man with many female friends. I always see them in a group setting but rarely – actually never – see them alone. Whenever I ask one friend out for dinner, a movie, or just coffee, she brings along another friend. Now, if I actually had a crush on any of my female friends, I would understand (though would be sad about) the presence of a “Buffer Friend.” However, since I don’t crush on any of my women friends, I find the buffer annoying, presumptuous, and, frankly, an offensive suggestion that I’m immature. Do my friends think that if they didn’t bring a buffer, I would suddenly pounce and profess my undying love awkwardly? So, tired, I ask: why are all my female friends weird about seeing me alone? Why do they all think I’m hitting on them?
Dear Hitless Wonder,
There are indeed pitfalls to having many female friends. You’re stuck in the “just a friend” penalty box with the ones you want to be with. You often get mistaken for the gay BFF. And, as you’ve now highlighted to me, you deal with the bothersome “buffer friend” problem. I wonder if your friends aren’t just a particularly sensitive or conservative bunch? Or is there something about your behavior that makes them uncomfortable? We could put these questions to a simple test. Did your female friends have “chaperones” on their dates in high school? Do they get upset when you say “You look nice today” because it implies they didn’t look swell yesterday? Is the number of dates after which they think it’s appropriate to give a goodnight kiss higher than 10? If the answer to any of the above is “Yes” then the problem likely rests with your friends. It’s time to make some more chilled out female friends! Now, as for you, has anyone ever used the words “touchy feely” to describe you? Do you find girls backing away from you as you get deeper and deeper into conversation (and their personal space)? It’s possible that you’re the culprit here and some simple polishing up on social etiquette will fix the problem.