Please Advise: My best friend keeps stealing my women unintentionally.

Nerve readers lend a hand to a man who's an also-ran in love.

Each week, the inbox of our venerable advice columnist, Miss Information, is flooded with queries. And although she makes a valiant effort, she cannot answer them all. To deal with the surplus, we've decided to turn to you. So, don your spectacles and help this gentleman out. You can give him advice in the comments below, or, if you'd like to share what you wrote with your friends, on our Facebook page.

Dear Nerve,

My roommate and I have been best friends since we were eleven. But since we were eleven, he's somehow been magically attracting women away from me. Every time someone I'm interested in meets him, either by coming over or by going out as part of a group, she'll typically either wind up in his room or going out with him a few days later. I've made joking complaints about it, and he'll typically brush them off — he's either unaware of it or doesn't care.

I'm not a bad-looking guy, and I can typically do pretty well on my own. But for some reason, whenever it comes down to a girl's choosing between him and me, he's always the one that wins out. And it's not like this is a metaphor for our friendship: we're both doing well in our respective fields and there's little or no competition in our lives that isn't friendly.

Am I suffering from some kind of psychological curse and simply getting steamrolled because I think it's inevitable, or should I just keep anyone I'm interested in away from him?

—  Stuck in Second Place

Commentarium (41 Comments)

Oct 27 11 - 12:05am

I don't get why you don't just say to him "I like this one, so try not to be you"
If he refuses he's a shitty friend. Don't bring them around him anymore. It seems to me that they go nowhere with him anyway. So why not let you do what you do and ask him to not interfere

Oct 29 11 - 3:29pm

Probably good advice, except isn't there a movie where the friend backs off, and the girl becomes enthralled by his sad, brooding demeanor instead? Not likely, but funny.

Oct 27 11 - 12:57am

Bob is a wise man

Oct 28 11 - 10:55am

Seconded. Close the thread. That's the right thing to do.

Oct 27 11 - 1:11am

What's interesting is this is EXACTLY my situation. Except he's no longer my friend because all the girls that came flocking to me instead of him were crazy. And it was his fault because he helped set them up with me after he found out they wanted me instead. However, bob is correct, just talk to him directly and stop being passive about it.

Nov 02 11 - 5:06pm

Wait, what? It was your friend's fault that the girls who like you are crazy?

Oct 27 11 - 2:24am

I think it's fair for you to just talk to him. Maybe even ask him to set you up with someone?

Oct 27 11 - 6:10am

Get separate lives. I've never had it work, or seen it work, where two friends can combine a tight (everywhere I go, you're invited) social life with living together. Not saying ignore the guy, but it sounds like you need another strand of your life, away from him. Meet girls without him, forge the groundwork for romantic interest before bringing them anywhere near him, prep him before meeting said girl(s) "bladyblah's coming over and I'm hoping to get into set-up x with her" and if the girls still bolt towards him, well that's just weird and rude. In which case you might need to look at the people you're choosing to spend time with....

Oct 27 11 - 7:59am

Do these girls know they're on dates with you when they meet him? If they do, you don't want to be dating them anyway. Who the hell goes out on dates open to meeting new people while on that date? No. You've gotta devote your attention to the person you're with. So if you're having them over for date-night things like watching a movie or cooking dinner for them or whatever, why the fuck are they interested in the roommate who should be in the background of the whole encounter?

Does he know they're on dates with you when he meets them? If he knows, he is a shitty friend. You should talk to him about it, but don't expect too much; it's not like it's a secret that it's a douchey move to steal a friend's date.

On the other hand, if these are just girls you meet while both out at bars or something, then he might still be a perfectly decent person. Ask him to maybe wingman for you. When guys hit on me, it's usually obvious that one of them is throwing in the towel to help a brother out. Hell, he could even lie about having a girlfriend or something if the girls just ALWAYS love him SO MUCH MORE.

Finally, it could have nothing to do with him and it could be that you're a wimp. Do these girls even know you're hitting on them? If not, of course someone (i.e. your friend) who is a little assertive and flattering will win out. That's not a secret either. And given the fact that you haven't talked to your friend about this problem, I suspect you might be a bit of a wimp. So don't be.

Oct 27 11 - 6:07pm

YEAH! You go JB! I want to subscribe to YOUR advice column!

Oct 27 11 - 8:18am

I agree with Bob. It's kind of silly to write in to an advice column before you have an honest conversation. It sounds like your friendship means a lot to you -- hopefully he feels the same way, at least enough to play wingman for you. If you tell him to stop, and he doesn't, yes, he'll be a douchebag, but that might not eb enough for you to want to end the friendship. Fine. So as a last resort, if there's a girl you really like, just don't introduce them until you two are already dating!

Oct 27 11 - 9:11am

Pick up the pieces since they're not committed relationships anyway.

Oct 27 11 - 9:13am

It seems like the women you're bringing home aren't as interested in you as you are in them. Are you letting them know that you have an interest beyond friendship? Or conversely, maybe they're more interested in a fling with your laid-back roomie than a whole relationship with you.

How well do you know these ladies, anyway?

Oct 27 11 - 9:21am
Jeff Hayes

You sound as if you are somehow entitled to the love and attention of these women. You don't get some kind of super special finders rights to another human being. All you have is the chance to be yourself and they have the choice as human beings to make what they will of it.

Oct 27 11 - 11:29am

Total dick move to say that the LW thinks he's "entitled to...these women". He doesn't say that at all, and doesn't begrudge the women their right to choose whomever and whatever they want. I'm weary of this constant, glib accusation of "entitlement" that gets leveled at any guy who's trying to figure out how to make a better, happier love life for himself -- as if the only decent way to live is with one's head down, grateful for whatever scraps one gets.

That said, whether or not his roommate is doing this stuff on purpose, it sounds like the guy is just more magnetic, at least to the type of woman they both apparently like. There's really not much to be done except (a) going after a different kind of woman, (b) not introducing them until much further along in the "courtship", or (c) moving out.

Oct 31 11 - 4:00am

Well said, AAC.

Oct 27 11 - 9:49am

I tend not to believe he's unaware of it. In fact, I'd suspect he secretly enjoys it. It's time for you to part ways. You can still be friends, but it you want to succeed, you need some distance from him.

Oct 27 11 - 11:01am
Saratoga Slim

The previous assessments of your situation needn't be exclusive; they can co-exist, which doesn't offer you any comfort or resolution. Your friend is being a egomaniacal dick. If you bring home a woman, the decent thing for him to do - as a friend - is step back (and tell her "Thanks - I'm flattered but I know Artemus likes you") or at least ask you your level of interest before pursuing her if he's attracted to her. But he likes the competition and, on some level, likes harvesting the field you planted. There is probably some element of this personality you like as well, that you like his smooth nature except when it doesn't serve your interests. His presence probably makes you more comfortable around women and you give him as much attention as you give them. But the women will also direct their attention toward him, magnetic mofo that he is. Then he scores and you're left out. You can talk to him about his behavior but don't be surprised if he acts oblivious.

The women? Pfft! You can do better. If they're so magpie-like and drawn to shiny things, you don't need 'em. But you bear some responsibility in that, too, by choosing hotties based on superficial qualities. You're picking just the kind of women your buddy likes! See how this is working? Develop your own taste! In other words, stop competing with him and he won't have an opportunity to compete with you. He's better at it than you, so it's time to change the game.

Oct 27 11 - 11:05am

He's aware of what's happening, but I don't think he much cares. I think you should bring it out into the open, so he knows that you are aware of what he's doing. You also need to make sure that he's aware that you are interested in the girl you are bringing around. Also, if you are indeed interested in someone, why are you constantly playing the "friend" card instead of legitimately asking them out on a date? If a woman thinks that you are just hanging out with her as friends, she'll keep her options open. If she knows that you are genuinely interested, and she's interested enough to go out on a date with you, then she'll be less receptive to your roommate's charms.

Oct 27 11 - 1:20pm

Dating rule #32: do not bring girls around your friends until you are in a solid relationship with them.

Oct 27 11 - 2:56pm

Maybe you have halitosis.

Oct 27 11 - 3:19pm

There is no way that your roommate doesn't also notice this pattern. A good friend sees that you like someone, talks you up to her, and then goes to bed alone or with another girl. A good friend does not guide a girl to his mattress instead of yours. This guy knows exactly what he is doing, because even after you've mentioned it to him, he still has not changed his behavior. And why should he? After all, he is getting all the girls and keeping your loyalty.

He is the alpha here and you are the beta. If you really want life to change, get your own apartment. Go out and meet girls with some other friend. Don't introduce a girlfriend to him until you know she is really invested in you.

Oh yeah, this guy is not your best friend. He's just the friend you've known the longest.

Oct 27 11 - 4:49pm

BFFs since age 11. Now roomies.

That's longer and more intimate than most marriages.

Coupled with the fact that you have been incapable of typical guy::guy talk which is blunt and corrosive ("Dude, like stop hittin' on every damn chiquita I bring in here or I'll pee on your bed.")

Move out.

Grow up.

Find grown up friends.

Stop being so passive when you meet a girl you like and stop sitting on the sidelines allowing anyone/everyone else to move in first.

Grow some.

Oct 27 11 - 9:11pm

Yes! you beat me to it. The letter writer comes off as a beta male. I bet the friend has more alpha male, bad boy, edgy qualities.

Oct 30 11 - 2:03am

my thought exactly. sometimes, in situations like this (2 best friends), one is bound to be the sidekick. and even if one don't think he's the robin to his batman, it's just the unintentional vibe that the duo gives out. it really is an unconscious effect in human social behavior. so yea, move out, and dont hang out with that friend too much.

Oct 27 11 - 5:09pm

As a girl (a decent one) I wouldn't be open to anything other than a platonic friendship with the friend of the guy I'm dating, which makes me question your assertiveness concerning how you show your feelings/intentions to the girls you're interested in. That's something you should think about. But more important than that, you should talk to your friend. I mean, if this happen since you're eleven, than you're being silly. When you're into a girl, go to the guy and tell to stay away. If that saying "bros before hos" means something to him, he'll back off. If he doesn't, then you should reconsider this friendship, or at least how you approach things with your friend and keep your love life separate. But I don't think it is a true friendship if you can't trust you friend around the girl you like.

Oct 27 11 - 9:56pm

My best friend has this problem, except in reverse: all her friends' boyfriends end up wanting her. My solution is to bring a new guy around her right away, before I am attached. If there's any whiff of attraction to her on his part, I let 'em go. The right one will prefer me. I suggest you do the same.

Oct 31 11 - 2:00pm

I like this idea a lot.

Nov 04 11 - 9:34am

As a woman with very attractive/charismatic female friends, I tend to do the same thing. If a guy wants to jump ship that quickly, we're going nowhere anyway.

Oct 28 11 - 12:49am

Tell him " hey bissh, this one is off limits"

Oct 29 11 - 12:47am

I suggest just steering any girl you're interested in completely clear of your
roommate until you've "closed the deal" ... i.e. slept with her at least once.

He should be willing to cooperate in this (clear out of the place for a
night when you need to bring a new girl over) if he's a good friend.

When you don't have a definite relationship with a new girl yet and she
becomes more interested in him than you at that stage of the game,
it's a difficult dynamic to deal with for all three parties involved (you, her, & him).

Oct 29 11 - 2:43pm

See, this is why I weep for today's youth. In their effort to make the arduous dance of courtship as casual as possible, they've inadvertently lowered the bar past the point where romantic interest can actually be detectable.

The biggest problem I see with this guy's approach is that he's asking girls he likes to "come over and hang out" instead of going on actual dates. I realize that's what all the kids are doing these days, but: Major. Mistake.

First of all, girls don't *automatically assume* that every guy who talks to them is into them. They're going to assume that you're a friendly conversationalist until you make your romantic intentions known in a definitive manner. There is no skipping past this step, ever. If you don't make it clear that you like them, they're not going to know. They might *suspect,* but that's not the same as knowing. That's how it works.

And how does one do that? This is where your problem is coming in, so pay attention. If you ask a girl out to dinner on Friday night, she's going to know you're into her. If you ask her to go out with you to see a movie/band/play/flash mob/comedy club/art opening/any other social event you could possibly think of that happens at a certain time and requires the acquisition of a ticket, a reservation, or some other commitment to attend, she's going to know you're into her. She might say no, of course, thus sending you back to start and skip a turn, but at least everyone's on the same page.

If you ask a girl to come over to your house on Sunday at 3pm to watch cable movies or Big Bang Theory reruns and drink beers with you and your 7 other buddies? She's going to have NO IDEA that you're into her. Her presence at your group shindig is tantamount to a focus group session. Worse, if you've given her "I like you" signals up until that point, but then pull the group hang-0ut invite instead of the date invite, you're actually confusing her by sending her the message that maybe you aren't that into her (but you know guys who might be). That's why she's going to consider herself and anyone else in the group fair game when she comes over! And since she considers herself to be fair game, she's wide open to accept invitations from the guy who actually *does* go so far as to ask her out. That guy being your roommate.

So, let's summarize exactly what is happening here:

1. You might act like you like this girl, but since you haven't made your intentions clear, she thinks you're just a friendly conversationalist.
2. Instead of making it clear you're into her by asking her on a date, you ask her to "hang out" with you and/or your buddies, which sends her the message that you're not that into her and she's fair game.
3. Since she considers herself fair game, she's open to romantic invitations from other men.
4. Since your roommate isn't shy about actually asking girls out, he's picking your contenders off like mallards during hunting season.

In other words, if you're into a girl, don't bring her around until you actually have the guts to make a move. And if you don't have the guts to make a move, don't blame your roommate if he does make one. So get some guts. Or at least your own apartment to cut down on the competition.

Nov 04 11 - 9:36am

AlexT, this is excellent! YES for dogsake, ask her on a DATE!

Oct 29 11 - 9:40pm

also, this happened to me before. i took it as a good sign. The girls I am more interested in are the ones that are NOT interested in him. He's like a filter for me. I know that if they go for him they just want to fuck. If they aren't interested then they are smarter and more for me

Oct 31 11 - 7:11pm

I don't think I could handle doing that...

Nov 02 11 - 6:10pm

I'm the girl in a scenario exactly like this and I'm with the "also-ran" right now. His friend/roommate is usually the one all of the girls want. He's super attractive, funny, smart, interesting, fun, etc. BUT so is my boyfriend! I just didn't know exactly how wonderful he was at first because he was quiet and always let his friend take the lead. Truthfully, I was more attracted to the friend at first because he talked to me and let his personality and the fact that he had some depth show. Since he had so many women always falling all over him, I thought he might just be in it for a fuck, though, so I never hooked up with him. The smart thing my boyfriend did was to ask me out on an actual date and that was the game-changer. One on one, I got to know him and realized he's a great guy. So, speak up, ask your friend to take a back seat for once, and go after the girl you like!

Nov 09 11 - 12:58pm
Aizzat Eminem

I agree with Bob

Nov 18 11 - 7:42pm

Just ask him if you can have dibs on his sloppy seconds. Or maybe pull a tag-team situation where you designate beforehand which of the girls' orifices you'll stick.

Nov 20 11 - 9:51pm

Kudos to you! I hadn't thoguht of that!

Nov 21 11 - 2:48pm

eCkA41 eojpzpksnyaq

Nov 25 11 - 5:05am

Were the women you were with dating you or were you just hanging out. Now if you were just hanging out, then she was fair game, if not then she was not the girl that you wanted to be with in the first place and your friend isn't really your friend. Friends don't do that.

Now if you had stopped seeing the girl and your friend hooked up with her, then that's your fault because one man's trash is another man's treasure.

The fact that this has happened more than once means that your friend has rarely had your best interest in mind and appears to be using you as bait for his labido.