Gray Area Girl

You meet him at a party. He’s cute and funny and that combination gets to you. Every. Single. Time. In a room full of beautiful people, he locks in on you like a nuclear missile. He listens to your stories, laughs at all the right cues and shares what sounds like a series of well practiced humble brags from his own adventures. You’re drunk and feeling as light as Tinker Bell, which makes it too easy to reciprocate when he leans over to kiss you.

You go home with him that night. The sex is clumsy but fun. He makes scrambled eggs and perfectly brewed coffee in the morning. He gives you a warm kiss and insists on exchanging numbers before you walk out the door. You skip your way back to your apartment. “This could be something,” you say to yourself as you smile inside.

A few days pass and he calls. He takes you to dinner; even holds your hand as you make your way through the streets. You end the evening feeling his pillow on your cheek. You decide not to sleep over this time, but he insists it isn’t safe to head out so late. You’re happy you’ve found such a chivalrous bedmate. “This could be something,” you say to yourself as you get back into bed and intertwine your toes with his.

You continue to see him quite regularly in the next month and your time together is always filled with laughs and decent lovemaking. You don’t know exactly what “this” is and you’re scared that by talking about it, he’ll think you’re clingy. You tell your friends that you’ll wait for him to bring it up, but he never does. You’ve turned down other dates because all you can think about is when he’ll be free to hang again. You’ve started to wonder when it’ll be good to introduce him to your friends, though he seems perfectly fine to just see you.

The second month comes around and his calls to hang have become less frequent. When you try to see if you can make plans, he apologizes that he’s been quite busy with work/school/life. It appears impromptu trips have come up and he won’t be able to see you for a few more weeks. Other girls are writing cryptic things on his Facebook wall. You’re spilling with jealousy but know you have no right to feel this way. Damn it.

You haven’t heard from him in weeks. You’re hurt and angry with yourself. You start making justifications in your head; there were things about him you found annoyingly cliché. You knew he wasn’t relationship material and you were just in it for a fix. Yup that’s it, this was just a fix.

Then your phone vibrates and your heart starts beating when you see the first letter of his name flash on the screen. He explains how his life has been so chaotic: a fight with his flatmate, family visiting, and piles upon piles of work. But it’s all over now. He wants to see you; he’s dying to see you. The butterflies in your stomach that you thought were pulverized have miraculously come back to life.

Soon after, he vanishes again. You check his Facebook page and notice he’s been going out regularly. There are photos of him laughing and having a grand time with groups of friends. Girls included. You try to decipher every inch of his body language. Is he sleeping with them too? Your head can’t take anymore of this mind fuck.

You finally get the nerve to casually text him a few weeks later. “Hey, how’s life been treating you?” you think of ten different ways to say this before you send these six little words. He responds politely and offers to come by your place tonight. You sit cross-legged together on your couch, wine sloshing in your hands. You laugh together about some of his recent misadventures till you notice that it’s getting late. You offer for him to spend the night. He looks at you with puppy eyes, strokes your face, and says he shouldn’t because he’s started seeing someone and it might be something.

Your world starts to feel like you’ve had one drink too many. You try to look cool and nonchalant but the tears start falling. “Please don’t cry,” you say to yourself as your throat clenches and the warm stream of salty tears makes its way to the corners of mouth. He looks perplexed by your reaction.

“Wasn’t this just for fun?” he asks. “Wasn’t this a situation of two people having a good moment?” When you can’t answer through the sobs, he realizes what this meant to you. “Why didn’t you tell me?” he says as he picks up his jacket and quietly walks out the door.

When you’ve given yourself a few days let the tears evaporate to salt, you think you’re ready to be a masochist and check out his page. “What does she have that I don’t?” you ask as you click on every bland photo. You know you’re infinitely more attractive and people constantly tell you how incredibly smart and talented you are. You don’t get it.

And much later on it hits you. The biggest difference between you and monochrome chick is one little thing: her voice. She’s told him that a gray area relationship isn’t what she wants; it’s certainly not what she’s worth. And like any sane man who finds confidence attractive, he’s decided to give it a try. Because if she thinks she’s worth this much then she probably is.

Are you? TC mark

image – Neil Conway


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  • Kdhwsdb

    Heart breaking.
    I understand every single word you wrote.
    I am going through the exact same thing at the moment, difference is, he isn’t seeing anyone yet.
    But I can’t seem to work up the courage to ask him for something more, in fear that he’ll disappear.

    • Steven Rawson

      Either way, he’ll disappear.

      Give it a shot. If he says “no” to your offer, then you know that you offered. Feeling the sting of rejection now is worth not feeling the bite later.

      • Dyan

        I’m in the same situation too… it’s so confusing. He goes out of his way to do romantic things and treats me like his girlfriend but we never made it official, so I asked him about it a couple weeks ago and he claimed that while he thinks I’m “fascinating” and said “I would want to keep you in my life even if we don’t have sex because I love being with you,” he “wants the freedom to hook up with other girls.” However, he says he hasn’t been hooking up with anyone else and that the reason he doesn’t want a girlfriend is because his last girlfriend fucked him over badly. After that I started being kind of MIA because that wasn’t the answer I wanted (and I was thoroughly confused), yet he started being even more clingy to me as a result. Why his he acting this way?! Should I just give him an ultimatum? I don’t want to be his gray area girl and his mind tricks are totally unfair.

      • Stefanie J

        If you don’t want to be his gray area, then don’t be his gray area. Easier said than done but it’s simple in its philosophy. This is your life, grrrrl!

      • Guest

        that’s fucked up…

    • Guest

      the problem here is emotional maturity.  the whole thing with “girls mature faster than boys”..well, it’s true.  a guy could genuinely like a girl but still not be emotionally ready for a relationship, and vice versa.  if the guy isn’t mature enough, then it doesn’t stand a chance.

  • annisah


  • Anonymous

    uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh the agony THE GODDAMN AGONY

  • Amonghumanity

    Very well written. :) I really enjoyed it. And it has a strong message.

  • Poonam

    Sadly very easy to relate to, and ended with a crucial message. Thank you.

  • Kieran

    That was really awesome

  • anonymous

    ouch. damn.
    this could be my story, except that when i spoke up, 
    he thought “we were fine as friends.”
    ah, well. 

    • Anonymous

      I got exactly this, “Pardon me, but, did you REALLY think you were better than my her? Haha thats plain hilarious.”

  • Panayiota

    Can completely relate to this and however much the message is a strong one I don’t think I can speak up because honestly, I don’t think I’m worth much more at the moment. This isn’t good.

    • A.

      I wish I didn’t relate, but I do, whole-heartedly.

    • Margaret Thatcher

      I know exactly where you’re coming from. And that feeling that something from him is better than nothing at all, and nothing at all is what you might get if you start making a stand.

      I hope you’re not still in this place.

  • AMomstruth Opened

    Wow… I’ve been this girl a lot emotionally. I’m the one they call for the ego boost and a reminder that someone cares. And it still hurts. We need to learn to use our voices.

  • sizerly

    This. Exactly what I’m going through at the moment. Thank you for this lovely piece.

  • caroline

    I’ve been investigating this phenomenon with girlfriends for years. We first dubbed it “The Pump and Dump” but after reading this, I think the “gray area” is to blame. Thanks! Good job!!

  • Michael Koh

    This is great. 

  • Sss

    I’ve been gray area girl many a time, and whilst for some of these ‘flings’ or whatever they are, speaking up probably would not have made that much difference, I DO think that for the majority they probably would have. After a few too many letdowns, I was single, purposely, for a long time. I have a boyfriend now, and to be quite honest, if anything, out of all the men I’ve been associated with, taking into account their reputations etc, he would be the one that you would least expect to commit. But I had had enough, and this time I spoke up and let him know that if he saw no future with me, then there was no need for him to see me, and that I was not willing to compromise. Using your voice is important, if they are not going to give you what you want, then there’s no point wasting your time with the inevitable result of feeling shitty about yourself.

  • Awolfgan

    I completely understand everything here! However, I am still in this ‘gray area’ while the guy is with another girl….Why do we put ourselves through this agony? 

  • DJ Lemon

    This reminds me of the D.E.N.N.I.S System episode on It’s Always Sunny.

    • guest

      that’s the first thing that popped in to my head!

    • guest

      that’s the first thing that popped in to my head!

  • Viktoriya Gaponski

    It’s not the voice, if you brought up the subject things wouldnt have change. He thought you were a fun girl, you were always available, there was nothing new to discover. Then he found someone who was more of a challenge.

    • Ariel

      I disagree. It’s not always about a challenge, it often is about a voice. I know I’ve had a lot more success with men when I’ve stood up for myself and said, “hey, I like you, I don’t want to just sleep together casually.” People don’t know unless you communicate. 

      • Viktoriya Gaponski

        you shouldn’t be sleeping with people casually if you don’t want to in a first place. That sends out a stronger message, perhaps it’s the voice.

    • guest

      the idea that people are only desirable when they are unavailable is dumb. if you like someone, you want to learn about them and are happy when they share and spend time with you.its an evolving process. if someone only sticks around because you present them with challenge after challenge, theyre more in it for self-satisfaction and its not going to work. 

      • Viktoriya Gaponski

        That’s your idea of a challenge. My idea of a challenge is having life. Hence not dropping everything for a guy and being available all the time. Especially when he disappears for weeks and decides to randomly text around to see who’s available.

      • Viktoriya Gaponski

        That’s your idea of a challenge. My idea of a challenge is having life. Hence not dropping everything for a guy and being available all the time. Especially when he disappears for weeks and decides to randomly text around to see who’s available.

    • Margaret Thatcher

      Yes. So let’s all go buy “The Rules”, and practice pretending to be busy to get off the phone after our 5-minute egg timers go off.

  • Jian Reis

    It’s stuff like this that make me remember why I love TC.

  • Av

    Hooking up for girls is based largely on how attractive the man is. Attractive men get lots of girls. So they have the luxury of treating them like crap because another one will always come along. QED.

  • Av

    Hooking up for girls is based largely on how attractive the man is. Attractive men get lots of girls. So they have the luxury of treating them like crap because another one will always come along. QED.

  • Crestfallen

    I love how the TC comments page can become an Aunt Agony forum of sorts. 

    A year ago, I became a Gray Area Girl myself for the first time, with this dude who had a girlfriend. Not cool, but we had fun and I really didn’t want anything more at the time. But as time went by, feelings deepened, I found myself wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’ – and eventually he did break up with his girlfriend BUT he never told me, not even until 2 months later when I found out from other people. It turns out he never saw us as ever being a couple – girlfriend or not – and it was just me digging a hole for myself all this time.

    I decided to call it off, just a week ago in fact, and even though I miss him like crazy, I owe it to myself to stick it out. And guess what? He’s actually treating me better and making a little more of an effort to stick around and not lose me altogether.

    So, separating the white and the black in a relationship might just be worth the risk. Yes, I’ve worried about losing him, but someone who doesn’t see your worth isn’t even worth having in the first place. Don’t lose yourself holding on to someone who doesn’t care about losing you.

  • lifediving

    Nice piece! I think a frequent concern is that being so upfront might scare the guy away, but it’s important to remember that if that happens, he’s not what you’re looking for. You might as well find that out sooner and move on to someone who might be.

  • Tynan Sinks

    This is fucking awesome.

  • Tynan Sinks

    This is fucking awesome.

  • Tynan Sinks

    This is fucking awesome.

  • Kyle Angeletti

    Excellent article.

    Really well articulated. 

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