I‘m sure every man has heard it at least once. It’s the age-old excuse used by women everywhere to softly let down the not-quite-up-to-their-standards man when he tries to make a move. To such unwanted advances, women far and wide panic and respond, “I just don’t want to ruin our friendship.” It’s a seemingly genuine excuse that suffices to get us out of sticky situations – and it usually works without much of a rebuttal. However, can having sex honestly ruin the friendship between a woman and a man? Can anyone successfully be lovers and friends?

Chelsea Trull

It’s amazing to me that some people still buy into such a cliche sex refusal. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a quick, secret rendezvous on the countertop at a party, club or friend’s house with no requisite commitment? Friends with benefits are an integral part of college life nationwide, and a notoriously great method for stress relief – does sex in the Grad during finals study break sound familiar to anyone? Nonetheless, I too am by no means innocent of lying through my teeth, manipulating the “ruin our friendship” excuse and using it to my advantage.

Then one incident involving my friend, “Bianca,” abruptly altered my opinions on being lovers and friends. Over the course of one year, sexual tensions between her and a boy named “Myron” exponentially built until the crowning moment when they finally did it. Even though the sex was disappointing, she was positive that it was the long-awaited commencement of something more than just a friendship. That is, until the following week when Myron blatantly tried to seduce her best friend. With complete disregard for their friendship, he clearly considered their sex to be a personal conquest, like that of a lion who successfully killed and ate the best antelope on his terrain. Bianca vowed never to talk to him again, and true to the overused excuse, their happy friendship was forever ruined because of sex.

Bianca and Myron’s falling out perfectly (and sadly) illustrates what many of my boy friends have been telling me since high school: guys only befriend girls thinking they will one day have sex. Oddly enough, this is also a modern philosophy used to explain sex relationships between men and women, known as the Ladder Theory.

According to the Ladder Theory, men have one “ladder” upon which they rank all the girls in their lives. The girls on the top of the ladder are the perfect tens, usually out of the guy’s league. Going down the ladder, one will pass the girls they like, followed by the girls they would do while drunk and admit to doing, and finally those poor girls at the bottom that a guy would do while drunk but never tell a soul.

The interesting part of this theory is that women have two ladders to work with: one for the men that are just their friends (including their “cuddle bitches” who get all the emotional attention, but none of the physical kind), and one for prospective sex partners. Guys, therefore, are constantly at competition with one another, fighting to get to the top of the sex ladder, or even trying to jump from the friends-only ladder to the sex ladder.

So, was the Bianca and Myron catastrophe another case for the Ladder Theory, or was it a simple case of bad sex? I’d like to believe that it was both. The sex, admittedly, was bad (the position was missionary, Myron experienced a couple of rabbit-like moments, and the rhythm switched cycles as abruptly as a washing machine), but there also was the problem of a boy jumping from the cuddle bitch to the top of the sex ladder. When the motivations for having sex are so incongruous, taking the step toward lovers and friends is more like speeding down a one-way street to confusion and disappointment.

Switching ladders, or becoming lovers and friends, often crashes the two worlds of a man’s libido and a woman’s emotions into each other. The only way to avoid a relationship (and sex) disaster is for both parties to be completely sincere with their intentions toward each other. Gentlemen, if you just want a fuck buddy, tell the girl. Ladies, if you are looking for a relationship, be honest. If you are not physically attracted to the other person, please don’t spare his or her ego, instead tell the truth! Follow these simple guidelines, and never again will anyone ever have to suffer through the lame and overused excuse, “I just don’t want to ruin our friendship,” because nine times out of 10 it is a clear and conspicuous lie.

And in closing, guys please, please, please avoid the temptation to slip into rabbit mode while in the heat of the moment, because the girl will tell her friends, and you could run the risk of ruining your own sex life for ever.


Brooke hopes she’s not on the bottom rung of any of her guy friend’s ladders. She can be reached at basnyder@umich.edu.

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