The Ladder Theory

Flute’s comment reminds me of the Ladder Theory.

In his comment, he writes, “Please forget the idea that these guys see you neutral. You may have put them already in the friend zone, but they don’t, I am sure. Personally I see EVERY woman with this bipolar filter: I could IMAGINE having sex or “no thanks”. Imagine does not mean actively trying, but searching proximity, maybe IT happen.”

If you google the Ladder Theory, you’d get around 258,000 results. The basis of the ladder theory is that men and women gauge the opposite sex differently. While women has the friends ladder, and the romantic prospect ladder, guys are fairly simple — they want to screw every girl… just a matter on how much they’d like to do her.

If this theory is true, then it changes everything. Gone are the days where you have to worry about this or that guy liking you, because hey, given the chance to jump you, they would. Just a matter of how much or how little. So does this mean that as an adequately attractive woman, I should just stop thinking and just initiate and show interest to SimpleGuy if I really like him.

If only things were just that simple!

However, let’s expound first on this life-changing theory, shall we? And you can let me know later on whether you agree or not.

This is a typical guy’s ladder:

When a guy meets a girl, he subconsciously stacks them up on one ladder. Namely, people you want to have sex with the most will be at the top of the ladder. Descending down to the bottom of the ladder we pass the following people:

1. The people guys really want, but may even be out of their league, are on top

2. Then come the people they like

3. Moving further down we pass the people who guys would fuck if they were intoxicated and may or may not admit it. Doesn’t matter how ugly they are, but if you’re horny and desperate, well then sure, why not?

In short, a guy would screw any girl given the chance. How much they want to is the only question. Given this, Harry was right in the movie When Harry met Sally when he said that guys and girls can never really be friends. To freshen your memory, the dialogue goes like this:

Harry: Great, friends. It’s the best thing…You realize, of course, that we can never be friends.

Sally: Why not?

Harry: What I’m saying is – and this is not a come-on in any way, shape, or form – is that men and women can’t be friends, because the sex part always gets in the way.

Sally: That’s not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.

Harry: No, you don’t. You only think you do.

Sally: You’re saying I’m having sex with these men without my knowledge?

Harry: No, what I’m saying is they all want to have sex with you.

Sally: How do you know?

Harry: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.

Sally: So you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive.

Harry: No, you pretty much want to nail them, too.

Sally: What if they don’t want to have sex with you?

Harry: Doesn’t matter, because the sex thing is already out there, so the friendship is ultimately doomed, and that is the end of the story.

Women on the other hand have two ladders — I call it the Friend’s Zone, and the Real Ladder signifies those guys I look at in a romantic way. Here’s what it looks like:

Actually, being a woman, I do agree. It’s not difficult for me to treat guys as just friends, and only as friends. I’ve been in a platonic friendship with my former best friend even though we’ve had a chance to do more, because heck, you just don’t kiss your best friend’s ex, yes?

I mean, kiss your friend? Eeeeeeeeeeewwww….

Obviously, we never let a guy know which ladder he is on. That’s just an arrogant assumption, and why let a guy know if he never asks, right? That would just be awkward if a guy tries to be more, when in fact, his current status is just friends?

So what is this abyss then?

The abyss is the gap or the kiss of death.

When a guy goes for it and makes a move on a girl (e.g., asking her out, trying to kiss her) and he’s in the wrong ladder (este friends ladder po), then he is in fact making a jump from the Friends Ladder to the Romantic Prospect ladder. He subsequently tries to jump and well… he falls in the abyss.

The Abyss isn’t really as bad as it sounds. It’s embarrassing and awfully awkward for both parties involved, but you’ll live. Personally, I’ve never really kicked guys to the abyss because most are just chicken shit to let me know how they feel. Some guys test the waters, and when you’re uninterested, you just decline their invitation, hinting which ladder they belong. Wikipedia adds an interesting illustration:

To fully illustrate the point I’ll now examine some common scenarios and their ladder theory explanations. For purposes of these examples Tom will be our boy and Jane will be our girl.

Scenario 1: Tom meets Jane. She’s pretty and seems interesting to talk to. Tom and Jane start hanging out and talking more and more. Tom develops an attraction to Jane, and one day tries to kiss her. Jane tells Tom she doesn’t think of him that way and she wants to remain friends. The next few weeks contact between the two falls off. Jane starts fucking an outlaw biker.

Ladder Theory Explanation: Tom met Jane. Tom was immediately placed on the friends ladder. Tom didn’t know this. Tom tried to jump ladders. Jane kicked Tom in the head rather than let him on and sent him hurtling to the Abyss below. The oulaw biker was not on her friends ladder (they never are) but rather on her good ladder.

Scenario 2: Tom meets Jane. She’s cute and seems smart. After an appropriate amount of time he asks her out on a date. She acccepts and they have what seems to be a perfectly nice date. Tom thinks he has a chance with Jane. He asks her out again. She says no, either explicitly or by never returning his phone call. Tom has no idea what the Hell just happened. Jane starts fucking an unemployed alcoholic.

Ladder Theory Explanation: Jane misrepresented which ladder Tom was on. He thought he was on the good ladder because of her acceptance of the date. Mistake. This led to an unintentional ladder jump. He was kicked into the Abyss. In this situation, Jane often wants to stay friends because you are so interesting and funny or some shit like that. If this happens you are most likely an Intellectual Whore. I’m sorry.

Scenario 3: A girl says any of the following to you:

“You’re like a brother to me.”
“You’re like a big teddy bear.”
“I feel like I can talk to you about anything.”
“You’re so nice.”
“Can you help me with my homework?”

Ladder Theory Explanation: You are on the friends ladder. So sorry.

Personally, I agree.

We women hate to hurt guys’ feelings so we hint which ladder you belong to. If we’re uninterested, or see you as just a friend, we treat you differently. One way is to mention other guys we’re interested in. Trust me, if we’re interested in you, we make you the center of attention and not pop up other crushes of ours. We want to keep the door open for YOU.

I have tons of great guy friends who just can’t get a girl. The article calls them “Intellectual Whores” or guys whom women spend time with, talk to their relationship problems about and sometimes, share a semi-platonic relationship. Guys celebrate because at least, they’re getting close to woman… they have a chance.


Guys, don’t put yourself in the girl’s friends zone. That’s like the kiss of death!

Sure, be nice to a woman, pay for her dinner, listen to her blab about her job, but don’t ever EVER accept being placed in the friends zone. No no no… if she starts putting you in it, make it clear that you’re not interested in just being her friend. Actually, don’t mention it at all. However, be sure that she sees you as a man, because only men are worthy to be placed in our relationship-potential ladder.

My friend CW calls me up last night because he’s just been refused by another woman. He throws his troubles over to me and moans about the fact that he’s desperately lonely and he wants some companionship. This, is a good example, of an Intellectual Whore.

Don’t get me wrong and call me a biatch. Look, you weren’t there when he called me up at freaking 2:00 am, okay?

However, whatever romantic notions I may have probably thought of about CW in the past has disappeared with a poof. Sorry but CW’s in the friend’s ladder, and that’s that.

So he can call, bitch and moan… but that’s the extent of intimacy he’ll enjoy with me.

In summary, I’d take any theory with a grain of salt, but personally find the Ladder Theory true in my experience (at least for the woman’s 2 ladder perspective).

I’ve been extremely careful for example never to place SimpleGuy on the Friend’s Ladder.

When I talk to him, I do not even mention the words, “You’re such a good friend” or similar, lest I discourage the man, and I ensure that I am particularly affectionate as a way of giving IOI (Indicators of Interest). When we talk, I am interested on him, his hobbies and try as much as I can to also deflect the conversation on him, because I’d like to get to know him better. Likewise, I will not brag about this guy or that guy… or moan about another guy am interested in, because heck, he’s the one I want.

So believe the Ladder Theory if you wish, or disbelieve it. Would be interesting to find out though what you think, and whether you believe in this fun theory?

I do… do you?

Have a great long weekend ahead!

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5 thoughts on “The Ladder Theory

  1. See, no need to overanalyze guys. Guys are such simple creatures. They only have one ladder and they just wanna bang you. 🙂

  2. LOL!
    While I am always against generalization, the friend/good theory had some nice guesses. I really disagree with the ladder theory on male side though, but you already knew that I’d say that, didn’t you?

    One interesting side of the medal and this placement (we can look at it a bit like product placement and end up with the same thing) is… how to find someone you like and could be with -long-term- without at least some of this “intellectual whoring” (IW)?
    I have to admit that without that (long?) process of getting to know someone a relationship would feel a bit hollow. Well, unless I were really blindly in love on first sight but hey, I think you get the meaning.

    Or rather, if the above sparked thoughts such as “chatting and getting to know someone is different from IW, they aren’t the same things,” then… where does one start and the other begin? And a bit controversial, do ladders collapse in case of homosexual people? 🙂

    p.s. of course don’t take this as some barrage of questions directed at you, that’s just my view and I don’t expect you to write an essay about my side of the coin.


  3. It’s not difficult to get to know someone without being an Intellectual Whore, Goran. As have mentioned, with SimpleGuy, usually, instead of complaining about the present (e.g, work, how sucky life is in TW, my irritating colleagues) which creates a negative energy, I instead concentrate on getting to know the man. Yes, you can talk and get to know someone without nagging and complaining.

    Hence, usually, the conversation is more in tuned about our backgrounds (me growing up in the Philippines, he in the US for example), the way we think about certain things, our hobbies and more neutral topics that divulge our character and who we are. They’re definitely NOT the same things as I talk with CW, who just moan and groan about his lacking love life.

    For homosexual people, well actually, think they follow the Male ladder, hence are more promiscuous. Nothing bad, it’s just sex. But still…

    Thanks again for leaving your thoughts!


  4. I get the actual difference much more now, thanks! Looking back and everywhere around me I can see a few examples so it’s indeed more clear. Obviously, nothing would clear it up more than hearing that phone call at 2AM – I can totally understand the need to stay positive!

    Though I still ‘deny’ the Man’s ladder – maybe it should be separated into “having sex with” and “being in a realtionship with”… har, guess I am still idealistic or have a wrong judgement of other men, be they friends or acquitances…

    Enjoy the weekend!

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