Sympathy F*CKS – The Pitfalls of Getting Romantically Involved With Someone You Pity


I won’t deny I’ve had my MEAN girl moments in my dating life. Let me elaborate a bit. There was the time I admitted to a guy that I was only trying to prolong our encounter so I could have a plus one for #zlotybaby’s wedding.  On another occasion, I turned up to a date hungover AF and didn’t perk up until the date gave me chips and mushroom sauce (despite being on a fancy wine estate). Oh, and even made one of the hottest guys I ever dated question his self-worth because I wittered on about men with six packs.

But those were all moments, generally speaking I try my best to be a good human (and yes, sometimes I fail remarkably). Because most of the time I have good intentions, I’ve been lucky in that most of my most significant romantic encounters (perhaps except the time I wasted half a year with a sociopath) have been with decent human beings. Sure, all my exes screwed things up (not saying I didn’t play a part) in their own unique way, but on the whole they were at least fair and not out to destroy me. Sometimes things have to end (or not even get started) for legit reasons but that doesn’t stop you from treating the other party decently.

But how about when you are too nice? It’s one thing being decent towards someone you once loved but are we obliged to be overly nice to people we’ve never met or only had a fleeting encounter with?  What happens when you are inclined to feel sorry for someone? Or they share certain things with you which make you feel like you need to be extra sweet to them in order to compensate for all the hardships they’ve suffered? Today, I want to discuss the topic of ‘Sympathy F*Cks’. Not simply occasions where a person feels the need to bed someone because they feel sorry for them but also other romantic interactions driven by the same sad motivation. And why these Sympathy F*cks (or similar) are well and truly a disaster on so many levels.

Why do Sympthy F*CKs (and the like) even happen?


I think social media has a lot to answer for when it comes to how much people like to overshare about their lives. To be fair, I am not in a position to talk. I’m sure no one cares left about the doughssant I smashed into my face, the fact that I ran a park run or my latest #activewear purchase yet I still like to share the minutae of my life with the people of the internet. In my defence, at least I try to stay positive to share the happier elements of my life. Unlike some of the folks who I’ve encountered while out dating. Sure, at some point in a blossoming relationship you’ll get to hear about the sad elements of a person’s life, but surely disclosing your financial woes, the fact that your parents never loved you or that are suffering from some horrific medical condition doesn’t need to happen on a first date. If you want to take things further take a look one of my recent Tinder conversations. Like WTAF? Do you expect me to run over to you and kiss it all better? Ugh. I cannot deal.


But the fact is there have been times when people have shared more than I ever asked them to disclose. Including the type of information that simply served to pull on my heart strings and make me give them more leeway, excuse bad behaviour and stick around way longer than should have. When what I should have actually been doing was saying : ‘I’m sorry you had a rubbish childhood/your parents got divorced/you dropped out of high-school but quite frankly it is not my problem’.

The Obsession with Political-Correctness

I’m one hell of a un-PC person and while actively try to censor myself in my professional life and around people I don’t really know, I still maintain that when it comes to dating everyone has the right to be as unapologetically un-PC as they want. The key for me is that you don’t waste anyone else’s time by trying to do what society would deem to be right. Naturally, I’m not a fan of white supremacists but when it comes to Tinder and the like, if you want to be one of those people that openly say that you only want to date a fellow member of the Aryan race, I’m not going to report you to the PC brigade.

Despite my gutter mouth though, I do (on occasion) have a conscience. Remember that incident with the ‘Hunk on Wheels’. Once he revealed his condition to me, I felt guilty for not wanting to real go out with him anymore but part of me felt like maybe I should still try for fear of being branded a horrible human. But strictly speaking, physical ability is a legit deal-breaker as any. And as a friend reminded me for me having an active lifestyle is a integral part of my life and something I wasn’t willing to compromise on. Luckily for me, he also turned out to be a ‘Pervert on Wheels’ which gave me a more socially acceptable reason to ghost the guy.

Because People Don’t Get A Hint

As I’ve recently come to learn friend-zoning, dumping or letting someone down gently isn’t always easy. Unless they’ve done something horrific to us, we shouldn’t want to cause anyone unnecessary humiliation. However, subtlety doesn’t always work in your favour either. Say for instance, if rather than telling someone that the real reason you don’t want to date they is because you think they are a boy not man, you try to friend-zone him by treating him as you would one of your best girlfriends and sharing stories about all your past conquests. But rather than realising a girl that had the hots for you would never disclose her sexcapades like so, he takes this as a green light to face-rape you! Talk about a plan back-firing.

So sometimes, you may need to be brutal and say it as it is rather than skirting around the issue because people don’t always get a hint, they hear what they want to hear and subsequently interpret your well-meaning words/actions in a way that suits them.

Will Such Things Ever End Well?

From my experience, any type of romantic encounter based on pity won’t work out well in the long-run. For a start, if you feel the need to use a sympathy card to get/keep a fellow human interested, well then I think you need to take a long hard look at yourself because that’s just manipulative and screwed up. Secondly, pursuing any sort of encounter, be it a one-night stand or marriage, because you think it’ll sort out your (or the other person’s) issues is deluded. Some such thing, may make you feel a bit better in the short-term but not properly dealing with the problems at hand are likely to mean that they’ll resurface somewhere further down the line. Finally, what happens when the person on the receiving end eventually finds out about your ‘good deed’? Is it really going to do anything positive for their self-confidence knowing that you only screwed/kissed/dated them as a form of community service because you felt sorry for them? I doubt it.

So, there you go. My views on sympathy f*cks (and the like). While its natural to feel sorry for people who may not have been dealt the best hand in life or are going through a tough time, and you might feel like you are doing a good-deed by getting involved with them, you are probably not. In fact, you are likely to be causing more long-term damage not just to the other party in question but to yourself too. Of course, you should try to nip things in the bud as a painlessly as possible (yes, sometimes that may mean ghosting) but remember you are under no obligation to do anything if it doesn’t work for you. There are times in life where you have to be cruel to be kind. Feeling sorry for someone is human but acting out of pity isn’t a good thing. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is walk away. And if the situation calls for it, be brutal.

So Rinsers. What are your experiences with sympathy f*cks? Have you ever acted out of sympathy? Did your deed do anyone any good or did things just end in disaster? Do you think that getting involved/staying involved with someone just because you feel sorry for them is ever a good thing? Or have you been on the receiving end of a sympathy f*ck?  Share your tales in the comment section below.



  1. You have priceless conversations on dating apps, I have to say! Even in my drunkest, most pathetic moments on OkCupid, I’ve never said anything like what that guy said to you.

    I SO agree with having open, honest communication. People say that a lot so I have to emphasize *honest*. If you’re not into someone, tell them! It is uncomfortable for both of you but less uncomfortable than having someone follow you around like a lost puppy for 6 months because they’re not sure where they stand with you. The “friend zone” is really just people being too afraid to tell their stalker that there’s no chance.

    I’ve never been a sympathy f*ck but in my dark days I tried to be one, many times (what were you saying about internet over-sharing?). Thinking back, it’s not like it’s a conscious decision to make a woman pity you so that she’ll sleep with you… it’s more in line with the over-sharing thing. It did definitely get worse in the era of the internet. I have the soon-to-be rare joy of dating in both the pre and post internet worlds. Before the internet, we didn’t tell strangers every aspect of our lives in the hopes that they’d pity us. Something changed. We felt like people were listening when we got likes or comments, but really they just wanted us to like and comment back.

    It’s a relief to not care about that stuff anymore. I share on my blog because I genuinely hope that my story of recovery will help people, but my twitter, facebook, and instagram accounts are content-deserts these days.

    I wonder if we’re entering an age in which over sharing will end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I won’t lie. I’m also not innocent in all this but mostly I vomit my thoughts out to people I am not interested in romantically. There have been many a bad date that I’ve managed to turn around by turning into a therapy session for myself. Sometimes saying things out loud to whoever is helpful. Sure, you can tell your friends but even they get tired of listening to same old story again and again so sometimes you take advantage of an unsuspecting Tinder guy you have no romantic intentions towards. But no, I was never hoping to be his sympathy f*ck.

      #zlotybaby has written before about how dating is very similar to a job hunt. Linked to that, I would say a first date is very much like an interview (although, sometimes wine can be used to take the edge of at least) in that you need to sell yourself. You wouldn’t ever go to a job interview and say : ‘Please hire me, because I’m broke, have 10 kids to feed and noone else wants to employ me’ so why would you want to make your date feel sorry for you and expect things to be successful.

      For your entertainment, here are a few other tales people used to attempt being sympathy f*uck of sorts :

      1. The serial killer – told me about how his ex-wife left him with nothing except a cat in his his empty apartment (I ran away without even finishing a drink)

      2. The guy that spent the whole evening telling me how his parents left him when he was a kid and how he’d love to be part of a solid family like mine

      3. Then there was the famous sociopath that didn’t finish high school because of a racist teacher…. i stuck with the guy for 6 months even though he called me morbidly obese everyday because I excused his bad behavior because he had a rubbish childhood. Even when I did eventually did get around to dumping his sorry ass, he told an friend of mine that I thought I was too good to hang around with him (to be quite honest, I am) and she turned around and told him : ‘You are young, you’ll get over it’.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s a shame that there are so many people who are… would sick be the right word? At once I can feel sorry for them because nobody gets that way without some bad shit happening to them in their childhood, but at the same time it isn’t upon women such as yourself to date (or gods forbid marry) them out of pity. My pity-full past was certainly due to childhood issues but at some point we have to realize that we’re grown-ups and take responsibility for our own lives. Accepting that is what really started to turn my romantic life (and life in general) around.
        I agree that dating is a lot like a job interview. I sometimes have to make sure I’m not interrogating the woman I’m with but as I’m sure you know, sometimes the conversation can be pretty one-sided! I once went on a date with a woman who answered all of my questions with “yes” or “no”, didn’t ask any of her own, and then when we got back to our own homes she texted me that she didn’t think we “clicked”. No kidding! But when I agreed she demanded I tell her what I found wrong with her. I passed.


  2. Well, I certainly have something to say here!

    I’ve sympathy fucked someone once but there were other dynamics at play too. We were friends and he was good looking but I didn’t notice any chemistry until I met his ex-girlfriend and she was jealous of me. Also, I had a challenging relation with a guy I cared about but who was a pot-head and kept forgetting the commitments he’d made. One night I was very drunk and me and my friend ended up at his place and I hoped making out would make me feel better. I was not keen on sleeping with him but he kept begging me and eventually I was like, whatever, at least my asshole sort of boyfriend will get his lesson.
    It wasn’t the worst sex of my life but it made me feel shit afterwards – I felt upset with him for begging his way in so we lost touch and bad about the other guy who I sort of cheated on (sort of, because we’ve never properly spoken about what was between us).
    My next fight with the sort of boyfriend resulted in another almost sympathy fuck when a different guy first allowed me to cry about the sort of boyfriend and then tried to fuck me. That time it didn’t fly because 1) I knew how badly the first sympathy fuck made me feel and 2) he was the worst kisser EVER. The next day I proceeded to complain about this situation to my other male friend who started to beg me to kiss him after hearing it, because “one more kiss won’t cost me anything” 😀
    Oh, gosh, it was a crazy summer! All guys in this story are Italian and from my experience begging for kisses and sex has a lot to do with sexist/patriarchal views. The more a guy sees a woman as a PERSON with her rights to make her own decisions about kissing people and sleeping with them, the less likely they’re to try to push you into doing something like this. The more a guy is trained to treat you like an object, including sexist views such as the fact that if you’ve slept with a number of guys means you don’t care about who you sleep with, the more likely he’s to use such methods as what you’ve described.
    And no, I don’t think these guys feel bad afterwards, if a sympathy fuck/kiss happens.
    Saying “no” upright is a good idea, but honestly not 100% reliable. If you tell such a guy you’re not interested, he’ll often ask you why and whatever you say he’ll find an excuse to argue that. Best thing to do? IGNORE. You don’t owe them anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess rebound-y type things have the potential to become sympathy f*cks. I can think of a couple of times when I’ve cried on other guys shoulders in the aftermath of a breakup. Thankfully, they were somewhat decent toward me and didn’t let things get out of hand as such.

      When it comes to the guys asking for sympathy f*cks and the like, from my experience they tend to be the guys that are lacking something – be it sexual experience, libido, money or education. My recent experience resulted in possibly the worst face rape of my life….truly horrific. And I should have screamed blue murder but instead I felt sorry for him and his lack of game so I tried to give him a thousand and one excuses as to why I was not right for him. But they often hear what they want to hear. So sometimes I guess its best to cut your losses and RUN.

      I also think PC-ness has something to do with it. Sometimes I find myself trying to be ‘nice’ and consciously go against my type because I don’t want to be seen (even if it is only in my own mind) as an -IST (racist, fattist, ableist, classist etc) But again, I think we need to remind ourselves we don’t owe anyone anything (and certainly nothing romantic) just because they are ‘nice’ or ‘decent’ or even if they have a shit life and make you feel bad for the so-called ‘privleged’ life you lead.

      It never really ends well. You end up feeling bad or eventually when things have to end there is way more drama.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aha! But self-esteem issues and the feeling that they lack something often go hand in hand with sexism (or other -isms for that matter). Yes, unfortunately, sometimes one must be blunt.
        Also, these sympathy f*cks guys are often just after getting laid not after a particular person. So I guess for them if a girl keeps explaining why it’s not a good idea, maybe it doesn’t make sense because all they want was to get some experience/validation of their worth and then disappear?

        Hmmmm. So I think everyone should challenge what they believe sometimes because there are exceptions but it’s a tough balance between staying open-minded and ignoring red flags. I think whatever prejudices one may have, it’s easy to confirm them/disapprove them during the banter before the first date. For instance, our matric requirement (;)) was an exception that happened to my friend. She met a super hot guy who was very well read and had a GREAT job in the movie industry as a martial arts scenes coordinator (he’s worked with a bunch of Oscar movies). When it turned out that he didn’t even finish high school it wasn’t a big deal.
        I guess what I’m saying here is that it’s good to look for the substance of what your deal-breaker is. In this example it’s not the lack of matric but what comes with it – limited employment opportunities, perhaps less academic outlook on life that what you’d like etc etc
        But as I say, I think one can often see a lot from the profile and the banter to decide whether it’s worth it to invest time in the first date.


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