You know how some girls have a guy friend who is always around, and clearly the guy is in love with her, but she either doesn't realize (how could she not?) or pretends to not realize because she either a) doesn't want to deal with the situation, or b) doesn't want to lose his friendship. I always think those guys must have no self-esteem. Usually they've either tried to date the girl and gotten shot down or haven't tried assuming they'd be shot down, and in the aftermath, are hanging on to the "lets just be friends" olive branch like a drowning man hanging on to a floating piece of debris. I like to think of this guy as the Ever-present Male Friend or EMF.
I'm never quite sure how girls fall for this tactic. Here's the truth: guys don't want to be friends with girls they are attracted to. They want to date them. If you break up with a guy and he says he still wants to be friends or he agrees to still be friends, its because he hopes that there's still a chance he can make it from "just friends" back to "more than friends". Its not because he just enjoys your company and accepts the fact that you aren't interested. And now that they are "just friends" they'll jump at any chance to spend time with their "BFF". In fact they are pretty much inseparable. Girls love someone who will listen to them and can also give a man's perspective on things.
Seriously, though, don't you have to kind of pity those guys? Its just not an easy situation to be in. Its much less of an ego-swallowing ordeal to just walk away from the situation than to just be friends. Maybe, given sufficient time, a guy can get past the feelings he had for her and move on, but its not happening overnight, and even then he's not going to want to be her best friend. And until he's been able to move on, the last thing he wants is to hear her talk about guys that she's interested in or watch other guys try to make a move on her. I think this is part of what leads to the everpresent-ness of this guy. He wants to do all he can to keep her from dating other guys or for other guys to become better friends with her than he is, even though its pretty much inevitable. I always think these guys have pretty much given up on dating, and the best thing that could possibly happen for them is for her to get married. Hopefully, marriage is a sufficiently clear signal that she's not changing her mind.
On occasion, the rare fellow does manage to get back into her good graces (see the Persistence Theory), although sometimes its more because he's been so effective at scaring off other potential suitors. And honestly, its a bit of a turn-off when a girl who has some hanger-on guy always calling her up to do stuff and always there with her at everything, even though they are "just friends".
Strangely I kind of found myself in this same kind of situation in the last year or so. There was a girl that I was into, and went on a few dates and then her interest started to wane and then finally she told me that maybe it was best if we didn't date any more. "Out of fairness to [me]" of course. But could we please still be friends. Because she really thinks I'm cool and that she has a lot of fun with me.
Now in case you've already forgotten, "guys don't want to be friends with girls they are attracted to." Anyway, in the aftermath of my own "lets just be friends" moment, I've really struggled with whether its worth hanging on and being "that guy" that I've pitied in so many other instances. I mean I really do enjoy spending time with this girl, and of course I think she's attractive. But I can't feel right pretending that I only want to be friends, and my ego doesn't really want me to be that kind of guy either.
I, mean, I do still call her and email her and on occasion have a longer chat with her, and part of me still holds out hope that someday she might change her mind. But I also hope I'm not being the EMF. I hope I've been pretty clear about what my feelings are, and I would never tell her that I'm fine to "just be friends" with her, and in the meantime I've been doing my best to meet other girls and date in the hopes of finding someone I can feel the same way about. But I guess if I actually believed that the EMF strategy would ultimately be successful I'd consider it more seriously. The honest truth is I don't think I could live with myself as that guy.