Of all the modern relationship tropes, fantasies, and myths, it’s hard for me to find any more twisted and awkward than that of the Friend Zone, mostly because I’m sick and tired of seeing my friends get harassed for exercising their basic human right of free will.
For those of you who are blissfully unaware, the Friend Zone is a term coined by romantically frustrated teenagers and young adults, almost exclusively of the male variety. Essentially it’s what happens when a guy who has romantic feelings towards a woman finds out that she does not reciprocate those feelings, or is strictly platonic in her feelings.
Apparently this is one of the worst fates that can possibly befall any adolescent or post-adolescent male.
Hearing the awful words “I just want to be friends” is pure tragedy. It means a guy has wasted months – even years! – spending time with a girl or woman, only to find out she has no romantic or sexual interest in him (which of course are the only reasons for men to have women around in the first place). It means something is horribly defective with her; why else wouldn’t she accept his ardent admiration with open arms?!
What none of these drama kings seem to realize, however, is that the Friend Zone doesn’t actually exist. Or rather, it doesn’t exist in the way most guys claiming to be trapped in it seem to believe.
This is important: If you are a male who has suddenly found yourself in an inadvertent platonic relationship with a female, she has not trapped you in the Friend Zone. She is not a bitch. She is not a slut. She is not mentally unbalanced. Kindly refrain from referring to her as any of those things.
She is your friend. You’re in something that’s called a friendship, which means you enjoy each other’s company and probably spend time together, but for one reason or another she doesn’t want to sleep with you.
“But I’m such a nice guy!”
One of the most common defensive arguments from “Friend Zoned” guys is that they’re “really nice guys.” However, if the only reason you’re being nice to a woman is so you can get in her pants, you’re not actually a really nice guy. If anything, you’re a poor excuse for a human being and you’re systematically destroying the foundation any relationship with her – platonic or otherwise – could have been built on. If you’re going to be nice to a woman, consider being nice to her because she is a human being and deserves the same amount of respect as anybody else.
“It’s not fair, I’ve always been there for her!”
If you’ve helped her through a tough time or listened her vent her frustrations about her boss or a previous boyfriend, it means you’re a good friend. It does not mean she owes you anything besides a reciprocal friendship, particularly if you’ve never made any mention of ever wanting to be more than friends (no, being a really great listener doesn’t count as mentioning your feelings).
“She doesn’t know what she’s talking about!”
It’s not easy or fun to make a move on the woman you’re interested in, only to find out that she doesn’t feel the same way about you. If this happens, you should accept that she’s not interested and move on. What you absolutely should not do is ignore what she says and continue to make moves.
I understand that the phrase “I don’t want to date you” is extraordinarily ambiguous, but please understand that no means no, regardless of context. If my dog can tear herself away from whatever delicious garbage she’s managed to get ahold of because she hears “no,” but you can’t refrain from hitting on a woman because she asked you not to, you’re not giving her reasons to change her mind. You’re demonstrating that you’re not as well behaved as a terrier that tries to eat garbage.
A good friend of mine, whose recent experience with all of this was the inspiration for this post, found the whole experience unnecessary, irritating, and ultimately demeaning:
“I know this guy and he really tried for a while, but I wasn’t interested so I told him, ‘Hey, I just want to be friends,’ because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but he didn’t seem to get the hint because he kept trying…so I started straight up telling him, ‘NO,’ which is when I realized that men really do not understand the meaning of ‘NO.’ When you try to touch my arm and I yank it away? That is not an invitation to try it again. When you try to kiss, sweet talk, make a move, date, etc. and I shrug you off? Do not make an attempt to repeat it the next time you see me. Am I supposed to be attracted to you because you can’t respect me enough to listen to what I’m saying to you? You’re making a fool of yourself and trying to make it my fault.”
I know that not all men are guilty of this, but enough are that it’s an issue. For every man that is kind and polite and respectful to a woman, regardless of their relationship, there’s a guy who’s calling a woman names for not going out with him. And the bigger issue is that they’re getting away with it.
This is my PSA: Stop letting guys trap themselves in the Friend Zone. Start calling them out on their melodramatic bullshit, because it’s ridiculous that a guy can shame a woman into feeling bad for how she feels, and he still comes out looking like the victim.
When a guy says, “She put me in the Friend Zone!” all he’s really saying is, “I’m too immature to handle rejection, and don’t respect her enough to realize that she’s entitled to her own opinions and choices!”
Which probably has something to do with why she didn’t see him as boyfriend material in the first place.