My thoughts on the Myth of the FriendZone

So, say you’re a guy and you like some girl and you express your like for her and she responds with, “I’d rather just be friends.”

Uh-oh.  You just got FriendZoned!

Or, maybe not.  I’ve been thinking about this the last couple of days because I hear/read complaints about it fairly often.  I’ve come to the conclusion that the FriendZone doesn’t actually exist.

It seems that being FriendZoned equates to one of two things.

Take Scenario A:

You’re a guy and you like your friend Julie.  You and Julie aren’t super close, but you know her well enough to know that you’d like to go out with her.  You ask her out and she turns you down, adding, “I really like you as a friend.” You have been:

a. FriendZoned.
b. rejected.
c. none of the above. If I keep trying really hard, Julie will finally realize she’s interested in me romantically.

If you answered b. rejected, you’re correct! I know it’s hard to admit and sometimes difficult to handle, but Julie has not, in fact, put you in some sort of undefined social Zone that exists to torture you and you alone.  She has been honest with you; she isn’t interested in a romantic relationship with you and that’s that.

Now, I can’t speak for all women, but I can say that when I’ve said this to guys it’s been because they expressed romantic interest in me and I wasn’t interested for whatever reason and wanted to break the news in a nice way.  It wasn’t because I wanted the guy to act like one of my female friends or because I’m just cold-hearted and didn’t appreciate how nice he’d been to me or whatever.  (Sidenote: if you’re nice to someone with the expectation that being nice will eventually earn you the right to demand their romantic affection, you’re doing it wrong.) I think this may be where the disconnect lies in these scenarios: the woman doesn’t want the guy to think she’s rejecting him as a person or that she thinks he’s a loser or something, and she can’t give him what he wants, so she offers the best thing she can give him, which is friendship.  She’s being honest, but tries to spin it toward something positive.

At this point, the best thing for you to do is to put that hope for romance with her to rest.  If you can remain friends with Julie without a huge amount of discomfort to yourself, please do.  If you find that you need some distance from her, you should communicate that.  It’s really terrible and confusing to the other person if you just slowly creep away from the friendship when they didn’t do anything other than express their feelings honestly.

Scenario B:

You’re a guy and you’re really close with Lauren.  She texts you all the time, tells you about all of her problems, has you drive her places, etc.  You wouldn’t normally do all of those things with such consistency for someone, but you like Lauren and you want to do things for her.

It takes a few months…years…decades, but you finally mention to Lauren that you’d like to date her.  She responds with, “Oh, but I just like being friends with you!” What does your relationship consist of?

a. all I can see around me is…The FriendZone.
b. absolutely no understanding of boundaries, terrible communication, and a woman who (probably unwittingly) thinks she can have all the benefits of a boyfriend without the commitment and affection.
c. none of the above. If I keep on doing everything she wants, she’ll eventually fall in love with me. She has to.

Once again, b is the answer. (Though I did touch on c briefly above, let me say it again: you should be nice to people in general. You should not be nice to someone in order to try to earn the right to their affection. That’s less being nice and more heinously manipulative.  This goes for both genders.)

Okay, first of all, communication is key always and forever.  If you thought Lauren was interested in you because of something she did or said, it’d be good to bring that up.  You can even use fancy phrases like “mixed signals” to drive the point home.  This gives Lauren a chance to explain her point of view concerning the situation.

Second of all, if you’re doing a bunch of stuff you generally reserve for a girlfriend…even if that “stuff” is something as simple as seeing Lauren multiple times a week, it’s probably time to explain that, too so that boundaries can be set up.  You don’t have to say, “I only do this for someone I’m dating,” but be honest about what boundaries you need to set up for yourself so that your relationship is clearly defined.

And, to the Laurens out there: if you’re using a guy as a fill-in for a boyfriend, stop it.  It’s confusing for both parties and is an abuse of the friendship in general.  Guy friends aren’t the same as your best female friends and they certainly aren’t just like a boyfriend without the commitment.

To sum up: using the term “FriendZone” to describe any guy who has unrequited affection toward a girl who wants to remain friends is skirting the issues at hand. In my experience, said guy needs to accept the rejection that he’s been handed or both parties need to strive toward clearer communication and healthy boundaries within their friendship. I’d really love for the term to go away completely, but as it won’t, I think I may just start calling people out for using it.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on this issue.  I’d love to hear yours as well.  Do you have a different definition of FriendZone? Is there an area that I’ve gotten totally wrong or that I need a different perspective on? If you think so, comment away!

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About Chelsea

"Hey, they say you're a natural. True or false?" "I just..." "Answer the question." "True, I guess." "Correct." -Ash and Kristofferson (Fantastic Mr. Fox) I allegedly have a way with words. I'm testing this theory. Right. Now. View all posts by Chelsea

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