As a heterosexual guy, I’ll go ahead and admit it. I’ve used the term “Friend Zone” before. It seems like a simple colloquial term to indicate that moment when a woman you’re attracted to in some fashion has used the “dreaded F-word”: Friend. The word that is destroyer of romance, slasher of sexual liaisons, layer low of love. But when you actually, you know, stop and think about it, the word friend isn’t a scary thing. And it shouldn’t be.
The friend zone seems to have cropped up from the idea of people unlucky in love. Do those people exist? Yeah. I consider myself in that category. When you love someone and they tell you that you will never have a chance with them despite being very attractive to them because you met at the wrong time, I’d say that counts as unlucky as hell. There are people that are constantly rejected, being told they’re sweet and wonderful, but just “not for me.” It happens to both men and women. And it can suck. A lot. Especially if you’re lonely.
But somewhere along the line, men (mainly, can’t say I’ve heard of a case where this happens to women) that are unlucky in love decided that women have relegated them to a permanent, inescapable zone, not unlike the Phantom Zone of Superman comics. Once the woman has decreed that the man is not a candidate for romantic or physical companionship at the moment, men feel that it becomes a permanent statement, that they are forever “doomed” to be friends. What’s worse, it’s entirely unfair! Give them a shot, they would be fantastic boyfriends or fantastic in bed or whatnot. It’s only fair if you give them a chance.
Are we perhaps seeing how ridiculous this sounds now?
First, the idea that a friendship is somehow a detriment to a relationship with someone is ridiculous. Friendships are good. Have you ever heard someone complaining about how they have too many friends? Trust me, less friends can really suck. If you’re willing to say “Relationship or nothing at all” then go right ahead, but I’m going to stick with my opinion that that’s stupid.
Because second, the idea that your relationship with someone will never ever change is stupid. People change over time. They grow, gain different goals and desires, events mold a person and their life through time. A friendship can become something more. In fact, I prefer to be friends with someone before I go out with them. Friendships can be a way to learn more about someone, affirm your attraction to them or realize that it simply wouldn’t work out. But that does NOT mean I’m suggesting you should be friends with the eventual goal in mind of sex/dating. Just like doing good things for the sake of good karma will actually lead to bad karma (I believe that’s basically how it works), being friends with someone with a goal in mind isn’t actually being friends with them and it WILL bite you in the butt someday. Not to mention, it’s just a tidbit reprehensible and sleazy.
Honestly, I do understand where it comes from. For some men, there is a reservoir of frustration constantly growing with every single apparent rejection. It can suck to like someone and want a romantic relationship with them only to be told they don’t want one back. It can hurt. It can make you doubt yourself and your qualities. But something I’ve talked about before is the whole “nice guy” imagery and how that’s a dangerous thing to paint yourself as. And that’s basically what’s happening with this “friend zone” mess. People feel that they are “nice,” and that’s an attractive quality for a relationship, so why won’t people date them?
“Nice” is not the only quality people look for in a relationship. Not as far as I’ve experienced. Some of my biggest attractions over the years have been to some snarky, cynical people. Good people, loving people, but sometimes abrasive. But I’m not going to take them apart feature by feature and mathematically figure out pros vs. cons on their personality. I’m going to get to know them as a person. If the only thing I ever learn is that they’re nice, then my response will be, “They’re nice, but there’s just not much there.”
No one “deserves” or earns the right to dates and relationships. They’re not prizes you win, or achievements in a video game that you unlock by doing certain tasks.
Is loneliness frustrating? Sure can be. And will you always manage to be optimistic about it? Hell no. I’m one of the most pessimistic people when it comes to my thoughts on ever being in a long lasting relationship. But you still need to recognize when what you’re doing is a bad thing or a dangerous line of thought. And that’s what the friend zone is. It doesn’t exist. So, for your own sake, don’t pretend it does.