why the friend-zone is a con
We’ve all heard people whinge about getting stuck in the “friend-zone”. Basically, they have fancied someone who does not return their feelings. The object of their longing has either knowingly or not placed them in the friend-zone. The zone of no escape. The zone of perpetual no-sex. They might even be, God forbid, “like a sibling”.
Well, I’m here to tell you that the friend-zone is a con. It’s an idea that is designed to make people feel guilty about not living up to other people’s expectations. First up, I’d like to admit that I have been on both sides of the friend-zone relationship. I have also researched the phenomenon rigorously*. What I have come to discover is that the people who claim to continuously get stuck in the friend-zone have some common factors. I’d like to go into these factors in detail to show you why you don’t need to feel guilty if you only want to be friends with someone.
I hate to generalise, but the vast majority of people I hear complaining about the friend-zone are men. The story is always the same. If you haven’t been involved yourself, you’ve probably heard it in some form on Facebook or a preferred social media site. A boy is in love with a girl. Aww. She is so sweet and funny and everything he’s ever dreamed of in a woman. She is pretty much the perfect woman. But oh no! She has a flaw. She only seems to go out with jerks. The boy is adamant that he is always there for her, ready with a shoulder for her to cry on should she need it. He’ll go shopping with her, make her mix CD’s, and listen to her complain about her boyfriend, all the while dreaming of the day that she realises that he is the man she has been wanting.
Eventually, he’ll get to breaking point. He might post an ambiguous status on Facebook. He might start awkwardly flirting with her friends. Or he might start telling people how she has friend-zoned him. The first two are harmless, if embarrassing for him. But the last implies a few nasty things about his supposedly perfect girl. It assumes that she doesn’t actually know what she wants. She thinks she wants to date a certain type of man, but what she actually wants is a nice, caring guy like him. Because all women want the exact same things; i.e. things that he is able to give.
It also assumes that getting her to care about him is as simple as completing a set of steps. Because he has done all the right things based on some preconception of the perfect relationship, he deserves her love and affection. Well, unfortunately, not all relationships are the same and most importantly, no-one is obliged to feel a certain way about someone else.
Being attractive to someone isn’t something that is earned by putting on a display of boyfriend-y-ness. The way you feel and how you should feel is something only you can determine, and no amount of racking up boyfriend points has the right to decide that for you.
If you happen to be in the unfortunate place on the other side of the coin, and the person you are interested in has politely declined your advances while still wanting to be a friend, then you have two options. Let’s assume that your friend genuinely wants to be your friend, and is not using you for emotional gratification or some planned organ harvesting scheme. That is not a friend, and so is not counted in this advice.
The first option you have is to accept that this is not going to go anywhere, and be their friend only. Don’t pretend to be their friend and just stay around waiting for them to see how wonderful you are. Appreciate their friendship and enjoy being their mate.
The other option is to let them go. If trying to be their friend is too hard, it might just be because there is no real friendship there. It’s not worth your time or theirs to try and make yourself fit into a friendship mould that isn’t natural. Even if you do think there is a real friendship there, when seeing them hurts you, it’s not healthy. That just isn’t a friendship that is going to benefit you. And you come first.
So whether you are trying to be friends with someone who is harbouring a not-so-secret love for you or desperately keeping your love wrapped in a veil of friendship, let’s just try to not feel guilty about how we feel, or make someone else feel guilty. Let’s choose happy instead. Hooray for happy!
By Amy Sincock