How many times do we hear the term “Friend Zone” in a day?
For those of you (who have to have been living under a rock) that haven’t heard of it, here is Wikipedia’s definition of the colloquial expression: “In popular culture, the ‘Friend Zone’ refers to a platonic relationship where one person wishes to enter into a romantic relationship, while the other does not. It is generally considered to be an undesirable situation by the lovelorn person. Once the Friend Zone is established, it is said to be difficult to move beyond that point in a relationship.”
What guys and girls alike (though let’s face it, mostly guys. We all know at least a couple males that love to justify their heartbreak with this phrase) fail to realize as they throw this term around is that it’s more than just a simple expression for ‘cheated’ males.
The Friend Zone is a misogynistic term, and its main purpose is to soothe the male after being romantically rejected, to relieve the pressure of figuring out what faults he may actually possess, and to demonize females for exercising their right to say “no.”
My favorite aspect of this pandemic is the hostile resentment behind the term, the pure bitterness oozing out from behind the pitiful and woebegone mask plastered on the guy’s face as he talks about the injustice of being locked away in the dreaded Zone.
Okay. Let me list out the real injustices resulting from this Friend Zone dilemma:
Within a close opposite-sex friendship, as the expectation forms for there to be something beyond the platonic friendship, a the guy begins to feel he’s entitled to the ultimate “prize,” the girl he’s pining after. And then naturally we, the females, are shamed for sticking you, the “nice guy,” in the Friend Zone and throwing away a perfectly good opportunity with such a wonderful guy.
And this leads us to the examination of:
2) The Nice Guy.
Who is he? He’s the good friend who listens to his numerous female friends’ every problem and complaint, offering bits and pieces of advice all the while mentally undressing them and helplessly watching them fall head over heels for other guys that Nice Guy sees as a jerk who is unworthy of the girl. He tells the girls that they’re settling, and they could have so much better in say, Nice Guy! Ha, didn’t see that one coming.
Okay, Mr. Nice Guy, let me say something loud and clear: I’m sure you are a great listener, I’m sure you are a solid guy, and may even make a great boyfriend. But news flash: being a decent human being doesn’t always cut it, and it shouldn’t. If we chose you simply because you are decent, we could just as easily argue that we’re settling for you. (And we know you don’t want us to settle, right?)
Finally, we need to address:
3) Pressure on the female.
Believe it or not Nice Guy, the girls get it. We see the attraction forming, though we most likely don’t understand it. The difference between you and us though is we try to ignore it for the sake of the friendship. Now stop shaking your head and calling our justification “bull.” This is the truth: we love you and want you in our lives, and I know this is hard to hear, but our wanting you to remain a friend is a compliment. We value you enough not to want to jeopardize what we have.
Imagine the pressure you’re putting on us. We can either play along with what you think is happening romantically in order to keep you in our lives (sacrificing our say at all in the matter), or try to break your heart as gently as possible. It sucks, because either way it’s a lose-lose situation. We feel that, and we feel trapped, suffocated, as we desperately try to figure out any possible way to salvage the friendship that was once enough for everyone on both sides.
Guys, I’m sorry. Unrequited love is never a pretty thing, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But unfortunately, it happens quite a bit, and what I’m asking you to do is something I think both genders, especially at our stage in adolescence, would do well in practicing: stop being so selfish; pick yourself up from your disastrous heartbreak, dust yourself off, and stop feeling so sorry for yourself.