So the Friend Zone has gotten into the Oxford English Dictionary. But what on earth is it?
According to the OED: a noun, informal; a situation in which a platonic relationship exists between two people, one of whom has an undeclared romantic or sexual interest in the other: I always wind up in the friend zone, watching them pursue other guys
The Friend Zone, as a term, is frequently employed by whiny men who can’t understand why women don’t want to sleep with them (or develop a relationship, as the case may be). It’s often used in the sentences, “I keep ending up in the Friend Zone,” and “She put me in the Friend Zone.”
Notice anything about those sentences? The guy in question is taking no responsibility; it’s as if the situation happened to him or the woman did it to him.
The Friend Zone is most-often used by Nice Guys™. (We will get into Nice Guys™ and Nice Guy Syndrome later, but the short version is that these are men who act “nice” and do things for women, thinking that the women will then be obliged to reward them with sex, relationships, and other forms of attention. They then whine that women only date jerks and they aren’t getting adequately rewarded for their niceness. So it’s not “nice” at all.)
So here we have the short pictorial version from now-defunct tumblr Nice Guys of OkCupid. (Yes–real guys, real excerpts, online dating sucks.)
So there’s that.
The Art of Manliness archives have some gems on the subject: Nice Guys Don’t Have to Finish Last and Stop Hanging Out with Women, Start Dating Them are some of my favorites.
Too many men use their niceness as a cover for the fact that they’re in fact insecure. It’s this lack of confidence and swagger that kills their chances with the ladies, not their well-mannered ways. Men often set up a false dichotomy. You can either be an arrogant jack ass or a demure nice guy. But there is a middle a ground, the combination women are truly looking for: the extremely confident gentlemen.
Oh, and you want proof that women land in the Friend Zone too?
The Gloss has a nice article on that.
Women might be willing to stay in the friendzone longer than men – and with less objection – because it makes us feel good to be needed. And besides, Eponine is the heroine of Les Mis, right? Her and Fantine, who both sacrifice all their own needs and desires for the sake of their loved ones? We’re told that is what it means to be a good woman.
That doesn’t mean that women aren’t be friend-zoned just as often as men. It just means that we feel better about the fact that we’re suffering away in that situation.
Thomas Ruthford of Orthromance fame wrote a pretty funny post on the idea of the Friend Zone, inspired by the Slate article Anna linked to last weekend. He talks about The Friend Zone coming from mutual (inappropriate) emotional leaning-upon. And he had a few tips on good boundaries for men:
1. The Schedule. There is a great deal of power you have in the schedule. I think one of the reasons I was getting friend-zoned so much was I was leaning too much on girls for time — hanging out with them too long, talking too much. I would have gone to their dorm rooms to talk, and then left after 20 or 30 minutes. This way, you retain your mystery about yourself, and you don’t actually get to the point of needing to be given the “just friends” talk.
(Bonus: he links to baby pictures.)
On the other hand, as one woman on xoJane put it,
Friendship isn’t second place for losers, it’s the start of a beautiful relationship. Why would you want to harsh on that by talking about being friend zoned when some super-cool person you like says she wants to hang out with you and develop a friendship, but she’s just not interested in boning you right now?
Though to be fair, this video shows how men and women think about male-female friendships a leeeetle differently.
Finally, if you do end up in the Friend Zone or the object of someone else’s unrequited love/lust/like, don’t be a jerk about it. Modern Primate breaks it down to a level a twelve-year-old could grasp using Buffy the Vampire Slayer examples.
Add all this up, and we end up with two things worth noting:
1) Maintain good boundaries–or as my priest put it, “Guard your heart.” Regardless of whether you’ve talked about dating or not yet, don’t spend all your time and emotional energy inappropriately, and don’t let your friend do so either. Respect yourself and your friend.
If you have to, it is okay to let go of the friendship for a while or forever. It sucks, but it is an option.
2) Gents–if you want to date, be brave and honest enough to say so. (And trust that you are worth dating. And I promise, much of your “competition” is appalling.) If she doesn’t want to date, see Rule 1. Ladies, if just-friends isn’t working for you, then something has to change. Read a lot of Auntie Seraphic, talk to your priest, consider a conversation with the gent, and see Rule 1.
So! That one turned out long. What do you think?