Tuesday, July 15, 2014

You Are Now Entering The Friendzone

One of the most toxic concepts men have about dating and relationships is the idea of the Friendzone. In this article, I'm going to explore what the Friendzone is, why it's so harmful, and how you can cut it out of your life.

What Is The Friendzone?

Imagine that you're interested in someone romantically. You ask them out and either they say no or they say yes and go out on a date or two with you before deciding they aren't that interested, and they say you should "just be friends." This could mean anything from "I think you're a great person, I just don't feel like we connect romantically but I'd love to be friends" to "I really don't want to see you again and I'm letting you down easy." This is what is called "Friendzoning" or putting someone in the "Friendzone."

If this is where the Friendzone concept stopped, then there really wouldn't be a problem, but unfortunately, it's much more sinister than that. See, the Friendzone treats friendship like it's a consolation prize. Like you tried to "win" the other person's affections, but failed and this is your punishment.

Whelp. Here's another "Friend" to add to the collection...
photo credit: Southern_Comfort via photopin cc

Now, don't get me wrong, I completely understand that it's upsetting when someone just isn't into you the way you're into them. Heck, studies have shown that rejection is actually painful. It sucks, I know, but treating friendship as some kind of participation trophy is incredibly toxic.

The Friendzone Is An Unhealthy Concept

Friendship is supposed to be something awesome. Friends share experiences, support one another, and have fun together. Friends respect each other and encourage one another to do what's best for them. But if you view friendship with someone as some kind of door prize, it fundamentally undermines the very idea of what that friendship is. You no longer support or respect that other person, you resent them for rejecting you. You don't care about what's best for them when that conflicts with your own interests. You might have all the outward appearances of a friend,1 but you're really just stewing in your own misery and growing contempt for the person that you blame for putting you in that position.

That blaming aspect is a big issue. When you believe that you've been Friendzoned, you put the person who did it to you into a position of power. It's now their fault that things didn't work out and you're unhappily still single, rather than the result of incompatibility that's beyond the control of either of you. The more you suffer from your unrequited feelings, the more you grow to resent that person for doing this to you.

Person staring resentfully at another person.
How dare you friendzone me...
photo credit: Leslie E-B via photopin cc

Ultimately, when you subscribe to the Friendzone concept, you're displaying some deep-seeded entitlement issues. In your mind, women are now binary. Either they give you what you want, be it sex, love, a relationship, etc. or they damn you to the pit of eternal suffering you call the Friendzone, taunting you with the knowledge that they are either giving the very things you desire to other people, or simply denying them to you out of spite. There's no room in this model for women to have agency and make decisions for themselves for their own wants, needs, or desires. Everything they do is filtered through the lens of how it affects you.

Because of this, you're not going to be able to actually be friends with that person. Your resentment will reflect in your attitudes and behaviors towards them, whether you intend it or not, and that's going to be painful for them. It will also be painful for you if you're constantly seeing this person that you view as your punisher. Every time you grab a meal or go bowling or do whatever-it-is-you-do-with-your-friends, you're going to be reminded of that failed attempt at a connection, and that's going to hurt.

How To Avoid The Friendzone

The single most effective thing you can do to avoid the Friendzone, is to develop empathy. Remember that women are people. Just like you and I, they're complex with their own motivations, desires, preferences, and thoughts. You are no more entitled to their affections than they are entitled to your credit card.

Gold digger
Of course, there are other schools of thought...

It's also important to recognize that relationships fail and connections don't form for any number of reasons, and it's really nobody's fault. If a relationship doesn't work out, it's because you two weren't compatible. It sucks, but that's part of life. Every relationship you get into will fail until one doesn't. That's just how it works. So learning to recognize that a relationship failing isn't a reflection on either of you as people is going to help you move past that failed relationship more quickly and start looking for a new connection that will last.

You also need to remember that friendship isn't some participation trophy. Friendship is something awesome, so if a woman, or anyone really, wants to be friends with you then that's a win. You might not be getting that romantic connection you were looking for, but you now have a new friend to do things with. That friend might even have other friends who might be more compatible with you, whom she can introduce you to.

four smiling women
"Oh, is this the guy you were telling us about?"
photo credit: fensterbme via photopin cc

Here's the dirty little secret of the Friendzone: It doesn't exist. The Friendzone is a concept made up by entitled, immature Nice Guys who can't accept the idea that men and women can be friends without sex "getting in the way." If you can recognize that the idea of the Friendzone is a fabrication and let go of it, then you've effectively made it impossible to ever get "caught" in the Friendzone. After all, you can't be somewhere that doesn't exist, right?

1 Spoiler alert: You don't.


  1. Yeah it would be nice if I wasn't reminded by my male peers about how come I never tried to escalate things with a female friend of mine, when she made it clear from the get go that she had a boyfriend and I wasn't her type but hanging out together as pals was awesome. To them a female "friend" is just a woman whom isn't your SO but someone you can have sex with in the meantime. So it's puzzling to them why I never escalated things against her wishes.

    Also, still waiting for your post on the shame of late male virginity.

    1. Good for you for being a true friend to your lady friend! It's shockingly sad how prevalent your peers' views of inter-gender friendships are. Hopefully they can learn from your example that women are more than just sex objects!

      And don't worry, Virginity is in the pipe for the near-future. Stay tuned!