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I will be giving a talk at Northwestern on Monday on the Mythology of the Friend Zone

The exquisite pain of the Friend Zone.
The exquisite pain of the Friend Zone.

Hey, Chicago readers: If you can make it up to Evanston this Monday, I’ll be giving a talk titled “Escape from the Planet of the Friend Zone,” exploring some of the mythology of this dreaded place. The talk, like my talk two years ago, will be part of Northwestern’s Annual Sex Week, sponsored by the College Feminists. (The talk itself is cosponsored by NU’s Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault.)

It’s at 7 PM in Kresge Hall 4365, which is on the Southern end of campus, near “the rock.” (Here’s a map.) If you’re taking the el, get off at the Foster stop and head east; then a little ways south when you hit campus. I’ll check about parking for non-students and provide details later.

The last time I gave a talk during Northwestern’s Sex Week, some MRAs got a little overexcited and started making up things about what they assumed my talk was about. (They were wrong.) So, just to make clear: I will not be teaching impressionable college students “how to have good sex,” except insofar as I will be talking about how sexist and self-defeating the concept of the Friend Zone is, which means it’s possible that some dude could attend the lecture and decide to stop whining about getting stuck in the Friend Zone, and thus improve his romantic and sexual prospects with that one simple step.

I haven’t finished writing the talk yet, so if any of you have any thoughts on the Friend Zone — or the closely related topic of the “nice guy” — let me know in the comments below.

I’m also curious about what role the concept of the Friend Zone plays in your everyday lives, so I’m going to spit out a bunch of questions that I may address in the talk and may ask the students as well. I’d be interested in your answers.

Have you ever been put in a situation that you or other people might describe as the Friend Zone? Whose fault do you think it was? Have you ever been accused of putting someone else in the Friend Zone? Did you find this insulting? Has someone else, through their own obsequiousness, put themselves in the Friend Zone with you?

Is the Friend Zone a male thing or are there a significant number of women and girls who find themselves friendzoned as well?

Does the notion of the Friend Zone grow out of male entitlement? Is it a fundamentally manipulative to try to pressure a woman into romance and sex? Or does it grow out of male awkwardness — the inherently difficult situation of shy or perhaps socially awkward guys who are still nonetheless expected to be the ones who pursue women rather than the other way around, as MRA types might argue?

When did the term start getting used? The concept is certainly not new, but I don’t think the term is that old. When did you all first start hearing it?

How can guys (or gals) get out of the Friend Zone?

Can a Friend Zone situation — by which I mean one in which one person is romantically interested and the other isn’t — be transformed into a real friendship, or will the different feelings/expectations of the two people make this impossible?

Alternately, can a Friend Zone situation turn into a real romance?

Is the Friend Zone really a useful concept at all? There are very few relationships — platonic, romantic or purely sexual — in which each partner feels the exact same way about the other. There are mismatches all the time. Shouldn’t we just learn to roll with it? Maybe the answer to the old When Harry Met Sally question — can a man be friends with a woman he’s attracted to? — is, “why the hell not?”

 

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jayemgriffin
6 years ago

I’m a bisexual person on the feminine side of the spectrum, and I’m friends with lots of women who don’t reciprocate my romantic/sexual feelings for them. I find that the friendships are just as rewarding as any of the relationships I’ve been in. I’d say that if you have been “friendzoned,” you have to decide whether or not you can be friends with the person without the possibility of anything “more.” If not, then that’s fine, but it is mandatory to stop pressuring them about it.

tesformes
tesformes
6 years ago

A man can certainly be friends with women he’s attracted to. I thought that most of my female friends in college were pretty attractive, but I liked being in their “friend zone” because I liked having friends. MRAs like to pretend that being friends with a woman means being the constant target of her incessant talking, but it turns out the woman who are like that live mostly inside of MRAs’ heads.

magnesium
magnesium
6 years ago

Unrequited crushes are pretty universal. I had crushes on boys in high school that turned into friendships and I’m pleased that they did. I wonder if that sense of entitlement that goes along with the concept of the “friend zone” is only something that happens to MRA types. In college, my sister had a crush on a friend of hers, but he wasn’t interested in dating her. I do think he took advantage of the attention she gave him, occasionally. For instance, when another young man in their class showed and interest in her, her friend zone friend scared that guy off, by implying they were in a relationship to him when my sister wasn’t there.

I knew a girl in college who used to do a lot of favours for a good looking guy in our class. She was especially nice to him, went out of her way to help him with school work and run errands for him. She even joined his rather conservative Christian church. I’m guessing she got tired of it after a while, because she’s in a LTR with another woman now and seems super happy. I still don’t recall her ever expressing anything close to anger over it, though, just mild disappointment.

In both of these cases, the women readily admitted, but were never angry that, these guys were “out of their league”. I think it’s only when you deal with men who believe that women are some sort of lesser species that you find the angry friend zoned.

Hyena Girl
6 years ago

The thing that bothers me the most about “The Friend Zone” is the built-in assumption that having a friend is a runner’s up prize. Having a friend is a damn cool and worthy thing.

katz
6 years ago

I’ve been friends with all kinds of guys since high school and I can’t remember a single time when there was anything romantically awkward (except with exes). I tended to slip into the “one of the guys” space fairly easily.

Robert
Robert
6 years ago

I made a major play for a FOAF back in college. He declined, gracefully, and we become friends. In fact, I stayed in touch with him longer than I did with the friend who introduced us. I can’t remember being in the other position – during my dating days, I tended to be the predator, rather than the prey.

Tarnished
6 years ago

I wrote my own thoughts and observations about the concept of the friendzone a while back. Most of these questions are answered in said post;

http://tarnishedsophia.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/friend-zoning-a-view-from-both-sides/

However, I will say that in the majority of friendzoning I’ve seen IRL recently have been of 2 types. The first is simply a case of unrequited feelings on the woman’s side, but the other two are examples of women who admit to knowing that the men in question are attracted to them but it’s easier/more materially beneficial to string them along. One of these unfortunate guys is a regular customer of mine and an all-around good person…I find it cruel when people use others to their advantage, so maybe your talk will help men (and women) see that certain types of “friendships” are harmful and not real.

seraph4377
6 years ago

Meh. I went through my comic-reading heyday during Rob Liefeld’s comic-drawing heyday. All other stylistic problems with comics are as nothing to me now.

As for the term Friend Zone, I didn’t hear it until quite recently – like, within the last five years. And I am profoundly grateful for that. I had some significant Nice Guy ™ symptoms once upon a time (not quite a full-blown case – I at least admitted that I couldn’t expect girls to know that I wanted to date them if I didn’t ask), and if I’d had something to latch onto as an explanation for my difficulties at getting a date, I would have with a vengeance, and it might have warped me like the proverbial bookish 14-year-old reading Atlas Shrugged.

cloudiah
6 years ago

I had plenty of unrequited crushes in high school and college, but I never thought of myself as friendzoned. Sometimes I was sad for a while, but it never occurred to me to blame them for that.

One boyfriend’s best friend kept hitting on me, and I kept reminding him I was dating his best friend. He kept wanting to hang out, and kept hitting on me because he thought I would change my mind. Then I would get angry, and stop hanging out with him, and then he’d apologize and say it would never happen again. And then it would happen again. In hindsight, while I don’t think I did anything wrong, I wish I had stuck to my position that I should stop hanging out with him. I don’t know if he would have used that exact terminology, but I am sure he felt like I unfairly put him in the friend zone. Whereas I just think he was a jerk.

I’m also pretty sure (in hindsight) that in high school one guy and I friendzoned each other, just because both of us were shy/awkward/immature enough at that time that we didn’t recognize each others’ clear (again, in hindsight) signs of interest. Which is kind of hilarious to me now.

Funkula
Funkula
6 years ago

I’ll answer a ton of these questions just because I’m curious to see how you’re planning to write about the responses. Get ready for a longish comment that probably isn’t all that interesting to anyone who doesn’t have a vested interest in my love life (i.e. everyone who isn’t me)! Also I’m going to talk about the Friend Zone like it’s a thing, because that was my perspective at the time, not because I believe in it anymore.

My best friend is actually someone who Friend Zoned me a long time ago, back when we first met in college. I’d been her friend for a while without really thinking of her romantically until she mentioned that she had been somewhat interested in me. I was starved for romantic attention and turned that into a huge thing, which was unfortunate because she was telling me in the context of “this is what I thought at one time, not what I think now.” I went through an infatuation/depression cycle over this (and avoided becoming obsessive partially due to helping her deal with a creep, which allowed me the perspective to recognize and stifle creepy behavior in myself). I did genuinely want to be her friend (though I harbored hopes of something more for an embarrassingly long time) so we got through it.

For me, it was a product of emotional immaturity: it was the first time anyone had ever expressed interest in me, and I thought I had to chase it as hard as I could because it might never happen again. I was manipulative at times, but never consciously, and even at that I feel bad about the behavior I now recognize as manipulative.

So I think I qualify as proof that a Friend Zone situation can turn into true friendship, so long as the person who wants more can recognize that the person who wants less has every right to set the boundaries where they choose.

Oh, and regards the origin of the name, I remember seeing it first around the time that Ladder Theory was a thing among the angry Internet Nice Guys. It postulated a Friendship Ladder and a Romance Ladder that women placed men on, and once you were on a ladder you could climb it (developing a closer relationship) but never switch ladders. I think it got reworded to Friend Zone for more general usage. Fortunately, while I was a budding Internet Nice Guy for a while, I was able to recognize Ladder Theory as arrant horseshit thanks to my ability to notice that women’s minds are not fundamentally different from men’s, and since I didn’t have any ladders….

bluecat
bluecat
6 years ago

I thought I was being ‘friend-zoned’ (or I probably would have done, had the word been invented then) quite a lot of years ago (1988/89?) when I was in a new job/city/country and made good friends fast with someone I was also very attracted to.

He had lived there for several years already and was fluent in the language – I was new in town, first job overseas, learning the language. There was a relatively small pool of expats, too, and we had a lot in common with each other.

He was very friendly and also apparently quite flirtatious, asked me out a lot – in the, would you like to see this film? You must see x or y in this city; what are you doing tomorrow? and so on (in our cultural world, all dates are dutch treats btw).

Well, and he’s gay. Somewhat closeted at the time – most people who knew him did not know this about him – and somewhat conflicted about it. And he liked me, and happened to be rather lonely, too.

“I don’t suppose you could cure me,” is one of the saddest things anyone’s ever said to me.

I’m glad to say he’s a happier chap now.

sn0rkmaiden
6 years ago

As a straight woman I can testify that women do get friend zoned, it’s happened to me a few times.

The most striking was a few years ago when someone I was dating (and had fallen for big time) informed me he wasn’t ready for a relationship, but really liked me and wanted to carry on seeing each other as friends. I liked him a lot and hoped he would be change his mind if I waited, so I accepted seeing him just as a friend. Only, it was more friends with benefits. Then a few months later he told me he had met someone else, but still wanted us to be friends, only it would have to be platonic while he was in a relationship. At that point I grew a spine and broke it off with him. I would classify this as friend zoning as while he did genuinely like me (it was never just physical), he was aware that I had very strong feelings for him that he couldn’t return.

Whose fault was this? Well, I feel I should take some responsibility for staying in a situation I was miserable in for so long. If I could have that time again I would’ve broken contact with him when he first told me he didn’t want to be romantically involved, given that I could not have been happy in a platonic relationship with him. At the same time I think he was trying to have his cake and eat it, which kind of makes it his fault as well.

My feeling is that men and women can be friends, even if one of them is attracted to the other, but not if one is in love with the other or if the physical attraction is the only motive for the friendship.

J.J
J.J
6 years ago

I don’t like the Friend Zone, because I generally find it to have really negative and often sexist connotations. Yes, people will string others along to get things out of them. That’s not ‘the Friend Zone’. That’s people being jerks.

Friends are awesome. I wish I had more friends. I’ve been rejected by people I was interested in; I was disappointed, but the only time I got angry was when someone decided to lead me along because they liked that I was interested in them and didn’t want to lose the attention and affection. But like I said, Jerks.

I was once extremely socially awkward and didn’t know how to make my interest known in an appropriate way. Naturally I got shot down. So I was sad. I didn’t assume the person had done it to be mean, just that I had a lot to learn. And did I.

I was interested in a girl, who turned out to be heterosexual. We ended up being friends. It was a mutual relationship, and we had fun. I think the Friend Zone comes from a sense of entitlement. ‘I was ‘nice’ so now I deserve X’. People just don’t handle disappointment well.

spacermase
6 years ago

I’ve been in situations that could be characterized as “friendzoning” a few times, but the best example I have also kind of subverts the whole narrative.

There was a girl I met in my third year of college or so who I was absolutely smitten with. She was friendly, smart, and nerdy as all hell, and cute to boot. It turned out we had grown fairly close to each other, a rarity at that particular college. At this point in my life, I hadn’t been in a relationship since my senior of high school (and arguably that one may not have counted), and was desperate to prove to mysef that I could, in fact, achieve a relationship, so I started asking her out to things. We went to a play on one occasion, dinner on another, and I would always look for her at the dining hall. Eventually, after going to Rocky Horror with her, I asked her point-blank: are we dating, and if not, would you like to start? The answer to both questions turned out to be “no”, which was crushed me a little, but I made my peace with it, thanked her for her honesty, and carried on. Fortunately, we remained friends (and, ironically, a few days later, I finally got the girlfriend I had been looking for when another friend made it blatantly obvious that she was interested in me…I was rather oblivious).

We kept in touch periodically after I finished college (it helped that we could hang out in person whenever both of us were home), and life continued. I broke up with the girl I’d been dating, started dating someone else a few months later, and the girl in question had a few relationships of her own. I still had a bit of a thing for her, but at this point I had learned you can’t really *make* someone attracted to you (at least, not consciously), and didn’t pay much attention to it.

A year or two later, we started hanging out more frequently when I was home (and newly single) from grad school. All this time, I’m basically treating it like a friendship, because as far as I’m concerned, that’s all it is, even complaining to her about my lack of succeess in my love life. Shortly thereafter, my brother clues me in that she’s actually interested in me now (remember what I said about being oblivious?). We talked about it, and she fessed up to it, and we did end up dating (but not before promising to each other that if things didn’t work out, we’d still stay friends). After about four months we broke up (it turned out our approaches to romantic relationships weren’t compatible). However, we did remain friends, and in fact are probably closer than we were before (to the point that I encouraged her to ask out her current boyfriend, and she helped me plan my proposal to my fiancee).

I guess my takeaways from this whole experience are:
-Male entitlement and social awkwardness do definitely play a role in the Friendzone, but so does plain, old-fashioned obliviousness
-When in doubt, ask the other person what they think of you, straight-out.
-You can get out of the Friendzone, but if you do, keep in mind that it may be the other person that’s changed, not you (i.e., you can’t force it, it just has to happen)
-Men and women can definitely be friends, even when there’s been romantic interest or entanglement

*whew* Hope that helps answer your questions!

spacermase
6 years ago

*grown up fairly close to each other, rather

Tarnished
6 years ago

It occurred to me that this post, and the linkage contained therein may be of help too. In dealing with the idea of the friendzone, it’s good to have a rough idea corresponding to how men feel when being rejected in the dating scene. There’s some overlap present that I think students of this generation would tend to ask about, or at least notice. If you’re trying to anticipate questions from the audience, parts of this will probably come up.

Just my 2 cents.

https://tarnishedsophia.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/letting-men-down-easy/

AbsintheDexterous
AbsintheDexterous
6 years ago

I’ve been “friendzoned”, although it was more of a stab in the dark situation. I still went on to be that person’s friend because they were my friend before I developed romantic feelings for them and it would be rather stupid to let a 10 year friendship fade just over that. I did have to avoid him for a few months, to reset my brain and give it a little space, but once my snit was over, it was all cool. And he was understanding of it, so it was all cool.

I’ve known a lot of “nice guys/girls”. I usually advise them to really think about their feelings for the other person – do they really want to date this person? If they do, then they should take the chance of “no” in asking. And if it’s a “no”, would they want to still be friends with that person? Not everyone can handle that, it really depends on how attracted to the other person they are. If they refuse to ask because they don’t want to hear “no”, well, they’re just really stringing themselves along. But it could very well be “yes”, but if they don’t take the chance, they don’t know either way and have to live with the fact that they’re too scared to ask.

I don’t let good friends get away with blaming the other person for their lack of action. People aren’t mind readers. You either ask, or you don’t, and if you don’t, the other person isn’t stringing you along (in most cases – I have known one or two people who did just because they’re manipulative people).

MaudeLL
6 years ago

I think the perspective of the ‘friend zoner’ is not talked about very often.

One thing that people forget is that when you believe the person has been a genuine friend for a long time, it’s pretty shitty to learn that being friends was their ‘price to pay’ to get in your pants.

This has happened to me a few times. An important point is that a lot of people (men in my case) use plausible deniability, so it really isn’t clear that they’re interested. An example is this guy I’d been friends with for about 6 months a few years ago. One day, he seemed like he wanted to kiss me, and I just leaped back (I was not expecting that). He spent a long time after telling me he was upset that I thought he would want to kiss me, he just wanted to hug me, like he does with all his friends, he has zero interest in me, etc. I know it sounds wrong from a distance, but when the person is a good friend that you trust, well, you believe him.

I started a relationship with a guy about a month later, and when I told my friend about how happy I was, Mr. ‘not interested’ threw a fit and said (I remember the words) “well, I guess I don’t have any reason to talk to you anymore”.

While I don’t need an asshole friend, I really felt betrayed at the time. I’m pretty sure he saw himself as ‘friendzoned’, and he definitely had a lot of resentment about it.

To the other question, ‘have you ever been friendzoned’, well yes. It’s just I’d never frame it as the bullshit concept of the friend zone.

trans_commie
6 years ago

I’ve always appreciated friendships with people of all genders, so that’s one reason I’ve never understood the contempt for the friend zone. Yes, I know that unrequited love can be painful, but it’s not like being friends is some horrible, cruel fate. Moreover, I’ve always related to women and girls more easily than men and boys due to being a trans girl myself, and so even before I realized my gender I thought it was strange to consider women and girls to be alien creatures who should be only girlfriends, not friends. It was like a vague sign for that I was really more comfortable “being a girl” rather than “being a boy.”

Lili Fugit
Lili Fugit
6 years ago

I was accused one time of friendzoning by a guy who I thought was an actual friend. He ended up out of my friend zone too, because whoever mentioned that being a friend is awesome in and of itself is completely right, and if you think that’s second place in some kind of weird race for, what, the sexual affections of another person? Screw you, I’m not interested in that game.

I only started hearing this term in the last few years, to be honest, even though the Friend Zone has been around forever. A great look at the Friend Zone: the play Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand, and for the record, Cyrano was, indeed, a great friend. But that was because he didn’t feel entitled to the affections of Roxanne.

And finally, I friendzoned myself once. There was a guy I really liked, and I knew he was bisexual but in a committed relationship with a man, and so I decided it would be best to just crush down any romantic feelings I had for him because guess what? Being friends is absolutely awesome. And a friend wouldn’t screw up a working relationship for another friend, would they? And I’m glad I friendzoned myself, because that friendship was great.

(Do you notice after you type the word “friend” enough times that it looks like you’ve misspelled it? Or is that just me? My favorite typo of the word “friend” came from a small relative of mine, who once signed an email to me: your fiend. ACCURATE!)

baileyrenee
6 years ago

I came here to write pretty much what MaudeLL said; That nobody seems to care what it’s like to be the friend-zoner. It’s really shitty. I’ve been on both ends, and even though unrequited crushes and love feel terrible, at least you get all the sympathy. There’s no right way to handle unwanted crushes and love, you’re the bad guy no matter what.

There’s been so many times where I’ve “friend-zoned” people and I’ve had mutual friends hound me for both cutting contact with them and trying to save the friendship and move past it. So many times where I reluctantly agreed to “give someone a chance” and then have it be 100x worse telling them no, I’m still not interested. So many times where someone won’t let me walk away from the friendship because “they’d rather have me as a friend than not have me at all” and have to tolerate awkwardness and guilt like you wouldn’t believe.

That’s why whenever things switched on me I didn’t complain the way these guys do. It fucking sucks rejecting people you’re friends with, and having someone handle rejection badly is in some ways worse than being rejected.

P.S. Good luck with your talk David! Is it going to be filmed? This Canadian wants to see it!

Fibinachi
6 years ago

I think it’s somewhat important to set up a very clear mental divide between the idea of the Friend Zone, with capitals, and with someone just not being all that romantically into someone else.

The idea of the Friend Zone is “You are now a Friend, and this is Not What You Want, and you can never be anything else”. That’s what so insidiously annoying about it, it nicely encapsulates an entire worldview and sums it up in a phrase, where what that person is really saying is: “Being friends with someone is not enough and all the things I did was stuff I did with the clear intention of receiving a reward in the form of a relationship, but instead, you’d rather be my friend, and this is not enough for my desires“.

I mean, most everyone have had an unrequited crush or been on the receiving end of one. And most people also know very well how to deal with it, where someone asks someone else out and the answer is “You’re lovely, but no” and things often don’t go beyond that. The Friend Zone isn’t that. It’s this new construct where, for the most part, one person is punished for being friends with someone else while daring to withhold physical intimacy. It becomes a reflection on the lack of integrity of the other person (“I did all this stuff, and I was put in the friend zone as my reward! Not even no reciprocity here!”).

Just being shy and awkward is okay, and lots of people fall in love with others and don’t have the ability at the time to tell them straight up, for lots of different reasons.

Being shy and awkward but still self righteous about other people’s assumed requirement to date you for any given number of reasons, thaaaaat’s the problem with the idea of the friendzone.

It boils the vast swathe of human relationships, with everything from friends to lovers to monogamous marriage to friends with benefits, down to a single “Loser, only unlocked “Friendship”, not sleeping with” or “Winner Of Sex, is sleeping with”.

History is littered with people who loved others but weren’t loved in return, but somehow, and some part of my paranoid mind thinks it’s related to the nebulous idea of bro-culture, the idea of being friends with someone you’re attracted to is today expressed as a loss.

(Perhaps something along the lines of: “Well, if you were cool and manly and dude-some you’d get that girl to love you, but you’re only a friend, so you’re not awesome enough! Wait, no! Maybe it’s because she doesn’t realize how awesome you are! It’s her fault!” but that seems a little hetereonormative)

———

Anyway, personal-like:

See it in my daily life, because I work with people from ages 16-99. It annoys me, although I choose to believe it reflects a unthinking attitude and not an actual fervent belief.

Started hearing it more and more often 5-6 years ago (Paranoid Fibi thinks right around the time of increasing 9gag popularity and Facebook boom, where Scary Social Stories Of That Thing What Happened To My Bud became easier and easier to share, beyond just peer-groups)

It’s not really a male or female thing, seems to happen to everyone.

To get out, talk – be honest with oneself about the reasons for pursuing the relationship (am I a friend because I like spending time with this person? Am I friend because I like spending time onthis person to get my trophy relationship unlocked?), then, depending on the answer, be willing to move on and not talk to that person. Check back in a couple of months later, see how people feel then.

Yes, I have been accused of friend-zoning people plenty of times, and I find it insulting and degrading every time, on account of my belief that my friendship is a good thing – and those others then seeming, despite that, to be thinking it a lesser stage they need to pass through to somehow get to some “better” place.

I have never felt like I have been “friendzoned” by anyone I was attracted to, but my love-life is weird and I don’t think my experience is useful for most people.

Alan Boyle (@SkepticalNumber)

Cracked.com has a few pieces talking about the Friend Zone from, and their primary demographic are college-aged males, so I’m not sure if they could help you in some way?

http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-friend-zone-cheat-codes-according-to-internet/
http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-reasons-your-online-dating-profile-isnt-working_p2/
http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-ways-to-have-more-sex-right-now21-today21/

They also tear into the “Nice Guy” gambit. I think the Friend Zone cartoon in the second of those links is perhaps the pithiest summation of the Friend Zone I’ve seen.

(disclosure: I write at Cracked, which is why I’m aware of those articles, but not why I’m sharing them – I think they’re a genuinely funny and insightful take on the whole thing)

Fibinachi
6 years ago

MaudeLL and baileyrenee expressed it clearer and better than I could. I blame the vodka, and also my complete inability to be brief.

“Unrequited crush” implies “I’m in love with someone who doesn’t love me back”

“Friend zone” implies “I’m in love with someone who doesn’t love me back, and that person really should, and I can’t see why that person doesn’t, and I do all these nice things and all my friends tell me it’s totally a go, so now a whole bunch of other people have a license to start passive-aggressively bugging that person I love about how they should totally hook up with me, because I’m being Friend Zoned, and this is terrible!“.

God, the awkward social half-push-prod of other people and their “Give them a chance!” and their “How do you know?” and “but they’re totally into you, why don’t you just try?”

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

I tend to think of the boundary between friendship and romantic or sexual relationships as very permeable and often based more on circumstances than anything else, so it’s weird to have people act like they’re mutually opposed concepts. Most of the people I’ve dated or slept with I was friendly with first, and I honestly can’t imagine wanting to date someone who I wouldn’t want as a friend. Sometimes you meet someone and get to know them and for whatever reason a relationship isn’t in the cards, but in different circumstances it might have been, and sometimes circumstances change and then it is a possibility, or it goes the other way and a relationship turns into just a friendship because circumstances changed. It’s always felt very fluid to me, so the idea of a friendzone that someone is put in for no good reason and can never escape from just doesn’t make any sense.

Alice
Alice
6 years ago

The friend zone seems to be one of those “urban legend” type stories MRAs tell each other on the internet to reinforce their already formed notions of misogyny. Usually, a “nice guy” who is probably socially awkward and maybe not classically good looking, falls for a woman based solely on her looks. When this hot chick fails to return his love, despite his doing nice things for her like not raping her when she is passed out, or being her “emotional tampon” after she breaks up with “bad boys,” he laments that he has been put in the friend zone, and women are such superficial whores, etc. etc. Meanwhile, the said man will never find a partner because 1) he is a bitter, entitled misogynist, and 2) even if he was a truly nice person, he only sees hot women and all of the less hot women who could be interested in dating him are invisible to him.

Ztime
Ztime
6 years ago

It would be hilarious if this were protested, or a fire alarm pulled.

emma
emma
6 years ago

I’d say being friendzoned is part of a universal experience of being human. Happened to me some 30+ years ago, in a galaxy far, far away now, when THE love of my life decided, very much against my deepest wishes, that we should be just friends. Broke my heart, of course.

But I’ve noticed that it is very difficult (read: impossible) to convince Nice GuysTM that women get friendzoned. They do not believe that ever happens.

baileyrenee
6 years ago

@Fibinachi

That’s the difference right there, it’s thinking that this person owes you and how DARE they hang out with you with no intention of dating! I bought them a Slurpee once, a large one too! They totally used me for sugary snacks!

And oh man, do those friends of the Friend-Zoned make everything worse…

Angela Gibbons
6 years ago

I have been friend-zoned (more than once) and have been accused of being in the friend-zone.

The couple of times I was friend-zoned, I can honestly say it hurt…a LOT. Like having a knife stuck into my heart and twisted several times a day, and for several months, type of hurt. It really, REALLY sucks to be rejected, especially when you had your heart set on the guy.

But, ultimately, I remained friends with them because I recognized that, just as I had very little control over whom I become attracted to, they have very little control over who they are NOT attracted to. I wanted to blame them. That’s what hurt does, is it makes you want to throw the blame on someone. But there really isn’t any blame in a situation like this.

So I kinda understand why some men go a bit crazy when they are rejected. But no one is obligated to fall in love with you, or have sex with you, no matter how much you want it.

On the other hand, I’ve also been accused of friend-zoning, and those relationships didn’t go as well. Usually I only friend-zone a guy that has personality flaws that are just incompatible with mine (which is a nice way of saying he’s a jerk and doesn’t realize it.) And there’s just no explaining that to him.

Adam
Adam
6 years ago

I was once in kind of a friend-zone-ey situation, though I never called it that (wasn’t familiar with the term, can’t really see myself using it at the time). It was when I was like 13-15, and I just couldn’t admit to myself that it really wasn’t a girl’s fault that I had feelings for her, became a friend of hers just to get into a relationship with her because I was too shy to straight up ask her out, and then didn’t get what I wanted. I eventually told her how I felt, she was touched by it but didn’t want to go anywhere with things. I got progressively more creepy (never full blown stalker, but overbearing and sort of passive-aggressively shaming her for what I perceived as mistreatment), and she ended up getting a boyfriend. I decided I needed to get some space, and I didn’t talk to her for a few years. Then one day after I had gotten a girlfriend who was really emotionally dependent on me and I learned how to be more responsible I realized I had been a total prick and sent her an apology. I didn’t really expect any response, but she was really nice about it and we were pretty good friends for a while until we graduated.
Honestly, that’s a pretty big part of why I became a feminist in the first place. I should have known better. It wouldn’t have been hard to sit me down and explain to me how relationships work, and how to deal with it when you have feelings for someone, and what the difference is between liking someone and just wanting to have sex with them. Even though nobody really got hurt, it would have saved us both a lot of trouble and me a lot of guilt. I’ve had to help women deal with the repercussions of some seriously fucked up shit men have done to them since, but this is the only time I had really felt responsible. And a lot of people never grow out of that line of thought. It’s pretty scary to me that there are lots of people in their 30s and 40s who think a woman owes them sex for being their friend. And how that’s largely a socially acceptable idea.
I mean, fuck, the idiot who’s writing Superman right now had Clark tell Jimmy he had been friend-zoned. Superman! Arguably the best role model in American fiction. What the hell, man?

jayne
jayne
6 years ago

In my (admittedly limited) experience, it seems like women and men both get ‘friendzoned’ but women seem to deal with it better. I have a friend who got to know a guy in the hopes of starting a relationship. She started out trying to make friends with him because she didn’t want to seem pushy or desperate. (A lot of people at my university have been raised pretty traditionally, so a girl asking a guy out would just seem weird.) Long story short, he wasn’t really interested in her, but they still have to spend a lot of time together because they lead a group together. He’s dating someone else, but she can’t help but feel that maybe someday they’ll be able to get together. The thing is, she didn’t get all offended about it, she just sort of tried to accept that he wasn’t into her and move on.
I’m pretty sure that the only difference between ‘an unrequited crush’ and ‘friendzoned’ is gender.

barrakuduh
6 years ago

I thought the When Harry Met Sally thing was, “Can a man and a woman just be friends?” Or something to that effect. …I actually have no idea how it was said, now that I think about it. o_o

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

It wouldn’t work with everyone, obviously, but it really would help if most cultures were to come to a consensus that when boys/young men are being selfish little shitheads about relationships we should actually tell them to knock it off. Right now most cultures either egg them on or make excuses for their behavior.

barrakuduh
6 years ago

I have absolutely no romantic experience, good or bad, but I do think it’s ridiculous how guys have turned the simple experience of someone thinking of you as too much of a friend to think of you as a love interest (aka being in the “friend-zone”) into some kind of big evil thing that is done specifically by women to men. I’m pretty sure it’s something that’s happened to almost EVERYBODY, women included. But women don’t go online and write big gender-oriented rants about it (or I haven’t seen any, at least).

R. A. Stark
6 years ago

Prior to what I’ll call the “internet” definition getting widespread feminist attention, I used to use “friend zone” to describe something slightly different. Sometimes you meet someone and either there is legitimate mutual attraction or you misread things. Either way, it becomes clear one of the people isn’t interested in something romantic/sexual and they have to let the other person down. I’ve heard and have used “putting them in the friend zone” to describe that. While the details may vary, there is nothing necessarily problematic about all this.

Now, imagine my surprise when I found out there were whole communities on the web using it to mean, “I can’t believe that woman didn’t sleep with me ’cause I was nice to her!”

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

IIRC the term Friend Zone was coined on Friends. Joey used it to warn Ross that he needed to make a move on Rachel before she permanently stuck him in the FZ.

To me the FZ is not just somebody having unrequited romantic or sexual feelings for a friend. I see it as something the Nice Guy says when he needs an excuse to lash out at the object of his affection or women in general. It almost sounds hostile, as though somebody puts a guy in the Friend Zone out of spite. When I hear the term, I just think of someone who performs niceness and fakes a friendship to lay pants getting into groundwork.

House Mouse Queen
6 years ago

Yes, I’ve been put in the friendzone. I didn’t consider it anyone’s fault. He just wasn’t attracted to me like I was to him. Yes, I have put many others in the ‘friendzone.’

If someone was in my space all the time then it wouldn’t be the friendzone I’d put them in, at least not long term. I’d stop hanging out with them if they couldn’t respect my space requirements.

I don’t think it’s a male thing as in it happens to males more. It is a male thing in the sense that many males feel entitled to you and don’t respect your boundaries because they think no means maybe later. Most guys I only wanted friendship with couldn’t handle it and stopped talking to me.

It has nothing to do with the characteristics of a guy or gal. If they’re shy or bold. It has everything to do with whether you click or not. There’s nothing a guy can do to get out of the friendzone with me.

I think people can remain in the friendzone and have a good rapport. I just found that guys usually can’t handle it. IF they can’t have you the way they want they get frustrated and bail. All my personal exp.

wordsp1nner
wordsp1nner
6 years ago

I HATE the term “Friend Zone”, possibly because I never hear it except in the context of misogyny. I much prefer “unrequited crush on a friend”, which knows no bounds of gender or orientation.

When I was in middle school, half the girls in my group of friends had a crush on one of the boys because he was fucking hilarious (he was a theater geek who looked like a young Bob Dylan, in case you were wondering). The other half liked him as a friend, but couldn’t imagine going out with him.

He had a crush on a girl who was in the other half. I couldn’t resent him, because she was a really nice, smart, attractive girl, but I did feel it was ironic.

*Sigh* Middle school. What you gonna do?

kittehserf
6 years ago

I’d never heard the term Friend Zone before reading manboobz.

I think it’s somewhat important to set up a very clear mental divide between the idea of the Friend Zone, with capitals, and with someone just not being all that romantically into someone else.

Spot on. Notice the film or book or whatever it was aimed at women was “He’s just not that into you” – we’re told to shrug it off, accept that he’s not interested (with the heavy implication that we’re not attractive enough, I bet). Is there anything resembling that for men? I doubt it. It’s all about entitlement.

I’ve never been friendzoned because I’ve never had the slightest romantic interest in any earthly human being, let alone had it and said nothing. If anyone had such interest in me, I never noticed it. What’s the bet one can friendzone some pooooor man when he’s never given the slightest hint he’s interested? We really are supposed to be telepathic.

samantha
samantha
6 years ago

Yay! Will it be recorded? if so, would you PULEEZE put it up on youtube? If not, would you consider posting the transcript?

Oh, if only I could be back in Chicago again, just to attend. I lived there, on the South Side – on Hyde Park Blvd. – back in the mid-’60’s.

Of course, one year of that was in a place called Audy Home – a not very nice place – during the reign of Mayor Daley Senior…blech…(shaking the stinky water memories of…hairy-armed ape-like matrons…lousy food…) Nothing like a gay old trip down memory lane, eh?

Ahem…I am much better now.

MrPopularSentiment
6 years ago

It most definitely is not a male thing. I, and most of my female friends, have all been “friendzoned” by men – often “nice guys” who would complain to us about how they were being friendzoned by all the attractive girls (what were we? Chop suey?).

I think it’s a totally normal sort of relationship – where one person wants something different than the other. I think that the fact that it’s almost always seen as a thing that men experience and that women do to them is most definitely an example of male privilege – since male stories get so much more airtime than women’s stories, we know about their feelings while women’s feelings are largely invisible.

I think that it *can* become a relationship, it just never did for me. After almost a year of crushing, my guy finally agreed to try out dating me and it was a complete flop. But I could see a situation where the object of affection changes their feelings. I just don’t think it’s likely enough for the subject to keep out hope for.

I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault. We’re people, we have feelings, sometimes our feelings aren’t reciprocated. What irks me is the “I was friendzoned” language, like it’s something that the objects of our affected inflicted on us

Lydy Nickerson
Lydy Nickerson
6 years ago

Friend Zone is based on assumptions about how people behave which have nothing to do with my own life or relationships. It assumes that a guy will always say yes to sex, and that a woman is always looking for something other than sex. And, yeah, kinda not. I have had people get unhappy with me for not being my sexual cup of tea. I have had to regretfully inform people that they weren’t my personal sexual cuppa. In all cases, if there was a good friendship, this was a brief bobble, a bit of discomfort that we both worked to overcome, and if there wasn’t a functional friendship, it became a Huge Deal and ultimately a Deal Breaker. Although, I think that the Ur-Friend Zone situation is one where no one is very clear about what they’re doing or what they want. They guy who ends up “zoned” is busy not making it clear that this is what he wants because he’s can’t deal with the rejection, and the girl is either genuinely not understanding that sex is the ultimate goal here, or is ignoring that. The reasons to ignore are many, but one of the strong ones is not wanting to hurt the poor guy’s feelings in the first place.

My relationships have started all sorts of places, and ended up all sorts of other places. I’ve had long term friends turn into lovers, I’ve had people I fell in lust with at first sight who turned out to be long term lovers, I’ve had psychotic break-ups, I’ve had friendly break-ups, I’ve broken up with someone for 17 years, and then gotten back together again. Since I’m poly, my relationships are a bit more fluid than most. I feel like I have more leisure to let relationships find their normal levels, and that asymmetry in a relationship is less of a deal for me because I’m not trying to get it all from one person. So in some senses, my understanding of much of this is variant, since the majority of people are, in fact, monogamous, and their relationships have a bigger aspect of do or die to them.

As far as “Nice Guy” goes, this construct appears to be a way to blame women for the guy not being able to get laid. He’s doing it all correctly, and she’s doing it wrong, and that’s why he’s not successful. It treats women both as sluts and prizes, in odd ways I’m not able to articulate. It treats sex as if it were a competition rather than a collaborative sport.

In both Friend Zone and Nice Guy, there seems to be a huge lack of being interested in negotiation, there seems to be a template that people are supposed to follow, rather than a give and take between real people with real and variant needs. There’s a lack of both commitment and compromise which are the hallmarks of real relationships. They seem to revolve around trying to date a barbie doll rather than a real girl.

cloudiah
6 years ago

It would be hilarious if this were protested, or a fire alarm pulled.

Especially since David is on the record as opposing pulling fire alarms to stop offensive speech. As I recall, his position is that the best response to hateful speech is more/better speech.

I don’t know, I think it’s hilarious that anti-women events have been going on for years. At two of them, people (it’s not known who) pulled the fire alarm. In spite of the fact that literally thousands of anti-women speakers have spoken unmolested for the last century, MRAs think this tiny minority of talks that were disrupted proves that feminists hate FREEZE PEACH.

Seems like MRAs aren’t as STEM logical as they like to think.

contrapangloss
6 years ago

Seconding the plea for film-age, made by baileyrenee!

As for the friend zone thing… I’ve never been friend zoned, because I’ve never had a crush. Plus, the entire concept reeks of awful. Friendship with someone isn’t and shouldn’t be a consolation prize.

But, I’m not really in a position to make any calls, so maybe you should ignore me…

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Also! Sometimes people end up in a friendship that they wish could be a relationship and never say anything about wanting more to the other person because they know it’s just not going to happen (eg. because of incompatible sexual orientation, or because the other person is clearly head over heels for someone else already). I really don’t think not saying anything is a bad thing in that situation, or that someone who stays in that friendship and never says anything is being deceptive/whatever. It’s when someone puts themselves in that situation and then quietly resents the other person for not being able to read their mind that there’s a problem.

Alice
Alice
6 years ago

Here is a quote from Johnny Mangoes on RoK that epitomizes how warped these MRAs’ perception of dating is. I really can’t believe people actually believe this drivel.

Go take a walk outside and meet people. You will meet a large number of awkward, normal people. You then will meet an occasional very good looking man. This is who is having all the sex, since women throw themselves aggressively to these men, because they know they don’t have to settle for an average man and they can easily find these natural alphas just by walking out on the street for a given amount of time.

Saying that maybe 10% of the male population “has got it” and these men have to put in very little effort to bedding women, and especially if it is a promiscuous society, then 60%-70% of women that he meets will be attracted to him enough to fuck him. They don’t care about the 90% of other men enough to even bother with them, hence the flaking, since they know that with a vagina they can magically pull the top guys, since guys generally have little to no standards. Women also care little about STDs or consequences (or lord forbid, a sexy son as a result) as long as the guy is attractive.

Go take a walk outside? Follow your own advice dude!

Cthulhu's Intern
6 years ago

What is up with that guy’s pants?

But in all seriousness, I have had something that some guys would describe as friendzoning happen to me. I was (and still am) close with a woman in my college. I eventually decided to tell her how I feel, but she turned me down, saying that she’s far too busy and school comes first for her. I don’t know if she actually meant that or if she was just trying to soften the blow, but really, does it matter?

Cthulhu's Intern
6 years ago

Oh, I probably should mention: I’m still good friends with her, pretty much nothing about our friendship changed after that. So yeah, getting angry at that is just stupid.

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