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The Shameful Myth that is the "Friendzone"

Updated on February 24, 2013

Note: in much of the world today, romance and love are considered synonymous with sex. I'm a Mormon, so that's not the case for me. Keep that in mind to avoid any confusion.

All the time, guys complain about something called the “friendzone” - a state of being attracted to their female friends and the feeling not being reciprocated - and demonize the girls who allegedly put them there. It's a subject of lament for sitcoms and Internet memes, a cultural rallying point for males who feel unjustly put upon by the opposite sex. It's also, in my opinion, a grossly unfair characterization that blows an innocuous little difficulty way out of proportion.

Being nice to a girl doesn't obligate her to like you in a romantic way. No one ever actually claims that it does but it seems to be an unspoken assumption with this “friendzone” business. The only thing she owes you is to be nice in return, and if you're friends then she's already doing that. Furthermore, if you're nice to her for the sole purpose of getting her to like you in a romantic way, then frankly you're a creep.

You also do her a great disservice by treating her friendship as some kind of second-rate consolation prize. I understand that it hurts to want more and not get it. But if she's a good person with good qualities, you should appreciate her for that and not just her womanhood. You should feel privileged to be her friend. Friendship is usually looked on as a positive thing, something to be desired, and that shouldn't change just because a friend happens to be attractive in other ways.

Of course, hanging out with someone you find attractive but can't go any deeper with is painful. Hence the whole issue. But the “friendzone” concept makes girls out to be villains and acts as if they cause this pain intentionally. She can't help it if she doesn't reciprocate your feelings. If it's just a crush, then you probably shouldn't take it too seriously anyway. If it's love, then maybe you just aren't compatible or the time isn't right.

Accept the pain as a normal and healthy part of life that happens to everyone. Spend some time reflecting on it if necessary, and then move on. Instead of complaining about being “friend zoned”, rejoice that you have such a friend, recognize that she isn't hurting you on purpose, and resolve to seek romance elsewhere. It's hard to let go of intense feelings, but this attitude will accelerate that process. I never thought I could look at this one girl again without feeling pain, but now it's no big deal. Now I have a crush on her roommate instead. Ah, life.

Although the overall concept of a “friendzone” is bunk, there are a few situations where you would be justified in feeling a tad betrayed, namely:

  • If she's been leading you on. This one is iffy, though, because a lot of girls lead guys on unintentionally and it's really not their fault. I often marvel at the spectacular shortcomings of mixed-gender communications within the human species. Seriously, what other species needs books and articles to help males and females understand each other? Anyway, if she actually has been leading you on by shameless flirting or something, then she's a jerk. But maybe she's just obliviously ditzy and doesn't realize the pain she's causing. Discuss it with her before making assumptions.
  • If she complains to you about her love life and not being able to find nice guys. Really, in what universe is that considered appropriate behavior? Even if you don't like her as more than a friend (which is possible, believe it or not), I agree that it's kind of a slap in the face to imply that you aren't a nice guy and put you out of the question as far as romance is concerned. Unless you really aren't a nice guy, in which case she probably shouldn't be friends with you.
  • If she does something like this.

But even then, I think a better reaction than “I've been friend zoned” would be “Wow, that was cruel. Why am I attracted to this girl in the first place?”

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