The Friend Zone (A Zone for Friends)

January 22, 2013 at 10:19 pm (Uncategorized)

Artist of the Day: The Low Anthem. Specifically the title track off of “Oh My God Charlie Darwin.” Cannot stop listening to it.

Today’s post is about the friend zone, which will hereby be referred to as the FZ. I have to admit that this post has its inspiration in a post I saw on Buzzfeed–which I admit with some shame not because I mind taking inspiration from other sources but because it requires me to share that I do browse Buzzfeed with an occasional frequency.

Anyway, the FZ is a situation whereby one person (generally male) has romantic interest in another person (generally female) but the interest is not reciprocated. Hence being relegated to the status of friend with no prospect of romantic involvement later.

One might wonder what the big deal is–I think almost all of us at some point have had a romantic interest in another person which was unrequited. The problem is that this FZ paradigm is accompanied by the idea that nice guys always get FZ’d, and that women only want to date jerks. The mindset of these guys is “I’ve done everything right, been so nice/supportive/caring/etc, why doesn’t she want to be with me?” There is, in fact, a large internet subculture devoted to this idea.

This idea is rather repulsive because it assumes that women (or men, for that matter) owe you something for you being a caring human being. All of these guys complaining how much time they have spent being sweet, listening to a woman’s problems, and being a shoulder to lean on aren’t “nice guys” at all. You’re just an asshole pretending to be nice so that you can get in a girl’s pants. I think what these guys in the FZ are really upset about is that they are poor manipulators. Guess what? I don’t feel sorry for you at all.

You can either be someone’s friend, or not. Friendship does not come with conditions or obligations. If you are attracted to someone and they don’t share the feeling, it isn’t their fault or yours. People can’t help their feelings. The thing I don’t understand is why you would want to date someone you didn’t think you could just be friends with–isn’t that the point, that you think someone is a cool enough person that you want to kick the heat up a notch? I am not super close with all of my ex-girlfriends, but I remain on friendly terms with all of them in large part because I think they are all excellent people. Romantic feelings might not be there anymore, but just because I don’t feel like spending my life with them does not diminish who they are in any way. I guess that’s mostly what I am so perturbed about with this FZ idea. It’s just another form of misogyny–women are prizes to be had, not a person to connect and enjoy with. 

I have plenty of female friends who are lovely women that I have zero desire to enter into a relationship with, and my time spent with them is no different than spending time with my male friends. Well, that isn’t quite true, because I find women often have a different perspective on the world than I do. I enjoy that different perspective because it forces me to reevaluate when I am coming at issues from. It’s the same reason I enjoy having conservative friends. When you stop looking around the world and critically examining other views is when your mind starts to stagnate. That’s what great about having friends of all different stripes–real friends, not people you’re pretending to be friends with in order to get a prize. To be in the FZ is like 99% of your interactions with the people around you.

Stop trying so hard to have a romantic relationship and focus on cultivating the other relationships in your life. I try to stay connected with the people I care about–text them, send them funny/interesting links, fb messages, games of words with friends–and I can say that none of that is motivated by getting laid. If I am into/attracted to someone, I will say something, and see what happens. I would rather have a great friendship evolve into something romantic than trying to force romance where it is not.

I guess my point is that if you see yourself as a nice guy that finishes last, examine what your goals really are. Are you genuinely interested in this person, or are you merely attached to the idea of them? If they don’t reciprocate your attraction, did you just like them because of what they looked like, or do you enjoy their company and can maintain a friendship? It is possible to think your friends are attractive and not care to do anything about it, I promise.

This kind of thinking is easier when you make an honest effort to care about people, to see the good in them, to love them as human people with flaws and dreams and goals, who are not so different from you. I come back to this theme a lot, but I think there is much to be said for just being a caring human being. Jesus said that there were two really important things in life: Loving God above all else, and loving your neighbor as yourself. Now, I am skeptical of God as anything more than an abstract concept, but what could be more powerful than loving your neighbor as you? With that simple concept you could end all wars and divisiveness. We all struggle, with ourselves, our faith, relationships–but we are not alone. The human experience is unique to all of us and yet shared by all of us too.

Don’t be a “nice guy,” be a nice person. Because you deserve it, and so does everyone you meet. Change the world a little bit every day and see the great things that you can create. Put the world in your own personal friend zone, and don’t differentiate between friends and strangers. Listen to Jesus, to the Buddha, to so many of the great people and philosophers of all ages. I am willing to bet that if you do that you will a) stop caring so much about the idea of romance vs. friend zone, and b)Love will find you, because YOU are loving.


“Friendship involves many things, but above all, the power of going out of one’s self and appreciating what is noble and loving in another.” -Thomas Hughes


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