I have an issue with the term “friend zone.”
Not the concept itself – I know all too well that it’s a very real thing, complained about often among my male counterparts.
My issue is with why it’s so universally considered a bad thing.
To be “stuck in the friend zone” is considered one of the worst things that can happen to a man in the dating scene. But this confuses me. Since when is friendship a bad thing? Personally, I think being friends first is a great benefit to any relationship that might be trending toward the more romantic side. Who wants to date someone that they can’t enjoy spending platonic time with?
Of course I know the counter-arguments. “It’s not that I don’t want to be friends,” say the men in my life, “it’s that I don’t want to be just friends.”
There’s a dangerous assumption that lurks beneath the phrase “being stuck in the friend zone.” The assumption is that men shouldn’t be placed in the friend zone, that it is somehow insulting if a woman tells them that they just want to be friends. Make no mistake; it’s not an insult to be someone’s friend. It’s an honor.
Unfortunately, many men don’t see it that way.
The deeper and more dangerous insinuation to their dislike of the “friend zone” is that many men believe that they have a right to date women.
When I first meet a man, my assumption is always that we are going to be “just friends.” Even if I am attracted to him, I’ve never assumed that the feelings were mutual. As time progressed, sometimes those friendships blossomed into relationships, sometimes they didn’t. I never took it personally if we always stayed friends, because that was my expectation from the start.
When men get insulted because they’ve been put in the “friend zone,” the ugly truth that’s so often ignored and swept under the rug is that they are offended because they think they deserve to be in a relationship with said woman.
It doesn’t matter if the woman hasn’t been leading them on, or if she’s expressed absolutely zero interest in having a relationship with him. A man says he’s been friend-zoned and the response from his bros is instant shock and commiseration.
In relationships, as with life, expectations are everything. Your level of happiness, frustration or anger with another person is largely dependent on what you were expecting from that person, and whether they delivered or not.
So why do men get upset with being “friend zoned?” Because they expected to not be put there.
What is it exactly about the term “friend zone” that makes me bristle every time I hear it? It’s the fact that the man has just expressed his disappointment that he was not given unimpeded access to a relationship with this woman. Never mind what she wanted – he wanted a relationship, so he should have been given it.
There are countless stories of men who have committed crimes after having their advances on a woman rejected. One of the most infamous is Elliot Rodger, who killed 6 people and injured 14 others in 2014 because he was a 22-year-old virgin. He targeted females in his murderous rampage, because he wanted to “punish all females for the crime of depriving me of sex,” he wrote in his 137 page manifesto.
He went on to write “You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime, because… I don’t know what you don’t see in me. I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.”
Relationships – especially romantic relationships – are a privilege, not a right.
Men should feel honored that they have been given the privilege of having a friendship with this woman, not frustrated because she doesn’t want to sleep with them.
Perhaps the phrase “nice guys always finish last” is not quite accurate. How about instead of trying to be “nice” to get a date, men start trying to be genuinely good men, and be happy with whatever that leads to?