There has been a great deal of conversation online these days about what is known as the “friend zone”. For those of you who are unaware of what or where this place is, it is that strange, hypothetical place where a guy (and it is always a straight, cissexual guy) sometimes feels he goes when the girl of their dreams refuses (or is ignorant of) their romantic advances. The romancer is then left to dangle, hoping that the potential “romancee” will one day realize how great he is, come to her senses, and take him up as their boyfriend or lover. In the meantime, the romancer’s heart is ripped asunder afresh each and every day that the two cannot be together since he generally seems to spend his time helping his crush deal with her life problems while taking the romantic back-seat: i.e. being a friend.
When put that way, it sounds almost poetic, doesn’t it? I’m sure the users of the term would like to think there is some elements of classic tragedy in the suffering they endure. But the truth is it is just male entitlement, plain and simple. It’s just a bit more of a passive-aggressive flavour than we normally see.
A great deal of attention has been drawn to the issue of “friend zoning” lately thanks to the-now-defunct blog “Nice Guys of OK Cupid”. What this site did so incredibly well is indicate the paradoxical way in which some men claim outright that they are “nice guys” and yet go on to further declare that women are mostly “bitches”, must regularly shave their legs, and even suggest that there exist instances when a woman is obligated to have sex. Oh yes, they also hate being “friend zoned” which happens quite often, evidently.
It would seem that being a nice guy really ought to be enough to win the heart of any lady. And I’d say that being nice (and I mean actually being nice, not the “I’m-a-nice-guy-that-feels-you-are-obligated-to-fuck-me” nice) is a really great start. But if you think of what you bring to the romantic dinner table in terms of a school report card, “being nice” alone will bring you a “C-“. OK, you pass, but barely and “being nice” really ought to be the absolute minimum that is offered and really isn’t a very interesting attribute on its own.
Imagine being interviewed for a major job with a big company and when the board asks what qualities you bring to the table, your response is, “I am very seldom late!” Well… great but that was sort of assumed and not much of a selling point.
Essentially, I don’t believe that being nice is all that special and certainly not something for a lady to get weak in the knees for. It’s definitely not something a guy should gloat over. A guy has to be able to offer more. And I’m not talking strictly money, either! That is a common trope in the land of the “Friend zoned”: in order to get out of the zone, you need to be rich. While I’m sure that vast finances are a turn-on for some women, it’s ridiculous to assume that that is the only other possible thing to offer other than being “nice”.
The real problems with this trend is that these men seem to have an awfully hard time in taking “no” for an answer. I mean, let’s face it, being rejected sucks. No one likes the feeling of sticking your heart right where it’s most vulnerable, asking the big question, and then being told “no,” But that’s the risk of the dating game and the time to move on. The “friend zoned” seem to have a hard time understanding this.
I have heard of other times when a guy hasn’t actually made a romantic advance and is still resentful of the “rejection”! The entire pick-up attempt hinged on being a shoulder to cry on for a girl going through a hard time from a break-up or otherwise and telling her that he will always be there for her whenever she needs someone. The man then becomes resentful because the woman proceeds to date other people while still seeing the original guy as a person to talk to while not considering him as a romantic opportunity.
In other words, the fastest way to be put in the “friend zone” is to tell the girl you’d like to be her friend.
So how is this male-entitlement? Well, firstly, there is the off-handed suggestion that these ladies are managing their own sexuality “incorrectly”: these “fake bitches” have turned down “nice guys” to be with “assholes”. In the language of these “nice guys”, these women have made a profound mistake in their mate selection and all the proof we need of that is that they’re not sleeping with the “nice guy”: never mind that the guy that they might be seeing might be far more interesting. Perhaps he plays guitar in a band, or is on the verge of being drafted into AAA Hockey, or is studying 10 hours a day to finish his Masters thesis. It doesn’t matter what the case is; the girl is wrong and incapable of properly managing her own sexuality.
Or maybe the woman is single and just doesn’t see the original dude in that way. The “nice guy” speak suggests that she is wrong in this instance too. It would seem that she can’t be interested in a guy that is “too sweet” or too much of a “true friend”.
The second and far more disturbing aspect of the entitlement begins to show itself if we look at some disturbing facts. The numbers waiver slightly, but general findings indicate that roughly 80% of women that have been raped have been assaulted by someone they know. Mix this fact with the resentment of the “friend zoned” and the belief that women don’t know what’s best for themselves sexually and you have a recipe for a real disaster.
But that’s pretty extreme, right? Surely not all of these “friend zoned” men are destined to be rapists. Of course not, but I was disturbed with the ease of which I found this next rage comic:
While it is not spoken, the “friend zoned” man’s primary concern is sex. It would seem that most of the other areas of a relationship are covered (intimacy, loyalty, trust, etc.) but it’s just not quite enough. This really calls to question whether these men were ever friends in the first place or had any real desire to be. They had always hoped to have a sexual relationship and satisfaction or closure would not be available until that was achieved.
And what is so wrong with friendship anyway? Is it such a horrible fate that a girl wants to “only” be a friend?
What I find so irritating about this trend is how easily avoided the “friend zone” is. There is nothing wrong with one wanting to be the boyfriend of someone they’ve been a friend to or even simply wanting to have sex with a lovely lady they happen to know. With some honesty, integrity, and courage it can all be a potential reality. If the fellow states point-blank what he hopes to see happen to the lady of his desires, he has already escaped the “friend zone”: that murky wasteland of no-closure. The woman has the opportunity to accept, deny, or propose a modified situation. The man is then free to shake on it, walk away, or counter-offer. It sounds all very bureaucratic but at least there is no “friend zone”.
This is all very well and good but, as we have seen, some men are incapable of this sort of dialogue and this is a danger that everyone ought to be aware of. I would hazard to suggest that most heterosexual women are already aware of this potential danger but us straight men aren’t giving this trend the full attention it deserves. I have known men that have harboured beliefs that are similar to those found on “Nice Guys of OK Cupid” and, in past years, have said nothing. In fact, I perceived the behaviour as normal! I even said a few gross generalizations in my earlier days concerning women and their dating habits; there was a great deal of this sort of conversation circulating in my high school walls. But I now feel that I have an obligation to call out this sort of behaviour and challenge it.
As much as it might hurt, women can’t be proven “wrong” in their selection (or non-selection) of a mate anymore than a man can. Men need to realize that “no” is not only a possible answer, but a legitimate one and accept it at face value. Or else, we get more fellas like the ones from OK Cupid, and that can’t be good for anyone.