Five Alternatives for “Friend Zone”

I realize using the term “friend zone” is a little dangerous. I’ll start by saying the title is meant to be a little click-bait-y and please read the article before telling me the friend zone doesn’t exist. (That’s kind of the point.)

The more accurate term here may be archetypes. These are five types of people (in my case women) that seem to pop up over and over again and could all be lumped together with the vague descriptor of friend zone.

The Dictator — this has been the most common type I have encountered since I started dating. Though, I think that says more about the type of person I’m attracted to rather than their commonality in the world.

The Dictator does not get their name from being controlling overall, but from their desire to dictate your response to them. If they need a shoulder to cry on, you must be the friend. If they need some attention, you must be the flirt. And, if they’re feeling a little randy, they expect that you will sext on command.

But this is always on their terms. You cannot step out of the boundaries they have set for that particular interaction nor can you initiate anything other than friendly conversation.

The Dictator usually gives long lectures about how you are supposed to interact with them and inebriation is often an excuse for their behavior. On the other hand, the Dictator will hold you accountable for every action and does not have time for your excuses.

The Dictator probably isn’t a good person in any aspect of their life and should be dealt with accordingly. Delete their number. Block them on social media. Maybe give a heads up to friends who might try to date them.

The Manipulator — we have all been the Manipulator at some point. Being the Manipulator feels really good and can come in very handy when trying to move or get a ride to the airport.

How I Met Your Mother referred to the Manipulator as being on “The Hook.” Scooter was on Lily’s hook, so Lily, in that situation, was the Manipulator.

The Manipulator uses another person’s attraction to get attention or favors or validation. Being the Manipulator is fun, but being manipulated is painful. Since a tolerance can be built up, the Manipulator has to increase the stakes or change the terms. Sometimes they even promise that something could happen in the future. But nothing ever does.

Since the Manipulator is always making new promises, it’s easy to think that they really mean it this time. You want to believe they will follow through since the promise is always different. The disappointment, however, is always the same.

Much like the Dictator, the Manipulator needs to be cut out of your life. They probably won’t change their mind about you and you probably won’t become less attracted to them. Unlike the Dictator, however, we should probably be more understanding of the Manipulator since we will be them at some point in our lives.

The Slummer — this person is the hardest one to deal with and most difficult to get rid of.

The Slummer is the person who thinks they are doing you a favor by hanging out with you. Or slumming it. The Slummer finds some interest in you as a person and is willing to hang out and maybe even have sex, but they probably don’t want to be seen with you and emphasize the fact they see no long-term possibilities.

Some Slummers are good at what they do and hide their intentions well. Others are very upfront, letting you know they believe they are doing you a favor by gracing you with their presence.

Slummers are the hardest to deal with because part of you believes they might be right. If you didn’t agree, the Slummer would just be an asshole you didn’t talk to anymore. Slummers can make us feel good in the moment, but usually leave us feeling empty afterward.

Remember that the Slummer needs you as well. Much like the favors the Manipulator, the Slummer wants something or they wouldn’t bother. Take away that thing (compliments, food, validation) and the Slummer will probably extricate themselves from the situation on their own accord.

The Lesbian (a.k.a Nacho Cheese) — when dating as a straight man, it is important to remember that some women are lesbians. When dating as anything other than a straight man, some people just aren’t your cheese. They prefer something else.

(This idea seems to be hard for straight guys to comprehend, thus my decision to call this archetype the Lesbian. This says more about my gender and sexuality-type than the world at large.)

As far as I know, I’ve tried to date three lesbians in the past five years. I became good friends with two. There’s a reason you are attracted to that person. No reason to cut them out of your life just because they don’t want in your pants.

The Friend — while this should be the most common archetype of them all, I’m not sure if that’s true. Though, again, this could be saying more about me than anyone else.

The Friend is the person who has a corresponding sexuality to your own, an attraction to you as a person, but, for whatever reason, only wants a friendship. The best move is to accept the answer and move on. Digging into why the person only wants to be friends is probably the wrong move. Either the person lets you down easy and gives you false hope, or they tell you the truth and you’re devistated. Just be friends and go from there.

Like the Manipulator, we will all be the Friend at some point, as well as have someone be the Friend to us. I think we should all be willing to take on a little bit of responsibility when we know we are the Friend. Whether or not the person has expressed their attraction to us, we need to be willing to take care of their feelings. Discussing our dating habits or sex lives with the person we know is attracted to us is cruel and unfair. Getting mad at that person for not wanting to hear about it is worse.

Not all friendships are created equal. We don’t have to talk about every aspect of our lives with every friend. If you really want to be friends with this person, respect their boundaries and be kind when dealing with their feelings. Walk away if you can tell the person is becoming infatuated. Don’t ignore the signs that this person is being tortured by your friendship.

Too often in dating and friendships, we throw our hands up and say: not my problem. But we need to remember that we are someone else’s problem at some point. Dating could be a lot more fun and much more pleasant if we remembered two things: be kind and take responsibility for your actions.