The Friend Zone
The so called ‘Friend Zone’ is a platonic state of a relationship status between a male and a female in which one of the participants in the friendship has under-expressed (or implied) desires, hopes or fantasizes that at some point a romantic relationship will materialize from this current status. It is generally perceived that this situation is more often shifted towards the male being the person in the ‘friend zone’, although females do find themselves (or, more aptly for each, choose to remain) in such a state. The ‘Friend Zone’ can also be though of (in Christian nomenclature) as a sort of romantic ‘Purgatory’. But the flaw with the term itself implies that the person who has the romantic intentions was somehow relegated to this imaginary place by the command or action of the person who does not share those sentiments. Yet the truth is no one actively puts themselves in the ‘Friend Zone’. It exists because the ‘zoned’ person allows themselves to remain in a relationship in which it should be apparent to them from lack of ‘affectionate innuendo’ that they do not qualify as a suitable romantic partner to the other. The other individual may be somewhat aware of this scenario, but they either choose to ignore it or amicably realign their lack of interest through verbal and/or behavioral communications (or outright avoidance of acknowledgment of this state). To be clear, the only person responsible for ‘finding’ themselves in the ‘Friend Zone’ is the person who allows themselves to remain there. But the choice to leave sometimes means giving up hope and on continuing to have any sort of close relationship with that other person. This causes many ‘friend zoned’ individuals to be frightened of and shun the idea of the life-altering upset of losing someone they have feelings for and have been clinging to hope of one day being with.
The concept of a relationship materializing out of the ‘friend zone’ is also considered or known through the process of ‘waiting someone out’. In this unaligned relationship state, the communication of a desire for a romantic relationship is suppressed out of a combination of several social and or emotional barriers which keep the unfulfilled participant from verbally and directly communicating their true feelings. Contributing factors are the fear of rejection, shame, ridicule, hurt feelings, etc., so the individual wishing to see the relationship advance chooses to take a benign approach, offering themselves as a person that exhibits all the qualities most humans consider ‘good’ (i.e., honest, caring, considerate, empathetic, generous, loyal, trustworthy, etc.) But this approach comes from a place that is both quasi-genuine and quasi-manipulative. On one hand, the individual with unfulfilled desires wants the other to truly enjoy the value of these ‘friendly’ benefits but, in turn, they want that other to also recognize their value and instinctually realize that a romantic relationship should (or makes sense to) materialize from this arrangement. This practice is generally recognized as ‘Nice Guy’ behavior. Most often, it is not rewarded with intimate favor, leading to frustration and anxiety which sometimes manifests itself in hostility and aggression. Or, if it does materialize, it is out of a compromise from the individual who was not initially interested in the idea of a romantic relationship. But, in many instances, this circumstance of intention is never actualized. Unrequited individuals have been known to remain quietly subdued in these types of relationships for very long periods of time, sometimes even to the end of one’s life.
For a variety of reasons the other, non-romantically inclined individual does find value within this arrangement, as they are very often flattered and garner benefits (material and otherwise) from the attention they receive. And, although they may truly not be aware of this, they are taking advantage of the situation by their lack of awareness of what is really going on. By comparison, the ignorance of this fawning behavior cannot be considered to exist in the spectrum of observation of other ‘normalized’ personal relationships that the person has with individuals they call friends. The avoidance of consideration of this ‘red flag’ is that they conceptualize that are in a great friendship with many benefits and very few hassles because they are genuinely liked from a shared, purely platonic perspective, which is untrue.
In the case of females who are not (or choose not to be) aware that they are dealing with a ‘friend zoned’ male, they may often interact with him as if he were not ‘male’ but as a quasi-girlfriend. This means that much of what she says to him in conversation may go unfiltered in terms of a competence or concern of his underlying romantic intentions. This may mean she will discuss things she would not normally speak about with other males, which could at times detail romantic or intimate involvement or encounters with other males. This may tend to both at once titillate and upset the male because he sees a sexually interested side of this female but (other than maybe ‘personal time’ fantasy fodder) gains no benefit from this information which serves to increase his declined sense of self esteem. Moreover, the ‘quasi-girlfriend’ treatment extends to the sharing of information about difficult situations she encounters when talking to the male. This can lead to frustration among both parties, as the male would choose (by his instinctual nature as a protector and provider) to offer a solution or directly intervene to solve her problem(s). More often than not, she was not looking for anything of the sort that the male is offering. More so, she often just wants to be listened to and to be able to vent frustration in a manner of conversation (as she does amongst her actual girlfriends). In order to be of value to her in this manner he must therefore act against his male instinct, further marginalizing his worth as a man.
In short, ‘friend zoned’ individuals do twice the work of this sort of involved relationship for none of the benefits. But most of these men do not want to become introspective as to what led them there in the first place. Those who do need to take personal inventory on what they can do to increase their level of physical and personal attractiveness, thereby gaining necessary sexual capital and having an ability to move on from relationships that ‘fail to launch’ into others that offer the possibility of healthy, romantic and intimate encounters and relationships.
But ‘Friend Zoned’ individuals do not come in one flavor. In fact, we know from experience that many men who have other romantic options are dogs and they play women against the odds for the profit of sexual favors. Women, as they (through their own behavior) should not lead men on that they are not interested in should also see that gently discouraging a man from leading himself on is the only ethical approach. In dealing with a heterosexual male that says he ‘just wants to be friends’, all females should realize he is being insincere and needs to be treated in a way that disables him from doubting that there is even a small chance he will have a chance. But men will continue to try. And they will even ‘Friend Zone’ themselves (depending on the time and effort they need to put into the mix) if they might get that chance. That is, if a woman will give them that chance. But that chance rarely, if ever, comes. As they say, ‘Life is Short’. Move on.