The Friend Zone is a Lie

There’s a reason you keep getting stuck there.

Edward Robson, PhD
Sep 22, 2020 · 4 min read
Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

My number one objection to the Tinder culture is the way it turns us all into commodities, boxes on the Good-Time aisle in the worldwide Wally Web.

Like my brand? Swipe right, say hey. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t interested.

Fair enough. I am a boomer. That’s why you won’t find me on that shelf, or even shopping at that market. I’d really rather make a friend before exploring whether dating might become a good idea.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not judging anybody just because they’d rather hit and run. Sex is healthy sweaty cardio and way more fun than Peloton, so if that’s what you’re scrolling for, then go for it. Long as you’re both honest with each other as to what you want, no feelings will be harmed in the making of this memory.

It just doesn’t interest me. And I don’t think my age has anything to do with it.

Here’s the scoop — the joy of getting to the yes is so much deeper when the yes results from really knowing one another.

That will make no sense to those for whom the goal is quantity. If all that matters is to get your rocks off with as many pretty people as you can, then a faster yes (or no) is better than a slower one.

But if you want a quality relationship, you must invest some time, because the goal is a connection where you choose each other based on knowing who each other really is. Not because you’ve found perfection, but because you’ve found someone you understand and trust and genuinely like.

In other words, a friend.

Here’s the scoop — the joy of getting to the yes is so much deeper when the yes results from really knowing one another.

“T someone told me on this platform recently. (I’m not quoting him exactly, just describing his objection.)

Seriously? That’s what he calls friendship? Like the waiting period before you buy a handgun, but for sex?

No wonder he gets stuck and she gets stubborn. She sees right through him. He was never interested in friendship — that was all a lie. He’s not even interested in her, beyond what she can do for him in bed.

Or maybe I’m too hard on him. He’d probably insist he really wants to find a woman he can love, which in his mind is a completely different relationship than what he’d have with a female friend. If he had a female friend.

The sad truth is, many men don’t know how to enjoy a friendship with a woman. (And vice versa, though I haven’t seen it quite as often.) The cultural misogyny that only values women as sex objects is still everywhere, and one of its most common manifestations is the inability to establish trusting bonds outside the bedroom.

He was never interested in friendship — that was all a lie.

The other possible reason why this man keeps hearing, “You’re not what I’m looking for,” is that maybe he just lacks the qualities that make a woman want to keep a man around. Maybe by the second date he’s used up all his charm.

I’d like to tell him, try to up your game by working on your self. Build a life that keeps you interested and interesting. Develop some pursuits outside your job. Learn to dance. Learn to cook. Pretty up your place. Do some volunteering. Read some books.

The “friend zone” is a lie. It’s an excuse for lazy men who can’t make a connection with potential girlfriends. It’s a way to blame the woman: she wants to keep him as a friend because she’s just too blind to see how perfect he would be for her.

Because honestly, what woman wouldn’t want a best friend for a lover, especially if she’s interested in long-term possibilities? Because it’s not the sex that’s going to make it last, but all the rest of what you do together.

So if all you want is sex, then ask for sex. You might get lucky. But if you’d rather have a loving partner, then don’t fear the zone, just take the time to learn to be a friend.

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Edward Robson, PhD

Written by

Retired psychologist, wordsmith, teacher, MFA candidate. Buy me coffee: ko-fi.com/edrobson. ecrobson@gmail.com

ILLUMINATION-Curated

Outstanding stories objectively and diligently selected by 40+ senior editors on ILLUMINATION

Edward Robson, PhD

Written by

Retired psychologist, wordsmith, teacher, MFA candidate. Buy me coffee: ko-fi.com/edrobson. ecrobson@gmail.com

ILLUMINATION-Curated

Outstanding stories objectively and diligently selected by 40+ senior editors on ILLUMINATION

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